Are polymer-based specialty cleansers milder?

March 14, 2018

Cleansing is a profound mechanical and chemical skin event. The challenge is to achieve skin hygiene without damaging the skin barrier, but smart surfactants are not yet reality.

Q Are the new polymer-based specialty cleansers milder?

Cleansing is a profound mechanical and chemical skin event. The challenge is to achieve skin hygiene without damaging the skin barrier. This, of course, is impossible.

The goal is to clean the skin inducing as little damage to the intercellular lipids as possible.

Surfactants cannot differentiate between sebum and oil-soluble skin soils and the lipophilic substances composing the intercellular lipids. Smart surfactants are not yet reality.

One of the newest outcomes of cleanser research is the development of hydrophobically modified polymers (HMPs). These polymers bind to surfactants to create a polymer/surfactant complex that is functional, aesthetic and mild.

The HMPs interact with the hydrophobic tails of the surfactant, forming larger surfactant structures, which cannot readily penetrate the stratum corneum. This physically prevents cleanser penetration creating mildness due to reduced skin permeability. The binding of the HMPs also lowers the surfactant concentration in the micelles formed during cleansing decreasing protein damage. HMPs produce more foam, which consumers often believe is necessary for cleansing.