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Every since the musical artists of the sixties began to boast about the glories of “unmade” beds, there has been a certain je ne se quoi to dirtiness. Japanese women have taken to applying blush and charcoal liner around their eyes to give them the appearance of being hungover or using tape around their eyes to give the appearance of puffiness and bags. The idea is to make the wearer look unwell, to appear as if she is in need of looking after. But could this trend really be having the opposite effect? Recent research suggests that squeaky clean skin may not be the evidence of health most of us assume it to be. Here is some of the dirty on the clean.
What Does Squeaky Clean Skin Mean?
You may have heard the expression “squeaky clean.” While you may want your kitchen surfaces to “squeak” with cleanliness, the effect may not be as desirable for your skin. Using a soap or foaming cleanser is meant to separate dirt, oil, and debris from skin. The skin may get a feeling of slickness to the touch after drying, and this is what most of us refer to when we talk of that “squeaky clean” feeling. However, it is important to note that many of these foaming cleansers, especially those recommended for acne prone and oily skin may contain alkaline soaps and harsh detergents that strip the skin’s lipid barrier and raise its pH level to an unnatural balance.
Protect the Lipid Barrier
Lipids are necessary for the skin’s moisturizing factor, which regulates sebum production and cell turnover. The skin’s own natural lipids support the micro biome of the skin and keep follicles soft and lubricated to prevent the accumulation of debris and dead cells.
While most attribute acne and clogged pores to oily skin, or believe that oily skin needs more cleansing, in truth over cleansing with harsh tonera and cleanser can actually compromise skin’s immune function, making it vulnerable to dryness, inflammation, cracking, irritation, and the spread of bacteria. It may also weaken skin’s defense against UVA and UVB rays, as well as other environmental stressors, and increase dehydration.
Cleaning the Right Way
Thankfully, there are ways to cleans that leave the lipid barriers intact and keep the skin supple and smooth. Here are some tips for keeping skin clean and healthy.
- Avoid using alkaline soap based cleansers, or cleanser containing harsh detergents, such as sodium laurel sulfate. Gentler, non ionic ingredients such as decyl glucoside, coco glucoside, and fatty alchohols like stearyl or cetearyl alcohol are more skin friendly and less likely to cause irritation.
- Choose milk, cream, and lotion cleanser. Gel and water based cleansers can rob skin of moisture. Cleansers with natural emollient oils and butters and humectants like glycerine, aloe vera, or bioferments, add nourishment and protection to the lipid barrier while they cleanse.
- Use the oil cleansing method. While it may seem like the last thing you want to use to clean oily skin is oil, oil cleansing is actually a very effective way of ridding the skin of dirt and debris. Since most of the debris on the skin is oil soluble, makeup included, oil cleanses using the “like attracts like” principle, with the oil acting as a solvent to dislodge debris and allowing it to be rinsed away, while acting as a lubricant at the same time. Cleaning oils, such as jojoba introduce fatty acids and antioxidants into the skin to seal in moisture while providing nourishment.
What do you think? Do we tend to over cleanse? How are you keeping your lipid barrier intact? Let us know!