The cutaneous reaction to detergents follows distinct kinetic rules: the duration of application and the irritant concentration are of major importance. The aim of this study was to evaluate the differences in kinetics of skin reaction between the standard irritant sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and 2 modern detergents: sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and alkyl polyglucoside (APG). We performed patch testing with SLS and SLES (or APG) at different concentrations (0.125, 0.25, 0.5, 1.0 and 2.0%) and with different exposure times (6, 12 and 24 h). Evaluation was conducted by measurement of transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and laser Doppler flowmetry (LD) 24 h, 7 and 10 days after patch removal. We found a pronounced reaction to SLS, and a far milder one to SLES. Even at the highest concentration the skin reaction to APG was hard to detect. During the regeneration period (day 3–10) SLS showed even at day 10 an increased TEWL at all concentrations tested. The irritation due to SLES was convincingly detectable only up to day 7, whereas the APG-tested skin areas showed no significant reaction even at day 3. These results demonstrate the improvement in reduction of skin irritation achieved by development of novel detergents.