Should I use bar soap to wash my face?

Published: 03rd October 2008
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So many women complain about having oily skin in some areas. To get rid of these oily zones, what should be done? Cleanse these areas to rid every trace of oil or sebum? Many women are led to believe that the only way to get rid of oily skin is by using a harsher product. This in turn gives their skin a tight sensation. They think the tighter the skin, the better! What they are actually experiencing is extremely dried out skin. They argue that it makes their skin truly clean and to be honest, yes it makes it too clean! So clean that they have stripped all their natural oils and humectants out of their skin.

Think about this, would you wash your car with laundry detergent insisting that the stronger the detergent the cleaner the car? Of course not. Doing so would compromise the paint and it would prematurely lose it's elasticity and shine. Only to fade sooner and flake off!

But what if I have oily areas on my face?

Shouldn't oily areas be washed with a harsher cleanser so that oiliness would diminish? Absolutely not! Our dermis overproduces sebum or oil only when our skin is being jeopardized. The skin needs a certain amount of moisture for optimum health, and our body will over produce oil as a protection mechanism only if the hydration in our skin is depleted. The oil serves as a coating over certain areas so that evaporation will not take place, basically encapsulating the hydration. Washing the face with a harsher substance will only cause the face to produce more oil in the oily areas.

Still not convinced? Well consider this. We know that a suntan is the skin's protection mechanism from receiving too much sun. What if someone was to say, "I try to rid myself of my tan by sitting in the sun longer so that it fades away!" Ironically, this person is doing the exact opposite of what he should be doing. The longer he exposes himself to the sun the darker he gets. Instead of trying to fade his suntan with the sun, he should actually be avoiding the sun. This hold true with the oily areas of our skin. They will not become less oily by scouring them away.

What must I do therefore to diminish oily areas?

A few internal and external factors influence the hydration of our skin. We can't do so much about external factors, so it is best to concentrate our efforts on internal hydration. The main source of hydration for our skin comes from inside our bodies, so if we don't drink enough water, our skin will be dry.

The second biggest factor which affects the hydration of our skin is the cleanser we use. If it leaves our skin feeling tight, it is a dead give away that it is much too harsh. If you can find a cleanser mild enough, your skin may not have combination skin anymore in which some areas are oily where others are dry.

However, at times it may be necessary to augment our skin with a hydrating moisturizer. This type of moisturizer will contain a natural water binding agent such as hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is found in the body that holds about a thousand times it's molecular weight in water. The water that is attached to this molecule is released and used by the dermis as needed.


Are there other disadvantages to using soap?

Even though some soaps are advertised as gentle, sodium hydroxide is still present. Sodium hydroxide is extremely alkaline and no matter what kind of oils are used in combination with this harsh chemical, it's still too alkaline for our skin. Consider this, why are manufacturers adding extra emollients and oils in their beauty bars if there is not an intrinsic problem with them. Instead of trying to counteract the effects of sodium hydroxide by adding extra oil, why not just leave these drying and irritating agents out completely?

Our skin has a natural acid mantle which protects our skin from bacteria. When this mantle is destroyed by using a harsh surfactant, a bacterial flora begins to develop. Which basically means that our skin will harbor more bacteria by using a cleanser with high alkalinity. This will only mean more breakouts and other problems.

Have you ever noticed a ring around your bathtub, or what some refer to as scum after using these products. What do you think is left on your face after you use them. This same pore clogging remnant. Just think, if you find it next to impossible to get your bath tub clean from this scum, will it be any easier to rid your pores of these clogging ingredients?

The bottom line is; trying to make a product with a totally different purpose fit the needs of our face is like trying to make our shaving razor also peel potatoes. A razor will never be able to peel potatoes as well as a potato peeler. So why try?

Instead of trying to adjust a bar soap to fit our skin's needs, why not just choose a cleanser that does exactly what it was designed and intended for!


Xavier is an expert cosmetics formulator and has helped many people achieve a clear complexion. More information can be obtained on his website Soap.


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