• Soap without Soap?

Soap without Soap?

Well scrubbed; that’s how we like to be in the Netherlands! A clean house, bright whites, sparkling teeth and crystal clean tableware. And our skin doesn’t escape our cleaning obsession either…. The average family gets through a good deal of soap daily. But is all that soap so good for your skin?

A radiant clean skin

First of all, it is definitely important that you wash your skin regularly. A cleansing product prevents a dull skin and blocked pores and reduces the risk of P. acnes building up on your skin (the bacteria which causes infection if you suffer from acne). An excess of “dirt” on your skin can even cause free radicals to form and they age your skin even more.

Before you start scrubbing away; there is, as always, the question of a happy medium. Your skin can also, of course, be too clean! You won’t be the first to have very dry skin, spots, flaking, red patches and sometimes even excess sebum production from over cleaning. I’ve already written a piece for the blog about this. Because there is some confusion over the use of “true soap” on your face here is some more information.

Old fashioned versus synthetic soap

There is soap and soap. One is fine to use; the other is, in most cases, better left alone.

An ordinary, old fashioned soap is made by letting an alkaline substance (a substance with a high pH value, used for de-greasing) and oil/fat react with each other. From this reaction a Cleanser is formed which removes oils easily.

In the last few years you will have seen many soaps on the shelves which don’t contain soap; “the syndet bars” or the synthetic detergent soap. These products have, in contrast to the ordinary soap, an almost neutral pH value. That is very important, as the high pH of the old fashioned soaps (true soap) quickly dries the skin out. Synthetic versions, as a rule, are made by using a surfactant (thus the cleaning component) known as Acyl Isethionate.

A dry skin…

Apart from the fact that true soaps dry skin out (through the high pH and the fact that they are effective at de-greasing) they still have some more disadvantages; they don’t dissolve very well in hard water and leave a lot of calcium salts residue. On top of this they don’t foam up in hard water and as a rule don’t have a long shelf life. Even so, the old fashioned soaps are still very much used; the main reason is that they are cheaper than synthetic versions.

A large amount of free fatty acids are often added to old fashioned soaps in order to counteract the drying effect. This is actually the case for all the true soaps that are used for facial cleansing. These are however still not really suitable for people with very sensitive or dry skin. Moreover many “natural” soaps belong to this group.

Which do you use?

You can tell the difference between both types (synthetic versus non-synthetic) by looking at how much foam they produce. A synthetic soap will produce much thicker creamier foam than the “old fashioned” soap. Besides this there are also those which contain true soap and synthetic “soap”. These are also best avoided if you want to cleanse your face in a gentle way.

Regards Jetske

(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)

You can also read the blogs:
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Sulphate’,
‘Sensitive Skin’,
‘Cleansing a Dry and/or Sensitive Skin‘,
Spending a Fortune on Expensive Creams’,
Skincare Can Also Go Off’,
Alcohol in Skincare Products; Rather Not!’,
Skin That’s Too Clean’ and
Kids Need to Get Dirty‘.