Did you know that cleansing is actually one of the most damaging things you can do to your skin? However, it’s definitely an essential step of your skincare routine.
So let's start with what a cleanser does in the first place?
- It cleans your face by removing dirt, oil, dead skin cells, build-up of products be it makeup or skincare products that you've applied on your face.
- So it's definitely an important part of your skincare routine.
But did you know that cleansing may be damaging your skin? Basically, the surfactants aka “cleaning agent” in cleansers are not able to tell the difference between dirt and grime (that should be removed) and your own lipids AKA oil (the good stuff that should remain on your skin). So it just removes everything! This leaves your skin more vulnerable and may even lead to dry, irritated skin.
What should we be looking out for in a cleanser?
So that's why you always hear people telling you to use a 'gentle" cleanser, which is absolutely right. The question is, what makes a cleanser gentle? There are two important things; 1. The type of surfactants in it and 2. The pH level.
- Your skin works the best in a slightly acidic nature, which is on the lower end of the pH scale. A high pH, which soaps are generally associated with, throws off this ideal environment causing excessive removal of lipids AKA protective layer on your skin, leading to dry, dehydrated skin. So ideally, you want a cleanser with a pH closer to your skin's pH, which is a pH of around 5 to 6. What you'll usually hear in the market are things like "low pH" or "pH balanced cleansers".
- Cleansers formulated with milder surfactants are also less damaging on the skin such as cocoamidopropyl betaine, sodium cocoyl isethionate, potassium laureth phosphate, etc.
- Cleansers with added moisturising and hydrating ingredients such as plant oils, butters, glycerin can all be gentler on the skin as it helps reduce the contact between the surfactant and lipids on the skin. They also restore moisture loss from the act of cleansing.
How should we really be cleansing?
- Do not overwash your face! At most, stick to 2 times a day. Once in the morning to remove any residue skincare products from the night before especially photoreactive products. And at night to remove makeup, sunscreen, dirt and grime accumulated from your day.
- Avoid cleansing for long! You may think you might doing your skin a favour by taking your own sweet time cleansing it but you actually don't want the cleanser to be in contact with your skin for long.