HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Paris, France or Virtually from your home or work.

8th Edition of World Congress on Infectious Diseases

June 09-11, 2025 | Rome, Italy

June 09 -11, 2025 | Rome, Italy
Infection 2024

Sustainable soap bars delivering skin health and hygiene benefits for infection protection

Speaker at Infectious Diseases Conferences - Amitabha Majumdar
Unilever R&D, United Kingdom
Title : Sustainable soap bars delivering skin health and hygiene benefits for infection protection


Background: As the world returns to pre-pandemic behavior patterns, surges in infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains and seasonal viruses are a cause of serious concern. Persistent circulating infections exert socio-economic burdens on public health systems and affect all age groups, with a higher risk of complications in children and elderly. Frequent handwashing has been recommended by global health authorities as the most effective way to reduce transmission of pathogens in a community setting and a bar of soap offers one of the most affordable mass hygiene interventions for frequent use. However, the carbon footprint of a soap bar is high due to elevated usage of natural oils in formulations. In alignment with multiple United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, it is a global imperative to develop and implement technologies for manufacturing soap bars with uncompromised efficacy against germs along with skin benefits that will serve public health at large, whilst reducing their environmental impact.

Objective: Conventional soap bar formulation comprises of high percentages of oils (termed Total Fatty Matter -TFM) where approximately 70-80% of soaps are fatty acids derived primarily from oils. A large percentage of this oil is derived from palm and this usage is a large contributor to the non-edible global palm oil/fat usage footprint. The soap industry needs to innovate for reduced palm oil consumption by lowering TFM in bars, creating more environmentally sustainable cleansing solutions. Our research offers a soap bar technology with lower TFM without compromising hygiene and skin benefits.

Methodology: The novel low TFM soap bars were evaluated against higher TFM soap bars on cleansing efficiency, hygiene efficacy, skin barrier health, and skin mildness with industry wide accepted methods of testing. Further, Zein test for mildness and in-vitro and ex-vivo 2D and 3D bioassays to evaluate skin bio-markers relevant to skin barrier health were also conducted.

Results: The results demonstrated that the novel low TFM technology-based soap bars deliver superior cleansing, superior antibacterial efficacy, and advanced skin benefits compared to higher TFM soaps. Through in-vitro assays on skin 3D models, the low TFM soap bars were found to significantly upregulate skin barrier markers, These low TFM technologies are calculated to have upto ~ 40% lower greenhouse gas footprint (due to reduced palm oil usage).

Conclusion: The results challenge existing regulatory frameworks that mandate high TFM levels in a soap bar as means of classification rather than functional properties. We would like to argue that low TFM soap bars which utilize significantly a lower amount of palm oil will continue to contribute to public health as an accessible and affordable preventative intervention for regular infections and outbreaks while being more sustainable as a technology.


Dr. Amitabha Majumdar received his PhD from the Department of Biochemistry in the University of Calcutta on Molecular Virology. After finishing his PhD, he joined the Department of Biochemistry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York and worked there as a Post Doctoral Associate. Following his post doc, Dr. Majumdar joined Unilever R&D and he has been working on various aspects of infection biology, hygiene, and skin health and immunity.