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What makes a cleanser mild?

Chemistry of Mild Skin Cleansers

Mild skin cleansers are termed mild because they're less likely to cause breakouts, rashes or other skin problems. Traditional soaps can be very drying to your skin. The nature of soap is to bond to dirt and oil to remove it -- but soap isn't able to differentiate between good and bad oil [source: Draelos]. This is why it's important to use a mild cleanser made for your skin type.

Here are some typical ingredients you may find in skin cleansers -- including a few to avoid:

  • Surfactants are wetting agents that lower the surface tension of water to make it easier to remove dirt and oil from the skin [source: SkinCareGuide]. Look for skin cleansers that contain silicone surfactant or sodium lauryl isethionate, surfactants that are less drying than the sodium lauryl sulfate found in many soaps [source: Draelos].
  • Moisturizers help you replenish the body's natural oils that are removed during cleaning [source: Mayo Clinic].
  • Fragrances give soaps and skin cleansers a pleasing scent, but fragrances can irritate sensitive skin. Look for mild cleansers labeled "unscented" or "fragrance-free."
  • Dyes and pigments may make a cleanser appealing, but they can also cause skin irritation. Using a transparent body bar made with glycerin will clean and moisturize the skin -- without causing irritation [source: Mayo Clinic].

Now that you know what to look for in a mild skin cleanser, read on to learn more about these cleansers' benefits.