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Many people with breakout-prone, combination, or oily skin believe that the tight sensation they feel after washing with soap means their face is really clean. The thinking is that the more squeaky-clean their face feels, the better their skin will be, yet just the opposite is true!
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The feeling associated with being squeaky clean is most likely an indication skin is being irritated, dried-out, and stressed, which makes all skin problems worse. The major issue with bar soap is its high alkaline content (meaning it has a high pH). The increase of the skin pH irritates the physiological protective ‘acid mantle’, changes the composition of the cutaneous bacterial flora and the activity of enzymes in the upper epidermis, which have an acid pH optimum.
There are specialty soaps with non-soap-sounding names you’re likely wondering about. These products typically contain creams and emollients and appear to have none of the properties of regular soap, but they still present problems similar to soap.
First, bar cleansers often have a lower (less alkaline) pH, which means they can be somewhat less irritating to skin; but, they’re still more irritating than gentle water-soluble cleansers, and gentle is vitally important to skin.
Second, the other problem all bar cleansers share is that the ingredients used to keep them (bar cleansers or soaps) in bar form can leave a pore-clogging film on skin.
Do I need a scrub or a Clarisonic device?
Scrubs and Clarisonic are certainly options as part of your daily cleansing routine. Both can provide extra cleansing, and scrubs also offer superficial manual exfoliation; for many reasons, however, scrubs aren’t the best way to gently, evenly, and naturally exfoliate skin. The way skin exfoliates naturally is beyond what manual exfoliation can provide.
Skin can’t exfoliate as it should when you have sun damage, blackheads, breakouts, or oily/combination skin. If you have those issues, you need to resort to a more efficient type of exfoliation, which is what AHA and BHA exfoliants do.
Scrubs have considerable limitations when compared to the numerous, truly impressive benefits of exfoliating skin with a leave-on exfoliant such as an AHA or BHA (but more about those in the next sections). Scrubs deal only with the very top, superficial layer of skin, while most of the unhealthy and built-up dead skin cells are deeper, and thus beyond the reach of a scrub.
The real benefit of scrubs and the Clarisonic, or other powered cleansing brushes, is to be sure you get your skin clean, but with the goal to always be sure you don’t over-cleanse skin.
What is most problematic about many scrubs is that they have a rough, coarse, uneven texture that can cause skin damage by tearing into skin as it abrades away the surface. This causes tiny tears that damage skin’s barrier. The result? Skin takes longer to heal, red marks from acne get worse, dryness intensifies, and skin tends to become more sensitive and reactive, among other problems.