We recently spoke to a woman about her dry skin. Over the past couple months, she had been getting consistently dryer and dryer, even though she was using products that have, “for dry skin” and “for sensitive skin” listed on the label.
It seemed like such a mystery but somewhere in the conversation, a lightbulb went off and we asked her what products she was using. We went over all of the individual products together, looking at the ingredients and talking about what may or may not be working with her skin.
What we found was that all of the products had alcohol in them—a lot of alcohol—and her cleanser was an alcohol-based spray. Aha! Alcohol is both drying and dehydrating to the skin.
We got her set up with a nourishing new beauty regimen, starting with quitting her current facial cleanser and working with a revitalizing natural cleanser instead.
Why the natural cleanser you choose matters
What’s the first thing you use in the morning and the first thing you use when your day is over? Right! Your cleanser is the most important part of your beauty routine because it's the first thing to touch your face.
Finding balance is key
Finding the right natural face cleanser for your routine is kind of a goldilocks puzzle. If your face wash isn’t strong enough it won’t give you a deep enough clean, leaving build up on top of the skin and the rest of your products won’t be absorbed properly.
A cleanser that is too strong for your skin can strip the natural oils, compromising your acid mantle, which can increase sensitivity and lead to the appearance of premature aging. Since everyone’s skin is different, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer but finding the organic cleanser that is just right for your skin will make all the difference in your skin.
Beyond face washing
Sometimes we get the feedback that a natural cleanser just isn’t cleansing enough or doesn’t entirely remove makeup. If you feel like your natural cleanser isn’t cleaning enough, we suggest working with physical accessories to achieve the goal rather than a slew of synthetic face washes.
Using a face brush or a washcloth will help you get the deep clean that you’re looking for and if you’re having a difficult time removing makeup with a regular washing, it can be helpful to start with a light oil or extra facial cleanser on a cotton ball to remove your makeup first.
Check out your cleansers ingredients
There are a lot of reasons that you want to look at the ingredients in your skin care. One of them is, like the woman I spoke with that found alcohol in all of her products, that there are a lot of lines that use marketing terms like ‘sensitive skin’ or ‘anti-aging.’ However, a closer look at the label can show you that the ingredients in those products aren’t beneficial to the skin and might even be making the problem area worse over time!
Do your research
We don’t think it’s a rebellious idea to want to know everything that we’re putting on our face, but there are a lot of companies out there that count on you not flipping the bottle over and doing the extra research on the ingredients they have listed.
The skin is a permeable organ and though it’s very good at keeping things out, transdermal absorption is possible and there are some chemicals (ethanol being one of them) that can even increase the skin’s permeability for certain chemicals.
Know what to avoid (hint: sulfates)
While there all sorts of ingredients companies can put in their skin care, one thing we find that people love about their synthetic facial cleansers is that they have a rich lather. Foaming cleansers feel good and make the skin feel extra squeaky clean but the ingredients that make that luxurious foam are sulfates.
The most common sulfates you’ll find in skin care are sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. Studies have shown that these foaming sulfates are actually corrosive and not only can cause some pretty uncomfortable skin symptoms, but have been linked with some serious health issues.
…and know the safe substitutes
We use sodium lauryl glucose carboxylate as our surfactant. It still offers a nice lather (albeit a little less foamy than it’s sulfate counterparts) but it doesn’t have the same health concerns attached to it. It is rated to be very safe by both PubMed and the EWG.
Know your skin type
We’ve talked about this before, but when you’re choosing the best natural cleanser (or any organic skin care product) for yourself, you always want to choose it based on your skin type. This is a really important part of the decision-making process because it’s going to play into the goldilocks complex of choosing a face wash that’s just right.
If you’re working with dry skin, a gel cleanser or a one that has ingredients like witch hazel or willow bark might be too strong for your skin and add to the dryness.
You want to choose a natural facial cleanser that is going to offer you that great clean feeling along adding some moisture to your skin. Look for gentle ingredients that boost hydration, like aloe and coconut oil.
With oily skin, a cream cleanser or one with extra oils added to it could be pore clogging. You’ll want to choose a natural facial cleanser that has ingredients that are high in salicylic acid (like the willow and the witch hazel) and probably look for gel cleansers for a deeper clean while not clogging your pores.
If you’re working with normal or combination skin, we suggest playing around with your skin care a little bit. You will want to be sure to choose a pH balanced cleanser that won’t throw your acid mantle out of whack. Look for balancing ingredients, like neem and tamanu oil.
Test things out & pay attention
Once you’ve checked to make sure your trust your brand, trust your ingredients and found the type of cleanser you think you need, it’s all about trying it out and paying attention to your skin.
Ask yourself, “Do I need more moisture?” and “Am I getting a deep enough clean?” and “Do I want to include a face brush?” to get really dialed in with the perfect face cleanser for yourself. Don’t be afraid to try new face cleansers when you find one that has the ingredients you’re looking for and fits with your skin type but make sure you allow transition time for your skin.
Aub is a certified clinical herbalist and content strategist/creator. She is the co-founder of Dandelion Branding, a digital marketing company that works with brands that are focused on revolutionizing their industries. When she's not working on a project, you can usually find her nosing about in the forest or giving congratulatory high fives to every plant in her house for growing.