Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that may be plant-derived or synthetic (Paula’s Choice uses the former). In the plant world, xylitol naturally occurs in many fruits and vegetables, including mushrooms, lettuce, strawberries, bananas, and yellow plums.

Research has shown that, like the skin-replenishing ingredient glycerine, xylitol hydrates and helps strengthen skin’s barrier.

Xylitol also has an influential role in normalising skin and the natural process keratinocytes (skin cells) go through as they work their way from the lower to the upper layers to the surface. Part of this is due to its ability to squelch damaging factors in skin that would otherwise throw skin’s natural processes off track.

Xylitol is considered a nutritive sweetener and when added to foods or foods that naturally contain xylitol are eaten, research has shown it has prebiotic action that positively influences the gut microbiome. Xylitiol is a source of galactooligosaccharides, which are primary responsible for its prebiotic ability.

Whether or not this prebiotic benefit also occurs from topical application of xylitol in skin care is unconfirmed; however, topical use clearly has well established benefits for skin.

References for this information:
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, May 2019, pages 323-331
Advances in Nutrition, January 2019, Supplement, pages S31-S48
Experimental Dermatology, March 2018, pages 280-284
International journal of Applied Pharmaceutical and Biological Research, 2017, pages 67-73
Acta-dermato venereological, February 2017, pages 182-187

See glycerine

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!