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Cleansers....so what's the big deal?

Posted by DianaYvonne on

Your first step to skin care....cleansing:

I could rant all day long about cleansers. If I could have my way, all companies would need to disclose the pH of their cleansers as well as their ingredients. The negative affect of using neutral to high pH cleansers/products on the skin has been so thoroughly studied that is hard to believe we still have companies that do not readily disclose the pH of their products. Many cleansers claiming to be gentle and for dry skin....simply are not gentle at all will exaggerate dry skin issues. Those cleansers claiming to help acne with a neutral to high pH most often make the skin more susceptible to p.acne bacteria.  

So what's the big deal? Healthy skin's optimum pH is between 4 pH and 5.5 pH. This outer layer, acid mantle/stratum corneum is the skin's protective layer. When you apply neutral to high pH cleansers/products you damage this protective layer of the skin. This acid mantle of the stratum corenum regulates at least 3 different functions in the skin

  1. Antimicrobial barrier -even under neutral conditions pathogenic bacterial growth increases and the good flora is adversely affected. This allows invasive pathogens such as the p.acne bacteria a long with a whole lot of other pathogens. Most bacteria grow better in a neutral+ pH.
  2. Permeability barrier - from neutral to higher this barrier becomes damaged and takes a good while to recover. Neutral to higher pH cleansers tend to strip the skin of lipid processing enzymes that maintain this barrier. Recovery time ranges between 45 minutes to 8 hours depending on the pH of the cleanser and the detergents used.
  3. Barrier integrity/cohesion - raising the skin pH interferes with enzymes that regulate desquamation (shedding of old cells).

You ask is pH the only consideration?  Absolutely not.  The pH is a huge factor but not the only one.  Ingredients, the type of surfactants (detergents, foaming agents, etc. ) and other ingredients plays a big role in whether the cleanser might tend to clog pores, disrupt the permeability barrier, etc.  

When someone is having some sort of skin issue, my first question is "What cleanser are you using?" Disruption of this all important acid mantle puts the skin at risk for the following and more:

  1. P.acne bacteria
  2. Dehydrated skin because of excessive water loss (TEWL...Trans Epidermal Water Loss)
  3. Dry skin because delipidation
  4. Fungus and yeast growth (these don't thrive and create havoc when the skins acid mantle is healthy
  5. Dermatitis - healing is very difficult if the skin pH is raised
  6. etc, etc, etc.

Clearly we publish the pH of ALL of our cleansers.  Guide lines for selecting the perfect cleanser for your skin.  

  AHA
Alpha Beta
Gentle Clean
Mandelic
Rose Hip
Wheat Germ
  5.5 pH 5.5 pH 7.2 pH 5.5 pH 5.5 pH 7.3 pH
Dry to Normal             x  
Oily     x     x      x     x       x
Acne Prone     x     x       x    
Excema (no chemicals)            x (body)       x     x
Rosacea (no chemicals)     x             x     x

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