Wednesday, August 5, 2020

CLEANSERS 101: What IS a cleanser? What to look for and what NOT to use—updated

What is a cleanser? 

A cleanser is a product that helps to remove oil and debris from the surface of your skin and to some degree from inside the pores. Cleansers usually contain wetting agents called surfactants. These agents enable the oil and water from your skin to mix together to be washed away as you rinse the product off. Facial cleansing products come in several different forms.
  • Cleansing milks are primarily water with an oil or fat included in the ingredients, which renders them oil-in-water emulsions
  • Cold creams, with their primary ingredient usually a form of mineral oil or a petroleum derivative, are termed water-in-oil emulsions
  • Soaps come in bars and liquids and contain detergents and foaming agents—ingredients that get your skin squeaky clean. 

No matter what type of cleanser you choose, and there are numerous products to pick from, you always and only want to have a pH balanced, non-alkaline cleanser. How will you know? I highly recommend purchasing test papers so you can know the pH of your cleaner (or any product). The short reason is products that are acid on the pH scale are good and those that are alkaline (or not pH balanced) are “bad.” By doing a simple test you can at least be guaranteed that the product you are using to clean your skin with is not stripping it, which is what alkaline products do, causing problems down the road. All the ins and out of pH of products and how to do the test (and it's super easy to do) is explained in the article listed below.

What to look for in a cleanser

What you’re looking for in a cleanser is a product that first and foremost gets your skin clean without causing any other effect, such as dryness or irritation. If you experience any negative side effect from your cleansing product, I suggest shopping around for something else. Since you are using it at least two times a day—every day—you just can’t afford to use something that isn’t right for your skin.

You want to use a cleanser that gently removes surface oil and debris off your face. That’s it. You’re not looking for your cleanser to do more than that. Water-soluble cleansers are best. Water-soluble means it dissolves in water. Most milk cleansers and washes are water-soluble, but cold creams in general are not.

By the way, water-soluble cleansers generally do not lather. They don’t contain the harsh and drying ingredients of bar soap, so they may not foam up. If they’re acidic on the pH scale, which is what you’re looking for, they also won’t strip the skin. If you’re a soap user and not used to this non-lathering type of cleanser, give it time. You may have to go through an adjustment period before you feel these kinder, gentler, water-soluble cleansers are working, but they are.

Cleansers are not moisturizers 

Some cleansing products claim to leave your skin feeling “soft and moisturized.” Softening the skin is fine, but your moisturizing cream is what remains on the surface to hydrate your skin. A cleanser is applied and removed. It should not leave any type of film on the skin to moisturize. This remaining film could potentially clog the pores causing congestion problems in the future. Cleansers cleanse; they do not (or should not) remain on the skin.

Cleansers are also not exfoliators and only do a surface cleansing. They are important in keeping your skin clean and free from built-up debris and oil, but if you’re looking to remove dead cell buildup you’ll want to use a separate product called an exfoliator.

Cold creams tend to leave a film on the skin because the oils are not broken down by merely rinsing with water. In addition, cold creams are usually tissued off, which guarantees a coating of oil will be left on the skin. For people with drier skin types, this film usually won’t cause problems. But for those of you with normal to oily or problem skin, any product left on the surface could cause trouble.

I have to say, even the words cold cream seem antiquated. My grandmother (born in 1905) used cold cream—Pond’s as a matter of fact. These types of products are not really in the mainsteam anymore and therefore it is doubtful that you will see many in your searching, but it is even more dubious that you would actually buy this type of thick, highly (usually) perfumed cream cleanser. I would advise you to avoid thick cold creams and reach for a cleansing milk or gel wash instead.
Is soap OK to use on my skin?

Shes definitely using soap!
My answer to that question is a resounding No! I’m not a fan because soap is not a good product to use on your skin—at least not your face. Why not? Because soaps, in general, are alkaline; alkalinity basically dries out the surface skin. It does this by stripping all the oil and water off your face. This not only makes your skin feel dry after washing, it also sets up a situation where your oil glands may produce more oil to compensate for the loss from soap use. What this can mean for you is congestion (clogged pores) as well as dry, flaky skin (dehydration).

If you must use a hard-bar soap, try a brand called Aveeno®. Although this is a non-alkaline soap, it still may leave your skin feeling dried out. I recommend Aveeno to clients who have to use soap, teenagers who don’t have the resources to purchase more expensive cleansers, or clients with problem skin who sometimes feel milk cleansers are not getting their skin clean. I still prefer cleansing milks, but if you have to use soap, try Aveeno. It also comes in a liquid “oil-control formula.” Cetaphil® is another brand that makes a liquid “gentle skin cleanser.” Both of these liquid cleansers are non-alkaline (and inexpensive) and don’t seem to dry out the skin the way bar soaps do.

Here are a few final tips when using cleansers:
  • No matter what type you use, you want to rinse the cleanser off with water (splash-rinse). Don’t wipe it off your face with tissue or some other technique. Even if a cleansing product instructs you to do just that, don’t! Using tissue simply doesn’t get all the product off your face.
  • If you don’t already know this, you should cleanse both morning and evening for proper skin care. See The Basics article link below for this important information.

In the end, there are many cleansers to choose from. Test any you have been using or are planning to use with pH papers to make sure they are pH balanced. And if they pass the test and you like the way they feel, then use your cleanser night and day and know you’re doing your skin a lot of good.

For more information, see:
  • HOW TO test the pH of your skin care products—DO THIS! (coming next week!)
  • The Basics 1-2-3 Program Here youll read about the 3 basic steps for proper, daily skin care.  
  • PLEASE—No Hot Water! Learn about the best way to rinse your cleanser off in this article.

No comments:

Post a Comment