Effect of commercial cleansers on skin barrier permeability

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Addition of hydrophobically modified polymers (HMPs) to cleansers can reduce the negative impact of surfactant-based cleansers. In this study, the effects of a cleanser containing HMPs, a gentle lotion cleanser (GLC), water, and 1% sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) on barrier permeability, were evaluated in vitro in pig skin and in vivo in humans.


Skin stratum corneum (SC) barrier function was quantitated by imaging fluorescence intensity of the sulforhodamine B (SRB) in a pig skin model system using 2-photon and conventional fluorescence confocal microscopy. Solutions containing SRB were applied to pig skin in Franz diffusion cells over a period of 2 h. Penetration of SRB into the skin was monitored from 2 μm to 38 μm. In vivo surfactant/cleanser penetration in human skin was determined using tape stripping.


After 2 h, water, 1% SLS, and GLC, significantly increased SRB intensity at all depths measured. SRB intensity was reduced in the HMP-cleanser group compared with other groups at each depth. In vivo, the presence of HMP reduced SLS penetration as measured by tape stripping.


The cleanser containing HMP prevented changes in SC permeability and surfactant penetration, indicating a protective effect on skin barrier properties.

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