Thursday January 10, 2013
Cleansers have big role in skincare
By WONG LI ZA
Moisturisers and serums generally get more attention in a skincare regimen, while we tend to forget how important cleansers are.
IT’S a new year, start on a clean slate! Hardly much thought, time or money is put into the cleansing ritual, compared with serums or creams that seem to get all the attention.
However, proper cleansing is a crucial first step in skincare and determines how well products that are applied thereafter are absorbed into the skin.
According to Paula Begoun’s The Beauty Bible, skin that isn’t properly cleaned leads to clogged pores and residue built-up that can prevent dead skin cells from falling off.
Over-cleansing or using a cleanser that’s too drying, on the other hand, strips away the skin’s natural barrier and moisture, and can cause irritation, redness or dry patches.
Cleansers that leave a greasy film can clog pores and prevent moisturisers or serums from being absorbed and doing their job.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that your skin is well-cleansed only if it feels tight or taut after washing.
“That is not true. A gentle cleanser will remove everything it needs to and not strip skin of healthy substances,” says Bryan Barron, Paula’s Choice research team content manager based in the United States.
According to The 21st Century Beauty Bible, tight-feeling skin is often a sign of skin barrier damage. As a result, skin becomes too permeable and ingredients that should sit on the skin’s surface, like sunscreen, gets absorbed into the skin. This can lead to skin sensitivity from using products that follow the cleanser.
Similarly, people think soap bars are the best way to get skin cleaned up because they give that squeaky clean sensation.
The Beauty Bible says that soaps usually have a high alkaline content, which irritates skin and increases the presence of bacteria. In addition, ingredients that give the bar its shape can clog pores.
“Many soap bars are drying, raise skin’s naturally acidic pH, damage its barrier, and can leave a dull residue on the skin,” explains Barron.
Rui Branco, head of education and training for British skincare brand Ren, says soaps can sometimes leave skin feeling dry and tight because of ingredients such as sulphates and glycols, known for drying skin and disrupting the pH balance.
“When this happens, our skin tends to over-compensate and produce more sebum, and if we don’t exfoliate regularly, that can lead to skin congestion and cause further complications. It’s a bit of a vicious circle,” says Branco. Ren claims to use only 100% plant and mineral derived actives in its products, which are said to be free from skin-unfriendly synthetic ingredients.
Years ago, Clinique’s soap bars formed the crucial first step in its well-knowned 3-Step Skincare System. However, the brand has since moved on and now offers Liquid Facial Soap in three formulations (extra mild, mild and oily skin formula) in place of the bars.
However, there are still reputable brands that offer soap bars such as L’Occitane, which has an Ultra Rich Face Soap formulated with a soft vegetal cleansing base and shea butter.
The host of cleansers available in the market today ranges from cleansing milk or cream, gel, balm to oil-based cleansers.
Besides removing dirt, oil and make-up, most of these cleansers claim to give dual or triple benefits that include hydration, brightening or anti-ageing actions.
Some examples of hydrating cleansers are Yves Rocher’s Hydra Vegetal Hydrating Cleansing Milk, which doubles as a make-up remover, and Refreshing Gel Cleanser.
The key active ingredients in the Hydra Vegetal range are derived from two plants – the Canadian maple tree and organic blue agave from Mexico – that have adaptive abilities to survive in extreme climatic conditions. When combined, the saps from both these plants are believed to provide and lock in moisture deep within the skin.
There’s also H2O’s Oasis Dual-action Exfoliating Cleanser, which forms part of the Oasis range of oil-free marine hydration system. The Hydrating Marine Blend in the range is said to provide intensive marine hydration while a synthesis of marine botanicals protects skin’s surface moisture balance and ensures skin remains hydrated during the cleansing process.
One of Paula’s Choice’s best-selling cleansers is its Resist Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser which aims to target anti-ageing, extra sensitive skin, redness and wrinkles while preserving skin’s moisture balance.
Some cleansers come with a unique texture or form rather than the straightforward foam or cream cleansers.
The Eve Lom Cleanser is a highly-regarded cleansing balm, formulated from oils that have solidified, which emulsifies into an oil-like texture upon contact with skin. It claims to cleanse, decongest, exfoliate, tone and nourish the skin in just one simple step.
Cleansing oils have a sizeable following given its purported efficacy in removing make-up. Formulated with emulsifiers, cleansing oils can be rinsed off without any greasy feel.
Shu Uemura is noted for its Unmask cleansing oils, having produced the first one 46 years ago. Its latest range is the Purifying Gentle Cleansing Oil Formulas that come in limited edition designs. Developed for different skin concerns, the Unmask cleansing oils offer a gentle round of cleansing, gliding smoothly over skin and removes a wide range of make-up. When water is mixed with the oil, it emulsifies into a milky layer which is then rinsed away, leaving skin conditioned and moisturised.
Chanel’s Lait Confort Creamy Cleansing Milk Comfort + Anti-pollution Faces and Eyes is another product with a difference. A milk cleanser and make-up remover for dry or sensitive skin, it turns into a silky film as you gently massage it on skin.
Getting the right type of cleanser for your skin makes all the difference in maintaining good skin health.
Most people think that mature skin needs a rich, creamy cleanser.
“Age is not a skin type, and many older women might end up with worse skin after using a rich, creamy cleanser. This type of cleanser is fine if you have dry skin, but age isn’t a factor to consider when shopping for cleansers,” Barron says.
What about double cleansing?
“Only double cleanse if your cleanser is not removing all your make-up or if you don’t have a separate make-up remover to take off stubborn mascara or long-wearing formulas.
If you use heavy make-up, try cleansing once but use a wet wash cloth with your regular cleanser,” he further advises.
Branco agrees, adding that double cleansing may be necessary in the evenings.
“Many make-up brands use silicone and mineral oil as a base for their formulae and if you don’t successfully remove this build-up (including dirt, pollution, sweat or SPF), you will not benefit from those wonderful ingredients used in post cleansing.
“Regardless what you pay for a serum or moisturiser, nothing that you put on afterwards will work effectively or efficiently as there is a barrier still left on the skin that will hinder the performance of your products,” he emphasised.
Apart from selecting the right type of cleanser, it is also important to know what ingredients to look out for and which to avoid.
“Ingredients that preserve and help restore the skin’s protective barrier function are great. Examples include glycerin, fatty acids, non-fragrant plant oils, cholesterol, ceramides and sodium PCA. Also look for gentle cleansing agents such as sodium laureth sulphate, cocamidopropyl betaine and decyl glucoside,” says Barron.
There are also certain ingredients to look out for according to your skin type.
“If your skin is dry, look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil and Zostera marine sea grass. If you have normal skin, conditioning ingredients like aloe vera are useful. Those with oily or congested skin concerns should look out for ingredients like salicin from willow and sebum-controlling mayblossom,” Branco says.
On the other hand, some of the ingredients to avoid would be fragrant plant extracts or oils.
Barron says these could cause problems like eye irritation, worsen redness, lengthen healing time, cause patches of dry skin and over time, break down skin’s support structure, which leads to signs of ageing.
Some of these fragrant plant extracts or oils include peppermint, orange, lime, lemon, lavender and eucalyptus.
“Also avoid drying cleansing agents such as sodium lauryl sulphate and TEA-lauryl sulphate. Watch out for menthol too, as this ingredient (which provides a cooling sensation) may feel pleasant but it’s irritating for all skin types,” he elaborates.
In general, Branco advises against ingredients such as mineral oil and silicone, sulphates, parabens, synthetic fragrance and synthetic colourants as they either do not promote skin health or cause negative reactions like skin redness or irritation.
Melvita offers “natural and organic” products certified by Ecocert Greenlife according to the Ecocert Standard. Its Apicosma Honey Moisturising Range has the Cleansing Jelly, Cleansing Cream and Cleansing Milk whereby over 98% of total ingredients are from natural origins while about 20% to 30% of total ingredients are sourced from organic farms.
So the next time you go shopping for a cleanser, make sure you get that first step right.