Using the right face cleanser is the basis of an effective skincare routine. It can mean the difference between having dehydrated, dull and impurities riddled complexion and healthy, glowing skin. But choosing the best cleanser for your skin is not an easy task. We are bombarded with information – face soaps, face gels, foams, liquids, powders… it makes one’s head spin. But, under this confusing façade, hidden are a few simple yet rarely spoken about rules. Here are the secrets to choosing best cleansers!
First things first. How do cleansers work?
Cleansers are made of so called “surfactants”. Essentially surfactant molecules have two ends. One end likes the dirt, the other end likes water. So the dirt attaches to the soap molecules and is washed away with water. This seems like a genius idea. So where’s the problem?
Things get complicated, because the silly dirt-loving ends of the soap don’t just attach to the things we don’t want on our skin. They attach to pretty much everything that isn’t water. Including the integral parts of our skin, which we need in order to keep our skin healthy and functioning well.
The Key to Choosing the Right Cleanser:
1. Choose products free from sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), ammonium laureth sulfate (ALS) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). These three incredibly common harsh surfactants are known for causing skin irritation.
2. Avoid bar soaps. Yes, even the natural ones. Unfortunately they are all rather irritating alkaline surfactants (easily spotted on the label under the name Sodium, followed by the name of the oil, e.g. Sodium Olivate) and therefore capable of being the cause of many skin problems. The natural, handmade bar soaps, however, have usually the advantage of having the hydrating glycerine retained within them.
3. Use natural but mild surfactants – look out for these on the labels:
• Coco Betaine
• Decyl Glucoside
• Coco Glucoside
• Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate
• Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
• Sodium Lauryl Sulphoacetate
These surfactants are all derived from plants and are completely biodegradable. This page is a great resource for determining whether a surfactant is mild or harsh: https://nyponros.com/en/soap-and-other-surfactants/the-surfactant-list
4. Consider switching to the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) – this cleansing method works on a “like attracts like” principle, whereby the oils in the cleanser bind to the dirt on your face, but they don’t destroy the skin’s barrier and they will leave your bacterial flora happy. This method is extremely gentle to your skin, yet extremely effective. It removes even waterproof make-up. You can read more about how to cleanse your skin with OCM here.
5. Always moisturise using plant butters and oils following washing your hands, a shower or a bath, to help rebuild the skin’s barrier.