If you suffered from the skin disorder known as acne during childhood, your parents may have continually reminded you to wash your face. Right after school, before dinner, and finally before bedtime they were always on your case. Most people accepted the notion that acne was caused by oil and other bacteria and grime found on the skin. We have come to learn that none of the above actually causes acne. The initial cause is actually an abnormal skin turnover cycle. When the skin cannot replenish itself by shedding old cells, the old cells linger on the skin clogging pores. This is what gives birth to acne.
If dead skin is to blame, why is it such a bad idea to continually wash your face to help remove it? For one, our skin is sensitive. Every time you wet and dry it, you strip it of sebum. Sebum is what helps the skin preserve its moisture. Whenever the skin is dry and irritated, it is more acne-prone. The protectant layer of the skin known as the acid mantle is unable to function properly when irritation is rampant.
Fluctuations in skin acidity can be a major problem when using soaps. The outer layer of our skin, known as the stratum corneum or acid mantle, works best in a slightly acidic environment. The moment we apply soapy water to our face, a disruption occurs. Soap is alkaline, finding itself on the other side of the pH scale. A single cleaning with a standard soap can disrupt the acidity for up to 24 hours. The length of time required for restoration of the skin’s pH is multiplied when several cleansings are in order for the day.
Too much washing does not help acne, but rather makes it worse. Gentle products are key in treatment, and cleansing should not occur more than twice in one day. Of course, we cannot ignore the importance of topical medications. Unless the skin remains unscathed by harsh cleansers, these products cannot function effectively.
If your intent in cleansing is to remove oil, you should purchase oil-blotting sheets. These thin tissues can be transported discretely and are ready at a moment’s notice. They will quickly absorb oil from your skin without the added irritation that cleansing induces. Make sure your hands are relatively clean before using these.
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