Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Beauty Talk: Winter Skin Care Products - Choosing a Cleasner

You cannot overestimate the importance of cleansing in daily skin care routine whatever season it is! Cleansing prepares your skin to benefit from the skin care product you will apply next: daily moisturizer, anti-oxidant protection, or anti-aging treatment etc. It is important to carefully select the right cleanser for the skin type. On the one hand, your cleansing solution should completely remove the build up of dirt and extra oil from your skin surface. On the other hand, it should not be too harsh and should not strip your skin off the protective hydro-lipid barrier and misbalance its pH level. Otherwise your skin will become more susceptible to environmental aggressors such as for example, bacteria and free-radicals. Those who are prone to break-outs make a big mistake by over-cleansing their skin, as they try to prevent clogged pores. But instead they actually damage skin’s protective barrier and trigger new break outs.

Anyway, speaking about cleansing solutions for winter... As already mentioned in Winter Skin Care post, your cleansing products should be milder for winter as skin tends to be drier (skin types tend to shift) and more sensitive during the cold season. There are two main aspects you need to understand when choosing a cleanser: “skin’s pH” level and “surfactant”.

The term skin’s pH level refers to its acid mantle – a protective thin film with slightly acidic pH on the surface of the skin that plays a vital role in formation and strength of skin’s barrier function. Healthy skin has pH of 4-6 which can vary from different areas on the body and change with age.

Surfactant is a substance that “dissolves” and removes dirt and oil from various surfaces including the skin. Surfactants vary in their strengths and harshness and are used in various cleansing products including washing detergents, household cleansers, face cleansers, shampoos etc. Mild surfactants used in skin care products belong to amphoteric/zwitterionic group. E.g.: Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB).

What to Avoid When Choosing Cleanser for Winter:

- Soap: Soap actually should not be used on the facial skin at any season. Classical soaps belong to aggressive surfactants and have a pH level of 9-10 which is much higher than our skin’s normal pH.

- Deep pore cleansers: can be very aggressive and contain stronger surfactants (such as sodium laureth sulfate), often contain exfoliating ingredients (e.g.: salicylic acid) and can be too harsh and stripping for the winter period. (the ingredients I mention here are contained in Pure Zone Washing Gel by L’Oreal)

- Alcohol containing cleanser: alcohol strips skin of natural oils and can cause skin dryness and sensitivity

- Cleansers containing lactic acid, salicylic acid, AHAs. These ingredients have exfoliating properties; save them for the upcoming spring/summer

Forms and Types of Cleansers to Consider for Winter:

1. Cleansers marked “mild”, “soft”, “non-stripping” and “pH neutral”. Such words on the package are quite a good hint when shopping for your winter cleanser!

2. Cleansers with moisturizing and protecting ingredients

Look for cleansers containing the following ingredients:
emollients – moisturize and help to restore protective barrier on skin’s surface (e.g.: soybean oil, jojoba oil, lanolin etc.)
humectants – attract moisture to the skin (e.g.: butylenes glycol, glycerin, mineral oil etc.)

Such cleansers come in various forms:
Liquid Cleansers: gel (foaming or non-foaming), lotion, milk, cream.
Foam/Mousse Cleansers

Cleansing milk and cream are the richest and most moisturizing cleansing solutions. If you have normal or mixed skin type and have been using cleansing mousse or gel all your life, do not afraid to switch over to a light cleansing milk for winter. That is what I did! And I was very afraid I will break out but it did not happen and my skin feels much happier.

Note emollient rich cleansers can be not well tolerated by oily skin types as emollients create a thin protective film on skin’s surface and may clog pores.

3. Cleansers based on syndets:
syndet = “synthetic detergent” is also often referred to as “synthetic surfactant” and considered to be a very mild surfactant acceptable for dry and sensitive skin types.

There is a big choice of mild cleansers for various skin types on the market. Here are several examples of products you might consider for your cleansing solution in winter:
- Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser from Clarins (for normal to dry skin). This cleanser enriched with coconut oil was featured by In Style (Apr 2007) among 100 Best Beauty Buys. The magazine quotes dermatologist Drore Eisen describing the cleanser: “cleanses and softens perfectly – it does not even feel like a cleanser”. Contains Coconut derivative (a gentle non-foaming cleansing agent), Isphagul and Provitamin B5 (soften and hydrate), Peach Essential Water, rich in glucose and fructose (softens and conditions)
- Deadermine Soft Mousse Cleanser is pH neutral and dermatologycally tested
- Cleansing Cream by Dr. Hauschka (dry and sensitive skin) is a very soft cleanser, contains Sweet almond for mild cleansing as well as soothing and calming effect and calendula extract to calm the skin.
- SBT Cleansing Gel (mixed, oily skin types). I tried out several samples of this product. Unfortunately SBT does not list ingredients on their samples so the only active ingredients of SBT cleansing gel I am aware of is Phosphate buffered Saline – which helps to maintain a constant pH. I really loved the product for its ability to clean mixed skin very thoroughly and not leave you with any uncomfortable feeling of dryness or tightness. This gel is non-foaming, has no fragrance and is extremely pleasant to use.
- Lancome's Confort line is for those who have dry skin. Mousse Confort Delicate Creamy Foaming Cleanser contains softening Almond Extract, soothing Honey and Yeast Extracts.
- Soft Clean Moisture Rich Foaming Cleanser from Estee Lauder (for dry skin) contains a number of humectants (glycerin, butylene glycol), emollients (glycol stearate), soothing and softening botanical extracts (Passion Flower, Edelweiss)
- Dove Cleansing products are known for being rich in moisturizing and emollient ingredients. This brand also offers mild cleansers based on syndets. You can read more about Dove facial cleansers here
- La Roche-Posay offers several lines that include mild cleansers appropriate for the winter season. For example, Toleriane Softening Foaming Gel (normal to combination skin) contains EDTA to neutralize water hardness, glycerin (the second ingredient on the list) to moisturize, is soap free and has pH 5.5. Another product that is specially formulated for dry skin is Hydraphase Hydrating Cleansing Milk is specially formulated “to preserve the hydrolipidic film” and contains moisturizing Glycerin and Sodium Hyaluronate which has a high ability to retain water.

Those who cannot live without toners in their daily skin care routine, should make sure it does not contain alcohol. As it has been already mentioned, alcohol is aggressive to the skin and can result in over-drying it. Here are some good examples of toners without alcohol:

- Verite Soothing Spray Toner and Silky Hydrating Lotion from Estee Lauder
- Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner from Kiehl’s
- Cell Culture Face Cleansing Toner from SBT
- Toning Lotion from Clarins
- Clean and Active Tonic from Klapp

Read more:

- Winter Skin Care post
- Skin Care in Winter Article
- Skin Care Ingredients
- Click for more information on skin care products for winter.
- Feel like shopping? You can buy some of the mentioned products online right away.

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