The one skin care regimen we all perform whether we consciously think it or not is washing our face. But is it as simple and meaningless a task as we think or is it a little more complicated. Soap has long been the only cleansing agent available however, we now have a new generation of cleansers known as “syndets” or synthetic detergents that have been developed over the last decades. The come in many various formulations and have become more and more important for cleansing both diseased and healthy skin. Of all the syndets it is those with a pH of around 5.5 that seem to be the most relevant. Unlike most soaps that are alkaline and significantly irritate the skin, syndets do not interfere with your skin’s normal bacteria whose composition is linked to the skin’s surface acidity.
Although it is important for skin care professionals and the general public to know the irritation potential of products marketed for skin cleansing, this information not usually readily available.
Recent studies published in the International Journal of Dermatology and the International Journal of Cosmetics correlated the pH (acidity) and presence or absence of syndets in different soaps and cleansers and their irritation potential as measured by causing redness and scaling of the skin after use.
The results of the study revealed that Cetaphil cleansing lotion had the lowest redness and scaling score. Aquasoft and Lifebuoy soaps had the highest redness score. Acnex had the highest scaling score. Followed by Aquasoft , Hamam scrub bath soap and Naturepower sandal soaps. Cetaphil cleansing lotion, Aquaderm liquid soap, Dove bar soap and Elovera moisturizing body wash prove to be the least irritant cleansers. The irritation potential of the majority of skin cleansers fell somewhere between these extremes. The pH or acidity of all the soaps and cleansers was neutral to alkaline (pH 7-9) except for Dove bar , Cetaphil cleansing lotion, Aquaderm liquid soap, and Elovera moisturizing body wash which tested acidic (pH 5-6). Among the most used bar soaps used worldwide Camay Classic had the lowest irritation potential.
The function of the skin is to act as a barrier against environmental contaminants and bacteria and to hold in moisture. When your skin becomes dry and irritated microscopic cracks begin to appear which can allow bacteria to penetrate resulting in blemishes and pimples. This break in the barrier potential to hold in water causes increased water loss from the epidermis eventually leading to dryness and scaling of the skin with loss of firmness and elasticity. Constant exposure of damaged skin to environmental toxins results in premature skin aging and wrinkles.
In conclusion, try to use facial cleansers with an acidic pH which are much less irritating for your skin. Use effective moisturizers to reduce water loss to keep your skin hydrated to keep your skin intact and use a moisturizer with a powerful antioxidant to neutralize environmental toxins responsible for premature skin aging and wrinkles.