Study evaluates current theories of surfactant penetration into skin

YYoung man wears a towel like a turban on his head, smiles and applies cream to his left cheek with the thumb of his left hand.

Midaged man with a towel on the headWith repeated exposures, this leads to skin dryness and irritation, compromising barrier function and skin health. The mechanisms of anionic surfactant penetration into the skin, however, are still widely debated. A team of the University of Cincinnati, USA now evaluated current theories of surfactant penetration into human skin and proposed a new hypothesis. Once penetrated into the stratum corneum, anionic surfactants bind to and denature stratum corneum proteins as well as intercalate into and extract intercellular lipids. With repeated exposures, this leads to skin dryness and irritation, compromising barrier function and skin health. The mechanisms of anionic surfactant penetration into the skin, however, are still widely debated.  Now researchers from the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy of the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center, USA evaluated current theories of surfactant penetration into human skin. They found that neither monomer nor micelle penetration theories are sufficient to explain anionic surfactant penetration into human skin. Submicellar (or premicellar) aggregate penetration theory is difficult to defend at relevant surfactant concentrations. We propose a new hypothesis for this mechanism in which short‐term penetration is based on monomer concentration and longer‐term penetration is based on surfactant‐induced damage to the skin barrier. The study is accepted for publication in International Journal of Cosmetic Science.

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