Cleansers are used to remove dirt, sweat and sebum from the skin. They also stimulate normal exfoliation of the skin, thus assisting to its rejuvenation.
But cleansers can also cause dryness, irritation, redness and itch. These undesirable side effects depend upon the type of cleanser used as well as the cleansing conditions.
The following aspects should be considered when choosing an adequate cleanser:
- Syndets (synthetic detergent-based bars or liquids) cause less irritation and itching than soap-based cleansers. Syndets are mostly neutral or acidic (pH 7 or less) whereas soap-based cleansers are often alkaline, with a pH of often 9 – 12. PH-neutral or acidic syndets should be used rather than alkaline soap bars.
- The skin type should be considered. In dry skin, moisturising cleansers containing vegetable oils, glycerol, stearic acid or lanolin alcohol show beneficial effects. These products replace some of the fatty acids removed from the skin during cleansing and result in a milder and more moisturising wash. For sensitive skin, fragrance-free gentle cleansers are recommended. They should not contain alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid or lactic acid. In oily skin or the t-zone in mixed skin, mild ph-neutral or acidic syndets should be used.
It is important to carefully wash off the cleansing product. The cleansers should be used sparingly.
And for those using moisturising cleansers, it is important to remember: emollient-rich body washes do not replace the use of emollients such as creams or ointments afterwards!