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© 1986 Society of Cosmetic Chemists
Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, Vol. 37, No. 4, 199-210

Predicting surfactant irritation from the swelling response of a collagen film
J. C. Blake-haskins , D. Scala , L. D. Rhein , C. R. Robbins



The objective of this research was to develop an in vitro method to predict the irritancy of surfactant systems without the use of human or animal tissues. The swelling (tritiated water uptake) of a collagen film substrate has been found to correlate with the irritation potential of anionic surfactants and products based on these ingredients. Swelling response is concentration-dependent, and higher substrate swelling indicates greater irritation potential. The method was used to study the relationship of surfactant structure to swelling activity for alkyl sulfates and alkyl ether sulfates, in which the carbon chain length and ethylene oxide content were varied systematically. Results showed that the C12 homolog produced the most swelling and that membrane swelling is inversely proportional to ethylene oxide content. The assay was also used to investigate interactions between anionic and amphoteric surfactants. Addition of an amphoteric surfactant to an anionic surfactant reduced the amount of swelling produced by the anionic surfactant. Results of this in vitro test correlate with findings from established in vitro and in vivo laboratory and clinical assessments.

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© 1986 Society of Cosmetic Chemists
Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists