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Formula Anatomy Deciphered—Feminine Hygiene Products
By: Luigi Rigano, PhD, Studio Rigano Industrial Consulting Laboratories
Posted: December 4, 2012, from the December 2012 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
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To complicate matters, the aforementioned elements of the vaginal ecosystem evolve and present different features and needs throughout a woman’s life, from puberty to beyond menopause, and as health conditions develop.
In addition to products intended to maintain the health of the vaginal ecosystem, feminine hygiene products also include intimate hygiene products designed to increase comfort and pleasure during intercourse. Some examples of claims used for feminine hygiene products are: “with natural emollients, emollient formula; gynecologist/dermatologist/pediatrician evaluated and approved; necessary during menses; in special moments of women’s lives, hormonal changes may induce skin dryness and irritation: a mild cleanser is required; protects and helps maintaining freshness and comfort; Clinically tested: helps relief dryness and irritation discomfort; compatible with intimate skin, even irritated or intolerant to cosmetics; respects the pH of healthy mucosa, physiologic pH maintenance; provides odor reduction, fights bad odors; does not contain soap; and increases mucosa moisturization.”
The most frequently used physical forms in intimate hygiene are free flowing fluid cleansers, aerosol deodorants and lubricating/soothing gels, both aqueous and lipophilic, or emulsions, especially in anti-irritant preparations. Because of the sensitive nature of the region, transdermal diffusion testing can be helpful to determine penetration of actives. This column will divide feminine hygiene products into three main categories: personal cleansing products, personal deodorants and skin care products.11
Cleansers intended to clean the external vaginal area must be structurally different from other body cleansers. (Update on status of global bath and body care market.) The formulation strategy is different from traditional cleansers in the amount of surfactants, amount (low) of foam, ease of rinse-off, refreshing effect, antibacterial activity, pH, etc. They are considered a cosmetic, as they are applied onto the external genital area, yet they must be formulated to avoid inflammation of the skin nearby the vagina channel—as well as the anus orifice.12
Surfactants: The cleansing action of a feminine hygiene cleanser is generally based on surfactant substances, which remove the dead skin cells from the body surfaces, erase unpleasant odors and eliminate the residues of skin metabolism and any soil left from toilet use. A reduction of excess resident flora is also necessary.