What are synthetic detergents?

Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD

Often referred to as "syndet bars" or "soap-free" soaps, these use synthetic - and usually milder - surfactants such as sodium cocyl isethionate (which is derived from coconuts) or sodium palmitate. Since they utilize less alkaline salts in their surfactants, these have a much lower pH, which makes them less irritating. Dove, the very first syndet bar introduced in 1955, is made primarily from sodium lauroyl isethionate but contains sodium tallowate and palmitate too. Many liquid facial cleansers use only synthetic surfactants (such as sodium laureth sulfate, the prime detergent in Clinique Liquid Facial Soap).

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

More About this Book

Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

Continue Learning about Skin Cleansing Soaps

FDA Bans Antibacterial Soaps
FDA Bans Antibacterial Soaps
Think antibacterial hand soap is the best way to suds up? You may want to think again. Nineteen ingredients in over-the-counter antibacterial soaps, i...
Read More
Is soap bad for my skin?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Soap is effective at cleansing skin and preventing infection. However, some regular soaps can be so ...
More Answers
Is washing with soap better than using hand sanitizer?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
A better way to look at this is when is soap and water better than hand sanitizer? Anytime there...
More Answers
Do all soaps contain animal products?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
No, there are alternatives if you want to avoid cleansers that contain animal products. Look for soa...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.