Hand hygiene and its capacities to prevent the spread of germs were always important, but became very well known during pandemic times. At the same time, while soap has always been a personal hygiene essential – but hand washing has lately taken on a new significance. In the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, frequent handwashing remains a key message from authorities. Right now, 67% of Indian consumers say they are washing their hands more often (Mintel, 2020). However, washing your hands a lot can take its toll: certainly, it’s vital to keeping us all safe and well, but when it comes to soap facts, it can be drying, irritating, and uncomfortable for the skin.
In response to this emphasis on hand hygiene, brands need to react to these novel consumer issues. Soaps need to provide special care for the skin while responding to changing consumer concerns regarding immunity, mood-enhancing benefits, and caring for the environment. We zoom in below.
The new soap facts and hand hygiene in a post-pandemic world
In the past, soap facts would have been something like:
- “Soap is an astringent product that only serves to eliminate germs.”
- “It shouldn’t be used on facial skin as it’ll dry and tighten.”
- “It’s a no-frills product; that is, it won’t have many claims beyond hand hygiene.”
However, as soap begins to become even more prominent in our daily lives, brands need to respond to changing attitudes to hand soap and hand hygiene.
It’s logical to begin with the issue that has made hand-washing so ubiquitous: it’s anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities. Brands that want to stand out should create formulas that place immunological benefits at the forefront. Consumers are looking for scientific certification, so it’s important to make data-driven, germ-killing claims visible.
However, this isn’t to say soaps should be marketed like rubbing alcohol. After all, soap can’t be excessively astringent or drying if it’s intended for regular use. If consumers are washing their hands numerous times a day, they’ll be looking for products to moisturize and soften.
Equally, mood-boosting scents will be attractive to consumers looking to unwind in the face of uncertainty. In fact, the ability for hand hygiene products to induce physical relaxation and stress relief has become a key aspect of developing successful formulas for bathing and skin care routines. In this context, the launching of de-stressing sensorial formulas, which include transformative textures and comforting scents, is revealed to be particularly fortunate.
Hand hygiene guidelines
Brands looking to incorporate new soap facts and perceptions into their formulations are wise to also take a look at the hand hygiene guidelines that are promoted by organizations such as the World Health Organization.
As we’ve seen below, a new focus on hand hygiene has meant that the action of washing one’s hands is understood as a part of health care and a preventative measure. However, organizations are promoting specific rules to improve hand hygiene practices and reduce transmission of pathogenic microorganisms. As such, current hand hygiene guidelines that are being promoted today for the use of professionals in the field of healthcare include:
- A look at the different techniques and how they must be employed, including hand rubbing techniques for surgical hand preparation
- A focus on hand hygiene products and formulations, with definitions and a look at the action of elements such as plain soap, alcohol-based (hand) rubs, antimicrobial (medicated) soap, antiseptic hand wipes or waterless antiseptic agents. The WHO guidelines also include a list of factors to consider to select the right hand hygiene products.
- A summary of potential skin reactions related to hand hygiene techniques, including dryness, irritation, itching, cracking and bleeding, as well as potential allergic reactions to hand hygiene products.
Additionally, the guidelines observe the effects of hand hygiene practices on bacterial flora on hands, including resident and transient bacteria, and their potential protective as well as harmful effects.
When hand hygiene equals protecting each other and the planet
The coronavirus crisis has made us even more acutely aware of our relationship to the environment. In the face of what is effectively a natural disaster, consumers want to care for the planet. Eco-conscious personal care was trending before: NPD carrying ethical and environmental claims has more than doubled in the last five years (Mintel, 2020). In the wake of the crisis, this growth is set to be even more pronounced.
When it comes to hand soap and hand hygiene packaging will be a key entry point for meeting this demand. According to Mintel’s 2030 Packaging Trend projections, the next decade will be an era of conscious, rather than conspicuous, consumption. Therefore, the development of responsible packaging technologies will reach a fever pitch; brands will be competing on the basis of whose packaging solution is the most environmentally friendly. This will lead to the rise of waterless or refillable solutions in the handsoap segment, so brands should start emphasizing these products in their portfolios.
Provital is supporting the move towards eco-soaps
Provital cares. This is why product development seeks to meet key consumer concerns, combining science and nature to create active ingredients that care and protect. In light of the new soap facts and hand hygiene concerns, Provital responds with active ingredients that have hydrating properties, are scientifically-proven, and kind to the environment.
Several active ingredients in the Provital portfolio are perfect for solid formulas and are fully eco-certified.
Other potentially successful formulas that tap into consumer’s preferences for natural ingredients include the use of rose soap and sea salt soap, both examples of formulations part of the clean and natural buzzwords that have conquered the beauty market in recent years. All in all, they contribute to generating hand hygiene formulas that encompass the new soap facts and the guidelines by health organizations, as well as consumers’ demands for products that support their health, nourish their skin and protect it, as well as incorporating scents that target relief from stress.
With these tools, brands can create a comprehensive response to consumer concerns around hand hygiene, with solid soaps that are safe, clean, and green.
Frequently asked questions about soap facts
What is special about soap?
Soap’s outstanding capacities for killing bacteria and viruses arise from this element’s hybrid structure, made out of pin-shaped molecules with hydrophilic heads and hydrophobic tails: the first bond with water and the latter with oils and fats. These are able to fix themselves into the lipid envelopes of some microbes and viruses, effectively destabilizing them.
How did soap get its name?
The name of soap originates in Rome’s mount Sapo, from where a clay mixture would often wash down that would be used to clean.
Who invented soap?
The first soap is known to have been used in ancient Mesopotamia by cooking fatty acids – often from animal sources – together with water.
What are 3 benefits of soap?
- Dissolving impurities in skin, fabrics, and other surfaces
- Maintaining hygiene and preventing the spread of diseases
- Helping in maintaining a clean, smooth and healthier skin