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Indocyanine Green: What Is It, Cosmetic Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

This article was last updated on: February 28, 2024

Understanding the world of cosmetics can often feel like trying to decipher a complex scientific formula, especially when you start looking at the long, scientific names listed on the back of your favorite products.

One such ingredient that you might come across in your cosmetics is Indocyanine Green, and although it may sound like some kind of expensive paint or a fashion brand, it’s actually got some seriously useful cosmetic applications!

In this article, we’re going to dive deep into what Indocyanine Green is, why it’s used in cosmetic products, and what benefits and potential side effects it might have.

What is Indocyanine Green?

Indocyanine Green, also known as Sodium 2-[7-[3,3-Dimethyl-1-(4-Sulfonatobutyl)Benz[E]Indolin-2-Ylidene]Hepta-1,3,5-Trien-1-Yl]-3,3-Dimethyl-1-(4-Sulfonatobutyl)Benz[E]Indolinium, is a unique ingredient used in the cosmetic industry. It’s not your everyday cosmetic ingredient, but it plays a crucial role in the products it’s found in.

This ingredient is synthesized in a lab, and its primary function within cosmetic products is as a UV absorber. It works by absorbing harmful UV rays, preventing them from damaging the skin. This makes it a popular ingredient in sunscreens and other skincare products designed to protect the skin from sun damage.

Indocyanine Green is typically not sold as a standalone product. Instead, it’s usually found as part of a wider formulation of ingredients within a product’s formulation. It’s one of those behind-the-scenes ingredients that you might not notice, but it’s working hard to keep your skin safe and healthy.

Who Can Use Indocyanine Green?

Indocyanine Green is suitable for all skin types. Whether you have dry, oily, combination, or sensitive skin, this ingredient can help protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays.

As for dietary preferences, Indocyanine Green is suitable for both vegans and vegetarians. It’s synthesized in a lab, meaning no animal products or byproducts are used in its creation. So, if you’re following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, you can use products containing this ingredient without worry.

As for pregnant and breastfeeding women, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider before introducing new products into your skincare routine. While there’s no specific information suggesting that Indocyanine Green is harmful during pregnancy or breastfeeding, it’s always better to be safe and check with a professional.

Indocyanine Green’s Cosmetic Benefits/Uses

The benefits and uses listed in this section are strictly the cosmetic benefits and uses of Indocyanine Green. This ingredient may have applications in multiple different industries, which are beyond the scope of this article. The following are the benefits of Indocyanine Green based on its official function as a UV absorber:

  • Enhanced Photoprotection: Indocyanine Green’s ability to absorb UV radiation makes it an effective agent for photoprotection. It can be incorporated into daily skincare products, not just sunscreens, to provide ongoing protection against the harmful effects of UV rays. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who are exposed to sunlight regularly or those with sensitive skin prone to UV damage.
  • Anti-Aging Properties: One of the primary causes of premature aging is exposure to UV radiation, which leads to the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin. By effectively absorbing UV rays, ICG helps in preserving the structural integrity of the skin. This action aids in reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging, thereby promoting a more youthful complexion.

Potential Side Effects/Adverse Reactions

Like any other skincare ingredient, the topical application of Indocyanine Green can have different effects on different individuals. While some may experience no side effects at all, others may have adverse reactions. It’s important to be aware of these potential side effects and know what to do if they occur.

  • Redness or irritation at the application site
  • Itching or burning sensation
  • Dryness or flaking of the skin
  • Allergic reactions such as hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat

If you experience any of these side effects while using a product containing Indocyanine Green, discontinue use immediately and consult a healthcare professional. In case of severe allergic reactions, seek immediate medical attention.

Adverse reactions to Indocyanine Green are not common, but they can occur. It’s important to remember that everyone’s skin is different, and what works well for one person may not work as well for another.

Before incorporating any new skincare product into your routine, it’s crucial to perform a patch test. This can help you determine how your skin will react to the product and prevent potential adverse reactions. Remember, your skin’s health and safety should always be your top priority.

Comedogenic Rating

Comedogenicity refers to the potential of a substance to cause comedones, which are skin blemishes often associated with acne. These are caused by the blockage of hair follicles by oils, dead skin cells, and other substances. In the context of cosmetic ingredients, a comedogenic rating is used to indicate the likelihood of an ingredient to clog pores and potentially lead to acne.

Indocyanine Green has a comedogenic rating of 0. This means that it is non-comedogenic and does not have the potential to block pores or cause acne. The rating is based on the molecular structure and properties of Indocyanine Green, which do not contribute to the formation of comedones.

Given its non-comedogenic nature, Indocyanine Green is suitable for individuals who are prone to acne or breakouts. It can be used in cosmetic formulations without the risk of exacerbating or causing acne.

Conclusion

Indocyanine Green serves as a UV Absorber in cosmetic formulations. This means it helps to protect the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation, which can lead to premature aging and skin cancer.

Despite its beneficial properties, Indocyanine Green is not widely popular in the cosmetic industry. It is similar to other UV absorbing ingredients, but it is not as commonly used. This could be due to a variety of factors, including cost, availability, or simply a preference for other ingredients with similar properties.

In terms of safety, Indocyanine Green is generally considered safe to use. Its non-comedogenic nature makes it suitable for all skin types, including those prone to acne. However, as with all cosmetic ingredients, it is always recommended to perform a patch test before incorporating a new product into your skincare routine.

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