Biotechnological Substances Used in Cosmetics 2: Enzymes and Others

what is a polysaccharide
writer Zeynep Aktas

Cosmetics and biotechnology In our previous article of our article series, we talked about peptide and protein-based cosmetic substances. cosmetic We will talk about other biotechnological substances that are most frequently used in substances.


Enzymes are biomolecules that catalyze, and almost all enzymes are made of proteins. Almost all reactions in a living cell require enzymes to be fast enough [1].

Advances in biotechnology provide an increase in the use of different types of enzymes with new activities for industrial purposes. The enzymes most commonly used in biotechnology are lipases that catalyze the breakdown of molecules. Researchers believe that understanding the structure-function relationships of lipases will enable the adaptation of new lipases that are active at low temperatures for biotechnological applications [2].

Unichem International (Spain) to be used as an emollient in personal care products such as skin and sunscreens, bath oils; produces isopropyl myristate, isopropyl palmitate and 2-ethylhexyl palmitate. In this process, the immobilized Rhizomucor meihei lipase is used as a biocatalyst. Retinoids (Vitamin A and derivatives) like skin care products cosmetic and pharmacology also has great commercial use potential for drugs. Water-soluble retinol derivatives are prepared by the catalytic reaction of immobilized lipase, and lipases are also used in hair waving preparations [3].

Marine bacteria isolated from the deep sea also produce special enzymes to catalyze the scavenging reactions of free radicals caused by high temperature UV damage. These particular enzymes have been isolated from the extreme-hardy Thermus thermophilus and were produced by Sederma, Inc. (France) and California Tan, Inc. (USA) to develop commercial skin protection products that are effective in treating damaged skin exposed to UV radiation and heat [2].

Enzymes in cosmetics are hydrolytic enzymes that are mostly used for peeling the upper skin, that is, for peeling. In this process, the skin is peeled biologically by making use of natural enzymes. These enzymes used break down proteins and lipids and ensure the removal of dead cells and the formation of new cells. These enzymes must be of high purity, non-toxic and must be obtained from non-genetically modified plants [4].


Vitamins are the simplest organic substances that are absolutely necessary for our body and act as catalysts in our body. Topically used vitamins are especially effective in degenerative changes in the skin such as skin aging, dry and scaly skin and wrinkles [5]. Cosmetically important vitamins generally water soluble (Vitamin C, panthenol = provitamin B) and water insoluble (Vitamin A = retinol, Vitamin E) They are divided into two [5]. The most important of these are vitamin A and vitamin E.

Retinoids (vitamin A-retinol and its derivatives), which are frequently used in cosmetics for anti-aging, antioxidant, skin whitening properties and to be used in the treatment of acne in the formulations of topical drugs, are also very important commercially. Immobilized lipases are used in the preparation of water-soluble retinol derivatives. Likewise, lipases are also present in hair styling preparations [2].

Vitamin E (α-tocopherol), a lipid-soluble compound, is an effective ingredient for skin protection with high antioxidant activity. In nature, α-tocopherol is produced only by photosynthetic organisms, and its main function in the cell is to protect membranes against UV rays or oxidative damage. It also has indirect anti-aging activity due to its high antioxidant properties [2].


of polysaccharides cosmetic The most important type for glycosaminoglycans. Glycosamingglycans are found in connective tissue and there are three important types. These; heparin, chondrotin-6-sulphate and hyaluronic acid [6]. The most widely used glycosaminoglycan in the cosmetics industry is hyaluronic acid (HA)..

This substance is a natural polysaccharide with a wide variety of pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic applications. HA, which is the main component of the extracellular matrix, is found in various human tissues such as skin, eye, connective tissue and synovial fluid. It is known that due to its high anionic properties, HA can swell in the presence of water and provide structural support to the skin [2].

It is known that HA can provide structural support to the skin. With aging, the production of HA and collagen in the skin decreases. This causes the skin to lose its viscoelastic properties and accordingly wrinkles to occur. This is where HA comes into play, helping to prevent signs of aging due to its filling feature. In addition, HA has been shown to increase collagen production and also affect fibroblast morphology [2].

Other polysaccharides important for cosmetics are fucoidan, carrageenan, agar, and derived polysaccharides such as D-glucose, D-mannose, D-galactose and D-glucuronic acid.


Biosurfactants, by microorganisms synthesized They are surfactant molecules of various structures. These molecules significantly reduce the surface and interfacial tension in aqueous solutions. These amphiphilic molecules are generally water-soluble and have low critical micelle concentrations [7]. Biosurfactants are currently used in different fields, including the cosmetic industry [2].

It has application areas in cosmetic products as stabilizer, wetting agent, cleaner and antimicrobial agent. In this context; biosurfactants are promising molecules in pharmacy, cosmetics and medicine [7].

Glycolipids are the most studied microbial surfactants and include rhamnolipids, trehalolipids, sophorolipids, and mannosylerythritol lipids (MEL).
Biosurfactants help to increase the skin permeability of the active components of a cosmetic product, and it is known that biosurfactants are used as wetting agents, antifoaming agents, emulsifiers in dermatological applications and for condom purposes due to their antioxidant properties in cosmetic formulations [2].


  1. (E.T: 15.11.2020 22:51)
  2. Sena İstanbulluoğlu, Selin Seda Timur, R. Neslihan Gürsoy, ''Biotechnological Active and Excipients Used in Cosmetics'', Hacettepe University Journal of the Faculty of Pharmacy, 2020
  3. Mehtap Tonyal, ''Lipase Production Using Pseudomonas fluorescens (NRRL B-2641)'', Fırat University PhD Thesis, 2011
  4. (E.T: 15.11.2020 22:51)
  5. (E.T: 10.11.2020 22:02)
  6. (E.T: 16.11.2020 10:20)
  7. FH Kural, RN Gürsoy, ''Biosurfactants'', Hacettepe University Faculty of Pharmacy Journal Vol 31-Issue 1, January 2011

About the Author

Zeynep Aktas

Born in 1998, a Chemical Engineer who believes that science will save the world and works to become a scientist.

Visit on LinkedIn