Rubbing the skin when removing makeup cosmetics is a major factor that worsens skin conditions in atopic dermatitis patients

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2021 Jun;20(6):1915-1922. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13777. Epub 2020 Oct 26.


Background: Many patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) know that harsh rubbing of their skin might worsen their skin symptoms. They consider that the force they use to rub their skin when removing their makeup cosmetics should not be hard and their cleansing habits could worsen their skin symptoms. However, we presume that the force they use to rub their skin may still be strong and might worsen their skin symptoms.

Aims: We characterized the effects of rubbing the skin of AD patients during cleansing of makeup cosmetics.

Patients/methods: A cleansing oil which has a higher cleansing ability compared the cleansers used daily by the subjects but required less rubbing force was used. We performed a 4-week clinical trial of this cleansing oil on 35 female subjects who had mild AD skin symptoms on their faces. Each subject used the cleansing oil instead of their usual makeup remover without changing their other facial skin care habits. Prior to the study, and at the end of weeks 1 and 4, the skin conditions of each subject were evaluated.

Results: Four weeks of usage of this cleansing oil significantly decreased skin dryness, scaling, irritation, erythema, and itchiness. Higher improvements were observed for subjects who had previously used cleansers with less cleansing ability. Accompanying those improvements, a significant increase in moisture-retention ability and a significant decrease in transepidermal water loss were observed.

Conclusion: These results suggest that many AD patients cleanse their face with hard rubbing of their skin because of the low cleansing ability of their skin cleansers and may worsen their AD skin symptoms without realizing it.

Keywords: atopic dermatitis; cleansing oil; makeup remover; rubbing the skin; skin symptoms.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics* / adverse effects
  • Dermatitis, Atopic*
  • Emollients
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Skin
  • Skin Care


  • Cosmetics
  • Emollients