Foaming Soaps: Are they better than Normal Soap?

Foaming soaps are a popular household staple. They are aesthetically pleasing to us, however, soaps like these may have negative effects on our skin.The cosmetic industry has utilized surfactants in products in order to perform detergency, wetting, emulsifying, solubilizing, dispersing, and foaming effects (Lourith & Kanlayavattanakul 2008). A surfactant is characterized by its hydrophobic and hydrophilic parts (the tail being hydrophobic, and the head being hydrophilic). A common surfactant in cosmetic products is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

These surfactants have the ability to reduce surface tension of aqueous solutions. This results in increased colloidal stability, increasing the amount of foaming that occurs. However, many surfactants are known to bring out irritant reactions when applied to the skin. This is because of their ability to solubilize lipid membranes (Effendy & Maibach 1995).

This is why many laundry detergents and soaps may tend to cause skin irritation. Ingredients like these can strip the skin of natural oils, causing inflammation and dermatitis. This is a significant factor to consider when we’re constantly using a product more than once a day, which is most likely with hand soaps. After washing our hands and bodies with soap, it is important to follow up with moisture care in order to prevent skin barriers from being stripped and causing further irritation.

Effendy, I., & Maibach, H. I. (1995). Surfactants and experimental irritant contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis, 33(4), 217–225.

Lourith, N., & Kanlayavattanakul, M. (2009). Natural surfactants used in cosmetics: glycolipids. International journal of cosmetic science, 31(4), 255–261.

Author: Katherine Vanta
Art: Jennifer Rivas



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Skincare Anarchy

Skincare Anarchy


“THE SKIN AUTHORITY” (CEW) Exclusive look into the beauty industry via interviews with entrepreneurs & industry professionals.