Health Magazine

How to Really Choose the Right Cleanser for Your Skin

Posted on the 31 October 2011 by Jackiebernardi @JackieBernardi

facial cleanserIf you were asked to be completely honest, could you describe the decision making process that you went through when you chose the product you use to wash your face with?

I know, it’s kind of crazy.

There are thousands of choices between soaps, cleansers, and wipes.

How is anyone supposed to figure out which is the best for their skin?

I am going to give you some information and tips to help you better understand your skin’s needs to help you narrow down the choices to just a few.

What is a cleanser, and what is it really supposed to do?

Cleansers are a skin care product that has been formulated to gently but thoroughly cleanse the skin, without destroying the skin’s barrier (protective) layer.  It is usually used as the first step in a healthy skin care routine.  Some manufacturers create their product to do more than just cleanse–they may include ingredients to exfoliate, hydrate, or even reduce sensitivity.  It is beneficial to find a quality product that does double duty, but know your ingredients–some multi-functional cleansing products are worthless.

So how do we go about choosing?

First elimination round…If the label says, “soap,” forget it.

Oh I know, some of you are going to be upset by that statement, and you may have a valid point–there may be some specialty “soaps” that use wildly different ingredients, but I cannot speak to the ingredient profile of thousands of products.

Without getting into the deep science of why soap is not so great for your facial skin (that’s an upcoming post), just know these basics.  Your skin’s acidity/alkalinity is naturally balanced at 4.5 to 5.5 on the pH scale.  What that means is that your skin is slightly acidic, and is healthiest when it stays slightly acidic.  Soap is very alkaline, and depending on the brand, it can rate as high as 13 on the pH scale.

You know what else rates a 13?

Comet bathroom tile scrub.

I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t wash your face with Comet, so you probably should not wash your face with soap either.

Second Elimination Round…If it is the wrong cleanser “type”

This is where we need to consider our words carefully.

In the lexicon of all things skin care, there is a very basic, and very important distinction that needs to be made between two little phrases.  They are “skin type”, and “skin condition”.  A skin type is genetically predetermined.  Your DNA decides what your skin type is, not the articles you read in magazines.  With very few exceptions, there is nothing you can do about your skin type.

However, “skin condition” is a completely different ball game.  Nine times out of ten, the things that bother you about your skin have nothing to do with your skin type.  They are conditions–mostly temporary and/or fixable.  It is important for you, as a consumer, to know the difference so that you will not make purchase decisions based on misinformation.  I am not suggesting that the manufacturers are dishonest, not at all, it’s just that they have a very limited vocabulary around a topic we talk/think about a lot, and so do we.

So, it might be important for you to find out what your skin type is, as well as your skin condition, right?

Once you know your skin type, and condition, you have a much better chance at making an informed purchase decision.  In the meantime, here are some guidelines…very general guidelines to help your elimination process.

Read the label.  Who does the manufacturer say the product is for?  If the label says it’s the “cure for dry skin”, and you have acne, that is not the product for you.  What “type” of product does the label say it is? “Milky Cleanser,” “Cream Cleanser,” to decode what that means for you, use the following hints.  If your skin condition is:

  • Normal/Combination Skin:  Gel based, milky or creamy cleansers.
  • Oily Skin:  Gel based, cleansing bars, even clay-based cleansers.
  • Dry/Dehydrated/Aging: Creamy, or milky cleansers.
  • Sensitive: Gel, creamy, or milky, but must be formulated for sensitized skin.
  • Acne:  Gel based, clay based, or milky if formulated to address acne.

Granted, sometimes the bottle is opaque, and the manufacturer does not state what the cleanser type is.  In that case, personally, I would not purchase the product–not because it is bad, or wrong for me, but because I don’t know for sure.

Third Elimination Round…If it has the wrong (ambiguous) ingredients

Now that you have found the proper type of cleanser for your skin, it is time to really roll up our sleeves and study the ingredients.  These are some questions you should be asking:

  • Are the ingredients beneficial and effective for my skin condition?
  • Is there enough of the effective ingredient in the product (generally listed in the first 25% of the ingredient list) to make a difference?
  • Are there ingredients that I am allergic to, or have had reactions to in the past.

It is not hard to find out the answers to these questions, simply does some Internet “leg work” before you purchase and you will be able to narrow down your choices from 1000+ to less than 25.  Or you can contact me for precise answers.  Just sayin’

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