Researchers may be closer to figuring out how to make skin â€œwaterproof.â€
According to research published in the journal Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, an ingredient commonly found in cosmetic cleaners â€” anionic surfactants known as sodium lauryl sulfate â€” hasÂ the ability to control the outer layer of the skin, which serves as a protective barrier between underlying tissue and the environment. The â€œwet-abilityâ€ of this tissue layer can influence the spread of chemicals, as well as the way the skin responds to cosmetic products. So in essence, now that scientists have figured out what exactly is needed to alter skinâ€™s â€œwet-ability,â€ they can play around with it and see exactly what needs to be done to make skin â€œwaterproof.â€
â€œItâ€™s quite neat, actually. What it seems to suggest is as you change the pH of the solution, we can actually flip these little molecules upside down,â€ study author Guy German, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Binghamton University, State University of New York, saidÂ in a press release.
â€œThe simple story that is new is that sodium lauryl sulfate is the molecule they focused on â€” thatâ€™s in soap,â€ Delphine Lee, MD, PhD, dermatologist at Providence Saint Johnâ€™s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, explains toÂ Yahoo Beauty.
She says the most basic way to understand the science behind this discovery is to think about the blending of oil and water. â€œImagine youâ€™re trying to wash oil off of a shirt â€” you canâ€™t get the oil off with water because oil and water donâ€™t mix,â€ explains Lee. And the oil can be seen as a hydrophobic because itâ€™s going to repel the water.
So some of the molecules in sodium lauryl sulfate will change the skinâ€™s pH value. â€œIf you make the pH lower, then itâ€™s acidic,â€ continues Lee. â€œThen it will actually make your skin â€” on the surface, on a microscopic level â€” be hydrophobic, like the oil. So it will almost make you waterproof.â€
Lee credits this research as â€œan interesting observationâ€ and believes it may encourage chemists to, â€œpay more attention to the pH when theyâ€™re developing technologies and inventions of their topical treatments or cosmetics.â€
The study author is hopeful this latest research will lead to the improvement of â€œtransdermal drug delivery, alter bacterial growth behavior on skin, or improve adhesion of biointegrated electronics and sensor systems.â€ Did you catch all that?