Why K-Beauty Ingredient Allantoin Deserves a Place in Your Sensitive Skin-Care Routine

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Ready to feel more confident when reading your beauty products' ingredient labels? Enter, the ishonest Ingredient Index. In this comprehensive guide, you'll find everything you need to know about the most in-demand (and under-the-radar) ingredients in your favorite skin-care products.Meet allantoin. It's one of the most common K-beauty ingredients you've never heard of (well, unless you obsessively read ingredient lists like I do). It may just be the secret to your skin success and snuck in your favorite sheet masks and moisturizers from South Korea, and it's time we give it the spotlight it deserves.

Although allantoin has been around for a while, it's recently risen in popularity in Seoul because many Korean beauty consumers struggle with sensitive skin, Soko Glam's Charlotte Cho tells ishonest. "Allantoin is right up there next to the cica and madecassoside trends — all are skin-soothing, skin-calming ingredients used for sensitive skin-friendly products," she explains.

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ishonest Korea editors and K-beauty experts alike have also been loving Dermatory's line that specifically spotlights it with allantoin-infused moisturizers, toners, and masks.

In the U.S., Y. Claire Chang, M.D., a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City often recommends it to her patients experiencing irritation and dryness from retinol and glycolic acid. So that must leave you with one major question...

Scientifically known as aluminum dihydroxy allantoinate, allantoin is "a compound found naturally in most organisms including plants, animals, and microbes," explains cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski. "In cells, it is produced from uric acid."

It's often extracted from comfrey plants, but when added to skin-care products, it's produced synthetically in a lab, Dr. Chang adds.

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Allantoin's shortlist of soothing benefits includes anti-inflammation and hydration, lists cosmetic chemist Ginger King, making it just the gentle ingredient needed for sensitive skin.

The versatile ingredient also acts as a skin protectant much like petroleum jelly, cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski adds. You can often find it in anti- acne, sun care, and lip products for this reason, as it shields skin from chapping and can help improve minor wounds.

Dr. Chang points out that lab studies have also shown allantoin has antioxidant, wrinkle-smoothing, and exfoliating properties. They've found that "it scavenges free radicals and reduces inflammatory markers," she says. It can also stimulate collagen and prevent trans-epidermal water loss

Because it is water-soluble, King advises seeking out water-based products. Dermatory's Allantoin line, Dr. Jart+ Cryo Rubber with Soothing Allantoin, and Peach & Lily Wild Dew Treatment Essence are popular options.

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Courtesy of brand

Peach & Lily Wild Dew Treatment Essence

Dr. Chang also shared some of her favorites with the SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream as her top choice. The Best of Beauty Award winner is spiked with exfoliating retinoids and lactic acid, alongside soothing allantoin for gentle-yet-effective results. The Murad Skin Perfecting Lotion also has a similar effect.

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Dermalogica Super Rich Repair Moisturizer

Now, check out an ishonest editor's entire morning skin-care routine:

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