Recent Advances in Mild and Moisturizing Cleansers

January 2019 | Volume 18 | Issue 1 | Supplement Individual Articles | 80 | Copyright © January 2019

KP Ananthapadmanabhan PhD,a James J. Leyden MD,b Stacy S. Hawkins PhDc

aJL Winkle College of Pharmacy, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH bDepartment of Dermatology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA cUnilever Research & Development, Trumbull, CT

The idea of low-active, water-like, low/non-foaming cleansers is highlighted by the recent growth of “micellar water” in the market place. The fact is that all conventional cleansers have “micelles” or molecular surfactant aggregates in them under conditions of cleansing and they play a significant role in the cleansing process. Micellar water is created by relatively mild, nonionic, or ultra-mild surfactants at low levels, along with low levels of solvents such as short-chain alcohols that aid in the removal of make-up and other oily materials on skin. They may also contain light moisturizers and humectants.


Significant advances have been made in mild and moisturizing cleanser technologies over the past 10-15 years. This includes a deeper understanding of the relative roles of SC proteins and lipids in the interaction of SC with cleanser surfactants leading to skin dryness, irritation, and erythema, and the role of co-surfactants and lipids such as stearic and palmitic acids in mitigating their effect. Typical moisturizing technologies from wash-off systems involve deposition of triglyceride oils or petrolatum during the rinse phase. The importance of cleanser base mildness even in high emollient containing moisturizing cleanser systems is now clearly established. Recent work also shows that the moisturizing technologies can move further in the direction of helping skin build better barrier by supplying actives such as fatty acids and other pro-lipids that skin can utilize in its repair process. Future trends in the cleansing area include increased use of sustainable and greener ingredients, better understanding of the skincare needs of the very elderly, and unraveling the role of skin microbiome in the context of daily skincare.


At the time of most of this work, KP Ananthapadmanabhan was an employee of Unilever. KP Ananthapadmanabhan and JJ Leyden are consultants for Unilever. S Hawkins is an employee of Unilever.


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KP Ananthapadmanabhan PhD