What are ingredients to look for in a cleanser?

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The next time you're standing in the shower waiting for your conditioner to work, take a look at the label on your facial cleanser or shower gel. The number of ingredients you've never heard of -- or can't even pronounce -- may surprise you. While some soap ingredients are good for your skin, others can cause more harm than good. The trick is to know which ingredients you should look for in a cleanser.

Most people want to feel clean and fresh when they step out of the shower -- that's why they use soap. Foams, gels and bar soaps are all composed of fats and oils with an alkali -- a base that dissolves in water -- that helps break down dirt and oil on the skin. But the same soap ingredients that clean and moisturize some of your skin can irritate other parts of your body. For example, your body wash may be too harsh to use on delicate facial skin -- it could cause skin irritation or clog your pores [source: Bruno].

So before you lather up, take a look at the ingredients list your cleansers, and keep reading to get the dirt on what's in your soap.