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Traditionally, the primary purpose of cleansing has been to achieve cleanliness and freshness by removing oily soils, bacteria, and dirt from the face and body. The need to cleanse in order to maintain personal hygiene has been recognized for over a 1000 years. While the use of soap-like materials for cleansing originated as early as 2500 BCE,1 soap itself is believed to have been invented sometime around 600 to 300 BCE.2 Interestingly, the steps involved in the soap production process, known as saponification, were a carefully guarded secret until they were published in 1775, which eventually paved the way for the origins of the soap industry.3 The first industrial manufacturing of soap in an individually wrapped and branded bar form occurred in 1884 in England.2 Nevertheless, the oldest brand, Yardley, a small-scale perfumery and soap business, was founded in 1770, before the large-scale production of soap was given the boost by the publication of the saponification process. Several current soap producers, including Colgate Palmolive, Dial Corporation, Andrew Jergens, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever, began the manufacturing of soap in the 1800s.3 The desire for cleanliness and freshness coupled with the sensory pleasures and health benefits drove the growth of the soap industry in the 20th century.4 Thus, deodorant soaps grew from a need for health and hygiene benefits while the beauty segment, on the other hand, grew from a desire for beautiful skin and the pleasures of cleansing from using bars of different colors, fragrances, and shapes. This chapter will discuss the recent evolution in cleansing agents, focusing on key ingredients, and product types and their interaction with the skin.


As the cleansing market evolved and use of soaps increased, awareness of soap-induced skin irritation, itching, dry skin, and other potential effects also expanded. This led to an increased desire on the part of the consumer to have mild cleansing bars. The introduction of synthetic detergents into the cleansing arena in 1948 made it possible to develop cleansing bars that were demonstrably milder and hence better for skin than soaps.4 These bars provided superior skin care benefits as well as unique sensory cues. This was the first step toward providing a skin care benefit from cleansing systems.

The mild-cleanser segment of the market has grown over the years with burgeoning interest in achieving skin functional benefits, especially moisturization, from wash-off systems. The availability of novel chemicals, such as milder surfactants and polymers, coupled with an understanding of cleanser-induced changes in skin have led to novel approaches to deliver skin care benefits from cleansers.5 The introduction of new product forms, such as liquid cleansers and cleansing cloths, has facilitated the delivery of skin care benefits from cleansers.

Facial and hand cleansing require distinct, specialized approaches. Hand cleansing is an important part of personal hygiene and ...

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