The Importance of Understanding Consumer Preferences for Dermatologist Recommended Skin Cleansing and Care Products

January 2019 | Volume 18 | Issue 1 | Supplement Individual Articles | 75 | Copyright © January 2019

Joanne Crudele MS, Elizabeth Kim MS, Karen Murray BS, Jamie Regan MS

Unilever Research & Development, Trumbull, CT

designed for extremely dry, sensitive skin using sensory profiling to inform the formulation direction. The range included a body lotion that was designed to not only provide robust moisturization efficacy but also feel less greasy than other typical therapeutic lotions. It was also formulated to be thick and creamy and provide a soft, smooth post-use skin feel to help meet those specific consumer needs.Overall, sensitive skin consumers seek a variety of benefits from skin care products. Some wish to avoid specific ingredients, while others are looking for products that do no harm or provide extra moisturization. Often the color, scent, and skin feel are all important to deliver an overall “skin calming” effect. Patients may be arriving at the office with preconceived notions about the cause of their sensitive skin and what kind of product they need as a result, which may affect the conversation around recommendations.Figure4Figure5Acne Acne is a common dermatologic disorder. As a result of both its prevalence and often highly visible presentation on the face, consumers wish to find immediate relief and often choose the internet or other sources for counsel. This creates a challenge for dermatologists, who understand the complexities of this condition and the critical need for adherence to a therapeutic regimen to resolve it. This may include recommendation of a facial cleansing product to be used concurrently with a prescription medication. Research has been conducted to better understand the product preferences sought by acne sufferers and the sensory cues that would signal efficacy.An online qualitative study was conducted in eight different countries, including India, UK, Philippines, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, and South Africa. Results show that consumers rely heavily on in-use sensory of products as proof of efficacy. Globally, among the acne consumers studied, the feeling of dryness is desired. Tightening of facial skin is a positive cue that pimples were on their way to disappearing. Cooling, tingling, or the roughness of a scrub gave consumers a sense that something beneficial was happening during use. Face washes were viewed as effective if they felt refreshing and left the skin looking different after use (no oil, lighter/brighter). Unfortunately, many of these sensory cues do not align with the types of products that dermatologists recommend for acne. That said, based on these findings, if a mild, non-irritating facial wash could help to control oil and leave skin feeling refreshed as well, it may be more positively accepted by these consumers.Formats With the proliferation of skin care products in the marketplace today, it would appear as though there is a product to meet every need. See Figure 5 for a summary of sensory needs by consumer segment. Their needs can be met through traditional cleansing products or with newer formats. Consumers have become accustomed to continual expansion and rapidly-appearing innovation, so they crave new formats with novel sensory experiences. Some examples of new formats in body cleansing include mild self-foamers, aerosol foams, and scrubs. These can now be designed to provide specific skin benefits and sensory experiences that appeal to consumers, while also maintaining a mildness profile that dermatologists desire. While foams have been traditionally viewed as harsh due to the types of surfactants required to generate lather, new sulfate-free, self-foaming technologies have been created with glutamate and glycinate to provide mild cleansing along with an easy rinse, for those consumers looking for a lighter feel than traditional body wash. Directly Esterified Fatty Isethionate-based body scrubs are now being made without sulfated surfactants and a softer level of abrasion combined with a creamy, cushiony, experience consumers view as gentle, unique, and effective. As always, it can be advantageous for dermatologists to become familiar with these new skin care product formats as they arise, so that they can make suitable recommendations for patients who seek novel experiences.


Overall, it is well-recognized that a dermatologist’s recommendation can be vital to encourage patients to try a product that is suitable for their skin type, yet the role that aesthetics play in their continued use is sometimes overlooked. Efficacy, safety, and sensory aspects of products should all be weighed