Here’s Why Dermatologists Are Buzzing Over Ectoin for Dry Skin

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Is it the new niacinamide?

<p>Ekaterina Klishevnik/Getty Images</p>
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<p>Ekaterina Klishevnik/Getty Images</p>
<p>In the world of skincare ingredients, you have your heavy-hitting big names: the retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, and peptides of the world. But then there are ones that you may not have heard of—yet—but have the skincare world buzzing thanks to their unique abilities and advantages. Ectoin falls into the latter category, an ingredient that offers a variety of skincare benefits, and, in fact, is very similar to well-known niacinamide. But, what exactly is it and what can it do for your skin? Is it worth incorporating it into your skincare routine? We tapped top dermatologists to find out the answers to these questions and more. Ahead, their expert opinions, plus top product picks.</p>
<h2>What Is Ectoin?</h2>
<p>“Ectoin is a natural molecule that helps protect bacteria when they are subjected to extreme conditions like extreme temperatures, pH levels or salinity, drought, or irradiation,” explains <a href=Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “It binds water molecules and creates a protective shield, helping to stabilize membranes and protect proteins and nucleic acids from being damaged by environmental stressors. It also has anti-inflammatory properties,” she adds.

What Does Ectoin Do?

Well, just like it can do all of those things for bacteria, it can also have a similarly protective effect for your skin.  It helps shield cell membranes from oxidative stress, inflammation, and damage, while also strengthening the skin barrier and reducing transepidermal water loss, says Melanie Palm, a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon at Art of Skin MD in San Diego.  If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s very similar to the benefits of niacinamide, a type of B vitamin. One key difference? Whereas niacinamide can help improve the appearance of discoloration and pores, ectoin has the ability to boost hydration, Dr. Palm explains. Still, depending on your complexion concerns, the two can actually work quite well and synergistically together.

What Other Ingredients Does Ectoin Work Well With?

Consider ectoin like the UN of skincare ingredients—it plays nicely with almost all other actives. “It’s great to combine it with potentially-irritating ingredients like retinoids and hydroxy acids,” notes Dr. King, as ectoin’s hydrating and protective effects can help combat and minimize the likelihood for any irritation or redness. “The benefits of ectoin can also be amplified by ingredients with humectant properties, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, or ingredients that also help to strengthen the skin barrier, like ceramides and peptides . These work well together to protect the skin and boost hydration,” adds Dr. Palm.

Who Should Consider Using Ectoin?

Here’s some exciting news—both dermatologists we score with underscore the fact that ectoin is generally very well-tolerated by almost anyone and everyone, no matter your skin type, so you don’t really have to stress about side effects (though it’s especially ideal if you’re battling dry and/or irritated skin). That being said, an allergy to the ingredient is still possible, so it’s best to do a patch test with any new skin care product.

Best Ectoin Products to Try

Dr. Jart Ceramidin Ectoin-Infused Cream

Per our point about pairing ectoin with ingredients that have similar benefits, “I like this moisturizing cream because it’s also formulated with ceramides to boost hydration and amplify its barrier-strengthening benefits,” says Dr. Palm of one of her picks.

Peach & Lily Retinal For All Renewing Serum

“This has a nice combination of retinaldehyde for anti-aging properties, along with ectoin to help minimize any potential irritation,” says Dr. King.  “It also contains humectants like glycerin to hydrate the skin and emollients like ceramides to support the skin barrier,” she adds.

Dermalogica PowerBright Dark Spot Serum

Prepare to see spots run. As mentioned, niacinamide and ectoin can work quite nicely together, and that’s exactly the case here. Niacinamide and hexylresorcinol brighten the skin, while ectoin and antioxidants offer protective benefits, says Dr. King, who also lauds the addition of hydrating and moisturizing ingredients such as glycerin and jojoba oil. 

Alastin Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36

Using a good sunscreen daily will work wonders for your skin; you get bonus points if you use this one. “This is a great example of a multifunctional sunscreen that not only protects, but also improves the skin. It’s formulated with ectoin and antioxidants to boost its protective properties,” says Dr. Palm.

Stripes Power Move Plumping + Hydrating Serum with Hyaluronic Acid

Even the driest of skin doesn’t stand a chance against this crazy hydrating formula. Different forms of hyaluronic acid and other humectants with different molecular weights work at different levels of the skin in order to optimize both hydration and plumping, explains Dr. King. There are also emollients and ectoin to protect and bolster the skin barrier.

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