Skin is the largest organ in the body. It forms a critical barrier between the contents of our bodies and the outside world. But damage to the skin, whether due to physical trauma or innate sensitivity, can render the barrier ineffective. Eczema is a relatively common skin complaint; in its mild form it is little more than a nuisance, but severe flare-ups can severely impact a sufferer’s quality of life and even result in hospitalizations. While the incidence and prevalence of eczema is variable, many more people are plagued with dry, itchy skin. These conditions may be exacerbated by contact with various substances, including detergents and personal care agents.
It is easy to understand why personal care agents are such an issue: they are comprised of surfactants, enzymes, and/or fragrances, all of which work together to dissolve dirt and oils of daily life, and leave the skin feeling clean and smelling nice. But in cleaning the skin, they also strip it of its natural oils, change the composition of the bacteria that are naturally present, and raise the pH of the skin (the naturally-present enzymes in the skin require a slightly-acidic pH for optimal function). Of course, most people don’t bathe in dish detergent, but even plain water can remove oils, raise the pH, and alter the bacteria composition on the skin.
How the bacteria composition on the skin affects our health is not quite understood. It is known, for example, that certain microbes can actually produce antimicrobial substances that prevent the growth of other microbes, including ones that cause disease. And they are somehow able to regulate our immune response to pathogens, which has given rise to the popular “hygiene hypothesis”, which in the consumer press has been taken to mean that dirt is good.
This realization that the oils and bacteria on the surface of our bodies can affect the health of the skin and hair, coupled with the (as yet) unproven hypothesis that a wider bacterial diversity is better, has led to a small but increasing trend towards less personal hygiene. The trend of “no-poo” – eliminating the use of shampoo – is perhaps the most visible manifestation of this belief, but there have been some intrepid reporters who have dared to go a month without a shower, too.
However, for most people, sacrificing regular showers for the sake of a few bacteria is a bit too extreme. Happily, gentler cleaners are available. Sirius carries ethoxylated fatty alcohols with variable hydrophobic tail lengths, which are not only better detergents, but are also soluble even in hard water – and, as an added bonus, are sustainably produced and biodegradable. Recently, Sirius accomplished 100% bio-based Ethoxybrite SLES, made out of RSPO palm oil, sugar-based ethylene oxide and non-petrochemical sulphur.
The Sirius Effect:
It can be difficult to balance the health and safety of the consumer with making an effective product. Sirius is here to help you meet the challenges of the modern market. If you are curious to find out more, call or email us today.