What types of cleansers are drying to skin?

Moisturizing Ingredients in Cleansers

You don't always have to clean and moisturize your skin in two separate steps. If your skin is dry, you can purchase cleansing products that clean, moisturize, protect and refresh your skin all at once. This is more than just a time saving choice. One problem with even mild cleansers is that they can disturb the skin's acid mantle, the oily layer that helps skin stay hydrated and repel bacteria. The faster you replace moisture after cleaning your skin, the more likely it is that you'll be able to keep it hydrated, supple and smooth between washings.

To combat dry skin, look for these ingredients in the cleanser you choose:

  • Emollients- Natural skin oils float on the skin's surface, holding vital moisture inside and protecting it from evaporation. Emollients mimic the action of natural oils by creating a barrier between your skin and the air. When you use cleansers that include emollients, you're cleaning your skin, moisturizing it and adding a shielding film before the moisture you've added can be lost. If your skin is dry, an emollient will make the most of any moisture you apply as part of your skincare regimen.
  • Fatty alcohols - A type of emollient that's beneficial to your skin, fatty alcohols are among the most misunderstood skincare ingredients. Because they contain the word alcohol, it's counterintuitive to think of them as good choices for dry skin care. Lanolin alcohol, derived from lanolin, is a natural emollient and very effective. Other beneficial fatty alcohols are stearyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol and cetyl alcohol.
  • Lipid-free preparations - Lipid-free formulations clean skin without fats. They also leave behind a moisturizing film that protects and hydrates dry skin. Lipid-free preparations are gentle and effective but may take some getting used to because they don't provide the rich lather and bracing, clean feel associated with many skin cleansing products. Some of the gentlest cleansers on the market are lipid-free.
  • Synthetic detergents - Often derived from petroleum products, synthetic detergents have a lower pH that's less disruptive and potentially damaging to skin.
  • Humectants- Humectants are compounds that attract and hold moisture. When added to your skin, they help keep it hydrated. Adding humectants to a cleanser is like providing extra insurance. Humectants help restore moisture that strenuous washing takes away. Common humectants used in skincare preparations are glycerin, collagen, keratin, elastin, propylene glycol and butylene glycol. Cleansers containing natural phospholipids, like lecithin that draw moisture from the air to help hydrate your skin, are good choices, too.

Related Articles


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