If the word cholesterol conjures up images of greasy food and trips to the doctor’s office then you’re not alone. But did you know that despite not having a heart-healthy reputation, it can actually do wonders for your skin?
In this blog, we’ll be talking about cholesterol and how it can keep your skin looking youthful. Let’s get started!
Cholesterol is a lipid molecule produced by all animal cells that can also be isolated from plant sources. It is an essential component of animal cell membranes that helps maintain the structural integrity and fluidity of these membranes.
Furthermore, it is a precursor for the production of steroid hormones such as adrenal gland hormones cortisol and aldosterone, as well as the sex hormones progesterone, estrogens, and testosterone, and their derivatives. It is also necessary for the biosynthesis of bile acid, and even vitamin D.
When it comes to skin health, cholesterol is one of the most important lipids that can be found on the surface of the skin. Along with ceramides and fatty acids, it holds skin cells together and promotes a healthy skin barrier.
It plays a vital role in keeping the skin hydrated which is why it can be found in skincare products. It serves as an emollient and stabilizer that helps condition the skin.
Sources of Cholesterol for Skincare Products
Skincare products contain plant-derived and animal-derived cholesterol.
While some labels will simply mention cholesterol in the ingredient list, it is not uncommon to see this ingredient identified as wool extract or lanolin extract.
It can also be derived from squalene, a botanical compound which serves as a precursor for the synthesis of cholesterol in plants.
The Role of Cholesterol in Healthy Skin as You Age
Primarily, cholesterol acts as a stabilizer and emulsifier which helps water-in-oil formulations from separating. It forms a monomolecular layer that keep droplets dispersed which produces a stable emulsion.
It is also a natural component of the skin’s outermost layer called stratum corneum. When applied topically, it strengthens the skin’s barrier function. This can keep allergens, bacteria, and other irritants from wreaking havoc and causing acne, rashes, itchiness, and even signs of aging.
It helps the skin retain proper moisture levels while regulating cell activity. It keeps the outer layer of the skin strong while helping keep water in. Moreover, it also helps repair skin that has been over-exfoliated or exposed to treatments that strip the skin of its natural lipids.