What are Liposomes?

Have you heard of liposomes? Dr. Bangham of Babraham Institute in Cambridge discovered liposomes and first described them in a paper published in 1965. At the time the main function of liposomes was to deliver various drugs to the body in order to treat diseases. But in 1986. Dior launched Capture, world’s first commercial liposome product. The rest of the skincare industry followed suit.

What is a liposome?

A liposome is a spherical vesicle. They can be made from synthetic or natural fatty substances and consist out of a lipid bilayer (most usually phospholipid). Phospholipids trap any substance that will dissolve in water or oil.

How liposomes work

How are liposomes used in skincare?

The original purpose of liposomes is to deliver various drugs to the body to treat diseases. Likewise, in skincare products liposomes are used as a delivery system. Not every ingredient needs to be packaged into a liposome. If it can function well outside of a liposome, this particular method isn’t necessary. But the main challenge with active ingredients in skincare is how to maintain their stability and how to ensure that the active ingredients will penetrate the skin.

Take retinol as an example. It will rapidly deteriorate when exposed to air and light.

Yes, the packaging is important (an air tight dispenser with a pump works the best), however, the delivery system is equally important too. It ensures that the active ingredient stays stable. Also, depending on the choice of the liposome, it penetrates deeper and causes less irritation. Retinol encapsulated in liposomes is much more stable and active than unencapsulated retinol added directly to a lotion or cream.

retinol liposomes

Not all liposomes are created equal. The crucial key factor is the size of the liposome and the composition of its outer membrane.
Flexible liposomes are small in size, have high linoleic acid content and a single bilayer. When they are applied to the skin, moisture in the epidermis attracts them and they have a higher rate of penetration due to their flexibility.

Do you use products that contain liposomes?

Roberta Striga