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Scientists share skincare expertise to help people taking Covid-19 precautions


Members of our R&D team in China have taken to social media to explain the science behind handwashing and skin cleansing, so consumers can make informed choices about the regimes they follow.

Young Scientist on the computer

One of the most important things everyone can do right now to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 is to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water.

But as we’re all discovering, that creates its own problems, most notably dry skin.

To help people deal with these issues, a team of our R&D scientists in China took to social media to share their knowledge and expertise on handwashing and skin cleansing.

The idea was to give people information, based on scientific evidence and insight, so they could understand the problems better and make more informed choices about the care regimes they should follow.

“At a time when people are concerned about their health and wellbeing, they are looking to reliable sources for information and advice,” says Peter Schrooyen, Unilever’s VP of R&D in Shanghai. “The world over, scientists are at the forefront of efforts to tackle the coronavirus issue, with their opinions sought and trusted. Tapping into the expertise within our business means we can help people cope a little better through this crisis.”

Know your sebum membrane from your skin microbiome?

In a series of articles, videos and posts, the team covered a whole range of topics around the science behind skin cleansing and care.

For instance, they explained how frequent handwashing or sanitising can disrupt the normal structure of the skin’s barrier – the sebum membrane – and how the right kind of moisturising can help keep this in good condition.

But the advice didn’t just relate to handwashing. Other problems started to emerge as a result of how individuals were choosing to – or being advised to – protect themselves.

For instance, people were developing acne through wearing tight-fitting face masks for long periods. So our scientists explained how high temperature and humidity inside masks can incubate bad bacteria and what can be done to help maintain microbiome balance.

Tailoring our advice for different audiences

To reach as many people as possible, the team created accounts on three of China’s most popular social media platforms – Weibo, TikTok and Red – and posted content tailored to their specific audiences.

For instance, for Weibo users who are looking for informative and in-depth articles, we went into detailed scientific explanations and research. Whereas the TikTok audience responds to mostly humorous content, so we created self-shot films and short, illustrated articles – still sharing valuable insights, but this time with added fun and filters.

After just a few days on Weibo, one post – which was the first to talk about the science behind protecting your skin while wearing a face mask – got 100,000 views and became one of the platform’s trending topics.

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