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Choosing a Cleanser for Your Skin Type

The first step in creating a skin care program is choosing a cleanser that will allow the skin to balance its own moisture levels.    A common mistake is to overdry the skin with bar soaps, which are very harsh on skin.  Another common mistake we often see are  clients with slightly congested skin  who  self-diagnose  acne, then treat the  skin with an over-the-counter acne cleanser, which also overdries the skin.  Both of these situations result in a chronic dryness in the skin, which triggers the body to generate more oil, thus creating more acne.    A different situation occurs when clients with sensitive skin choose an over-the-counter product for sensitive skin which may not irritate the skin, but in many cases is not able to effectively cleanse the skin.     It’s critical to choose a cleanser that will not clog and create acne, but one that will be able to cleanse the skirt of perspiration and debris from natural detoxification processes.   The pH of skin lies between 5.5 and 6.2, so even water, with a pH of 7, is much drier than our skin.    While creamy cleansers are not right for oil skin types, and gel-based cleansers are overdrying for almost all skin types, how do we begin to choose the right cleanser?

Congested Skin – Often combination skin types produce a congested skin — not quite acneic, but with slight bumping and occasional breakout.  This skin condition is best treated with a cleanser that is slightly more astringent — we recommend one containing alpha hydroxy acids, primarily lactic acid, which is very hydrating to the skin.

Oily Skin – When the pores are large in the center of the face and around the sides, we define the skin as “oily,” but it does not necessary mean that you are making oil, just that you are capable of it.  Oily skin must be moisturized, just like dry skin, to protect the barrier function (the skin’s ability to retain its moisture).     In both situations, the skin benefits from products containing alpha hydroxy acids, gently formulated so the skin is not overdried.  Sometimes , in cases of extreme oil, a combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide may be used — but check with a dermatologist or esthetician, to avoid over-drying the skin.

Mature Skin – mature skin generally benefits most from a creamy cleanser which leaves the skin more hydrated.    Depending on the client’s exfoliation requirements, we may alternate with an alpha-hydroxy-based cleanser for brightening and refining.

Sensitive Skin –  Sensitive skin loves milk-type cleansers with calming ingredients such as rose or chamomile, with a minimum of friction (no particles) and gentle, lactic-based alpha-hydroxy acids for exfoliation.

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