Clarifying Face Wash Routines
What exactly is the grime that needs cleaning up? A wide variety of chemicals floating around in the air, including but not limited to dust, soot, sweat, breakdown products of serum, residues of previously applied cosmetics and makeup, and other substances. These chemicals tend to cling to the skin’s protective lipid layer. Washing with water is insufficient to remove the dirt because it is embedded in the oily layer. The oily layer on the skin’s surface that traps dirt particles is resistant to removal by water. Anyone who has tried to get oil or fat off their hands with water knows it is impossible. Soap is necessary for thorough cleansing because the grease on the skin traps dirt.
Soaps’ active constituents are salts of different fatty acids.
Fats and Oils Soaps typically contain fatty acids such as stearic, palmitic, oleic, myristic, and lauric acids.
The sodium salts of fatty acids make up the bulk of the chemical makeup of traditional, old-school soap, sometimes known as hard soap or toilet soap. Fatty acids can be obtained from either animals or plants. Soap’s unique molecular structure allows its particles to “coat” the fat droplets in which dirt is lodged, making it possible for the filth and soap to be rinsed away with water. Micelles in the soap envelop the fatty (and dirty) particles, making them easier to wash out. Because of the electric charge they carry, the soap molecules arrange themselves in the shape of micelles. Soap micelles encase the fatty droplet, making it easier to rub off.
Calcium and magnesium can be found in typical tap water. Regular bar soap in complex water forms calcium and magnesium salts of fatty acids. These salts are “sticky,” meaning they don’t dissolve easily. The salts tend to linger on the skin’s surface, where they might irritate. Regular soap has a high pH, which may irritate the skin. Ordinary soap has a pH of 9–10 (and occasionally more significant than 10), but healthy skin has a pH of 4–6.5. The pH of the skin is thus increased. However, normal skin contains mechanisms for regulating pH, and its acidity returns to normal immediately after exposure to conventional soap. After using soap, the pH level returns to normal from half an hour to two hours later. However, some persons are susceptible to sudden shifts in skin pH. Cleansing agents and other cosmetic preparations are increasingly adjusting their pH to match healthy skin.
The skin’s acidity defends against infections.
To prevent bacterial and fungal infections, the body makes the skin acidic. The acid mantle provided by the skin’s natural pH is a formidable barrier. An indicator of how acidic or basic a solution is, the “pH factor” is between zero and fourteen. The higher the concentration of hydrogen ions, the more acidic the solution. Simply put, pH readings can be anything from zero to fourteen. Logarithmic computation using the concentration of hydrogen ions in the solution yields the actual pH value of the solution.
Several different types of surfactants exist, including anionic, cationic, nonionic, and amphoteric. The chemical charge of an element specifies what kind of group it is. The chemical characteristics of the various classes of surfactants determine their relative effectiveness as cleaning agents.
Explaining What We Mean by “Detergent”
Some individuals use “detergent” to refer to any cleaning product. “Detergent” actually refers to a soap substitute. The term “detergent” is rarely used by makers of skin-cleansing agents and shampoos, who instead choose “soapless soap” or “surfactants.” This is because most people think of the powerful cleaning products that contain the word “detergent” when they hear it. The cleaning activity of any detergent works along the same lines. It is good knowledge that synthetic soaps are gentler on the skin than their natural counterparts. Adding acids like lactic acid or citric acid to synthetic soaps improves their pH with that of healthy skin. There are soaps on the market that combine natural ingredients with synthetic ones. Soaps are the sodium salts of fatty acids, so these products are ordinary soaps to which surfactants have been added. The resulting pH ranges between the two soap varieties, depending on how many surfactants are used.
Are the Surfactants Found in Shampoos and Soaps Dangerous?
Surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate can be found in many different types of cosmetics, most commonly in liquid soaps and shampoos. Since the 1990s, a growing body of literature has appeared online, raising awareness of the dangers posed by these chemicals. As a result, this topic has been investigated by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, an independent group of specialists in cosmetic ingredient safety in the United States. The panel determined that these chemicals are safe to use when used in low quantities for washing skin and hair and when washed away promptly after application. Some persons may have skin and eye irritation from these chemicals, as with other surfactants. When more surfactants are used, the offense becomes more severe. Concentrations above 2% tend to irritate most people.
Acids like lactic acid and citric acid are typical substances that can lower the skin’s pH. The goal is to bring the pH of the substance to within the usual range (between 4 and 6.5) for healthy skin. To combat bacteria, certain soaps are formulated to reduce the skin’s pH intentionally.
The Rest of the Stuff
Some soaps have unusual “natural” ingredients (often sourced from fruits, other plants, etc.), vitamins, and medical preparations. In most situations, these additives have been shown to have no positive health effects. Soap only stays in contact with the skin for a short time, and if it does its job correctly, any unwanted chemicals will be rapidly rinsed away. The skin’s reaction to any addition needs to be taken into account. A cosmetic preparation (such as a cream or an emulsion) containing the necessary ingredient is preferred if it has skin-beneficial effects. In this method, the substance in the preparation would be in contact with the skin for longer after being applied to the skin, potentially increasing the preparation’s therapeutic effects.
Soaps marketed as “mild” or “hypoallergenic” lack irritating additives like perfumes and dyes. Substances with a higher risk of producing skin irritation or allergic responses are avoided. Betaine-group compounds, amphoteric surfactants, may also be included in these soaps. These are generally considered non-irritating and safe for use around the eyes and skin. While the theoretical risk of skin irritation and allergic responses with “mild” and hypoallergenic soaps is lower than with conventional soaps, it is still possible. Baby and other persons with sensitive skin can benefit from using hypoallergenic soaps.
As mentioned above, certain acne soaps feature antimicrobial ingredients like benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide is a powerful oxidizing chemical that enters the hair follicle and kills acne-causing germs. Soaps formulated for oily skin, like the ones most commonly recommended for acne treatment, have powerful cleansing qualities. One possible acne treatment is to reduce the skin’s oil production. However, it’s essential to remember that many common acne treatments contain ingredients that can irritate or dry the skin. This, in combination with the overuse of soaps that can have a drying effect on the skin, can bring on severe dryness.
Always use a gentle soap that is appropriate for your skin. Use a soap that contains moisturizer if you have dry skin. Scrubbing your face too vigorously in the shower is pointless. Using an abrasive material or technique to clean dead cells is useless. They might as well fall off. Vigorous rubbing, which can irritate the skin, should be avoided when drying the skin. A soft cloth can be used to wipe the face gently.
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