You may have already seen Allantoin on the labels of your skincare products, as it’s a popular ingredient in anti-ageing cosmetics, being used in all manner of creams, lotions, moisturisers, sun creams as well as a whole host of other products. It’s so popular in fact that it’s currently referenced in over 10,000 patents.

What is Allantoin?

Allantoin is a chemical compound that is known within the scientific community as either 5-ureidohydantoin or glyoxyldiureide. It gets its name, Allantoin, from the sac that is attached to the embryos of most vertebrates – the Allantois.

The Allantois stores foetal excretions, which explains it’s name, as allantoin is formed during the process of oxidizing uric acid.

Allantoin is non-allergenic, non-toxic, odourless and safe. When sold in bulk, it’s a fine white crystalline powder that dissolves in both water and alcohol.

How is Allantoin made?

Allantoin can be found in both plants and mammals. In the plant world, it’s mostly extracted from comfrey (Symphytum Officinal), perennial flowering plant, although it can also be found in chamomile, tobacco seed and wheat sprouts. In animals it can be found in the urine of most mammals, however, most of the Allantoin used in modern cosmetics in synthesized.

What does Allantoin do?

Allantoin is used to treat acne, burns, eczema, impetigo, psoriasis, sunburns and other skin problems. Its benefits are so wide-ranging that it’s one of, if not the, most popular ingredient in cosmetics, appearing in 10,000 cosmetic product patents.

Allantoin is also an antioxidant, working to encourage the generation of new cells and speeding up the body’s ability to shed dead skin cells. This is one of the main reasons that live maggots are so beneficial in healing infected wounds, as they’re known to excrete Allantoin.

There have been numerous studies that have shown that, when used in combination with onion extract, Allantoin is effective at treating and reducing the appearance of scars. In addition, there has been at least one study into the protection offered by Allantoin against UV-induced cell damage. It’s these scientifically proven properties that make Allantoin such a popular ingredient of cosmetics designed to reduce or reverse the signs of ageing.

It’s also an amphoteric, which means that it’s able to react as both a base and an acid, meaning that it can be easily combined various other chemical substances, neutralising them, lessening the irritation that may be caused by other cosmetic ingredients. This makes in particularly useful in cosmetic skin care products designed for those with sensitive skin.