Hydrophobically modified polymers can minimize skin irritation potential caused by surfactant-based cleansers




The addition of hydrophobically modified polymers (HMPs) to cleansers that contain surfactants can create polymer–surfactant complexes that are less irritating to the skin than commercially available mild cleansers. Our objective was to compare the tolerability and efficacy of a test foaming liquid facial cleanser containing HMPs with a commercial liquid nonfoaming facial cleanser in women with sensitive skin.


In this randomized, prospective, double-blind, comparative study, women (n = 20 per group) with mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis (AD), eczema, acne, or rosacea used a test gentle foaming liquid facial cleanser containing HMPs or a commercial gentle liquid nonfoaming facial cleanser daily for 3 weeks. Investigators assessed irritation and skin condition. Study subjects also assessed their skin properties and the performance of each cleanser.


Clinicians as well as study subjects consistently rated the test cleanser as effective or slightly more effective at improving symptoms than the commercial cleanser, although no significant differences between groups were observed. At weeks 1 and 3, respectively, more users of the commercial cleanser reported irritation (20% and 10%) than users of the test cleanser (5% and 5%). In addition, subject self-assessments of skin condition and cleansing properties were slightly more improved with the test cleanser than with the commercial cleanser.


Both the test foaming cleanser containing HMPs and the commercial nonfoaming cleanser were effective and well accepted by most women in the study. Improvements were observed by both clinicians and subjects in the group using the test cleanser containing HMPs in all evaluated skin categories.