Phospholipids are a class of lipids that consist of two hydrophobic fatty acid “tails” and a hydrophilic “head” consisting of a phosphate group, which are joined together by a glycerol molecule. This structure enables phospholipids to form lipid bilayers, making them a major component of all cell membranes.
In cosmetics and skin care products, phospholipids can be obtained from several sources. For instance, natural phospholipids can be isolated from soybeans (i.e. soybean phosphatidylcholine), which provide the essential fatty acids linoleic acid and linolenic acid. These phospholipids can help to maintain healthy skin by keeping the skin hydrated and strengthening the skin barrier function. Furthermore, phospholipids can act as carriers or transdermal delivery systems that can help other ingredients penetrate the stratum corneum. Lastly, due to their amphiphilic characteristics, phospholipids can be used as an emulsifier, a liposome former, a solubilizer and a wetting agent.