Have you ever wondered how surfactant in most cleansers, could disturb your skin pH? Did you aware of how surfactant would cause damage to your skin barrier? Apart from the active ingredients on top of the list, you also need to be aware of the surfactant formulation! Remember, do not fall for the promises and marketing claims on the magical effectiveness of their products!
Besides, the first thing that you need to do is to read all the ingredients listed behind the packaging of the product! The most important part of the ingredients list is – the Surfactant!
Be caution of harsh surfactant !
Previous and current studies found that using skincare, bodycare and hair care products with harsh surfactant leads to disturbance of skin barrier function and your stratum corneum (the skin outer layers) structures.
What is “harsh surfactant” and how does it end up disturbing your skin?
Let’s have a read then!
The term surfactant refers to a surface active agent. All of the unwanted oil and water debris including sunscreen, makeup, pollution particles cannot be simply removed using water. Hence, here comes the surfactant; a cleansing agent contains in your skincare, bodycare and all related hygiene products. Surfactant helps to dissolve unwanted debris and helps to remove it away from your skin!
According to American Oil Chemist Society , there are four types of surfactant; known as Anionic, Amphoteric, Nonionic, and Cationics. Each surfactant type owns different molecule charges and reacts differently on your skin structures. But we’re not going deep down into that details. What we are trying to highlight here is, out of these four types of surfactants, the harsh surfactant is the one that we should avoid! Here’s the reason why!
How Harsh Surfactant Disturb Your Skin Barrier
The images shown above explained how surfactant agents disturb the skin barrier by affecting the skin structure and decreasing the skin barrier function. Now, your skin barrier is made up of a few layers, where each layer possesses important functions to protect your body from environmental toxins and pathogens. The outermost layer, called the stratum corneum, is often described as a “brick wall“. This layer consists of tough skin cells called corneocytes that are bound together by mortar-like lipids, which represent your skin barrier. Inside this skin “brick wall”, you’ll find keratin and natural moisturizers. The lipid layer contains cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides.
The scariest part is, studies had shown that two important lipid layers; cholesterol and fatty acid are also found to be soluble in harsh surfactants! When a great amount of the important parts of skin lipid are washed off, the skin water retention capacity is decreased, hence causing skin barrier damages. Once your skin barrier is damaged, it cannot protect you from any unwanted environmental toxins and pathogens from entering your body. Among the signs of skin, barrier damages include dryness and tighten.
How Harsh Surfactant Disturb Your Skin pH?
Prolonged exposure to harsh surfactant products causes symptom like skin dehydration, irritation, crack, flakiness even leads to severe skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis (eczema)! Our skin is naturally acidic (around pH 5), and harsh surfactants in skincare can also disturb your skin pH for a long time and reduce its flexibility. Even worse, those with acne-prone skin, would have more growth of P-acne bacteria!
Scary as it sounds, huh? Unfortunately, the majority of us do not really care about the ingredients lists. We tend to fall for the marketing claims, that give us high expectations on the products instead. Sadly, we just realize that these products are not effective as it claimed, after the negative reaction that it causes to the skin! Well, next time, if your skincare or bodycare products contain these harsh surfactant ingredients, namely; sodium laurate, sodium cocoate, sodium tallowate (“sodium XXate”) or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth ether sulfate (SLES), please avoid from buying it!