As board-certified dermatologist and YouTube creator Andrea Suarez, M.D., previously tells mbg: “Allantoin is an extract that comes from the comfrey plant but also can be found in a variety of other plants,” which includes beets and chamomile.
It functions similarly to panthenol (aka, vitamin B5), as it can soothe redness and irritation. For this reason, Suarez explains, allantoin is frequently found in cosmetics marketed for irritated skin and after-sun products.
But that’s not all the star ingredient can do: Allantoin can also gently accelerate natural cell turnover. “Allantoin is thought to have keratolytic properties,” says board-certified dermatologist Christina Lee Chung, M.D., FAAD. “It is derived from urea, which, like the ubiquitous alpha-hydroxy acids, can help smooth and soften skin by getting rid of excess dead skin.”
Those soothing-slash-smoothing properties make it a hero for sensitive, acne-prone skin. It also speeds up wound healing1 and reduces inflammation, which is why you can find it in a bunch of scar creams, ointments, and the like.
So what suddenly put allantoin back on the map? Well, it also generally plays nice with other skin care ingredients (similar to niacinamide). Not only that, but “[allantoin] enhances the efficacy and appeal of formulas by acting as a skin protectant and providing necessary moisture,” says clean cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline.
As more and more brands include the versatile ingredient in their formulas, beauty fans start to recognize (and even crave) its soothing properties. It then becomes an active that brands highlight in their ingredient lists, rather than letting it play the supporting role.