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What Are Surfactants, And How Can Your Skin Benefit From Them?

What are the factors that you look for in a cleanser? Do you want it solid or liquid? To foam or not to foam? Scented or unscented? 

Are you the type who would read the ingredients of your skincare products first before purchasing? Or, do you just go for what's affordable? 

Many factors should come into play when choosing the items that go in your skincare arsenal. What you have to be is mindful about what you use on your skin lest you end up damaging it rather than actually addressing its needs. This especially applies to cleansers, because did you know that cleansing is the most damaging part of the skincare routine?

A cleanser that leaves a squeaky clean feel strips skin of its lipid barrier and raises the pH to an unhealthy level. Make sure to pick one that's gentle and skin-friendly.


"You don't need to foam to be clean" - Dr. Mara Padilla Evangelista-Huber, Board-certified dermatologist and internationally certified dermatopathologist


The Cetaphil Classics set


Recently, Cetaphil launched a new product that cleanses and protects the body's sensitive skin and at the same time nourishes it all day long: the Ultra Gentle Body Wash. Now, it's not just the face that gets extra care in terms of cleansing.

During the product's launch, board-certified dermatologist and internationally certified dermatopathologist Dr. Mara Padilla Evangelista-Huber was invited to enlighten the guests about what makes a good cleanser.


"Cleansing is the most damaging part of your skincare routine" - Dr. Mara Padilla Evangelista-Huber, Board-certified dermatologist and internationally certified dermatopathologist



In photos: Cetaphil Classics, Cetaphil Baby, Cetaphil Pro, Camille Co, Dani Barretto, David Guison, Nicole Andersson, Kelly Misa, Nicole Hernandez, Nikka Garcia, Patty Laurel, Galderma Business Unit Head Jade Silva-Netto Ponoc, Galderma General Manager Raghavendra Sadashiva, and Guest Speaker Dr. Mara Padilla Evangelista-Huber


Cetaphil brand ambassadress Sarah Lahbati


Below, we list down the top five essential factors that must be taken into consideration when looking for a good cleanser, such as the new Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash:

  • Low pH. Dr. Mara says that our skin is slightly acidic. A pH level of less than six is ideal. The new Cetaphil Ultra Gentle Body Wash has a pH of 5.
  • Fragrance-free. Fragrance in products can irritate the skin or cause allergies. For those with dry or sensitive skin, it is best to go for a fragrance-free and hypoallergenic cleanser.
  • Panthenol. A provitamin of vitamin B5, this ingredient helps hydrate the skin and improves its barrier. 
  • Aloe Vera. This moisturizing ingredient helps prevent the skin from being stripped of essential factors. Cleansers are usually packed with moisturizing ingredients such as oils and humectants like aloe vera to replace what the process of cleansing removed from the skin. 
  • Gentle surfactants. Britannica defines surfactants (also known as surface-active agent) as substances that "when added to a liquid, reduces its surface tension, thereby increasing its spreading and wetting properties." It either lowers the surface tension between two liquids or a liquid and a solid. Surfactants can serve as wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, and dispersants. They are key ingredients in almost all cleansers, but they're not always good for the skin. Surfactants form little spheres known as micelles when added to water, and if a micelle is very small, it can penetrate the skin, thus causing irritation. What will benefit the skin is when a cleanser is made up of a mixture of surfactants; chances of irritation are reduced, because they form large micelles. Look out for ingredients such as sodium laureth sufate (SLES) in combination with cocamidopropyl betaine.


Lead photos courtesy of Cetaphil