Active ingredients

Ectoin Skincare: 2024’s hottest ingredient & why everyone’s talking about it

22 January 2024


Is ecotoin the next niacinamide? 


Ectoin (also spelled as ectoine)  may not be a skincare ingredient on your radar, but there’s good reason to be familiar with this active. In 2023, searches on Google for “ectoin” increased by a whooping 163%- that’s a substantial feat for today’s saturated and trend driven cosmetics industry. Discovered in 1985, ectoin (or sometimes spelt as ectoine) has been harnessed for its benefits in skincare since. And finally in 2024, ectoin is getting the recognition it so deserves, with some beauty fans calling ectoin the “next niacinamide”.


Ectoin protects the integrity of cells, among a couple more properties, so it’s no surprise that finally, in 2024, ectoin is getting its moment in skincare. Multitasking active ingredients such as niacinamide and azelaic acid have always been popular because of their versatility, so it’s no surprise that ectoin is trending as the newest buzzword in skincare. Ecotin has been garnering headlines since last year; and several beauty brands have also launched new products to include ecotoin in their formulas. Here’s all about ecotoin, and why it’s on every skincare junkie’s radar.


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Niacinamide: A Versatile Skincare Ingredient Your Skin Will Thank You For

2024 Aesthetic Trends: The New Treatments, Products and Perspectives of Beauty

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What is ectoin?



Ectoin is a type of peptide known as an extremolyte1,2. Extremolyte are compounds also known as stress protection molecules; and are extracted from microorganisms living under harsh condition1,2. Ectoin protects these microorganisms from extreme salinity, drought, irradiation, pH, and temperature to ensure their survival under these extreme conditions1.

Ectoine’s mechanism of action: On water molecules and proteins, ecotoine makes thewater structure more compact, and proteins are stabilised. Ecotoine also has a protective effect against external damage (e.g., allergens, UV-light, and physical damage). Ectoine in the Treatment of Irritations and Inflammations of the Eye Surface. Bilstein et al. Biomed Res Int. 2021 Feb 9:2021:8885032



Ectoin protects cells against physical and chemical damage by forming a protective water shell around the cells3. This water shell is also known as an ectoine hydrocomplex; and it reduces damage and inflammation to the cell proteins3. The water shell also aids the hydration of cell membranes for better resistance against the extreme conditions; and reduces transepidermal water loss3.


Ectoin has been used in the treatment of inflammatory conditions in the eye; nose and sinuses and upper airways because of its protective properties4-6. The anti-inflammatory benefits of ectoin are also thought to improve the skin barrier function and protect against physical and chemical irritants; which is relevant for conditions that can be triggered by irritants and allergens such as eczema3,7,8.


Related blogposts:

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With all the hype and buzz surrounding ectoin; what exactly are the benefits of using ectoin in skincare; and is it the “next Niacinamide”- as some magazines call it?


Just like niacinamide and other skincare contemporaries, ectoin has several multi-tasking benefits even though ectoin works differently. Due to its water binding effects and hydrocomplex around cells, ectoin is a candidate for moisturising the skin3. The effect of increased hydration of the cell membrane also improves the skin barrier function; and reduces transepidermal water loss3. The improved barrier function of the skin strengthens the skin’s defences against allergens; hence ectoin has been used in reducing inflammation and as moisturising ingredients in skincare.


For patients with eczema, ectoin has been used as supportive treatment to reduce dryness and other symptoms of atopic dermatitis9-12. For the majority of the studies, ectoin at concentrations 5.5 to 7%, improved these symptoms over 4 weeks in adults and children9-12.


Over the counter skincare containing ectoin typically have a lower concentration for ectoin than these formulations for patients with eczema. The impact of using lower concentrations of ectoin; for users who do not have eczema or inflammatory skin conditions remains uncertain due to a lack of data.


Related blogposts:

Eczema: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments Explained

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However, based on ectoin’s mechanisms of actions, it is likely that this ingredient can offer calming and moisturising benefits to dry and irritated skin. One small study of 5 subjects found that ectoin used at 0.5% and 1.0% improved the hydration status of the skin in the subjects 1 week after cessation of ectoin use3. And that’s really the only published study I could find for ectoin at concentrations lower than 5.5%. More studies will be required to better understand the pharmacodynamics of ectoin.


One In-vitro study also shows that ectoin may offer protective effects against UVA rays. UVA rays are a risk factor for skin cancer; and accelerate signs of aging14. Again, this preliminary finding in human cells needs to be translated clinically in trials. And of course, ectoin won’t be replacing sunscreen use anytime soon.



Despite the comparisons of ectoin to niacinamide and hyaluronic acid; the mechanisms of ectoin are different from the latter. Ectoin may offer hydrating and calming benefits to moisturise and sooth the skin; similar to niacinamide, ceramides and hyaluronic acid. However, at this point in time, ectoin is significantly less well studied and supported than these other ingredients. Active ingredients such as niacinamide, ceramides and hyaluronic acid have been part of mainstream skincare products; and are better understood and substantiated by data.


Related blogposts:

Niacinamide: A Versatile Skincare Ingredient Your Skin will Thank You For

Everything You Need to Know About Hyaluronic Acid

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Ceramides in Skin Care: A Relief for Sensitive & Dry Skin

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Just like niacinamide, ectoin is an ingredient that is generally very well-tolerated by almost anyone, including those with dry and sensitive skin. The water retaining and barrier strengthening properties of ectoin make it a skincare ingredient that’s safe and easy to use for most skin types. That said, allergies to skincare ingredients are always a possibility, so a patch test is always recommended if you are concerned about possible allergies to ectoin.


Skincare products that contain ectoin.



You can already find ectoin in some skincare products such as:

• Dr. Jart Ceramidin Ectoin-Infused Cream

• Peach & Lily Retinal For All Renewing Serum

• Dermalogica PowerBright Dark Spot Serum

• Alastin Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

• Boots Dermacare Psoriasis Treatment Cream

• Evelom Radiance Antioxidant Eye Cream



Ectoin is a versatile active ingredient that pairs well with most other active ingredients. Consider combining ectoin with active ingredients that are potentially irritating like retinoids and exfoliating acids. The hydrating benefits and calming effects of ectoin on the skin make it a great player to protect the skin barrier, especially when the skin is irritated.


Related blogposts:

The Beginner’s Guide to Starting Retinoids

Retinol Serums & Creams Review 2023

A Complete Guide to Acids in Skincare & Chemical Exfoliants

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So there you have it- a critical look at the latest buzzword in skincare, ectoin. Essentially it is a type of peptide found in microorganisms living in harsh conditions. Ectoin builds a “water shell” around the membranes of these microorganisms so that they can tolerate and survice in these environments.


This water binding ability and protective effects of ectoin have made an interesting new player in the skincare realm. However, ectoin is relatively new to the skincare scene, and it remains significantly less substantiated than mainstream ingredients that offer the same benefits. More clinical studies are still needed to translate these benefits of ectoin.


Have you tried skincare products that contain ectoin? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!



1. 1,4,5,6-Tetrahydro-2-methyl-4-pyrimidinecarboxylic acid. A novel cyclic amino acid from halophilic phototrophic bacteria of the genus Ectothiorhodospira. Galinski et al. Eur J Biochem. 1985;149(1):135–139.

2. Extremolytes: natural compounds from extremophiles for versatile applications. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. Lentzen and Schwarz. 2006;72(4):623–634.

3. The multifunctional role of ectoine as a natural cell protectant. Graf R, et al. Clin Dermatol. 2008;26(4):326–633.

4. Meta-analysis of the efficacy of ectoine nasal spray in patients with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. Eichel A, et al. J Allergy. 2014;2014:292545.

5. Topical ectoine: a promising molecule in the upper airways inflammation-a systematic review. Casale M et al. Biomed Res Int. 2019;2019:7150942.

6. Ectoine in the treatment of irritations and inflammations of the eye surface. Bilstein et al. Biomed Res Int. 2021;2021:8885032.

7. The effect of compatible solute ectoines on the structural organization of lipid monolayer and bilayer membranes. Harishchandra et al. Biophys Chem. 2010;150(1–3):37–46.

8. The compatible solute ectoine protects against nanoparticle-induced neutrophilic lung inflammation. Sydlik et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2009;180(1):29–35.

9. Ectoine-containing cream in the treatment of mild to moderate atopic dermatitis: a randomised, comparator-controlled, intra-individual double-blind, multi-center trial. Marini A, et al. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(2):57–65.

10. Evaluation of safety and efficacy of Dermaveel in treatment of atopic dermatitis. Wilkowska et al. Alergol Pol Pol J Allergol. 2015;2(4):128–133.

11. Testing an ectoin containing emollient for atopic dermatitis. Hon KL, et al. Curr Pediatr Rev. 2019;15(3):191–195.

12. Dry skin as an auxiliary diagnostic criterion for atopic dermatitis. Experience in effectively using ectoin-containing external agent in childhood. Kudryavtseva and Mingaliev. Vrach. 2019;30(3):30–34.

13. The multifunctional role of ectoine as a natural cell protectant. Graf et al. Clin Dermatol. 2008 Jul-Aug;26(4):326-33.

14. Ectoin: an effective natural substance to prevent UVA-induced premature photoaging. Buenger and Driller. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2004 Sep-Oct;17(5):232-7.




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