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Impact of Personal Cleansers on Stratum Corneum Lipid Organization

Ron Warner, Ph.D.; Ying Boissy, B.S.; Keith Ertel, Ph.D.

The Procter & Gamble Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.


The ordered lamellar lipids of the stratum corneum, often called Landmann units, are known to be the primary barrier of the skin that protects us from desiccation. An ordered lipid structure is associated with healthy skin. The ordered structure is altered in skin diseases with defective stratum corneum barrier properties, an example being psoriasis. Other factors such as age or treatment with harsh surfactants that result in chapping and scaling can also alter the structure of stratum corneum lipids.



To assess the impact of cleansing regimens intended to improve dry skin appearance on the lipid lamellar structure of the outer stratum corneum.



  • Adhesive tape (Scotch Magic Tape 810) was applied to the lower leg for 30 seconds to sample dry skin flakes.
  • Baseline samples were taken from leg skin exhibiting various levels of natural dryness. No surfactant was used to induce damage.
  • Paired, treated samples were obtained after washing the lower legs daily for 2-3 weeks with a petrolatum-delivering body wash or a regimen comprising a synthetic detergent (syndet) bar followed by application of moisturizing lotion (1 L/cm2). Control samples were obtained from unwashed areas of the legs.
  • Samples were fixed in Karnovsky's for 1 hour, post-fixed in 0.25% RuO4 for 10 minutes, dehydrated and embedded for TEM.
  • Micrographs were obtained from the outermost 3 corneocyte layers and, whenever possible, from closely apposed intercellular regions.



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Stratum corneum lipid ultrastructure reflects skin health and is impacted by age, skin condition, and cosmetic treatments such as personal cleansers. The petrolatum-delivering

body wash ameliorates dry skin appearance and can help to improve or maintain skin health through its effect on stratum corneum lipids.




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