n. A soap that coats the skin with a thin film designed to ward off bacteria.
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One way to avoid getting sick and needing a doc is to wash your hands a lot. Not only will we be repeatedly reminded to do so, but soap manufacturers will keep adding anti-bacterials to more and more products in an effort to capitalize on our germ concerns: A few years ago, anti-bacterial coatings were added to many toys. One new supersoap currently being tested in the U.S. involves a technology that covers the body like an invisible glove.
—Marilyn Linton, “Future health plan,” The Toronto Star, December 29, 2002
2002 (earliest)
Scientists have created a "supersoap" which is twice as effective as conventional detergents. It creates a layer on the skin's surface which bacteria find difficult to cling to.Hands washed with the new soap picked up 58 per cent fewer bacteria than those using ordinary soap.
—“Supersoap keeps skin twice as nice,” Western Daily Press, May 22, 2002
Since about 1998, the phrase super soap has sometimes been used to refer to the recent crop of anti-bacterial soaps that are crowding regular soaps off the shelves. (And, ever since, there has been vigorous debate about whether we're creating environments that are too clean. See the hygiene hypothesis.) Anti-bacterials are designed to kill germs, but the latest supersoap is different. At the general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, held in May 2002, scientists at Colgate-Palmolive unveiled something called Microbial Anti-attachment Technology (MAT). Based on three common cosmetic ingredients — petrolatum, dimethicone, and polyquaternium — MAT coats the skin with a super-thin film that purportedly repels bacteria. (In a press release, Colgate-Palmolive somewhat creepily said that MAT gives the skin a "Teflon-like" property.) The scientists claimed that "bacteria attachment" was reduced by up to 58% using a MAT-based soap.
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