Inulin at a glance

  • A prebiotic, plant-derived polysaccharide fiber
  • Helps support a healthy skin microbiome
  • Offers water-binding properties to hydrate and softens skin
  • Can improve texture of products without changing viscosity

Inulin description

Inulin is a complex carbohydrate that’s a source of soluble fiber in the human diet. It offers prebiotic benefits on skin, helping to improve the health of its microbiome, sometimes referred to as skin’s “invisible barrier”.Inulin used in cosmetics is usually derived from chicory root or sugarcane, although varying amounts occur in many plants, including wheat, onions, garlic, burdock, artichoke, and leeks.This prebiotic may also play a role in healing sensitive, reactive skin to better tolerate conventional cosmetic preservatives.Last, inulin has humectant properties since it can bind water and help slow its evaporation from skin’s uppermost layers.Usage levels of inulin in skin care are typically 0.5–3%. It’s often combined with other prebiotic or polysaccharide-type ingredients for synergistic benefits on hydration and skin’s microbiome.

Inulin references

  • Biomolecules, March 2021, pages 1–25
  • Microorganisms, January 2021, pages 1–14; and December 2020, pages 1–14
  • Frontiers in Nutrition, May 2019, pages 1–24
  • Foods, March 2019, pages 1–27
  • Beneficial Microbes, June 2014, pages 99­–107
  • Beneficial Microbes, June 2014, pages 99–107

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not Rated