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Lecithin is a naturally ocurring lipid found in both plants and animals. According to the PETA's Caring Consumer guide, lecithin for com mercial purposes is most commonly obtain from eggs and soybeans.

This ingredient may be derived from animals. From PETA's Caring Consumer: Waxy substance in nervous tissue of all living organisms. But frequently obtained for commercial purposes from eggs and soybeans. Also from nerve tissue, blood, milk, corn. Choline bitartrate, the basic constituent of lecithin, is in many animal and plant tissues and prepared synthetically. Lecithin can be in eye creams, lipsticks, liquid powders, hand creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, other cosmetics, and some medicines. Alternatives: soybean lecithin, synthetics.

Function(s): Skin-Conditioning Agent - Miscellaneous; Surfactant - Emulsifying Agent; Antistatic; Emollient; Skin Conditioning

Other names: Egg Yolk Lecithin; Egg Yolk Lecithins; Glycine Soja (Soybean) Lecithin; Glycine Soja Lecithin; Lecithin, Soybean; Lecithins; Lecithins, Egg Yolk; Soybean Lecithin; Soybean Phospholipid; Acti-Flow 68SB; AF 1

Source:  EWG

Source: EWG

Overall hazard:
Cancer concerns:
Developmental & reproductive toxicity: ○○○○○○○○○○○○ 
Allergies & immunotoxicity:
Use restrictions:


Natural or synthetic?


What Is It?

Lecithin is a naturally occuring mixture of the diglycerides of stearic, palmitic and oleic acids, linked to the choline ester of phosphoric acid whose form varies from a waxy mass to a thick, pourable liquid. Hydrogenated Lecithin is the product of controlled hydrogenation (addition of hydrogen) of Lecithin. Lecithin and Hydrogenated Lecithin are used in the formulation of a large number of cosmetics and personal care products.

Why is it used in cosmetics and personal care products?

Lecithin and Hydrogenated Lecithin enhance the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness. These ingredients also help to form emulsions by reducing the surface tension of the substances to be emulsified.

Safety Information: 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes Lecithin on its list of substances affirmed as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for direct addition to food. The safety of Lecithin, and Hydrogenated Lecithin, has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Lecithin and Hydrogenated Lecithin are safe as used in rinse-off products. The CIR Expert Panel limited the use of Lecithin and Hydrogenated Lecithin in in leave-on products to concentrations equal to or less than 15%.

More safety Information: 

CIR Safety Review: The CIR Expert Panel found that Lecithin and Hydrogenated Lecithin were safe as used in rinse-off products and, based on the results of sensitization and photosensitization studies, and safe for use at concentrations equal to or less than 15% in leave-on products. Because adverse reactions to Lecithin have been reported when it was used in a drug product intended to be inhaled, the CIR Expert Panel requested additional inhalation toxicity data. The CIR Expert Panel noted that Lecithin-containing liposomes may enhance the penetration of other ingredients through the skin and that care should be taken in formulating products that contain ingredients that the CIR Expert Panel determined safe for use based on their lack of dermal absorption, or when dermal absorption is a concern. The CIR Expert Panel also acknowledged that cosmetics and personal care products containing Lecithin and Hydrogenated Lecithin may give rise to nitrosoamines in the presence of nitrate or other nitrosating agents.

This link provides more information about nitrosamines.

FDA: Code of Federal Regulations for Lecithin

Lecithin and Hydrogenated Lecithin may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

EU Cosmetic Regulation: 

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives has not limited the daily intake of Lecithin. http://www.inchem.org/documents/jecfa/jecmono/v05je42.htm



LNoéma Editor