A guide to skincare ingredients - introducing Ictasol, with Dr. Guido Gayko

We believe in using the very best ingredients in our skincare. So, we caught up with Dr. Guido Gayko from ICHTHYOL, to find out what he had to say about the ingredient - Ictasol! 

First, tell us a about yourself.

My name is Guido Gayko. I have a PhD in chemistry and I work as a chemist at ICHTHYOL in Hamburg. Since the raw materials my company uses are extracted from a special type of organic matter-rich sedimentary rock, I travel a lot, especially to Tyrol in Austria and the Jura Mountains in France.

I specialize in the production of material production, regulatory issues, quality assurance and also provide scientific-technical support for our customers in the cosmetics industry.

Tell us about your company and what you do.

ICHTHYOL was actually founded at the end of the 19th century, so it’s well established. We specialize in the production of active ingredients from limestone that contains fossilized phytoplankton that lived in the ocean in primeval times. The name of the company and the raw materials we make were inspired by fossils of fish that can be found in the rock.

Let’s talk about ‘Ictasol’, an ingredient that we use in our SOS Target - could you explain what it is and why it is good for skincare products.

Ictasol Sodium Shale Oil Sulfonate

Ictasol is one of the raw materials that we have offered to the cosmetics sector for more than 20 years. Ictasol has both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, so it makes sense that it’s mainly used to treat dandruff and blemishes.

Ictasol is extracted as a highly concentrated sulfur oil and we get it from a special rock through a process called dry distillation. This highly concentrated sulfur oil is also called stone oil or shale oil. When we extract it, the volatile part is first made water-soluble by sulphonation and then neutralised. The finished raw material is a sodium salt. Another name for Ictasol is “sodium shale oil sulfonate” (which was actually used in INCI dictionaries in the past). It’s cool because it has the properties of a surfactant and is water soluble.

Why is Ictasol good for acne prone skin?

There are many different factors that might cause someone to have breakouts or acne prone skin. When it comes to acne prone skin, we normally see the following things:
•   Oily skin with increased build-ups of sebum
•    Bacterial infection of the oil glands and hair follicles
•    Formation of blemishes as a result of sebum and bacteria clogging pores. 

Ictasol addresses all of these problems. The advantage of Ictasol, compared with other ingredients is that it treats the skin’s surface with its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

All good products for acne prone skin should treat all of these things and Ictasol does this especially well.

Are there any side effects of applying Ictasol to your skin

There are rarely any problems with the application of Ictasol. It’s used in baby products and in products that are formulated for sensitive skin. It should be noted, however, that the skincare routine that it’s used in, also plays an important role. In principle, Ictasol is best used on oily skin, which is something that those who have acne prone skin have.

Why does it smell like it does?

Ictasol has a weird smell because it’s main ingredient is organic sulfur! 

Do you have a skincare routine?

I rely on sweating it all out through doing lots of sports and going to the sauna. I also make sure to drink a lot of water too to keep my skin clear. Sweating can stimulate the blood circulation and  help to supply nutrients to the skin. I also feel that the temperature change when you go into a sauna tightens and refreshes the skin. And one should not forget that taking time to relax can also help improve the appearance of the skin. I also like to keep my skin moisturized especially after the sauna.

How important is it to have a skincare routine if you have acne prone skin?

If your skin is acne prone, then you should choose the skincare that works for your skin type and your lifestyle. Those with acne prone skin should take their skincare and their skincare routine seriously as it is important to find products that work for your skin. You should look for products that are formulated to clear and not block your pores and you should make sure to gently cleanse your skin.

You could incorporate Ictasol into your skincare routine if your skin is oily and prone to breakouts.

Thank you Dr. Guido Gayko for introducing Ictasol to us.

Check out our SOS Target with Ictasol, we recommend using it with the other products in our Starter Set.