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  About the SKIN - Cleaning & Care  
Cleansing with surfactant-containing products usually leads to a loss of lipids and moisture from the skin. Addition of oil-replenishing components reduces the amount of skin lipids lost. The Basics of Skin Cleansing

The main purpose of cleansing the body is to remove dirt and sweat and thus prevent unpleasant body odour. In addition, cleansing the body satisfies other desires for personal well-being: refreshment, reinvigoration, relaxation, care and pleasure.

Water for cleansing?
What was once a distinct bathing culture has today become more of a shower culture. Leisure sports but also the increasing burdens of civilization and a strong awareness of hygiene in modern society have intensified the fundamental need for daily cleansing and led to frequent use of cleansing products.

Washing with conventional soaps and aggressive surfactants: Pure water removes the water-soluble (hydrophilic) components. Surfactants combine with the lipophilic dirt particles and remove them while also removing important skin-protecting lipids.

Consequences of skin cleansing
Cleansing is essential to maintain healthy skin, but using unsuitable cleansing products can disturb the skin's natural functions and cause the following dermatologal problems :
  • Changes in the pH and associated changes in the microbial skin flora
  • Removal of the hydrolipid film
  • Removal of epidermal lipids ("horny cell cement") and disturbance of barrier function
  • Irritant-toxic reactions and contact sensitivity
Prolonged contact with water can increase the permeability even of healthy skin tenfold. Frequent washing with detergents or exposure to alkalis can further weaken the barrier function of the skin. This can result in increased transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which is especially detrimental if the skin is already dry. Due to the impaired barrier function chemicals and allergens can more easily penetrate the skin, leading to irritant-toxic or allergic reactions.

Oil replenishment and cleansing
When skin is cleansed with products containing surfactants, it tends to lose oils and moisture. Using a cleanser with lipid-replenishing ingredients not only compensates for lost lipids, but also results in the loss of fewer lipids during cleansing.

The Basics of Skin Care

Opinions are divided over the term cosmetic. While for some, beauty care is a part of personal well-being, many cosmetic dermatologists are more sceptical. Dermatology is defined as the diagnosis and treatment of skin and venereal diseases. It also encompasses, along with parts of aesthetic and cosmetic surgery, skin pharmacology.

In earlier times no clear distinction was made between medicine and cosmetics. Hippocrates, the "father of medicine", left behind an extensive collection of cosmetic formulas. Galen of Pergamon, the father of pharmaceutical formulation, studied besides anatomy, hygiene, pathology and pharmacy also the art of formulating cosmetic preparations. In the late Middle Ages, however, cosmetics were separated from medicine. At the beginning of the 14th century, Henri de Mondeville wrote a text book on surgery in which he drew a clear distinction between the pathological and cosmetic aspects of treatment. Since then, dermatology has dealt with the problems of pathological skin alterations requiring medical treatments and cosmetics with questions of skin beauty. The unity of health and beauty was sacrificed for the benefit of purely scientific considerations. Thus science stopped taking into account the more general aspects of well-being and cosmetics forgot the medical aspects.

Modern medical skin care
Medical skin care results from the restoration of that unity of medicine and cosmetics that was lost in the Middle Ages. Body hygiene and body care are of fundamental importance to the maintenance of good health, and play a vital role in disease prevention and adjuvant care. In recent years several expert bodies have been established to develop concepts for cosmetic dermatology.

The aims of medical skin care
The primary aim of medical skin care is to restore and maintain eudermia. Eudermia is a state where physiological skin conditions prevail. Healthy skin is for the most part the result of a balance of moisture and lipids, along with a physiological pH of the skin's surface, which determines the resident skin flora.

In the course of medical skin care, various active substances are applied to the skin to reinforce its protective functions and correct imbalances. Thus, skincare products can protect the skin from damaging environmental influences such as dryness and the cold. In addition, application of moisturizing factors and lipids restores the skin condition and so prevents the development of disease. In the case of certain dermatological diseases, it can support the appropriate medical therapy as a complementary care program. While skin care can counteract the damaging effects of exogenous environmental influences, endogenous factors such as biological skin ageing cannot be influenced.

Moisture supply - hydration, moisturization
Introducing water into the horny layer - hydration - is very easy. The water phase of a skincare emulsion can supply the skin with an abundance of moisture in a very short time. However, the desired skin-moisturizing effect does not last for very long: The skin quickly loses moisture by evaporation. A longer-lasting hydration of the skin can be achieved with the help of other components: a supply of hygroscopic substances known as moisturizers and/or an improvement of the moisture retaining capacity by occlusion.

Lipid supply - sebaceous lipids, barrier lipids
The lipid phase of a skincare emulsion restores to the skin the lipids it needs. Two types of lipids are especially important :
  • Sebaceous lipids: constituents of sebum. They form a more or less occlusive film on the skin. The addition of sebaceous lipids to dry, oil-deficient skin restores the normal skin condition.
  • Barrier lipids: primarily ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids, especially linoleic acid. They are found among the lipids of the stratum corneum. The horny layer's permeability barrier is mostly determined by the content of these epidermal lipids. It can be improved by topical application of skin-related lipids
Ways to increase skin hydration :
  • Natural Moisturizing Factors (NMF): The skin’s own substances that are able to bind water in the horny layer. They are derived from sweat, sebum and the cornification process including urea, lactic acid and amino acids.
  • Vitamins: For example, dexpanthenol (provitamin B5) and vitamin E.  Apart from typical properties exhibited in biochemical processes, they have a pronounced ability to bind water.
  • Hyaluronic acid: As a mucopolysaccharide an important constituent of connective tissue. It has a very good moisture-binding capacity.
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA's): Lactic and citric acid (NMF) as well as malic acid, tartaric and glycolic acid
  • Occlusion: Even an emulsion containing no active ingredients can influence the moisture content of the skin. For example, lipid bases made of paraffin hydrocarbons have a strong hydrating effect due to occlusion of the skin surface, leading to additional accumulation of water in the horny layer.
Soaps, Syndets and Surfactants

Soap is produced even today by a chemical reaction of natural fats with alkali lyes. However, use of soap has the following disadvantages especially for sensitive skin :
  • Calcium soap formation and accompanying loss of surfactant properties when used with hard water. Calcium salts deposited on the skin interfere with oil replenishment, leading to rough skin.
  • Alkalizing effect: Alkaline hydroxyl ions formed by the hydrolysis of soaps in aqueous solution can irritate and cause alkali eczema, especially in diseased skin.
The development of syndets
These disadvantages led scientists to search for new substances to use for body cleansing. As a result of this work, the end of the 1950s saw the dawning of the era of synthetic detergents, the syndets. They have distinctadvantages over alkali soaps :
  • No alkalizing effect because the pH can be adjusted to the acidic physiological pH of 5.5
  • Therefore also suitable for skin with a reduced base neutralizing capacity
  • No formation of insoluble calcium soaps
  • Little swelling of the horny layer
  • Solid and liquid syndets have since found a permanent place in skin cleansing – especially for diseased skin.
Surfactants as detergents
Surfactants are molecules that are comprised of a very water-soluble (hydrophilic) part, the head, and a fat-soluble (lipophilic), long-chained segment. Surfactants accumulate preferably at interfaces with the hydrophilic part oriented towards the water phase and the lipophilic part towards the oil phase (e.g. lipophilic dirt).

The importance of surfactant components
Individual surfactants have specific properties, such as the ability to create foam (anionic surfactants) or leave behind a pleasant sensation on the skin (amphoteric surfactants). Therefore, most cleansing products contain a mixture of surfactants.

Skin Areas with Special Needs
Not all skin areas are burdened to the same extent by exogenous factors. In addition, special physiological conditions prevailing in some skin areas such as the hands, feet and armpits additionally affect the need for protection and care.

Hands & armpits

Hands have special demands
In the course of a day’s work in the house, office and garden, the hands are especially burdened by contact with water, surfactants and solvents. In addition, there are physiological peculiarities which result in a greater need for lipids. Frequent contact with water alone can dry out the skin and severely impair barrier function. Therefore substances that replace lost lipids are important for suitable cleansing and care of the hands. Excessive burdening of the hands leads quickly to an "overtaxing" of the skin's protection and repair systems and can result in damage to the skin's barrier function. Damaged, cracked, dry and sensitive hands have an increased tendency to develop eczema.


5 -10% of the total population are affected by hand eczema. In the working population the proportion of sufferers is 15 -35%. At 35%, hand eczema is the most commonly reported occupational disease.

Therefore, substances that replace lost lipids, maintain the physiological pH and promote the regeneration process of the skin are important for suitable cleansing and care of the hands.

Deodorizing "care" to prevent body odour
In the armpits the pH of the skin is ca. 6.5 - well above the physiological pH of about ca. 5.5. For this reason, it is said there is a physiological gap in the acid mantle of this body area. The higher pH influences the growth of bacteria in the armpits. Bacterial metabolism of sebum and sweat produces larger amounts of intense odour-producing substances, which can lead to an unpleasant and strong body odour. Preventing body odour with a deodorant is a part of daily personal hygiene today, and there are a variety of possible methods for controlling body odour :
  • Masking it with perfume
  • Controlling perspiration with antiperspirants
  • Inhibiting the growth of bacteria with antiseptics or an acid pH

For medical purposes it may be useful to combine antiseptics and antiperspirants with an acid pH. The decisive factors especially for medical deodorants are effectiveness of the deodorant and skin compatibility of the ingredients.