The effect of 3 protective creams and petrolatum was tested in a repetitive irritation test. On 15 healthy volunteers, the irritants (sodium lauryl sulfate 10%, sodium hydroxide 0.5%, lactic acid 15%, and toluene undiluted) were applied on the paravertebral skin of the mid-back after 30 min pretreatment with the products tested. The volunteers were treated for 9 days. The irritant cutaneous reactions were quantified by erythema score, transepidermal water loss, and chromametry. The results showed a specific profile of efficacy against the 4 irritants used. For all creams a significant protective effect was obtained against irritation by sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium hydroxide and lactic acid in different degrees. Less efficacy was observed against toluene. Even an amplification of inflammation by pretreatment with 1 product could be demonstrated. The results indicate that a 1-week period of cumulative irritation might be enough to evaluate the efficacy of protective creams against most irritants.