We’ve all been told that to keep your skin healthy, you need to keep it clean. But can cleansing your face ever do more harm than good? As it turns out, if you’re cleansing too often, too aggressively or using harsh soap, you could actually be damaging your skin, especially when combined with the abrasiveness of products like a makeup remover. Irritants in traditional soaps can cause dryness, contact dermatitis, inflammatory acne and throw off the delicate pH balance your skin maintains for both face and body.

Using gentle cleansers free of harsh ingredients and irritants can prevent some of the nasty side effects of severe soaps and cleansers, such as:

Contact Dermatitis

Just like poor Ralphie from A Christmas Story, Lifebuoy and other bar soaps containing a potent antiseptic, tetrachlorosalicylanilide (TCSA), can leave you with some fairly serious side effects. It may not be “soap poisoning” like in Ralphie’s guilt trip daydream, but TCSA was linked to an entire epidemic of photoallergic contact dermatitis in England in the 1960s. And contact dermatitis is no joke. The parts of your body exposed to an irritant, like TCSA or even strong fragrances in harsh soap and cosmetics, can break out into a red, often itchy rash accompanied by dry, cracking skin, oozing blisters, swelling and burning.

 

To avoid the unsightly and painful reactions of contact dermatitis, use facial and body cleansers that do not contain ingredients linked to causing the condition. Steer clear of TCSA, as well as other trouble chemicals like anionic surfactants, which are widely accepted as potent irritants to human skin. They are the most commonly used class of surfactants due to their relative ability to solubilize fats and oils. They may also solubilize the lipid membranes of your cells.

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pH Damage

Our skin needs to maintain a specific, fairly acidic pH to function properly. The acid mantle, a thin, protective layer, is primarily composed of sebum, the skin’s naturally produced oil. It’s integrity is susceptible to irregularities caused by internal and external factors, like diet, pollutants and harsh soaps. To keep skin healthy, the acid mantle needs to be able to do its job, and to do it’s job we need to avoid cleansers that could upset its pH balance.

 

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Highly alkaline soaps, which contain more of the lye that brings about saponification, have been linked to disruptions in the skin’s pH balance. In a study on the effects of soap and detergents on skin surface pH in infants, the greatest increase occurred after washing with alkaline soap. The study concluded that any increase in the skin’s pH level could irritate the protective acid mantle and impair the composition of healthy bacterial flora and enzyme activity. Dissolution of fat from the mantle due to the change in pH could allow skin to become dry and squamous (scaly).

 

Even products specifically created for dry, sensitive skin can cause unwanted irritation. A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology measured the irritation factor of 17 products marketed for use on dry skin and 12 common soaps. They found that some products marketed for dry skin actually caused irritation based on the pH of the product.

High alkalinity in harsh soap disrupts the skin's pH balance.

Dryness

Dry skin looks about as good as it feels: tight, uncomfortable and, in some instances, even painful. Harsh cleansers can strip the skin’s natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. Surfactants in cleansers can damage proteins and lipids in skin, leading to tightness, itching, dryness and barrier damage after washing, according to a study published in Dermatologic Therapy.

The study concluded that cleansers first have to minimize damage to lipids and proteins before they can even begin to care for skin. Only then can they deliver beneficial agents like occlusives, skin lipids and humectants that improve hydration.

Another study of elderly participants prone to dry skin showed that high levels of transepidermal water loss, which can lead to low skin hydration and reduced surface lipid content, were associated with using products that had a high pH.

Inflammatory Acne 

It seems counterintuitive, but the cleanser you’re using to rid your skin of dirt and oils that clog pores could be contributing to the very acne you’re trying to prevent or clear up. Cleansing agents  such as harsh soap with a higher pH may damage the acid mantle’s natural antimicrobial defenses and lead to acne vulgaris, among other conditions, according to a study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. The study postulates that using a moisturising cleanser with a pH of about 5.5, the same natural pH as your skin, could prevent and treat acne. It may also allow recovery from other consequences of using harsh soaps.

Jock Itch/Athlete’s Foot

Fulom Face and Body Cleanser is specially formulated to avoid the pitfalls of traditional soap formulas. The cleanser uses gentle cleansers that won’t strip skin of its natural oils or disrupt the body’s natural pH balance and combats jock itch, athletes foot and other inflammatory skin responses. The selected ingredients deliver humectants and organic fulvic acid moisturizes while neutralizing fungus and bacteria. And the simple, light fragrance provides a refreshing scent without causing irritation.  We know how miserable jock itch can be and guarantee it will soothe your itch. Bar none. 

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