Skin care

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Applying a face mask

The skin care is part of the personal care and includes measures that are the natural protective mechanisms and functions of the skin retain or restore as well as improving overall well-being.

Skin physiology

On the human skin there is a fine layer consisting of sweat components , sebum and water. This hydro-lipid film makes the skin supple and acts as a natural protection (previously called the protective acid mantle ). With a pH value between 4 and 6 , it forms a barrier against harmful external influences. It also influences the colonization of the skin by microorganisms (e.g. bacteria ). An intact hydro-lipid film supports the local flora of microorganisms so that, as a placeholder, it can block other external microorganisms (so-called transient) and prevent them from multiplying.

The elasticity of the skin is very much determined by the moisture of the skin . If this is too low, the skin appears visibly dry, tight, itchy and flaky. Healthy and intact skin contains its own natural moisturizing factors (NMF), which ensure balanced skin moisture. With age, the skin becomes thinner, drier and less resilient. It gradually loses its ability to regenerate itself.

Effect of skin care products

The barrier function of the intact skin protects the body from - possibly harmful - foreign substances from entering. Therefore, externally applied cosmetic substances usually only work in the outermost layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum . However, substances with special properties overcome this barrier zone; certain chemical and physical processes can improve penetration .

Treating the skin with suitable care products can largely compensate for deficits or protect it from harmful influences, e.g. B. in dry ambient air against excessive moisture loss or in sun exposure against UV radiation. On the other hand, incorrect or excessive skin care can impair the physiological functions of the skin. Unsuitable products and methods can lead to skin damage, especially when it comes to skin cleansing.

Skin cleansing

For hygienic and cosmetic reasons, the skin is cleaned regularly. Washing off removes dirt, residues of cosmetic products or dermatics and possible pathogens, but also the loose horny cells of the skin. Applied alone, water can rid the skin of water-soluble residues such as dust, sugar and salts; In conjunction with active washing products such as soap or syndets, greasy dirt is also removed. For skin cleansing, alcohol-containing solutions (so-called face tonic), fatty suspensions (so-called cleansing milk) or oils are also used.

In some cases, heavy soiling has to be removed mechanically, for example with the help of washcloths, brushes or special pastes.

The problem of skin cleansing

Cleansing the skin not only reduces or removes the protective water-fat film and the transient skin flora, but also the resident skin flora. The fats between the skin cells and the moisture-binding substances are washed out. The water also causes the horny layer to swell so that infectious agents, allergenic substances and harmful substances can penetrate more easily. How quickly the skin can rebuild its normal flora depends on the cleansing product and method. Frequent use of cleaning products with high pH values ​​(e.g. alkaline soaps ) should have a particularly unfavorable effect . Some syndets have pH values ​​in the neutral range, but degrease the skin more strongly. The effect of lipid replenishing substances is controversial. Mechanical cleaning by rubbing, brushing or using peeling removes the skin flora to a large extent, the skin can be injured.

The temperature of the washing water also influences the regeneration of the skin: Since hot water dissolves more fat from the skin than warm or cold water, the skin needs more time to rebuild its physiological flora after contact with hot water. This applies all the more the longer the skin has been in contact with the water, whether z. B. only showered briefly or taken an extensive bath, and whether the skin was then dried thoroughly. In areas of the body where skin lies on skin (e.g. between the toes, under the breasts or the stomach, in the groin), the skin can soften , become sore and inflamed due to constant moisture . So-called wear and tear eczema can develop on the hands in particular .

Cleansing special areas of the body

Some areas of the body require special attention: the pubic area or the genital area for intimate hygiene . This is especially true for sick or disabled people who cannot cleanse / wash their entire body regularly. Intimate care is an important nursing measure there (previously also defined as part of basic care ). Prolonged contact with urine or stool can damage the skin, especially in the case of bladder or bowel weakness (incontinence). Thorough, but as gentle as possible cleaning and drying requires not only specialist knowledge, but also tactful handling of the person in need of care.


Skin cleansing products

Soaps and syndets

  • Soap : Mostly sodium soaps (less often potassium soaps) made from fatty acids. High-quality curd soap still contains the glycerine that is split off when the soap is boiled. The cleaning effect is based on surfactants . Washing with soap briefly shifts the pH value into the basic range. Insensitive healthy skin quickly compensates for this.
  • Washing syndet : surfactants with a pH value of around 5 clean the skin, the protective acid layer of the skin is not affected. However, syndets degrease the skin more effectively than soap.
  • Shower gels or creams are viscous liquids that contain surfactants.

Special facial cleansing

  • Cleansing milk is a colloidal solution. Mixtures from particle sizes of ~ 1-1000 nm separate after some time and become two-phase (colloidal disperse); Emulsifiers prevent segregation. The mostly surfactant-containing oil-in-water emulsion removes both fat and water-soluble residues. The skin must then be rinsed with water or cleaned with so-called facial toner to remove the surfactants.
  • Cleansing cream contains less water than cleansing milk, but it also contains surfactants. It is therefore necessary to cleanse with (face) water.
  • Facial toner or tonic is a solution that consists of a homogeneous mixture of different substances. It is used for post-cleansing and refreshment and promotes the regeneration of the physiological pH value. Products for oily skin types usually have an alcohol content between 15 and 30 percent; they also contain other dissolved substances, such as. B. astringent or anti-inflammatory agents. Face tonic for dry skin is alcohol-free and contains z. B. Soothing additives.
    • “Micellar water” contains surfactants as a cleaning component, which form micelles above a certain concentration .
  • Two-phase lotions contain an oil and a water component, which are mixed by shaking immediately before use. This primarily loosens and removes waterproof eye make-up.


  • Adsorptive cleaning products such as oat flour, whey, almond or wheat bran contain lipophilic and hydrophilic components that bind fatty dirt and can be rinsed off with water.
  • Cleaning wipes are wet wipes soaked in cleaning emulsion .
  • Oil: dissolves waterproof make-up and ointment residues, for example, which can then be washed off with a preparation containing surfactants. Used as an additive to bath water or as shower oil, a nourishing film of oil forms on the skin. This oil film is then also in the shower or bathtub and increases the risk of slipping.
  • Hand washing paste is used for stubborn, insoluble soiling

Skin care products

  • Ointment : In the narrower sense, an ointment is an anhydrous preparation based on an ointment base made of wax (such as vaseline , microcrystalline wax, carnauba or wool wax ), or (rarely today) animal fats such as beef tallow or lard. In addition to medicinal ointments, protective and cover ointments are the most frequently used ointments. The base of the ointment determines the shelf life and skin friendliness of the (medicinal) preparation. In a broader sense, however, the term “ointment” also includes other semi-solid (medicinal) preparations such as paste (e.g. zinc ointment ), cream, emulsion and gel.
  • Cresa : Mixture between cream and ointment.
  • Cream : Creams mainly consist of water, oil / fat / petrolatum and emulsifier (s). They also contain up to 2% preservatives and antimicrobial substances, up to 1% cosmetic dyes (including iron oxides, pearlescent agents). Oil-in-water (O / W) emulsions are the easiest to make. Water-in-oil emulsions (W / O) and mixed emulsions (W / O / W or O / W / O) are considered to be more skin-friendly. The combination of sun (UV light), emulsifier and preservation is considered to be the main cause of skin irritations of the “Mallorca acne” type.
  • Lotion : (colloquially (skin care) "milk") contains even more water than cream.
Applying a sunscreen
  • Gel : often a gel-forming agent and a mixture of glycerine and water, usually has to be preserved because of the water content. In contrast to the hydro-gel, anhydrous lipo-gel does not contain moisturizing glycerine. In addition, active ingredients can be combined in the Lipo-Gel that cannot be processed together in conventional gels, since they are active at different pH values ​​(e.g. calcipotriol and betamethasone for psoriasis ). The pH value does not play a role in the anhydrous Lipo-Gel.
  • Sun cream , sun lotion , sun gel : Creams , lotions or gels with “chemical” UV filter substances or “physical” sun protection with zinc oxide (or other oxides) as active ingredients. Some “chemical” UV filter substances also have slightly estrogen-like (hormone-like) effects.

Skin protection products

Skin protection agents such as a barrier cream or a skin protection film form a layer that is resistant to moisture and irritants and, depending on the product, lasts up to four days. You will e.g. B. for incontinence and ostomy care, but also applied to the skin areas at risk before wet work. A protective film made of acrylate polymers is transparent and semi-permeable , so it does not impair the functions of the skin. In contrast, a film based on Dimeticon has an occlusive effect .

Protective gloves are also used as skin protection products . However, if liquid-tight gloves are worn for more than 20 minutes, the skin swells up due to the sweat produced. Therefore, the hands are rubbed with a barrier cream before putting on the protective gloves.

Differentiation between lotio and lotion

Contrary to the synonymous use of the two terms by skin care product manufacturers, the term “lotio” describes a shaking mixture, ie the suspension of solid components in a liquid (liquid powder). (see lotio and lotion )


  • Care today. 5th edition. Elsevier, Urban & Fischer, 2011, ISBN 978-3-437-26773-4 , pp. 346-348.
  • Annette Heuwinkel-Otter et al .: Taking care of people. The practical companion for care professionals. Springer MedizinVerlag, Heidelberg 2009, pp. 227-228 and p. 536 ISBN 978-3-540-79320-5

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Raab: Structure of the skin. In: Wolfgang Raab, Ursula Kindl: Care Cosmetics: A Guide. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft, Stuttgart 2012, p. 7. ISBN 9783804727618
  2. Rolf Daniels: Penetration of cosmetic ingredients. In: Wolfgang Raab, Ursula Kindl: Care Cosmetics: A Guide. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft, Stuttgart 2012, pp. 66 and 75.
  3. a b How healthy skin gets sick. In: Professional association for health services and welfare: the main thing is skin protection. Hamburg 2007, as of 2016, p. 11
  4. a b c d Ursula Kindl: skin cleaning. In: W. Raab, U. Kindl: Care Cosmetics: A Guide. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft, Stuttgart 2012, p. 223f. ISBN 9783804727618
  5. Ursula Kindl: The current skin condition. In: W. Raab, U. Kindl: Care Cosmetics: A Guide. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft, Stuttgart 2012, p. 264. ISBN 9783804727618
  6. B. Winter Coat: Micelles: Is the Cosmetics Trend Dangerous?, April 23, 2019. Retrieved October 14, 2019
  7. Kerstin Protz: Modern wound care. Practical knowledge, standards and documentation. Urban & Fischer, Munich 2011, 6th edition, p. 53, ISBN 978-3-437-27883-9 .
  8. N. Kolbig: Intact skin preserved. In: The sister | der Pfleger , Edition 10/19, Bibliomed Medizinische Verlagsgesellschaft, Melsungen 2019, p. 36
  9. Healthy skin - professionally protected. In: Professional association for health services and welfare: the main thing is skin protection. Protect and care for your hands - stay healthy. BGWthemen, Hamburg 2007, status 2016, p. 19f.