Why Squeaky Clean Can Be Mean

soap

At some point, whether it be morning, mid-afternoon, or evening- perhaps even all three- we walk ourselves over to the sink or shower to cleanse our face.  The accumulation of sebum, dirt and environmental pollution can leave our skin feeling grimy and we think that tight, squeaky clean feeling after cleansing means we have gotten rid of it all.  Often, the choice of said cleansing is soap, and well, why not? It’s convenient, fairly inexpensive, and if it’s tough enough to remove oil and dirt from our body, hey, why not extend its use to our face, right?

Wrong!

Aside from removing debris and oil, soap tends to remove the fats between the skin cells known as intercellular lipids. Our skin has what’s know as an internal cellular matrix,which is the lipid (fat) substance between cells that protect the cells from water loss and irritation.  Excessive removal of these lipids results in dry skin and skin disease.

Take a quick trip back to your chemistry class by glancing at pH (potential hydrogen) scale below.

 

pH scale

 

The pH scale measures the acidity or alkalinity of any substance that contains water and extends from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral.  Anything below 7 is considered acidic and anything above 7 is alkaline. Soap also has a high pH level, 9-11, while the natural pH of skin can range from 4-6.  Since sebum and sweat create a barrier on the skin’s surface known as the acid mantle, this protects against certain forms of bacteria and other microorganisms.  Extreme variations in pH can damage the skin’s barrier functions and cause sensitivity, aging, dehydration, and can worsen skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.  Also, highly alkaline solutions can form an insoluble film, leaving skin feeling dry, irritated and itchy.

Considering the information above and knowing the skin on our face is a lot more delicate than the skin on our body, using facial cleansers that are soap-free or pH balanced are best.

I hope this post was helpful in explaining why using soap to cleanse the face isn’t an ideal option.

Have a great Tuesday!