New York Times – Cleanser Story due 6th of September
Q: There are so many cleansers out there now. Does form actually affect function or is it really just an aesthetic choice? (whether it's an oil, balm, foam etc)
A: The function of a cleanser is to remove make-up, dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and other pollutants from the skin, unclog pores, prevent skin conditions such as acne, and prepare the skin to better receive skincare. Foam cleansers are great, and gentle workers to clean without disturbing the skin's natural moisture barrier.
If you have oily skin or are prone to breakouts, you would choose a gel or foam cleanser and if you have dry skin you can use an oil, milk or cream cleanser. Our cleanser is a foam cleanser which is suitable for any skin type - it restores your own natural moisture balance - it contains Aloe Vera and Urea for hydration and Panthenol for calming the skin.
Foam Cleansers have several advantages to oils or balms. If you are prone to breakouts, oil can clog pores and worsen this condition. Foam does not present this problem. Foam is easy to handle and economical. Since the fluid is only turned into a foam right before use and only requires very little product, a foam cleanser is also very giving and will last longer than other products. A foam cleanser simply feels great.
Q: From a formulation standpoint, what does it mean when a brand says their cleanser is gentle or for sensitive skin?
A: In general, it means that the cleanser uses only very mild tensides that won’t cause any disturbance to the skins natural pH and other balance. The skin possesses a natural protective barrier that must be preserved, not attacked by the cleanser! It also should (but doesn't always) imply that they don’t use any fragrances or unnecessary ingredients that could cause irritation to the skin but instead use soothing substances that also have a remoisturizing effect.
Q: How much does PH play into formulating a cleanser?
A: Our skin has a pH-value of 5.4 and is therefore slightly acidic. This protective acid layer shields us to a degree against pathogens and environmental stressors. This pH-value can change due to influences such as age or how we take care of our skin. If we for example wash our face with water (which has a pH-value of 7), our skin becomes more alkaline and drier, therefore also less protective. Most soaps are even more alkaline with a pH-value of 9-10. In order to protect and strengthen our skin it is beneficial and important to use pH-value friendly products, such as our Cleanser which has a pH-value of 5.2 and therefore avoids creating alkalinity that strains on our skin barrier function.
pH levels are also important if you use acid peels, which many people do and which I generally recommend against. The skin’s pH levels have a significant effect on acid peel efficacy — the lower the skin’s pH, the more likely the glycolic acid will sting and cause premature cell death. The higher the pH, the more likely the acid will be neutralized and rendered ineffective.
Q: Is it possible to have a cleanser that removes eye makeup well and cleans the rest of your face gently or is this a myth that we're all just striving for?
A: Our Foam Cleanser is water-based and can take off all water-based substances on our skin. Oil-based products, such as make-up, can be taken off, but not as easily. As most make-up is oil-based, we are currently working on an oil- and water-based cleanser, which will also be able to take off eye make-up.
I also formulated an Enzyme Cleanser which is a stronger (but still gentle) remover that I use every second or third day and specifically to take off makeup and sunscreen. Enzyme cleanser breaks down the conjunctions between dead skin cells and other impurities.
Q: What about wipes? So many people are using wipes today but do they really clean your face?
A: I am not a big fan of wipes for several reason. Wipes leave the cleaning ingredients on the skin and don’t really clean the pores. The mechanical action on the skin can be irritating. You always have to clean with water after using wipes, and most of the wipes contain perfume, which is an irritant. Of course, make-up wipes seem practical but so far we have also decided against developing them for environmental reasons. We are currently looking for a tissue that could be recycled but until then we refrain from creating wipes.
Q: What are the key things to look for in a cleanser?
A: I would look for a cleanser that does its job while doing no harm. It should maintain the skin’s natural lipid balance. Cleanser shouldn't dry out the skin and should not use any irritating, aggressive or toxic ingredients. It should get the job done and cleanse the skin thoroughly but gently.
Q: People are double cleansing and triple cleansing these days. Have you been seeing any patients who are over-cleansing?
A: Yes, this trend of over-cleansing is not good — it takes the skin’s lipids away and destroys skin barrier function, which in turn allows bacteria to enter and cause breakouts, redness, irritation, neurodermatitis and decreased natural resistance to UVA and UVB rays. People are also using special devices like electric brushes and over-using stronger enzyme cleansers, which are not designed to use every day, and putting a strain on their skin by constantly disrupting the skin’s balance. The industry is trying to sell as much as possible and people trust the big brands selling them things. In general, it is important to wash your face each day, if your skin is comfortable with it, this can be morning and evening, and exfoliate 1-2 times a week (if you don’t have a special skin condition that would require something different). That’s really it. Over cleansing is a mistake. After cleansing, it is important to quickly apply moisturizer to avoid moisture loss through osmosis.