Surfactant Skincare series – Cleansing Baby Skin

Last week, we briefly looked at the different types of surfactants and understand their functions. This week, we’re looking deeper into baby skin and the research around cleansing baby skin.

Baby Skin Structural Vulnerabilities

In the Skin Fact series, we’ve discussed much about baby skin structural differences. Below is a recap of certain baby skin characteristics that increase its vulnerability during skin cleansing:

Higher transepidermal water loss due to thinner stratum corneum – More vulnerable to water loss during bathing and skin barrier breakdown when there’s excessive friction (from over-washing or from rubbing skin when toweling dry).

High surface-area to volume ratio – along with a thinner stratum corneum and immature drug matebolism, make baby skin more vulnerable to harmful chemicals used during bathing

Less total lipids – make it vulnerable to further reduction of skin lipids lost during washing

Cleansing Baby Skin – Research on What’s Best

From a search on Pubmed for review articles on the research for baby skin cleansing, there’s actually not much research on it. From a 2009 European round table meeting, the consensus is:

Learning about cleansers for Baby Skin

Learning about cleansers for Baby Skin

  1. Liquid cleansers in bathing are beneficial over water alone – Water cannot remove dirt, oil that can only be removed by oil. Prolonged washing with water dries the skin and depending on the pH of the water itself, it may be more alkaline than the natural pH of the skin.
  2. Liquid cleanser are preferred, rather than soap which alters the skin pH and affect the skin lipids, increase skin drying and irritation – Learn more about soap and its impact on skin pH in the skin pH series. The pH of skin can affect its skin lipids, which (a lower skin lipids) in turn causes drying, itchiness and skin inflammation.
  3. Liquid cleanser should be mild, non-irritating, non-stinging (especially to the eyes as babies may not be able to blink fast enough) and non-pH altering, and contains moisturizing function

For cleansing of baby’s skin, I’ve found two other articles that offer recommendation on what’s best for baby skin.

Extracted from http://www.hindawi.com/journals/drp/2012/198789/tab2/ - Review article on The Infant Skin Barrier: Can We Preserve, Protect, and Enhance the Barrier?

Extracted from http://www.hindawi.com/journals/drp/2012/198789/tab2/ – Review article on The Infant Skin Barrier: Can We Preserve, Protect, and Enhance the Barrier?

Apart from the three points above, additional points are:

4. Avoid Anionic Surfactants, these are those that cleanse very well but most irritating to skin, an easy way to identify them is to look out for those chemicals ending with Sulfates.

5. Choose those with large head groups and have the ability to form larger micelles. Surfactants organize into groups of molecules called micelles and generally the larger these micelles are, the less irritating the surfactant is. This is related to larger micelles being less able to penetrate the outer layer of skin (stratum corneum).

6. No preservatives is not best as bacterial growth can happen in such products

7. No scent does not mean no fragrance (potential irritant) is used, it can be one fragrance masking that of another.

Why Baby Skin needs Cleansing

Just like last week we asked the question ‘Why not just use water to clean?‘ (because 40% of dirt, oil can only be removed by oil), we also have to understand why baby skin needs cleansing. Baby skin has saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, germs and dirt which can potentially irritate the skin when left on the skin. It is also possible that both skin allergy and the body (ie food allergy) can develop from foods being left on the skin for too long. It is therefore important to clean baby skin. However, baby skin, given its structural vulnerabilities, should not be over-washed and to avoid using baby wipes on face or baby wipes that are non-hypoallergenic, especially those containing fragrance and MI.

Next week, I’d (make a brave) attempt to look into how surfactants affect skin and in particular, impact on eczema skin. It’s a very ‘chemical’ topic and not easy, so appreciate if there’s feedback to improve on the blog post, and share your best cleanser!

References

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2 thoughts on “Surfactant Skincare series – Cleansing Baby Skin

    • Hi! I couldn’t find any research on urine for eczema though I’ve heard of parents using it quite many years ago. Personally, I wouldn’t use it as the urine composition differs and no research is done on its efficacy. Rather, I would use moisturizers with urea content as that’s the benefit of urine. From WebMD:
      Many products also have ingredients that soften the horny substance (keratin) that holds the top layer of skin cells together (e.g., urea, alpha hydroxy acids such as lactic/citric/glycolic acid, and allantoin). This helps the dead skin cells fall off, helps the skin keep in more water, and leaves the skin feeling smoother and softer.

      Also check out the moisturizer selection posts, may give some ideas on what ingredients to look out for.
      http://eczemablues.com/2015/09/selection-of-moisturizer-ii-moisturizer-and-ingredients/

      Cheers,
      Mei

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