Most people who have acne think of washing the face as a way to get rid of grease, grime, and oily sebum that can plug pores. The most successful acne face wash products, however, also lock in moisture that keeps skin soft, supple, and acne-free.
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- The ideal face wash creates a soft, foamy but never bubbly lather.
- Ivory soap is the single most commonly used anti-acne face wash in the world. It’s really harmful to the skin.
- Saving money by washing the face with shampoo can cause new acne breakouts.
- There are budget face washes that really work that cost as little as US $1.
- If you can afford as much as $5 for an anti-acne skin wash, you can get a lot more benefits from these non-prescription remedies and treatment.
- Expensive usually does not mean better, but there are a few exceptions to the rule.
- After every wash with cleanser, wash with water, locking in moisture and minerals from facial waters.
The Ideal Face Wash
A complete skin care regimen to control acne usually starts with washing. The ideal face wash creates a soft creamy lather in warm water. It rinses off dirt, excess oil, and makeup, leaving the face ready for the next step in daily skin care, whether that is toner, moisturizer, exfoliant, sunblock, or more makeup. It is fragrance-free, and it does not create a foam, film, or tingly sensation on the face. Any product that foams and suds vigorously, like a detergent, is a strict no-no for acne treatment, especially on dry skin.
Ivory Is Awful
Although home remedies are generally convenient and popular, some have significant counter productive effects on the skin. The famous Procter & Gamble product Ivory Soap is probably the world’s most frequently used acne face wash ingredient. It is also probably the world’s worst acne face wash ingredient. Often advertised as “so pure that it floats,” Ivory Soap is depicted with pictures of babies and fair-skinned blondes to imply that it is a good and inexpensive face wash for acne-affected skin. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The alkaline ingredients in Ivory Soap reach into the skin and dissolve the fats and ceramides that lock moisture in and keep the skin soft and flexible. Tight skin constricts pores, locking oil and acne bacteria inside. If you wash your face with Ivory Soap once or twice a day, you almost certainly will have no big pieces of dirt or grime lurking in enlarged pores, but you are likely to have an ongoing problem with whiteheads and blackheads, and the constant irritation will also make pimples redder and more inflamed.
Shampoo Is Sinister (And Bubble Bath Is, Too)
Probably the only thing worse for your skin than Ivory soap is to use shampoo or bubble bath to wash your face. The more bubbles the product makes, the more it will irritate your face. A few thin bubbles are OK, but it’s never a good idea to use a sudsy face wash.
A second problem with shampoo for delicate skin is the sodium lauryl sulfate used in most products. You may see sodium lauryl sulfate spelled “sodium laurilsulfate” or abbreviated as SLS on the label. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a terrific degreaser, especially if you are cleaning industrial machinery.
If even a trace of sodium lauryl sulfate is left on the skin for more than an hour, however, the upper layer of living skin cells is irritated and dies. Tiny flakes of skin make the texture of the skin look uneven, and they can clog pores. The scent of sodium lauryl sulfate also causes your nose and tongue to be less sensitive to sweet tastes and their associated odors, so you will crave sugar.
Budget Face Washes That Work
If you just can’t afford even a US $5 or $10 product, what can you safely use to cleanse your skin? Here are three useful products:
These three brands of soap are usually available for US $1 a bar or less, and they will not irritate the skin. But they won’t do anything to repair it, either. If you can afford to spend a little more, then you can make choices appropriate to your individual skin type that can help you clear up acne a lot faster.
If You Can Afford a Little More
Acne face wash options abound when your budget expands even to about US $25 a month for skin care. Even on that tiny budget, you can choose the products that are best for your unique skin care needs.
- If you have sun damaged skin or “surfer skin,” cleansers that contain aloe, chamomile, feverfew, licochalone, or salicylic acid (also labeled as “beta-hydroxy acids”) will help unclog pores.
- If you have oily, sensitive skin, you can also benefit from cleansers that contain salicylic acid or beta-hydroxy acids.” These will break up the sebum that has hardened and clogged pores. At the first sign of a pimple, use either benzoyl peroxide gel or a tea tree soap to stop the infection in its tracks.
- If you tend to allergies and rashes in addition to acne, consider neem soap. Usually costing about US $7 a bar in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand (and a lot less in India, Pakistan, and Africa), neem counteracts the immune system hyperactivity that keeps the skin in a constant state of irritation.
- If you have dark brown spots where acne has healed, you absolutely, positively have to avoid any of the irritant ingredients listed above. Your product has to be gentle enough not to cause irritation and strong enough to remove makeup. If you are on a budget, then Black Opal Skin Perfecting Blemish Wash, Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser, or Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash will work well. ProActiv Renewing Cleanser or PanOxy soap cost a little more but help heal pimples.
- If you have rosacea, you will probably get good results from non-irritant formulas such as Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser or Eucerin Redness Relief Soothing Cleanser.
- If you have oily, tight skin and tend to get age spots or sun spots, try an exfoliant made with glycolic acid right after you cleanser your skin, no more than 4 or 5 times a week. Aveeno Positively Radiant Cleansing Pads provide just a “dab” of exfoliant that will help lighten the spots without irritating your skin (which over the long run would create new brown spots).
Locking Moisture In Your Skin with Facial Waters
If your skin care routine includes a moisturizer, you may want to try an additional step just before applying the moisturizer: Splashing your face with facial waters. (Applying the facial water after you put down the moisturizer layer won’t do you any good.)
Facial waters such as La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water are naturally rich in minerals, especially sulfur (a traditional anti-bacterial treatment) and selenium (which “calms” the skin). They are not an essential step in skin care, but they may be just that little extra something you need to achieve total success with your acne care program.
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