Your beautiful face has been defining you since the day you gave your first smile. It’s an important part of who we are and how we communicate. Your face not only helps distinguish you as an individual, it also helps your body function by allowing you to experience the five senses and react accordingly. Shouldn’t something so vital receive all of our tender love and care. You could arguably state that out of all the parts of our body to care for, the greatest of these is the face. And taking care of your face starts with finding a perfect facial cleanser for your skin type. Let’s take an in-depth look at what to avoid when it comes to choosing a facial cleanser, as well as, an insider’s view of surfactants and what that means for your skin. Finally, we’ll discuss the best techniques for finding a sound cleanser to keep your skin looking so fresh and so clean.


Skin cleansing with a sound facial cleanser is a crucial step to maintaining a healthy appearance. You should absolutely make a good facial regimen a part of your every day and here’s why. As we go about the ins and outs of our daily routine, our skin collects pollutants, dirt, debris, excess oil and dead skin cells. Not to mention all that’s left over from our makeup and skincare products! All of this junk can clog our pores and lead to dryness, irritation and unwanted buildup. So what’s actually going on scientifically? Under your skin, you have little oil-producing glands that make an oil called sebum. This oil helps moisturize your skin and block dirt and other harmful bacteria from entering into your skin’s pores and follicles. When you fail to clean your face properly, this oil gets clogged with dirt and other particles, as well as, dead skin cells that are being shed from the body. These blocked pores can lead to breakouts. Using a good facial cleanser each day can help rid your face of this unwanted buildup. Though it seems counterintuitive, using certain skin protectants too long can also dry out the skin so it’s best they be removed through facial cleansing. Prolonged exposure to occlusive agents such as dimethicone, a common ingredients in skincare products will lead to skin irritation and exacerbate acne.


We all have different types of skin, from normal to oily, combination to dry. Before you select a cleanser, you’ll want to talk with your dermatologist about which type of skin you have. That way, you can better select a facial cleanser that will work with your skin. No matter your skin type, there are various ingredients that you should absolutely avoid when searching for your perfect facial cleanser. You want to make sure to find a cleanser with a PH of neutral or only a slight bit acidic. Be on the lookout for the following ingredients and avoid them whenever possible:

Sodium lauryl sulfate, Sodium lauryl ether sulfate. These ingredients are detergents and surfactants which break surface tension and help products interact with the skin. There are several potential harmful effects that can occur from using these ingredients:
1. At a high concentration (even at just 1 percent), they are irritating to the skin by eroding the skin barrier.
2. The ingredients have a weak estrogen-like effect, meaning they could bioaccumulate inside the body and cause a hormonal imbalance
3. As a detergent, these ingredients can denature proteins under certain circumstances, which leads to abnormal cellular activity.

Alcohol. Facial cleansers that contain alcohol are too harsh for the face and can cause your skin to dry out which can lead to the accumulation of too much dry skin and not enough sebum to clear it. Skip this ingredient in your facial routine.

Synthetic Fragrances. Though you may love the smell of a facial cleanser, a smell that’s unnatural may mean that your facial cleanser is packed full of chemicals that you’re unaware of and that can cause your skin to dry out.

Phthalates. Added to many products (mostly nail polish and hairspray) to give plastic a moveable quality. Studies are ongoing as to the health risks that they might pose.

Formaldehyde. Used in beauty products as a preservative, formaldehyde can cause skin allergies and is a known carcinogen. It is outlawed in many countries. Look for the names timonacic acid, dimethoxymethane, or decamethyl-cyclopentasiloxane on the back of the label. These above-named chemicals release formaldehyde and can have carcinogenic effects on the body.  

Soap Bars. Soaps contain harsh chemicals that can dry out the skin and they are not formulated for use on the face. Make sure you seek out a facial bar that’s formulated with the correct ingredients to treat the face.

So now that you have a good idea of some harmful products to avoid, what are some other things you should look for in a great facial cleanser?


For mild, more natural surfactants to clean your face, please look for ingredients such as decyl glycoside, lauryl glucoside, and coco glucosides. In addition, try to look for a facial cleanser in an emulsion format instead of the gel-like shape as research has shown that microstructure of the surfactants can greatly impact their damaging effects.

Thinking of adding antioxidants and anti-aging ingredients to your facial cleanser? It may not be a good idea. As cleansers are full of detergents and surfactants, we are not sure how well they can go along with those precious anti-aging extracts or proteins or chemicals. Leave your anti-aging regime to a few simple steps.  

There’s nothing better than finally finding a facial cleanser that can do the job and that you know is entirely safe for your skin. Washing off a good-for-you facial cleanser feels like a dream! Choosing the right facial cleanser really can make a lasting impact on your self-esteem and your life. Having healthy, clean skin is a refreshing end to every day and a great way to prepare your face to look ahead to tomorrow. Putting your best face forward starts with a daily skin care regimen that takes into account your skin type, your daily activity level and your need for safe, healthy skincare. Remember, when it comes to finding a facial cleanser you’ll love, look for one that is formulated specifically for the face, one that removes dirt and impurities, one that’s made with wholesome ingredients and one that keeps your PH balanced. Looking fresh and clean has never looked so good! Happy Cleansing!

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Derm Young