The Basics of Skin Cleansing
The main purpose of cleansing the body is to remove dirt and sweat and thus prevent unpleasant body odour. In addition, cleansing the body satisfies other desires for personal well-being: refreshment, reinvigoration, relaxation, care and pleasure.
Water for cleansing?
What was once a distinct bathing culture has today become more of a shower culture. Leisure sports but also the increasing burdens of civilization and a strong awareness of hygiene in modern society have intensified the fundamental need for daily cleansing and led to frequent use of cleansing products.
Washing with conventional soaps and aggressive surfactants (i): Pure water removes the water-soluble (hydrophilic) components. Surfactants combine with the lipophilic dirt particles and remove them while also removing important skin-protecting lipids.
- Skin’s own lipids
- Lipophilic dirt particle
- Skin surface
Consequences of skin cleansing
Cleansing is essential to maintain healthy skin, but using unsuitable cleansing products can disturb the skin's natural functions and cause the following dermatologal problems:
- Changes in the pH (i) and associated changes in the microbial skin flora
- Removal of the hydrolipid film
- Removal of epidermal lipids (“horny cell cement”) and disturbance of barrier function
- Irritant-toxic reactions and contact sensitivity
Prolonged contact with water can increase the permeability even of healthy skin tenfold. Frequent washing with detergents or exposure to alkalis can further weaken the barrier function of the skin. This can result in increased transepidermal water (i) loss (TEWL), which is especially detrimental if the skin is already dry. Due to the impaired barrier function chemicals and allergens can more easily penetrate the skin, leading to irritant-toxic or allergic reactions.
Oil replenishment and cleansing
When skin is cleansed with products containing surfactants (i), it tends to lose oils and moisture. Using a cleanser with lipid-replenishing ingredients not only compensates for lost lipids, but also results in the loss of fewer lipids during cleansing.