Some people say they don’t feel like their face has been cleansed properly unless there is a foaming element to their routine; they like that “squeaky clean” feeling. But did you know that foaming cleansers could actually be stripping your skin and doing it more harm than good?
The pH factor
Just like the ingredients of foods, it’s important to examine the ingredients of your skincare.
By now, most people have heard the bad press Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) often gets as an ingredient in shampoo. But did you know that SLS is also often used in skincare and could be harming your skin’s delicate defence mechanisms? To understand why, we need to talk pH.
SLS is a surfactant; they are what makes products foam and gives you that glorious lather we often expect in a cleansing product. Surfactants are almost always on the alkaline side of the pH scale.
On the other hand, your skin’s natural pH sits on the acidic side of the fence; around 5.5. Your skin features its own built-in protective layer, referred to as a variety of different things including the acid mantle or lipid barrier. This protective mechanism is there to stop nasties making their way through to your skin. If this is damaged, you’re left with holes in your skin’s “armour”. This not only causes sensitivities and breakouts thanks to unwanted elements getting through the line of defence, but can also impair your skin’s ability to retain moisture.
To keep your skin’s acid mantle happy and healthy, It is of utmost importance that your skin’s pH stays balanced around that 5.5 mark. If you are applying an alkaline product to your skin, you are taking it further and further away from its natural balance, and you can end up damaging its defence mechanism. That “squeaky clean” feeling is actually really a stripped feeling. We’re sure you’re starting to get the picture here, right?
Are foaming cleansers bad for your skin?
While they might feel nice going on, unfortunately the foaming agents in foaming cleansers can put your skin way out of pH balance, leaving it irritated, dry and dreadfully unhappy. Worse still, this impairment then takes away your skin’s ability to fight back against bacteria. So that “deep cleansing” foaming cleanser which is marketed as good for problematic skin? Unfortunately it is actually probably going to be detrimental to your fight against breakouts.
It doesn’t end there though; a disturbed acid mantle can cause a decline in optimal skin function, leading to skin disorders and premature ageing.
Of course, it must be pointed out that not every foaming cleanser contains SLS or surfactants, but most do.
Can I fix my skin’s pH?
If you’ve been using a foaming cleanser and have had a sudden and terrible lightbulb moment that it’s possibly the cause of some skin issues you might be experiencing, don’t stress! It can be fixed. For many people who are suffering from sensitisation, breakouts and trans epidermal water loss due to an impaired acid mantle, the simple act of switching to a cleanser which nurtures their skin’s pH can put them on the road to recovery!
Basically, your skin just needs a little rest to rebuild its acid mantle; the length of time this takes will vary depending on the severity of your skin’s damage. While your skin is recovering, we recommend taking a very gentle approach to your overall routine and avoiding products containing active ingredients. You can re-introduce these slowly once your skin has recovered.
Do Alpha-H cleansers contain SLS?
At Alpha-H, we firmly believe that bubbles belong in champagne, not your cleanser. As such, each and every one of our cleansers are free of SLS and harsh surfactants, and have been carefully and lovingly crafted to keep your skin’s pH perfected.