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25 October 2022
The origin of the term

The term ‘lecithin’ (from the Greek λεκιθος, lekithos) means ‘egg yolk’ and was first introduced in 1850 in the Journal de Pharmacie et de Chimie by the French chemist and pharmacist Maurice Gobley, who isolated lecithin in 1846 from egg yolk and later from other biological and plant tissues, so it is naturally present in both animals (including humans) and plants. This ingredient is used by Gen-Hyal for the formation of glycosome vesicles is extracted from soy.

What lecithin is and what is its main ingredient?

Lecithin, INCI Lecithin, is an emulsifying, emollient and skin-conditioning agent.

Its main component is phosphatidylcholine, which is characterised by a water-soluble polar head of choline, esterified with a phosphoric group bonded to a glycerol, while the two saturated fatty acids (stearic and oleic) represent the two hydrophobic apolar tails. Molecules of this type are called amphipathic and in the presence of water and fat arrange themselves between the fat molecule and the water molecule, emulsifying them.

What is its main property?

Lecithin is therefore an important natural emulsifier. It is used in its fully dehydrated form as a yellow powder that is easily dispersible in water (even at high temperatures). It can be used to form vesicles known as liposomes or glycosomes, which are preferably added to the finished product at low temperatures, avoiding mechanical stress so as not to break down their structure. Liposomes and glycosomes are used for the delivery of active compounds or photosensitive ingredients. Lecithin on the skin has good moisturising properties, reduces flaking and helps restore skin elasticity.

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