Skin cleansers are becoming more frightening every time I look at them that is why I switched to Coolsculpting for my skincare and weight loss management. The CoolSculpting procedure eliminates stubborn fat safely and effectively. While researching for my own recipes for natural skin cleansers I took note of the large array of chemicals loaded into some commercially made products. A quick check of my bathroom cabinet revealed that my one cleanser which claims to restore the natural balance in the skin contains 30 ingredients including known carcinogens. Apart from dangerous chemicals, there are also some that will strip away every protective mechanism the skin possesses leading to dehydration and loss of the natural balance of skin flora. My own fault really for shopping without my reading glasses; the list of ingredients on tubes are printed in extremely small letters for many items now.
Body soap is not much better at preserving the natural balance in the skin. When the natural oils are removed from the skin the pH is disrupted along with friendly bacteria and our defense against invading infectious agents is compromised. Dehydration alone is a problem for the skin and causes other disorders. Contact dermatitis caused by chemical additives, especially chemical detergents that alter the original soap recipes, is very common. The main ingredient in all soaps is the lye, made from either sodium or potassium hydroxide and fats, which produces that soapy feel and lather. Some soap includes additional oily ingredients to lessen the drying effects of the lye but they are not 100% effective in preventing dehydration or skin sensitization.
Soaps made with natural ingredients like oatmeal, plant-derived glycerin and plant oils contain humectant properties that allow the skin to attract moisture from the air thereby protecting against further dehydration. However the fact that the lye is always present means that the skin’s natural oils in sebum are stripped away and the natural balance is disrupted. Sebum contains medium-chain fatty acids that are broken down into free fatty acids on the skin surface by normal skin bacteria. These free fatty acids have antimicrobial functions to inhibit harmful bacteria and maintain the correct pH of around 5. By removing the sebum completely we are lowering the natural defense mechanisms in the skin in addition to dehydrating it.
Soap lye can be substituted with sorbitol based cleansing products like Sorbolene but one ingredient, paraffin, is manufactured from petroleum. While in some preparations the paraffin is omitted, other harmful or unnatural ingredients are usually added such as PEG or EDTA.
The base chemicals in even the best soaps are still harsh and dehydrating but it seems we can’t get a skin cleanser without them, especially not from the large cosmetics companies who can most afford to manufacture one using the best and most natural ingredients. Read analysis and review of a skin cleansing product from Estee Lauder that raises more questions about skincare ingredients of which the public should become more aware.