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Dermatology Glossary


Cleanser Ingredients

Skin cleansers are formulated for a wide variety of needs and take many forms, from basic bar soaps to foaming liquid cleansers and antibacterial washes.

Surfactants (surface-acting agents) are the major ingredients in most cleansers, making up 30 to 70 per cent of the product. New synthetic cleansers with silicone surfactants are less irritating to the skin.

Most cleansers contain a combination of some of these ingredients:

  • Water
  • Surfactants (to emulsify dirt and debris)
  • Moisturizers (to hydrate and maintain the skin barrier)
  • Binders (to stabilize the cleanserís ingredients)
  • Lathering agents
  • Fillers (used to harden bar soaps and cleansers)
  • Preservatives (to prevent growth of microorganisms)
  • Fragrance (usually to mask the odour of surfactants)
  • Dyes or pigments