By Dr. Teo Wan Lin, Consultant Dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre
What are gentle or mild cleansers?
Gentle/mild cleansers are dermatologist-tested skincare products that are fragrance free, manufactured according to specialist medicine standards, meant for sensitive, dry skin.
It is not enough to use the word “mild” alone to describe the product, as this may be misleading. This is also because many formulated lines of skincare products by the aesthetic and the beauty industry do not have the same chemical composition as dermatologist formulated products.
How do we know the cleansing from the mild cleansers is thorough enough?
The idea of “thorough cleansing” is a misconception that is associated with a squeaky clean feeling from using products that produce a lot of lather. However, these are the cheapest forms of cleansers to manufacture and are also the most harmful. This applies to not just patients with sensitive skin but for patients with all skin types. Such overwashing and cleansing is harmful, and a sensation of dryness and tightness after cleansing is not a good thing.
The function of cleansing products is to use a surfactant- which can be either a chemical or natural compound to emulsify dirt, oil, bacteria and to remove them during rinsing.
Are mild cleansers without sodium laureth sulphate?
Sodium laureth sulphate is a common and effective chemical surfactant- hence there are some dermatologist recommended lines which has it as their surfactant, albeit in a scientifically balanced ratio and with other moisturising ingredients to minimise any irritation.
An alternative would be natural surfactants, such as honey, which minimises any potential irritation from chemical surfactants.
What should I look out for in my skincare products?
Patients should look for the term “dermatologist tested and recommended” on their skin care line, and which are produced according to ISO standards.
Aren’t all vitamin C serums the same?
They are not. Non-dermatologist tested skincare formulations of Vitamin C serums, firstly, may not be stable formulations (ie. with zero or minimal efficacy when applied on skin), and secondly, they may be suspended in an irritating formula.
Are my skincare products the cause of my skin problems?
Many patients with sensitive skin actually have skin irritation reactions from products. They are presented to dermatologists often as allergic or irritant contact dermatitis.
Firstly, stop all suspected skincare products if uncertain. Seek a consultation with a dermatologist as you would need prescription medication to stop inflammation from worsening. After a careful history taking and review of all the ingredients in the products by your dermatologist, you will be advised on the likely cause of the reaction and treated accordingly.
It is often difficult to determine the exact skin situations when women are using many different products and are also changing them constantly, so in a flare up, they should stop everything they are using and switch to a dermatologist – recommended gentle cleanser and moisturiser. Sometimes a patch test will be recommended after the inflammation has subsided to test for a true allergy to the suspected product, if deemed necessary.
After the inflammation has subsided, they should switch their skincare products to cosmeceuticals (ie. antioxidant, hydrating, anti aging products) and cosmetics permanently to a dermatologist tested and formulated line.
© 2017 Dr Teo Wan Lin. All rights reserved.
Dr. Teo Wan Lin is an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre that can provide anyone with professional advice on skincare.
To book an appointment with Dr. Teo, call us at +65 6355 0522, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you may fill up our contact form here.