If you’ve never heard of phytosphingosine (or have a hard time pronouncing it), trust me, you’re not the only one. When I first heard about this incredibly soothing ingredient, I was confused too, but not just because it’s name would have disqualified me from a spelling bee in a heartbeat. Mostly I was wondering, “Why TF have I never heard about this before?” But once I picked up a bottle of Facile Skincare’s Destress Serum, which contains this hero ingredient, I knew it was something special. With its ability to restore and repair skin’s delicate barrier and protect against negative effects of harsher active products, this is one ingredient you’re going to want to put in regular rotation. I talked with Dr. Nancy Samolitis of Facile Dermatology + Boutique to find out exactly what phytosphingosine is, how it does what it does, and how best to incorporate it into your skincare routine.
Phytosphingosine is a type of lipid molecule that is an important component of the protective layer of cells that comprise the skin barrier. Its properties make it an important part of the skin’s natural defense system, as it protects skin cells, facilitates intercellular communication, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial abilities.
The skin barrier is the first line of protection against infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungal organisms. It also holds in water and protects against environmental toxins and potential irritants. When the skin barrier is disrupted, it can result it redness, dryness, bumps, itching, and even infection. Some people have skin that is genetically prone to barrier disruption, including those with eczema and rosacea, but some skin barrier disruption is caused by overuse of irritating skin care products and treatments.
As a skin protectant, it keeps the outer layer of skin intact and strong. This helps to keep moisture from escaping the deeper layers of the skin and also protects against potentially irritating and harmful insults from the environment, like allergens and bacteria. People with sensitive skin conditions like rosacea and eczema will benefit most from this ingredient. There have been some more recent scientific studies showing improvement of acne with use of phytosphingosine as well.