Ectoin Best Emollient Hydration Ectoin description Ectoin is a synthetic or naturally-derived ingredient that serves as an emollient on skin and can also have a buffering and anti-pollution effect in cosmetic formulas. Chemically, ectoin is considered an osmolyte. What that means for skin is that as an osmolyte, ectoin helps maintain balanced hydration by maintaining the correct water balance in skin. In doing so, skin can better maintain a smooth, soft surface. Newer research indicates ectoin can also help protect skin from environmental stressors related to different types of natural light and pollutants. This is believed to happen in part because of its antioxidant ability as well as what seems to be a natural ability to protect skin from dehydration due to environmental exposure.