N-Hydroxysuccinimide at a glance

  • Used to soften and condition skin
  • Is a reagent, meaning it triggers a reaction that creates a new substance
  • Can trigger the production of peptides and polymers
  • Is a white solid in its raw form

N-Hydroxysuccinimide description

N-hydroxysuccinimide is a synthetic ingredient used in cosmetics as an ester to soften and condition skin. It’s also a reagent, a substance used to trigger a reaction that leads to a new substance, such as peptides and polymers. Not surprisingly, it is most often found in glycerin-based blends that contain peptides. The recommended range for these blends is typically 2–5%. In its raw form, it is a white solid. N-hydroxysuccinimide has no known safety concerns.

N-Hydroxysuccinimide references

  • Journal of the American Chemical Society, August 2018, pages 9,374-9,378
  • Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, July 2009, pages 70-81
  • Bioconjugate Chemistry, November-December 2001, pages 1,085-1,088

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

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.