To tell if a product will clean your skin without damaging it, read the ingredient list...
Chemical ingredients to avoid in cleansers
The biggest culprits are sodium laureth sulfate and sodium lauryl ether sulfate. These are too harsh and drying to the skin due to their high pH level of 10.
Ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and amino fruit acids exfoliate and deeply clean the skin, but they can be overly acidic. They can disrupt the lipid barrier, especially when used too frequently, and weaken the skin's natural defenses against environmental pollution.
Also watch out for triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal agent. Studies link triclosan to numerous adverse health and environmental effects like endocrine disruption, bacterial and compounded antibiotic resistance, skin irritation, contamination of water, and its negative impact on fragile aquatic ecosystems.
Pay attention to your skin
Reading the ingredient list on your products will help you choose more nourishing and tender cleansers. Remember though, the best gauge for how your products are working is the condition of your skin.
If skin is red, oily, sensitive, or breaking out, your cleanser may be too acidic, while if it feels irritated, dull, and dry, your cleanser may be too alkaline.
When switching products, give your skin time to adjust. After years of using harmful products, it may take weeks of using a properly balanced cleanser to adjust to its healthy state.
Also, many people make the mistake of switching to an extremely alkaline or acidic cleanser based on whether they have oily or dry skin. The better approach is to find a well-balanced cleanser first and see if that helps get your skin to the right pH levels. Also remember that your other skincare products will have an impact as well.