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

Dermatologist recommendations of skin care products are critical to the management of compromised and healthy skin and appreciated by patients. Professionals must carefully weigh not only the safety and efficacy but also the aesthetics of products if they are to achieve the desired outcome of satisfied patients. This article elucidates the relevance of product sensory characteristics and consumer preferences, with specific focus on what appeals to men vs. women, those with self-perceived sensitive skin, and acne sufferers. Different product formats with novel aesthetics are also discussed. Dermatologists’ recommendations are clearly essential to ensure that patients use the most appropriate products; however, sensorial aspects of products should be taken into consideration when making those recommendations, to help motivate continued adherence. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019;18(1 Suppl):s75-79


Adherence to treatment is a critical factor for the successful management of dermatologic conditions. It is especially important for conditions where the skin barrier is compromised, such as psoriasis, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis. Published studies have explored the rates and variables relating to adherence to topical medications for such diseases, and evidence has shown that the vehicle or aesthetics of a treatment can be a contributing factor to lack of compliance.1,2,3 With many product delivery choices available, dermatologists must carefully weigh both therapeutic efficacy and aesthetics as they make treatment recommendations to patients.This same principle applies to skin care recommendations. Adjuvant topical skin care as part of an overall regimen can be beneficial to patient outcomes and overall skin health. For example, the use of mild and moisturizing cleansers and lotions or creams can help alleviate symptoms of sensitivity and dryness in those with a compromised or dysfunctional skin barrier.4 However, adherence to a daily routine is essential to achieve positive results.Dermatologists’ recommendations for skin care products play an important role. Patients are not only receptive to, but also proactively seek, the opinion of trusted professionals because of the abundance of therapeutic products available on the market today. Typically, recommendations are centered on a goal of doing no harm, ie, reducing the likelihood of irritation, as well as helping to improve symptoms. Therefore, both safety and efficacy are paramount. Yet, patients do not always abide by a recommendation. A 2015 consumer survey demonstrates how significant the sensory aspects of products can be to adherence. In this survey, 229 consumers who received a recommendation for a skin cleanser from a dermatologist and had started using that product, were queried. When asked if they still use that recommended product, 31% had stopped using it and the top two reasons cited were that they did not like the product or preferred another product/brand.Given its value, understanding consumer preferences can be advantageous to those who are making skin care recommendations, as well as to those who are formulating the products that are being recommended. Unilever scientists have spent decades decoding the ways in which consumers evaluate products, with particular focus on sensory aspects. For example, in a recent body wash launch, nearly a dozen consumer studies were completed with more than 2,000 consumers having experienced the product during its development. Through this testing, the sensory characteristics of body wash that please a large segment of consumers were uncovered and, just as noteworthy, those sensory characteristics that they disliked, and this learning was applied to the final product development. Abundant effort has also been devoted to understanding what appeals to specific populations, such as men vs. women, sensitive skin consumers, those with conditions like acne, and more. It is known that often there is more than one segment of consumer preference within these groups, but the learnings generalized here represent the sensories most preferred in the population, while other sensories may still be acceptable. This article will further elucidate the aesthetics and sensory aspects of skin care products that appeal to specific types of consumers.