The way I see it
Friday, July 6, 2012
How often do you wash your face?
Hi lovely ladies,
Thought that you might like this info that my friend sent to me. Please tell me what you think and what your routine is for facial cleansing. xoxo
Harvard Health Letter
Q. I wash my face very little because I have heard soaps, no matter
how mild, dry out the skin. What do you think — what should I wash my
A. Most facial skin is quite sturdy and stands up to repetitive trauma
very well. It has many pores and heals quickly and well after injury.
But as time passes, the effects of chronic exposure to the environment
become evident. The skin thins and becomes less elastic and a bit more
porous. Other effects of chronologic aging and cumulative photodamage
include freckling, subtle changes in the lines of expression, and fine
lines and wrinkles. We get concerned about the appearance of "aging,"
so the question arises about what is the best way to clean the face.
Excessive cleansing of the skin with soap and water or solvents can
interfere with the barrier function of the skin, leading to redness
and dryness. However, it's a problem that usually affects the hands,
not the face, and people who are exposed to water frequently or who
wash their hands often for work, such as surgeons and nurses and
bartenders — as well as the occasional person who is obsessed with
cleanliness. Washing your face, even if you do it fairly often,
shouldn't cause a problem unless you have an underlying disorder, such
as eczema (atopic dermatitis).
Still, it's a good idea to be a little more careful about what you
wash your face with. Washing with just water is usually not sufficient
because dirt sticks to the skin. Besides, many people need a cleanser
of some kind because they have oily skin resulting from active
Using regular soap is fine in many cases. Chemically, soap is either a
sodium or potassium salt (salt in the sense of being a compound
consisting of an acid and a base), and the two most common varieties
these days are sodium tallowate and sodium cocoate. Soap is alkaline
(it has a pH of 9 to 10), so it can be irritating even to normal skin,
which tends to be slightly acidic (with a pH of 5.6 to 5.8). Synthetic
soaps — often identified on the package as being "soap-free" — are a
better choice for some because the pH is closer to that of normal
skin. The synthetic products are definitely worth a try if your skin
is reacting badly to regular soap.
Facial scrubs that clean and remove the outer layer of skin
(exfoliate) are okay, but I've seen many patients who use them too
enthusiastically, so their skin gets irritated. The same is true of
rough washcloths and loofahs. And regardless of the type of soap you
use, or how you use it, it's best to use warm, not hot, water.
Some people do go through life without using soap on their faces. My
mother-in-law would break a vitamin E capsule into a jar of Pond's
Cold Cream and clean her face with that mixture, never soap, and she
had wonderful looking skin well into her 90s. Of course, some people
are blessed with great skin. How they take care of it may have little
to do with its appearance.
There's no end to the myths, folktales, and marketing ploys about
proper skin care, especially as it concerns the face. It's good, hard
facts that are in short supply.
— Kenneth Arndt, M.D.
SkinCare Physicians, Chestnut Hill, MA
© 2012, PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLGE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
p.s. Thank you Andee Leeds for sending me this great article.
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Harvard Health Letter
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