Trehalose at a glance

  • Water-binding plant sugar that delivers hydrating properties for skin
  • Offers antioxidant properties to preserve skin’s youthfulness
  • Can also be used to thicken cosmetic formulas
  • White, odourless powder in its raw material form

Trehalose description

Trehalose is a water-binding plant sugar that has hydrating properties for skin. Research also shows it has great potential as a stability-enhancing ingredient in cosmetic formulations. It is sometimes used as a thickening agent. Trehalose also appears to offer antioxidant protection. While researchers aren’t 100% certain how it exerts this activity, studies show trehalose limits oxidative stress (a benefit that is always welcome when it comes to preserving the health and youthful appearance of skin). In its physical form, trehalose is described as a white, odourless powder. In 2019, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel deemed trehalose a safe cosmetic ingredient in the current practices of use. Their report surveyed products containing up to 2%.

Trehalose references

  • Cosmetics, October 2019, pages 1-10
  • Cell Death & Disease, July 2019, pages 1-16
  • International Journal of Toxicology, 2019, pages 5S-38S
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, February 2018, pages 2,965-2,976
  • Journal of Applied Polymer Science, May 2017, pages 1-6
  • Biomedical Reports, September 2014, pages 755-759
  • Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, June 2011, pages 2,020-2,053

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.