What is a Liposome?

dermavids for web 1We often hear about the use of Liposomes within skin care products, but why are they so fantastic? A Liposome is a tiny bubble (vesicle), made out of the same material as a cell membrane. Liposomes can be used to deliver ingredients and actives to the cells where they will be used.

The name liposome is derived from two Greek words: ‘Lipos’ meaning fat and ‘Soma’ meaning body.

Liposomes were first described by British haematologist Dr Alec D Bangham FRS in 1961 (published 1964), at the Babraham Institute, in Cambridge. They were discovered when Bangham and R. W. Horne were testing the institute’s new electron microscope by adding negative stain to dry phospholipids. The resemblance to the plasmalemma was obvious, and the microscope pictures served as the first real evidence for the cell membrane being a bilayer lipid structure.

The complicated science part: Cell membranes are usually made of phospholipids, which are molecules that have a head group and a tail group. The head is attracted to water, and the tail, which is made of a long hydrocarbon chain, is repelled by water. In nature, phospholipids are found in stable membranes composed of two layers (a bilayer). In the presence of water, the heads are attracted to water and line up to form a surface facing the water. The tails are repelled by water, and line up to form a surface away from the water. In a cell, one layer of heads faces outside of the cell, attracted to the water in the environment. Another layer of heads faces inside the cell, attracted by the water inside the cell. The hydrocarbon tails of one layer face the hydrocarbon tails of the other layer, and the combined structure forms a bilayer.

When membrane phospholipids are disrupted, they can reassemble themselves into tiny spheres, smaller than a normal cell, either as bilayers or monolayers. The bilayer structures are liposomes. The monolayer structures are called micelles. The plasma membrane are chiefly phospholipids like phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylcholine.


Dermaviduals Liposomes: Dermaviduals hosts a whole load of Liposome serums to be blended into Prescriptive Serums, DMS – High Classic or used neat. Liposomes are already useful as their small and skin like composition allows for easy penetration and can be used as a carrier of good skin ingredients. Dermavidual Liposomes are somewhat a cosmecutical breakthrough. The Liposome’s structure is encapsulated in a Phosphatidylcholine component (Phosphatidylcholine is found in the membrane of cells) once absorbed into the initial layer of the skin, the Dermaviduals Liposomes merge into the cell wall and then release the active ingredients. The Liposome, as well as acting as a carrier, acts as a barrier to protect the active ingredient from harm before it is absorbed into the cell. 

Why are Liposomes different to nano-particles?

Although the composition of the two particles are very similar, the actives in which they carry are different. Liposomes are able to carry water soluble ingredients which include actives such as Vitamin C. Nano-particles however have an oily nucleus which carries oil based substances.

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