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A cleanser is a product used to cleanse something, such as a detergent or industrial cleaning agent.
A popular type of cleanser is a facial care product that is used to remove make-up, dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and other types of pollutants from the skin of the face. This helps to unclog pores and prevent skin conditions such as acne.
Using a cleanser to remove dirt is considered to be a better alternative to bar soap or another form of skin cleanser not specifically formulated for the face for the following reasons:
- Bar soap has a high pH (in the area of 9 to 10), and the skin's surface pH is on average 4.7. This means that soap can change the balance present in the skin to favor the overgrowth of some types of bacteria, increasing acne.
- Bar cleansers in general, soap or not, have thickeners that allow them to assume a bar shape can clog pores, leading to acne.
- Using bar soap on the face can remove natural oils from the skin that form a barrier against water loss. This causes the sebaceous glands to subsequently overproduce oil, a condition known as reactive seborrhoea, which will lead to clogged pores. In order to prevent drying out the skin, many cleansers incorporate moisturizers.
Types of facial cleansers
Different types of cleansers have been developed for people with different skin types. Active cleansers are more suitable for oily skins to prevent breakouts. But they may overdry and irritate dry skin, this may make the skin appear and feel worse. Very dry skin may require a creamy lotion-type cleanser. These are normally too gentle to be effective on oily or even normal skin, but dry skin requires much less cleansing power. It may be a good idea to select a cleanser that is alcohol-free for use on dry, sensitive, or dehydrated skin.
Some cleansers may incorporate fragrance or essential oils. However, for some people, these cleansers may irritate the skin and often provoke allergic responses. People with such sensitivity should find cleansers that are pH-balanced cosmetic balanced, contain fewer irritants, suit many variating skin types, and do not make the skin feel dehydrated directly after cleansing. Tight, uncomfortable skin is often dehydrated and may appear shiny after cleansing, even when no sebum is present. This is due to the taughtening and 'stripping' effect some cleaners can have on the skin. One should discontinue use of a cleanser that upsets the balance of the skin; cleansers should work with the skin not against it. Finding the right cleanser can involve some trial-and-error.
- Lambers H, Piessens S, Bloem A, Pronk H, Finkel P (October 2006). "Natural skin surface pH is on average below 5, which is beneficial for its resident flora". International Journal of Cosmetic Science 28 (5): 359–70. doi:10.1111/j.1467-2494.2006.00344.x. PMID 18489300.