March 5, 2024

Stanford’s Sensational Science: Why Our Skin Feels “Tight” After Using a Facial Cleanser

Stanfords study exposes the mechanics behind skin experiences moisturizing and post-cleansing, using insights for improved skincare product development and prospective applications in wearable tech interaction.
A brand-new study from Stanford University reveals the neurological system behind the understanding of skin tightness.
Stanford researchers have actually uncovered the mechanism behind the sensation of skin tightness experienced after washing with a cleanser and subsequent relief with hydrating. Their study, published in PNAS Nexus, shows how mechanical changes in the skins outermost layer can lead to these experiences.
Understanding Skin Sensations
Our skin can begin to feel tight when we wash our face with a cleanser. With the application of a favorite moisturizer, that sensation often goes away. This perception of our skin might appear subjective, but scientists at Stanford recently revealed the mechanism behind these feelings.

Their work, released today, September 26, in PNAS Nexus, demonstrates how mechanical changes at the external surface area of our skin translate into feelings and offers a quantitative approach for figuring out how individuals will perceive their skin after utilizing a moisturizer or cleanser.
” This work provides a brand-new understanding of how products impact the physical residential or commercial properties of our skin, that includes not simply skin health, however also skin sensorial perception. Thats a significant advance,” stated Reinhold Dauskardt, the Ruth G. and William K. Bowes Professor in Stanfords Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “It offers a whole brand-new understanding of how to design those formulations.”
Mechanism and Experimentation
Our skin is the largest organ in our body and its constantly exposed to the environment around us. The outer layer of our skin– the stratum corneum– acts as a barrier to keep out undesirable chemicals and bacteria and to keep in wetness.
Dauskardt and his associates anticipated that the mechanical forces developed by this shrinking or swelling propagate through the skin to reach mechanoreceptors– sensory receptors that turn mechanical force into neurological signals– below the skin, which then fire off signals to the brain that we translate as a feeling of skin tightness.
To test their theory, the scientists studied the results of nine various moisturizing formulas and six different cleansers on donor skin samples from 3 locations on the human body– cheek, abdomen, and forehead. They determined modifications in the stratum corneum in the laboratory and after that fed that info into a sophisticated design of human skin to forecast the signals that the mechanoreceptors would send.
” We had the ability to rank the different formulations in terms of what topics should say about the sensorial perception of their skin,” Dauskardt said.
The predictions from their analysis lined up nearly perfectly with what people reported in human trials for each formula. Partners at LOréal Research and Innovation recruited 2,000 females in France to evaluate the nine moisturizers and 700 women in China to assess the 6 cleansers. The participants ranked their perceived feelings of skin tightness after using the formula they were offered.
” We outlined what we were predicting against what human subjects were telling us, and everything fell on a straight line. In other words, we were predicting precisely what they were telling us,” Dauskardt stated. “It was a definitely amazing connection with an extremely high analytical significance.”
Shaping New Developments
The ability to anticipate and comprehend how individuals will feel after utilizing a skin treatment might assist cosmetics companies enhance their formulas before generating individuals to test them. And with such a comprehensive design of how mechanical tensions are transferred through skin layers, these techniques could potentially be used to evaluate more than simply the sensation of tightness, Dauskardt said.
” It provides a structure for the development of new items,” Dauskardt stated. “If youre doing anything to the outer layer of the skin thats causing it to alter its pressure state and its tension state, then we can inform you how that information is transferred and how it will be understood and reported by consumers.”
Dauskardt is likewise wanting to use this new understanding to the development of wearable devices. If we know how our brains translate minute changes in skin stress, we may be able to harness that mechanism to send out deliberate signals. In the exact same method that a person reading braille translates sensations on their fingertip into words, a gadget developing tiny mechanical changes on our skin might be able to convey info.
” What weve done is expose how mechanical info gets from the outer stratum corneum layer down to the neurons much lower in the skin layers,” Dauskardt said. “So now, can we interact through human skin?
Reference: “Sensory nerve cell activation from topical treatments modulates the sensorial perception of human skin” by Ross Bennett-Kennett, Joseph Pace, Barbara Lynch, Yegor Domanov, Gustavo S Luengo, Anne Potter and Reinhold H Dauskardt, 26 September 2023, PNAS Nexus.DOI: 10.1093/ pnasnexus/pgad292.
Dauskardt belongs to Stanford Bio-X, the Cardiovascular Institute, the Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance, and the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute, and an affiliate of the Precourt Institute for Energy and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.
Extra Stanford co-authors of this research study consist of doctoral trainees Ross Bennett-Kennett and Joseph Pace. Other co-authors are from LOréal Research and Innovation. This work was moneyed by LOréal Research and Innovation.

Stanford researchers have actually discovered the mechanism behind the sensation of skin tightness experienced after cleaning with a cleanser and subsequent relief with moisturizing. Their research study, published in PNAS Nexus, shows how mechanical changes in the skins outermost layer can lead to these experiences.” This work provides a brand-new understanding of how items affect the physical residential or commercial properties of our skin, which consists of not just skin health, however also skin sensorial perception. In the exact same method that a person reading braille equates sensations on their fingertip into words, a gadget developing tiny mechanical changes on our skin may be able to convey info.
” What weve done is expose how mechanical information gets from the external stratum corneum layer down to the neurons much lower in the skin layers,” Dauskardt stated.