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Department Dermocosmetics

Guidelines "Dermocosmetics for the Cleansing of Dry Skin" (version of 22 January 2001)


Definition dermocosmetics
Target group and purpose
Definition of dry skin
Formulations and ingredients
Wanted effects and effectiveness proofs
Unwanted effects and tolerability proofs
Participants and experts concerned

1 Preamble

The general purpose of skin cleansing is to remove soiling, excessive skin parts (skin scales, sweat, sebum), unwanted micro organisms and their metabolic products as well as possibly existing residues of medicinal or cosmetical preparations from the skin surface. A product recommendation should only be given if certain quality standards are ensured, i.e. if galenic properties, wanted and unwanted effects are sufficiently investigated and documented. So far a standardized, interdisciplinarily harmonized concept has not been established. This is why the department Dermocosmetics of the GD Gesellschaft für Dermopharmazie e.V. (Society for Dermopharmacy) as independent organization undertakes to lay down minimal requirements regarding quality and documentation in the form of the present guidelines. These guidelines are intended to be a support for all those who are concerned with dermocosmetics for the cleansing of dry skin.

They are a systematically elaborated recommendation offering the target group an orientation when making decisions about adequate measures for the cleansing of dry skin and have been established by an interdisciplinary expert group by evaluating relevant international literature.

They apply to "standard situations" taking into consideration the current scientific findings available for the corresponding questions. These guidelines require permanent revision and if necessary modifications founded on scientific findings and the feasibility in daily practice. Consideration of the guidelines does not ensure in every case the achieving of the objective strived for. It does not lay claim for completeness.

2 Definition dermocosmetics

The term "Dermocosmetics" designates measures for the care, protection and cleansing of skin for which the application purpose is achieved under co-consideration of dermatological and pharmaceutical aspects. Cosmetical products coming up to these demands are defined as "Dermocosmetics".

Dermocosmetics for the Cleansing of Dry Skin

Dermocosmetics for the cleansing of dry skin are such products for which their intended purpose "for dry skin" or "application for dry skin" is indicated.

They are to feature a good skin tolerability at a satisfactory cleansing effect and an application frequency as usual for the product type. An existing dryness of skin should not be intensified by a regular application.

As all cosmetical products, dermocosmetics for the cleansing of dry skin are also subject to the Cosmetics-guidelines of the European Community. Legal basis in the Federal Republic of Germany is the Lebensmittel- und Bedarfsgegenständegesetz (Food and Consumer Good Act) in combination with the Cosmetics-decree, in Austria the Lebensmittelgesetz (Food Act) in combination with the Cosmetics-decree and in Switzerland the Lebensmittel- und Gebrauchsgegenstände-Gesetz (Food and Consumer Durables Act) with the decree about cosmetic preparations in the respectively valid versions.

3 Target group and purpose

Target group of these guidelines are persons developing, preparing, testing, analysing, commericializing, giving advice as to their application, selling as well as consumers.

These guidelines are a systematically elaborated representation and recommendation. They describe quality standards relating to preparations and offer support in the decision for measures as to the cleansing of dry skin to the persons indicated above.

4 Definition of dry skin

The term dry skin (xerosis, xerodermia) describes a skin condition which is characterized by a reduced quantity and/or quality of humidity and/or lipids. Objectively the appearance of dry skin is marked by roughness, scales, dullness and/or a lack of elasticity. Subjectively a sensation of tension and itching may appear with dry skin. These subjective symptoms can also manifest isolatedly.

Dry skin in the sense of these guidelines is to be understood as a symptom and not an isolated clinically defined dermatosis as for instance dermatitis, psoriasis or ichthyosis. Dry skin reacts more intensely than normal not dry skin to external chemical and physical noxae.

According to expert opinions dry skin appears very frequently; only in Germany several million persons are affected. Epidemiological data are not available.

The exact aetiopathogenesis of dry skin is still open. Persons being inclined to atopy have a defect of the barrier function of the horny layer of the epidermis which can result in a transepidermal waterloss. Mainly the horny layer lipids (1-3) are lacking. Dry skin can however also be caused by a sebostasis (reduced sebaceous gland activitiy) (4). Equally a reduced water binding capacity can be the case.

Causes and development:

Dry skin is either genetically conditioned or acquired. It appears as a symptom of a skin disease, e.g. of the atopical dermatitis (5), an internal disease, e.g. a pyeolopathy (6) or the diabetes mellitus (7). Dry skin can also be caused by exterior influences, as for instance by having showers too frequently and intensively or taking baths with or without using soaps or syndets (8 - 11). In addition, occupational strains, e.g. when exercising "humid professions" (hairdressers, etc.) as well as occupations in the construction and metall processing trade (12) may cause the emergence of dry skin. This equally applies to climatic factors as cold or low atmospheric humidity (13).


Statements of persons concerned lead to the diagnosis of dry skin and in addition a visual and palpatoric examination. Apparative diagnostical methods are among others: measurements of skin roughness (5, 14, 15), moisture content (16-18), determination of the transepidermal waterloss (19, 20), fat content (1) and scale formation (22) as well as the measurement of skin glossiness (23).

5 Formulations and ingredients

The properties of dermocosmetics for the cleansing of dry skin are attached to the overall formulation.

Scientific findings allow in principle different formulation types for the cleansing of dry skin which are attributed to the washing, having showers or baths. In this context preparations on surfactant basis prevail (soaps in the form of bars or liquids and syndet preparations, the latter are for example designated as washing emulsion, washing lotion, washing gel, shower bath, foam bath). These products partly contain addi