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Dermatology Glossary


Mild Cleanser Basics: Why Cleanse?

Why Cleanse the Skin?

Skin cleansing is necessary for skin health, hygiene and well being. Without effective cleansing, your skinís surface can accumulate debris, sweat, air pollution, excess oil and bacteria. Cleaning the skin also helps to reduce the growth of microorganisms and reduce infection.

Washing with water alone will rinse some of the dirt and debris away, alone itís not quite enough. Plain tap water will only remove about 65 percent of the oil and dirt on your skin, and will not effectively remove makeup. Skin cleansers, however, work as emulsifiers and help remove dirt, excess sebum (natural skin oils), bacteria, cosmetics and exfoliated surface skin cells.

Cleansers are especially important for those who use cosmetics, have sensitive or irritated skin, or use topical skin treatments.

Where Dirt and Debris Collect

When we cleanse our skin, weíre targeting the outermost layer of the skin called the epidermis. This outermost layer of the epidermis is composed of a tough protein-fat structure that produces a protective outer film, the skin moisture barrier. Part of the function of the epidermis is to waterproof the skin. While this film shields skin cells from the environment, it also traps and holds dust, pollutants, smoke, bacteria, cell debris, sweat and cosmetics.

Washing the embedded dirt off of your skin also removes some of this outer protective film and can irritate your skin, although mild cleansers have been developed to restore and maintain this protective covering.