Within the market demand for natural solutions, consumers seek products with skin-identical approaches to maintain and improve skin health and beauty. In response, formulators can develop products to improve skin function by focusing on activity in the surface layers of skin as well as stimulating activity from within. In this context, ceramides, which are present in skin and consist of N-acylated sphingoid bases,1 are well-established in the literature for their importance in skin barrier function and stratum corneum (SC) moisturization.
However, less has been published on the effects of free sphingoid bases that are also present in skin. Phytosphingosine, typically an 18-carbon chain that incorporates a 2-amino-1,3, 4-triol for its lipid head group, is a free sphingoid base that constitutes part of the chemical antimicrobial barrier of the SC to help control infection. In addition, it can serve many other activities, which are the subject of this literature review.