American Academy of Dermatology: Cutting Through the Clutter: Making the Most of Your Facial Cleansing Routine

Feb 21, 2005, 00:00 ET from American Academy of Dermatology

    NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- What is the best way to cleanse the
 face?  Individuals have been seeking the answer to this question for decades.
 Dermatologists agree that there are many acceptable methods for removing oil
 and dirt from the face, but each individual's needs are different and what
 works for one person may not work for another.  Adding to people's confusion
 are the new cleansing products and tools that arrive on the market each day.
     Speaking today at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of
 Dermatology, dermatologist Zoe D. Draelos, M.D., clinical associate professor
 in the department of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine,
 Winston-Salem, N.C., discussed the traditional and new methods of facial
 cleansing and which ingredients and tools are most beneficial for each skin
     "There are three ways to cleanse the face: facial cleansers, implements or
 the use of a cleansing product along with a supplemental tool," stated Dr.
 Draelos.  "There are an overwhelming number of facial cleansing products,
 implements and tools available today.  The most important thing an individual
 can do to determine the best facial cleansing routine is to visit a
 dermatologist who can provide recommendations based on the patient's skin type
 and lifestyle."
     Facial Cleansers - Soap
     Many dermatologists advise their patients never to use soap on their
 faces.  One variety of soap, known as a comber, is typically a deodorant or
 highly fragranced cleanser that contains detergent ingredients too harsh for
 the face, but more appropriate for the body.
     A soap-free cleanser that is appropriate for use on the face, depending on
 the skin's sensitivity, is called a syndet.  Beauty bars, mild cleansing bars
 and sensitive skin bars are examples of syndets, which include synthetic
 detergent cleansers that have a lower pH, the measure for product acidity and
 a predictor of irritation.  A cleanser with a higher, more alkaline pH is
 likely to disrupt the natural skin barrier on the face.  However, these
 products may not remove sebum, or oil, from extremely oily skin.  Most liquid
 facial cleansers are of this type.
     Lipid-free Cleansers
     Lipid-free cleansers are liquid products that clean without using lipids,
 or fats.  "Lipid-free cleansers are best for patients with excessively dry or
 sensitive skin," said Dr. Draelos.  "However, they are not very effective at
 removing oil or environmental dirt and are only recommended where minimal
 cleansing is needed."  Ingredients found in these cleansers, such as glycerin,
 cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, sodium laurel and sulfate, leave behind a
 thin, moisturizing film, making these products ineffective for those with
     Cleansing Cream
     Cleansing creams are very popular among mature women who grew up in an era
 where this was the only alternative to the harsh soaps of the past.  Most
 cleansing creams are composed of water, mineral oil, petrolatum and waxes,
 making them attractive to patients with dry skin.  Cleansing creams are a
 convenient one-step process, providing both removal of cosmetics and cleansing
 all in one.
     Abrasive Scrubs
     Abrasive scrubs incorporate a variety of ingredients which not only clean
 the face, but provide various degrees of exfoliation.  "Scrubs were developed
 after it was found that exfoliating produced smoother skin," stated Dr.
 Draelos.  "The challenge with abrasive scrubs is that the scrubbing granules
 can cause irritation, redness or slight wounds on the face."
     The most abrasive scrubs include ingredients such as aluminum oxide
 particles and ground fruit pits, and these rough-edged particles are not
 appropriate for use on sensitive skin.  However, most skin types can tolerate
 a mild facial scrub that contains polyethylene beads which are smooth and
 round, or sodium tetraborate decahydrate granules which soften and dissolve
 during use.
     Skin Cleansing Tools
     The desire for a more thorough cleansing than can be achieved by using the
 fingertips led to the development of various cleaning implements and tools
 that assist individuals in even-distribution of a product on the face.
 "Individuals who use implements or tools with cleansers often feel that they
 are getting a deeper clean, but cleansing involves the chemical interaction of
 the cleanser with the skin accompanied by the physical act of scrubbing," said
 Dr. Draelos.  "Dermatologists can help individuals select the appropriate
 implement or tool to include in a good facial hygiene routine."
     Woven Mesh
     Introduced at the same time as abrasive scrubs, woven mesh products induce
 exfoliation with an implement instead of an ingredient.  The first mesh
 products on the market were actually non-woven, polyester fiber sponges that
 were designed to remove open comedones, or blocked pores.  However, the fiber
 stiffness was too harsh for most skin types and was subsequently softened.
 Now, these sponges have been re-designed to be gentler and to incorporate a
 mild cleanser designed for various skin types.
     Face Cloths
     The disposable facial cleansing cloth is a new product that is composed of
 a combination of fibers intertwined to create a soft, yet strong, cloth.
 These cloths are commonly packaged dry and include a cleanser that foams when
 the cloth is moistened.  The type of cleanser in the cloth depends on whether
 strong or moderate oil and dirt removal is required.  "The recent addition of
 humectants and emollients to these cloths can decrease the damage to the
 skin's natural barrier that occurs during cleansing and help smooth the skin,"
 stated Dr. Draelos.  "These ingredients also are especially beneficial for
 those of us with dry skin who need to wash frequently."
     The weave of the cloth itself is as important as the type of ingredients
 found in the cloth.  Open-weave cloths, with visible holes in the cloth, have
 a small space between the fiber bundles to increase the cloth's softness and
 decrease the contact between the skin and cloth, creating a milder exfoliant
 effect.  Closed-weave cloths, with no visible holes in the cloth, have a much
 tighter weave and provide a more aggressive exfoliation, depending on the
 amount of pressure and length of time used to stroke the cloth over the face.
 Open weave cloths are recommended for persons with sensitive skin, while
 closed weave cloths are recommended for persons with oily skin or those
 wishing for more aggressive exfoliation.
     Cleansing Pouch
     A new variation on the cleansing cloth is the cleansing pouch where
 ingredients are placed between two fibered cloths containing holes of various
 diameters.  The size of the hole determines how quickly the contents of the
 pouch are released onto the skin's surface.  While the cleansing pouch can
 give a regulated delivery system for cleansing and conditioning, it does not
 produce as much exfoliation as a cleansing cloth.
     Face Brush
     The newest technique for facial cleansing is the face brush, which was
 developed by the same team of researchers who developed the electric
 toothbrush.  This mechanized, hand-held device uses an oscillating brush head
 with soft, tufted bristles to evenly disperse, lather and cleanse the face
 with the individuals' preferred cleanser.  According to Dr. Draelos, the
 effectiveness of this cleansing tool depends on the type of bristle, how much
 pressure is applied and the type of cleanser being used.
     "While each of these cleansers and tools offers unique advantages,
 ultimately, working with a dermatologist to determine the skin's tolerance for
 certain cleansing ingredients is the best way to keep facial skin clean and
 healthy," said Dr. Draelos.
     Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology
 (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most
 representative of all dermatologic associations.  With a membership of more
 than 14,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the
 diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and
 nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research
 in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of
 healthier skin, hair and nails.  For more information, contact the Academy at
 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or .

SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology