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Ingredient Delivery Systems: What You Need to Know

Our skin is an incredible organ and the cosmeceutical industry strives everyday to create products that can help us maintain its health and appearance. For these powerful formulas to work effectively on the surface and deepest layers of the skin, they need the help of some targeted systems. These delivery systems transport the active ingredients into the skin to leave you with the results that you want. 

As our quest for more youthful and healthy skin continues, the market for anti-aging, glow-boosting and skin transform products is only accelerating. We now have thousands of formulas available to us that promise to reveal youthfully radiant skin but for these potent formulas and active ingredients to perform optimally, they need to be able to penetrate into the right areas of the skin. Actives that sit on top of the stratum corneum, the top layer of the skin, will provide temporary and minimal benefits whereas those that are delivered deeper into the living layers of skin cells are able to work more efficiently and reveal more visible results. Delivery systems serve as the transport these active needs to penetrate the deepest layers of the skin to optimise their effects and here a just a few that you may or may not have heard of…


The first generation of delivery systems, Liposomes have been the first choice of delivery approached in the cosmetic industry for many years. They are hollow, fluid-like vessels in a spherical shape that contain one or more lipid layers. These spheres bring active ingredients into the skin so that they can slowly be released to target the targeted area or concern. Liposomes are fantastic at delivering antioxidants to the deepest layers of the skin so that it is properly protected against free radicals and oxidative damage. 


You’ll probably have heard of the words ‘microcapsules’ or ‘microencapsulated’ when it comes to your skincare, especially with your retinol products. Microcapsules require a shearing stress in the form of rubbing to disrupt the shell of the capsule so that they can release the internally held actives. Their characteristics are ideal for topical products and powerful ingredients such as Retinol and Vitamin C as they can be released slowing into the skin to avoid potential irritation.


Nanotechnology refers to a delivery methodology into and through some or all of the skin layers by means of nanometer sized particles. They allow enhanced properties in many areas of the skincare industry, including UV protection, deeper skin penetration, and improved hydration. You’ll most commonly find this system in your sunscreens as they are reflective, meaning that harmful UV rays will bounce off of them, reducing their effect.


Hydrogels can be found in plants, animal tissue and seaweed and are sustained release delivery systems. They well with imbibition of the external aqueous phase and this then offers a viable pathway of absorption.  They can be found in hydrating masks or moisturisers to enhance products ability to provide long lasting hydration and comfort to dry complexions. 

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