Cosmetics Products Containing Pullulan

Antipollution Agents

Antipollution agents are one of the newest addition in the personal care and cosmetic world and have gained worldwide importance, especially among the youth. According to a survey conducted in 2016, about 79% of all the new skincare products launched throughout the world in 2016 brandished an antipollution claim. Pollution is responsible for progressive aggression of aging mainly due to its ability of degradation of the structural proteins such as collagen and elastin, resulting in a serious threat to skin firmness and elasticity [23]. It was observed by a study that an extract of microalgae Nannochloropsis oculata, rich in vitamin C, vitamin В12, and pullulan, provides an excellent antipollution effect and enhances skin firmness significantly. It serves the purpose of an antipollution agent by threefold mechanism [24]:

  • 1. Supports the repair and maintenance of the extracellular membrane.
  • 2. When applied, immediately forms a thin film on the dermal surface resulting in protection against pollution and imparting a skin-tightening effect hiding the signs of aging.
  • 3. Stimulation of collagen formation [24].

Depolluphane as an antipollution agent

Depolluphane is an antipollution agent mainly intended to protect the skin from the effects of urban pollution. It consists of a complex containing organic cress sprout extract in a combination of a smart polysaccharide. It also provides protection to the skin cells from endogenous activator molecules, mainly due to the presence of sulforaphane, a well-known molecular activator of the cellular detoxification process of the body [25]. The main defense mechanism of Depolluphane against environmental pollutants and endogenous- activator-induced cellular damage is shown in Fig. 10.3 [25].

Depolluphane EpiPlus as an antipollution agent

Depolluphane EpiPlus is another antipollution agent with a comparatively greater spectrum of activity rather than Depolluphane. It consists of several organic extracts such as Lepidium sativum sprout extract and Cynara scolymus (Artichoke) leaf extract in combination with pullulan, sodium carboxymethyl betaglucan, Caesalpinia spinosa gum, maltodextrin, and water. It acts by strengthening the ability of the skin to face the stress and pollution of everyday urban lifestyle along with providing prolonged protection to the skin cells from the long-term effect of the pollution-induced epigenetic damage. The presence of the highest concentration of sulforaphane in L. sativum sprouts imparts a superior preventive potency against environmental pollutants as well as internal activator molecules. Depolluphane EpiPlus protects the skin from urban pollution in a threefold way:

  • 1. It imparts a shielding effect on skin against particulate matter immediately after application.
  • 2. It provides a short-term modulation of skin's own defense mechanism by the activation of detoxification enzymes.
  • 3. It provides long-term protection to the dermal cells against pollutant-induced epigenetic damage [26, 27].
The main defense mechanism of Depolluphane against environmental pollutants and endogenous-activator-induced cellular damage [25]

Figure 10.3 The main defense mechanism of Depolluphane against environmental pollutants and endogenous-activator-induced cellular damage [25].

PatcH2O™ as an antipollution agent

PatcH20 acts as an antipollution agent as well as a moisturizer. It consists of a micromolecular network formed by the combination of naturally occurring biopolymers along with a high concentration of moisturizing complex having glycerin, serine, trehalose, and urea as its ingredients, which prevents dermal water evaporation by acting as a protective film over the skin. The molecular mesh is also loaded with a moisturizing complex, which is gradually released into the outermost layer of skin, i.e., stratum corneum. PatcH20 is applied in antiaging and hydrating skincare formulas and also haircare products more specifically for stressed, bleached, and dry hair [28].

Antiwrinkle Agents

Pullulan is considered to impart a significant antiaging and antiwrinkle property to cosmetic products by the formation of a thin film, when applied on the skin surface, providing a tightening texture and appearance [21] to the skin. Cetpro pullulan, a grade of pullulan, was evaluated by manufacturers for its antiwrinkle potency, and it was observed that cetpro pullulan does not impart wrinkle reduction or whitening effects. However, when combined with vitamin C, the effects were boosted to be significantly higher than those of vitamin C alone [29].

LIFTONIN®-XPRESS as an antiwrinkle agent

LIFTONIN-XPRESS is an antiwrinkle agent formulated in combination with hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, pullulan, and Porphyridium cruentum extract, which acts as an instant wrinkle reducer based on the presence of skin-tightening active components (lyophilisate made from the microalga Porphyridium cruentum with macromolecular phycocolloids) embedded in a polymeric matrix. The antiwrinkle and skin-tightening effects are intense, long term and applicable to different kinds of dermal wrinkle. It is suitable for oil-in-water and water-in-oil emulsions, gels, and lotions [30].


Depolluphane and Depolluphane EpiPlus (discussed in detail under antipollution agent) also possess antioxidant property mainly due to the presence of sulforaphane, which exerts a long-term protective effect against epigenetic cellular damage caused by endogenous reactive oxidizing species [25-27].


Pullulan, by means of its good adhesion and foam-retention properties along with its ability to form low viscous aqueous solution, can act as binder, film former, and texturing agent in several cosmetic products such as easily washable facial masks and haircare cosmetics. It is also used as a stable carrier for active ingredients, colors, and fragrances. Pullulan for this purpose is mainly produced by Nagase and is certified by ECOCERT [31].


Kshirsagar [32] evaluated the emulsifying efficacy of pullulan in combination with gum Arabic and maltodextrin in the emulsification of turmeric oleoresin and reported the excellent emulsifying activity of pullulan supplemented with the polymeric stabilizer(s). The emulsifying activity may be due to the enhancement ofviscosity of the dispersion medium by the addition of pullulan (slight enhancement alone) along with gum Arabic and maltodextrin.

JD Jojoba Aqua Cream Base

JD Jojoba Aqua Cream Base by Jojoba Desert is a light, smooth oil- in-water base moisturizing and mollifying cream. It combines the unique properties of jojoba oil with additional natural-based oils, creating a smooth ceramic texture that is slightly absorbed by the skin. It accommodates up to 20% oil, wax, silicon, water extracts, active ingredients, and more. It has a shelf life of 12 months [33].


ECOGEL is the first natural-phospholipid-based gelling-emulsifying agent, distributed in France by Lucus Meyer cosmetics and is certified by ECOCERT. It contains lysolecithin, sclerotium gum, xanthan gum along with pullulan. It increases the viscosity and the stability of formulas. It is specially designed for the formulation of gel creams. The thickening properties of ECOGEL are due to the synergistic polysaccharide combination of xanthan gum and sclerotium gum. The presence of lysolecithin provides to ECOGEL emulsifying properties with the typical phospholipid touch. The structure of lysolecithin-hydrolyzed lecithin induces a higher HLB value allowing the development of smaller oil droplets and hence more stable and thinner emulsions. Compared to classical natural gelling agents, ECOGEL provides good advantages: lower picking and resilience. Moreover, resulting textures are as sophisticated as the ones obtained with synthetic gelling agents [34].


SILIGEL is prepared by Lucas Meyer Cosmetics and finds its use as a gelling agent, co-emulsifier, stabilizer, and suspending agent. It is composed of xanthan gum, lecithin, sclerotium gum, and pullulan. With its patented synergistic combination of phospholipids and polysaccharides, this product after application provides a smooth and silicon-like feel. SILIGEL is suggested for use in various cosmetics and personal care use. It is a China-compliant ingredient [35].


Pullulan is used by cosmetic manufacturers in the production of shampoo, conditioner, and different haircare products. The aqueous solution of pullulan possesses a significantly good lubricant property in spite of possessing low viscosity. This lubricating nature of the aqueous solution of pullulan is mainly responsible for its use in haircare cosmetics [36]. The recommended concentration of pullulan in different haircare cosmetics is <4% [37]. The excellent foam-promoting and builder effects are also another reason for the use of pullulan in the production of shampoo. Pullulan is also used in the manufacture of set lotions and hair lacquers due to its excellent property of tackiness and tough film-forming and hair-setting ability. Further, the property of high water solubility helps in its easy removal after use [38].

PatcH2O in haircare

PatcH20 is composed of water, glycerin, trehalose, urea, serine, pentylene glycol, glyceiyl polyacrylate, algin, caprylyl glycol, sodium hyaluronate, pullulan, disodium phosphate, potassium phosphate, mainly implemented for hair cleansing, hair conditioning, hair styling, and hair treatment. This product contains a biopolymer network comprising hyaluronic acid, alginate, and pullulan, which is responsible for the formation of a protective coating on the damaged hair. PatcH20 also contains various moisturizing factors responsible for the long-lasting rapid moisture rebalancing function of the product [39]. This product is also mentioned under the antipollution agent.

Perfumes and Fragrances

Pullulan is used in different cosmetics in the form of easily dissolvable films to serve as a suitable and stable carrier for fragrances [40].

Toxicity Profile and Safety Considerations of Pullulan

In general, pullulan is regarded as one of the pharmaceutical ingredients with comparatively low hazardous profile. However, in 1985, a study based on in vitro observation of pullulan on nonmammalian cells, conducted by a team of Japanese researchers, observed that pullulan influences the occurrence of mutations, which may invite cancer [21]. The direct handling and intermittent exposure of pullulan-based cosmetics are expected to occur among hairdressers, cosmeticians, and beauticians. According to the estimation and assessment of substance exposure (EASE) (1997) model, the direct dermal exposure of pullulan-based cosmetics containing up to 10% of pullulan, in the range of 1-5 mg/cm2/day, may lead to cancer [41], but no single component of this product at a concentration of greater than or equal to 0.1% is considered probable, possible, or confirmed human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) [42]. Pullulan may also produce serious systemic injury if it directly enters the bloodstream through cuts, abrasions, or lesions, so it is strictly advised not to use pullulan-based cosmetics if any external damage is present in the skin [43]. The product should be kept in a tightly closed container, should be kept away from heat, hot surfaces, sparks, open flames, and other ignition sources, and sufficient measures should be taken to prevent dust accumulation [44]. Skin irritation is observed upon exposure of a single patch containing a solution of 4% pullulan in water after 48 h [45]. The product is not considered harmful to aquatic organisms nor to cause long-term adverse effects in the environment [46]. Any respiratory allergic reaction is not reported on the use of pullulan-based cosmetics [47].

Future Challenges and Overcoming Strategies

In spite of securing a lot of captivating properties, pullulan is still getting limited usages in industrial cosmeceutical developments, mainly due to its higher production cost. So the first step for cost reduction can be satisfied by the utilization of economic resources, like by-products and wastes. Though many strategies are recently being made up of in this way, some adversities seem to take place and to make the direction very onerous, such as maintaining the supply of qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed substrates, the non-identical nutrient components of the unprocessed stuffs, and the presence of adulterated and built-up chemically inert constituents [48]. The downstream processing of fermentation broth, which mainly focuses on the removal of the pigment melanin, is stating another big problem dealing with the high rise of price. Therefore, dealing with these limitations with proper inexpensive and ecofriendly strategies and planning can lead to an increased commercially emanating usage of pullulan in the field of cosmeceuticals with its various applications [49].


The authors sincerely thank Prof. (Dr.) Jasmina Khanam, Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Jadavpur University, for her valuable advice for this chapter.


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