How to choose the best cleanser for acne prone skin

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Caring for your skin if you have acne should begin with choosing the right cleanser. Cleansers rid your skin of dirt, grime, and deep-set impurities and therefore a good cleanser can go a very long way to help you achieve relief from acne. As much as a good cleanser can help start the healing process, a bad one can contribute to the aggravation of acne. Unfortunately, the vast majority of cleansers specifically marketed for acne-prone skin have some very harsh active ingredients in them that can cause your already inflamed skin to become even more irritated. The key thing to remember if you're suffering from acne is that your skin is quite tender from the active infection and thus it needs to be treated with extreme care.


           Some of the most frequently used active ingredients in acne cleansers include Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, etc. In addition to these ingredients, acne cleansers are also notorious for containing sulfates, which cause the cleansers to foam excessively. This combination of active ingredients, sulfates, and many other harsh chemicals is ironically the worst cocktail you can treat your skin to, especially if it has active acne or is acne-prone.


            Benzoyl Peroxide (BP) is a very harsh chemical that does have antibacterial properties. In that sense, BP can kill the acne causing bacteria, but in the concentrations that it is used in acne cleansers, it can be extremely drying and dehydrating to the skin. Most acne cleansers with Benzoyl Peroxide in them leave your skin parched and particularly prone to inflammation. If examined microscopically it is not too rare to find minute cracks in skin treated with Benzoyl Peroxide. BP has even been relegated to a prescription-only status in Europe as potential dangers of this chemical continue to emerge. In addition to these harsh properties, BP is also a skin-bleaching agent. Since it causes excessive exfoliation, it can leave your skin extremely prone to the harsh UV radiation of sunlight. This accelerates the aging process, and in the worst scenario, could predispose skin to cancer (melanoma).


            A big myth existing around natural active ingredients, like Salicylic acid, also needs to be addressed. This ingredient is derived from the bark of the willow tree, and in that sense is certainly natural. More often than not, however, Salicylic acid is used in very high percentages in most commercially available acne cleansers, and this fact can cause it to do more harm than good. This is especially true because (despite it being natural) Salicylic acid, as the name suggests, is very acidic in nature. Ideally, your skin cleanser should have no more than 2-3% of Salicylic acid in it.


            It is not very difficult to make the right choice while looking for a good cleanser to use if you have acne-prone skin. There are a few important rules to keep in mind in order to make the right choice.

Following are some important guidelines:

1.      Be sure to pick a cleanser that does not disturb the natural acid mantle of your skin. The outside of our skin is slightly acidic to keep it from being infected by the abundance of microbes surrounding us. One could say that this is nature's way of helping us keeping our skin healthy. Therefore, it is important to pick a cleanser that is PH balanced. Such cleansers are gentle on the skin. If your current cleanser stings your eyes, then it is not PH balanced.

2.      An ideal cleanser to treat acne must be completely free of harsh chemicals like sulfates, parabens, alcohol, etc. All of these chemicals are very harsh to the skin and cause excessive dehydration and flakiness. Your skin will compensate for the lack of moisture caused by these chemicals by producing excessive sebum, which in turn will cause your acne to worsen!

3.      If you do end up choosing a cleanser which Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic acid as the main active ingredient, make sure that they are present at no more than 3% in the cleanser.

4.      Stay away from cleansers that have artificial fragrances in them. These synthetic chemicals are also very harmful to your skin and can aggravate acne.

5.      Remember, a cleanser that foams excessively is not neccesarily the right choice! Often, excessively foaming cleansers have a high percentage of sulfates in them that can rob your skin of the natural oils produced by it to keep it healthy and calm.

6.      Choose a cleanser with natural active ingredients in it. For example, natural ingredients like neem, clove, turmeric, etc. have been used for centuries for their antibacterial, antiseptic, and skin soothing properties.


With the above guidelines in mind, it should be simple to choose a gentle cleanser full of active natural ingredients to help you achieve long-term relief from acne.

17 Sep, 2011

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