Liposomes are tiny bubbles made up of phospholipids, which are essentially liquids that sit inside thicker liquids. You will find liposomes in a number of health related processes, such as drug delivery systems. Illumin, an online magazine produced by University of Southern Calofirnia engineering students, describes a liposome as a tiny balloon. When the balloon comes in contact with a surface, it breaks and delivers its contents. Once the membrane ruptures, it seals to the skin surface, trapping the cells and forming a barrier.
Liposomes are bubbles capable of encapsulating material beneficial to the skin. A 2009 article for the "Journal of Oleo Science" reports that liposomes are an effective delivery device for pharmaceutical ingredients such as aloe vera leaf gel extract, or AGE. AGE is a common component found in cosmetic products. The study concluded that AGE delivered in a liposome vesicle is more effective than application of the gel alone. Use of liposome as a delivery system goes beyond cosmetics. They also work well in the medical industry for application of topical drugs and to provide a method for time release delivery of medication.
In his publication, "The Handbook of Biological Physics," D. D. Lasic describes the liposome as a carrier system that also reduces skin dryness. The lipids that make up the liposome contain moisture, so when the bubble breaks, that moisture adheres to the skin surface helping hydrate it. This makes liposomes an excellent choice for cosmetic products designed for dry skin. According to Lasic's book, the use of the liposome for cosmetics began in 1987, but today they are common in several hundred commercial gels, creams and moisturizers.
Liposomes do more than just deliver moisture to skin cells; they also create a barrier over the surface of the skin. Upon application, the liposome traps moisture under the lipid membrane to hydrate skin layers and repel external substances. Illumin defines this seal as an occlusive layer adhering to the skin surface. The membrane locks in active agents of the cosmetic and protects the cells for external stressors, such as sun or sweat.