Phytoglycogen Nanoparticles: 1. Key properties relevant to its use as a natural moisturizing ingredient


*Corresponding Author
1. Department of Physics, University of Guelph 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada
2. Mirexus Biotechnologies Inc., 361 Southgate Drive, Guelph, ON N1G 3M5, Canada


Phytoglycogen is a natural polysaccharide nanoparticle that can be extracted in a monodisperse form from some varieties of non-GMO sweet corn. Because it is environmentally friendly and sustainable, it is an ideal natural botanical extract. Phytoglycogen has a simple chemical composition – it is a polymer of glucose – but has a complex highly branched dendrimeric physical structure. This structure, combined with its hydrophilic nature, contributes to its many desirable properties including high water retention, high dispersion stability, unique rheological behaviour, and the capacity to form films. Together, these properties make phytoglycogen an attractive, natural, multifunctional additive for incorporation into moisturizer formulations. This paper, the first in a series of papers on uses of phytoglycogen, will review key properties of the material.  Where possible, these properties will be compared to hyaluronic acid, a leading natural moisturizer in common use today.


Proper skin hydration is essential for normal healthy skin function.  For example, appropriate skin water content is essential for the enzymatic functions required for normal desquamation, and water content strongly influences the skin’s mechanical properties such as plasticity, softness, flexibility, and elasticity (1-5). The outer layer of the skin, the stratum corneum (SC), is primarily responsible for its water holding properties, and regulates water loss (1, 2). SC water retention depends on its structure and composition, which consists of corneocytes containing a variety of hydrophilic molecules (termed natural moisturizing factors) and hydrophobic intercellular lipids 

(1, 2, 5, 6). The hydrophilic components hold water and the hydrophobic lipid matrix serves as a barrier to water loss. These complementary properties of the skin’s biology give rise to its natural water holding properties, and this biology influences the development of skin moisturizers. Generally, moisturizers seek to incorporate both humectant and occlusive ingredients in their formulations, mimicking and augmenting the skin’s natural water retention mechanisms ...