Posted on May 20 2022
Shopping for the best cleanser for your skin is so easy- if you know a few smart tips to look through and bad cleansing agents to avoid!
Cleansers exist in different textures like bar soap, lotion, cream, oil, powder, liquid, gel, enzymatic solution, mousse, etc. They also come with various claims like anti-acne, whitening, nourishing, anti-aging, purifying and the list goes on.
These claims are what make the process of shopping for the right cleanser even more difficult. However, when compared to other products (toner, moisturizer, serum and sunscreen), detecting which cleanser is the best for your skin is so easy if you know a few smart tips.
Continue reading to learn about these easy tips:)
1) Ignore the False Claims
You should never believe a cleanser to have any other effects on your skin besides cleansing. Skin lightening, anti-acne, and anti-aging actives require hours to penetrate into your skin and takes days, weeks, or months of consistently applying to see significant changes on your skin.
The truth is, we only wash our face for a few minutes (you better do, because washing your face for too long will damage your skin barrier and intracellular matrix, giving you sensitive skin later). So, all beneficial ingredients will get washed down the drain in minutes, before they take any effect on your skin. These good ingredients are usually wasted, and useless, in cleansers.
Additionally, more active ingredients simply mean that the cleansers are added with more or a higher concentration of irritating preservatives to prolong its shelf life. This is because bacteria may also feed on the skin-loving nutrients in the product over time. Plus, they are often more expensive with more wonderful ingredients which all go to waste in the few minutes we wash our face. And, since these ingredients don’t really serve a purpose in cleansers, it is better if you rationally look for these beneficial ingredients in your other products. Spend your money wisely and never buy a cleanser because of the product description, or the ladies at the cosmetic counters who tell you the cleanser is anti-acne, whitening, anti-aging or so on. Buy it only if it cleanses well.
2) Feel Your Skin After Cleansing
The best cleanser that cleanses well for your skin type should leave your skin feeling “a little tight” after washing. If you feel your skin is so moisturized and slippery, the cleanser is too gentle and not doing a good and thorough cleansing job for you. If your skin feels dry, very tight and itchy after cleansing, the cleanser is too harsh and is overly taking away the epidermal surface lipids on your skin.
Therefore, if you find a cleanser that gives you the “little tight” sensation minutes after cleansing, congratulations, you may have found the best cleanser for your skin.
3) Check the Cleansing Agents
If you are shopping for a cleanser in supermarkets, you can easily find alkaline soap-based cleansers. Often times, these cleansers can leave your skin feeling super dry and may make the outer layer of your skin (stratum corneum) thinner, which is one of the causes for extra-sensitive skin. These types of soap-based cleansers are only recommended for people with very oily skin, but are abundant in the market because its raw cleansing agents come with a very cheap price.
When looking for cleansing agents, take a look at the first few ingredients on the list. The ingredients that are listed higher on the list usually means this ingredient exists in higher concentration in the product as compared to the others below (water/aqua is frequently the highest). Most inexpensive soap-based cleansers often have Myristic Acid, Lauric Acid, Palmitic Acid and/or Stearic Acid on top of the list, together with alkalizing agents like Sodium Hydroxide, Potassium Hydroxide, Triethanolamine and/or 2-Amino-2-methyl propanol.
If you find such ingredients, you can expect the cleanser to be harsh and super oil-removing. If your skin type is not oily, long-term use of cleansers like this will probably make your skin more sensitive.
4) Look Out For Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
Take note of Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) in ingredient lists. You can commonly find them in inexpensive skincare products, shampoos and showering products.
**Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) is a more gentle and mild cleansing agent as compared to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS).**
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) comes with larger molecules and a higher amount of fatty alcohols in its chemical structure, making it less penetrative and less intrusive to the skin. However, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) has an infamous name in the cosmetic industry. SLS is a known allergen and has been proven to irritate skin with its non-volatile alcohol components. In clinical studies, to identify if one ingredient is irritating and problematic, researchers often use SLS as a basic standard. If the testing ingredient is evaluated higher than SLS, it can irritate skin.
It will be extremely beneficial if you can remember the names of these two ingredients above. You can remember them naturally and easily after you take time to check the cleansers’ list of ingredients a few times.
You would be amazed when you notice that there are numerous cleansers out there formulated with the same soap-based cleansing agents, yet are marketed differently by brands. A brand can categorize their formula into different cleansing products (anti-acne, whitening, anti-aging etc.) when they are essentially the same with the same cleansing agents!
If you are attentive, you may have already noticed that our cleansers come with similar but true claims - removing excess oil and makeup, removing dirt, softening skin, cleansing gently while protecting the skin’s barrier, cleansing without drying or stripping the skin and the like.
Of course our brands know that giving beautiful names to the cleansers sell much better, but that is simply not honest. A cleanser can only do so much - cleansing. It can never cure acne, never lighten your skin tone, and NEVER reverse your skin’s age. However, you can expect these wonderful effects from great ingredients and formulas in your toners, moisturizers, serums, boosters, or sunscreens- but definitely not your cleansers!
If good cleansers are all the same, what is the main difference among these cleansers then?
- Your preference and their texture -
We have a few good recommendations below that amaze every skin type.
- Normal Skin: your skin type suits any gentle cleanser
- Combination to Oily Skin: gentle gel-type cleansers are recommended for you.
- Normal to Dry Skin: get an emollient lotion/cream cleanser that hydrates while cleansing
- Sensitive Skin: gentle, non-irritating cleansing agents suit you best
Your Sharing: Knowing that there are so many good cleansers in the market, have you found the right cleanser for yourself? Why do you like it so much?