How Chitosan Benefits the Skin

Chitosan is commonly used in skincare applications thanks to its many biological properties, including biodegradability, antimicrobial effects, film-forming ability, and lack of toxicity.

A brief introduction to chitosan

Chitosan is a multifunctional natural polymer that is derived from chitin. Chitosan is biocompatible, making it excellently suited for skin use as it contributes to the skin's maintenance and its related processes. It is commonly used in skincare applications thanks to its many biological properties, including biodegradability, antimicrobial effects, film-forming ability, and lack of toxicity.

Chitosan can also greatly contribute to eco-friendly personal care products by replacing undesirable chemicals, making it an ideal component for skincare solutions aiming to focus on natural ingredients. Let's take a closer look at each of the beneficial properties of chitosan for the skin.

Moisture retention

Our skin is constantly working on retaining moisture. Thanks to its film-forming properties, when applied to the skin, chitosan forms a breathable film, covering the epidermis. This film operates as a protective barrier, strengthening our natural skin barrier and keeping moisture in while keeping irritants out. This extra layer of protection allows the skin to retain moisture and take on a plumper, healthier appearance.

Sufficient moisture levels are necessary for our skin to function properly, keep our normal skin microbiota, and promote skin cell regeneration. The outer layer of our skin, called the epidermis, is responsible for preventing moisture from evaporating into the air, among many other functions it has. Many things can contribute to moisture loss: natural aging, skin conditions such as eczema, harsh soaps or chemicals, extreme weather conditions, even certain types of medication can cause the skin to lose moisture.



A major component of healthy skin is its ability to keep out harmful microorganisms. Part of this is achieved thanks to our skin's immune system and natural microbiome: the community of microbes that live within our skin.

Chitosan also has antimicrobial properties. This means it has the ability to interfere with harmful microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi or mold, that can cause inflammation or infection of the skin. Such microbes can also exacerbate skin conditions such as acne or eczema. Chitosan can modulate our skin microbiota, resulting in a more favorable symbiosis and healthier skin. This is also one of the reasons chitosan is so effective in aiding with wound healing.

Cell regeneration

Part of our body's natural processes is also cell regeneration and chitosan can assist. Our skin is constantly regenerating. Its outermost layer, the epidermis, produces new skin cells, pushing mature cells up towards the top of the skin, where they fall away. This cell regeneration cycle takes roughly 28 days to complete itself. As we age, this process slows down significantly, requiring between 45 to 60 days to complete its cycle.

Chitosan can help in restoring a problematic skin by its protective, soothing, moisturizing and skin renewal stimulating properties. Chitosan is known to stimulate cell regeneration when applied on wounded skin and facilitate wound healing.

Ultrasound technology can be used to assess the density of the skin. The more white spots there are, the denser the skin. The pictures below show the obvious tightening of the skin after a 12-week clinical trial using ChitoCare Beauty Hair, Skin & Nails.



One of our skin's most important processes is collagen production and chitosan can contribute to its normal maintenance. Collagen is one of the main structural fibers of the dermis, the middle layer of the skin. Collagen acts as a matrix of supportive protein for new cell growth and provides support throughout the body. Together with elastin, collagen gives the skin its structure, strength and elasticity.

Collagen production naturally slows down with age. It is one of the reasons why mature skin develops wrinkles, fine lines, crow's feet, jowls and other creases and folds. Boosting collagen production or preventing its decline may help keep skin strong, elastic, and younger-looking. Chitosan may support this process, either when applied topically to protect the skin, maintain adequate moisturization and stimulate aesthetic skin renewal, or by dietary intake supplemented with other important skin nutrients to support and provide a positive effect on the dermis and epidermis.

Chitosan's ability to positively affect collagen formation and its aesthetic rearrangement when applied topically also contributes to scar treatment and the wound healing process, as collagen is a major protein in connective tissue.

Wound healing

One of chitosan's functions is its ability to support wound healing, reinforcing the skin's natural barrier against aggressors. Wound healing is typically divided into four stages. Chitosan can assist this process at multiple stages.

  • In the hemostatic stage, chitosan's hemostatic properties help to prevent further blood loss by triggering clot formation, which provides a matrix for invading cells needed in the later phases of healing.
  • In the inflammation stage, chitosan stimulates the cell and factor-releasing activity, thus leading to an appropriate inflammatory microenvironment conducive for healing. Chitosan's antibacterial properties may help minimize infections known to retard healing, while its analgesic properties help reduce pain caused by inflammation.
  • In the proliferation stage, chitosan's ability to stimulate cell regeneration helps to repair or replace damaged skin tissue, reducing healing time.
  • In the remodeling stage, chitosan's ability to promote regular deposition of thin collagen fibers and correct repair of dermo-epidermal lesions results in the development of normal epithelium and maturation of the scar tissue.


Chitosan's film-forming nature allows it to cover the surface of the skin and wound in a thin, flexible film. This provides an extra protective layer that locks in moisture and keeps out microbes and undesirable aggressors, while its antipruritic properties help to reduce itching. By contributing a network structure to the skin's extracellular matrix, chitosan film contributes to wound tissue healing, while allowing good air permeation.

Antioxidant properties

Chitosan is a natural antioxidant , exhibiting antioxidant activity that can be greatly beneficial to human health. Antioxidants play a key role in maintaining a healthy body and chitosan's antioxidant properties make it excellently suited for skincare products. Antioxidants protect skin cells against the damaging effects of free radicals that cause oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress affects the skin in several ways, including compromising the skin's barrier function; this increases sensitivity, causes moisture loss and affects collagen and elastin production, leading to skin aging, inflammation and photodamage.

In skincare products, chitosan's antioxidants properties can help support the skin, calm irritation and reduce soreness, redness and itching thanks to its soothing anti-inflammatory effect. It helps skin remain protected against environmental aggressors, such as UV radiation, cigarette smoke, air pollution, extreme temperatures, and harsh chemicals or allergens.

Allows the delivery of other active ingredients

Chitosan has the ability to facilitate the steady transport of nutrients, oxygen, antioxidants and other therapeutic compounds and substances to the skin. This makes chitosan a dynamic delivery agent for products that wish to tackle a specific skin issue.

When antioxidants are combined with chitosan into a skincare formula, these ingredients are slowly and steadily delivered to the skin and their therapeutic efficacy is enhanced, thanks to chitosan's binding and film-forming properties.


Chitosan has many properties that are beneficial for the skin. It has film-forming properties, making it a highly effective moisturizer, simultaneously preventing dehydration while keeping undesirable skin aggressors out. This makes the skin feel smoother and less dry. In addition, it acts as a hydrating agent, absorbing water from the atmosphere or the skin and holding it in place on the skin.

Chitosan also has beneficial skin microbiota modulating effects, making it effective for the treatment of acne, eczema and other skin conditions that require a healthy microbial equilibrium on the skin.

Chitosan is a natural stimulating agent in the process of skin regeneration and wound healing, promoting proper histoarchitectural tissue organization with optimal collagen structure, making it an ideal ingredient for anti-aging skincare products and wound healing.

Chitosan's antioxidant properties support a healthy skin barrier function by scavenging free radicals that cause oxidative stress.

Chitosan's binding nature makes it an ideal delivery system for skincare products that wish to provide a steady delivery of active ingredients to tackle a specific issue, such as anti-aging skin serums or eczema treatments.

As a leading biotechnology company and manufacturer of high-quality chitosan, Primex has harnessed the power of this biopolymer and created its own natural skincare line formulated with chitosan, called ChitoCare beauty.

For further information on how Primex can assist you with developing chitosan products for your cosmetic, cosmeceutical or skincare brands, do not hesitate to get in touch and our team of experts can provide you with all the necessary information.