Why Cetaphil Isn’t As Awesome As It Seems

cetaphil gentle skin cleanserMany of my clients are surprised when they find out that I don’t love Cetaphil. I mean, it can’t be all bad if your dermatologist recommended it, right?

I generally don’t get worked up over cleansers, simply because they rinse off. Of all the steps in your skin care routine, I’m more concerned about the stuff that stays on your face, like serums and moisturizers. I always tell my clients that as long as it’s getting you clean, not irritating your skin, and not drying your skin out, I’m fine with it. But let’s take a quick look at the ingredients in the cleanser that claims to be “gentle and non-irritating.”

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Water, cetyl alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearyl alcohol, methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben.

(from cetaphil.com)

Breaking down the ingredients list is pretty easy. There’s not a lot here. First we see water, which is standard for most cosmetic formulas. Cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol are both fatty alcohols, used for emulsifying and moisturizing.

The next ingredient that catches my attention is sodium lauryl sulfate. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a surfactant, meaning it releases oil and dirt from the skin and creates that foamy texture we love so much. The problem is that SLS can be stripping for dry skins (which may explain the inclusion of cetyl and stearyl alcohol to neutralize the stripping effects), and it can also be an irritant. I’ve talked about SLS before, and my number one recommendation for irritated skin is stop using products that contain SLS. So why would you include this in a product that claims to be gentle?

The final ingredients are preservatives, which are three different parabens: methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. While I am not someone who is concerned about parabens as a toxic ingredient, and I believe they are generally safe to use, I do know that parabens are an allergen for a percentage of the population. Because of this, I generally recommend that my clients with hyper-allergic skin avoid products with parabens.

The truth about Cetaphil is that dermatologists recommend it for two reasons. The first reason is that it doesn’t have any of the obvious irritants in it like synthetic fragrances or dyes. But the primary reason your derm may have told you to use Cetaphil is that the makers of Cetaphil ship thousands of samples to dermatologists across the land, making that recommendation easy. Amazingly, dermatologists know more about disorders of the skin than they do about products (generally speaking, of course there are exceptions), and they often have neither the time or the desire to shop the drugstore shelves to figure out what cleanser is best for every skin type and concern you may have. Also, most dermatologists (especially male derms) don’t consider a cleanser’s ability to remove makeup in their recommendation.

My beef with Cetaphil is pretty basic. First, I take issue with any line claiming to be gentle while using the harshest surfactant out there. Second, before I became an esthetician, I tried Cetaphil. I found it drying, and it stung my eyes. Additionally, I think it does a terrible job removing makeup. I hate to use a makeup remover and a cleanser; I want one product to do the whole job. So for me, Cetaphil never cut it. If you absolutely love it, and it’s not irritating your skin, I don’t have a problem with my clients using it. But keep these things in mind, and if you find yourself suffering from dryness or irritation, you may want to swap your cleanser.

 

Speak your mind! Do you love your Cetaphil cleanser? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!

You may also like:

What I’m Loving Now: Deep Moisture for Dry Skin

Colder temperatures make me crave creamier moisturizers. But finding a moisturizer that’s got enough weight to get the deep moisture that you need and not clog your skin up can often be a challenge. Here are a few of my winter favorites for dry skin.

Nia24 Intensive Recovery Complex

I’ve been trying out some new products recently, and the Nia24 Intensive Recovery Complex has really captured my heart. Quick absorbing but still deeply moisturizing, this cream gives long-term moisture. Nia24 boasts a form of niacin that penetrates deeper into the skin, so in addition to rich moisture, you also get brighter, healthier skin in the long run. The Pro-Niacin complex also helps to thicken the top layers of the skin, giving you a heartier, more resilient complexion.

 

Sircuit Skin Cosmeceuticals Cloud 9

The intensely moisturizing Sircuit Skin Cloud 9+ cream has been one of my standbys for my own dry skin the last few years. It leaves a protective barrier on to defend your skin against the elements. It also features antioxidants and other botanical ingredients to protect against aging and restore at the same time.

 

 

 

Philosophy When Hope Is Not Enough Replenishing Cream

I’ve always liked many of the products in the Philosophy skin care line. For many years, this moisturizer, the Philosophy When Hope Is Not Enough replenishing cream. It has a buttery texture that melts into skin, protecting dry, chapped skin from the elements and restoring suppleness.

 

 

Korres Greek Yoghurt Moisturizing Face Cream

One of my favorite moisturizers, the Korres Greek Yoghurt Moisturizing Face Cream, recently got a texture makeover, and is now richer and even more moisturizing. It still has a light, whipped texture, so it’s a great cream for people who are on the oilier side of the skin type spectrum. The yoghurt in the cream is reparative and soothing, so that makes this particular product a great choice for irritated or inflamed skin, such as skin types that suffer from eczema or psoriasis.

 
Boscia Tsubaki Beauty OilFacial oils are all the rage, and it’s one of my favorite ways to tweak a skin care routine that’s just not quite enough moisture for dry skin. You don’t need to purchase an entirely new routine; just amp up your current moisture by layering an oil under your favorite lighter summer ones. Your skin absorbs layers better, so using several light products may actually work best for you. My current favorite oil is the Boscia Tsubaki Beauty Oil, which has a lovely light texture and tons of antioxidants for brightening and extra protection.

 

 

Have you tried any of my winter favorites? What products do you rely on when temperatures drop? Tell me in the comments below!

 

See a product here that you think would work for you? I earn a commission and you help to support this blog if you use the affiliate links provided. But your trust is important to me, and I’d never recommend something that I haven’t used or didn’t like. Read my disclaimer.

You may also like:

How To Beat Chapped Lips (And A DIY Remedy)

remedy for chapped lipsDry, chapped lips are uncomfortable and sometimes painful, and once the weather starts to change, everyone suffers. No one likes the look of flaky, dry skin all over your mouth. So I have a few tips to help you keep your lips soft and smooth if you get stuck under the mistletoe.

I have struggled with chronic dry lips for years, and even year round. Once the cooler temps hit, my lips would dry up and it seemed like there would be nothing that would solve my problem. Even while I was working at Sephora and had access to every lip balm in the world, I still couldn’t find anything that would solve my chronic chapped lips (called cheilitis, for those skin care nerds out there). My lips would be raw from my lower lip to my nose. So what’s a girl to do?

Here’s what I finally figured out.

Stop using products with sodium lauryl sulfate. Or, even better, all sulfates. Many products are touting their sulfate-free status these days, giving the impression that sulfates are evil ingredients. They are not, but they are heavy surfactants (cleansing agents) that can irritate delicate skin. If your skin is already irritated, it can make that irritation worse. Think of it like salt – not bad on popcorn or potato chips, even necessary, but boy does it sting if you get it in an open wound. Some people may have a higher sensitivity to sulfates and the sulfates themselves may cause the irritation. This was my problem. I stopped using a toothpaste with sulfates and my severely chapped lips disappeared within a week. Check your toothpaste and face wash for sulfates and switch it up if necessary. I switched to Sensodyne, which is easy to find at any drugstore. You’re looking for ingredients that have the word “sulfate” in them: sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate.

Consider allergic reactions. The lips are thinner and more delicate than the skin on the rest of the body, so I’ve encountered plenty of people who have lip-specific allergies. Try to use one lip balm for a few weeks and see if the condition subsides. If it doesn’t, try a different one, with a different set of ingredients. Once you’ve used a few, you should be able to figure out from the ingredients if you have an allergy. Look at the ingredients list on all the lip balms and try to find the common ingredients.

Severe chapped lips (think lips that crack and bleed, chapping, and irritation beyond your lip line) may actually be caused by a medical condition. Anyone who’s ever taken Accutane knows that it can cause some serious chapping. What I didn’t know? People who are prone to fever blisters and canker sores can also suffer from chronic chapped lips. If that’s you, get to a doctor. You’ll probably want a diagnosis and a prescription in order to get relief. Check out this article from Dr. Audrey Kunin who breaks down hidden causes of chapped lips on Dr. Oz’s website.

Try my DIY lip scrub. It’s so easy, and I even made a video for you. Remember, you can’t scrub away an irritation, so if your lips are swollen, inflamed, hurting, tender to the touch, don’t scrub. Use a product like Aquaphor for the time being, and if the irritation doesn’t subside within a week, you may want to see a doc.

Like this post? Get skin tips and tricks delivered directly to your inbox by signing up for the newsletter!

You may also like:

The Ingredient Chronicles: Benzoyl Peroxide

Chances are, if you’ve ever tried an acne treatment product, you’ve used something with the active ingredient benzoyl peroxide.acne ingredient benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is an active ingredient used in many prescription and over-the-counter acne treatments. It kills p. acnes, the bacteria that causes acne. By killing the bacteria, you eliminate a major cause of frequent breakouts. Some experts classify benzoyl peroxide as a topical antibiotic, but many dermatologists use benzoyl peroxide to help enhance the performance of other topical antibiotics like clindamycin and erythromycin. Because benzoyl peroxide is primarily used to kill bacteria, it is most effective on inflammatory acne.

Although we don’t fully understand the mechanisms of how benzoyl peroxide works, we do know that it seems to kill bacteria by adding oxygen to the skin. When benzoyl peroxide is applied to the skin, it breaks down into two parts- oxygen and benzoic acid. Since the p.acnes bacteria thrives in an oxygen free environment, adding oxygen to the skin essentially kills off the bacteria.

I’ve heard many people complain that benzoyl peroxide seems to stop working. I used to think that you could develop a resistance to benzoyl peroxide, as consistent use would eventually cause more resistant bacteria (think: MRSA and other super bugs). But while researching this article, I’ve learned that, while there is concern about resistant p. acnes bacteria, benzoyl peroxide appears to be the solution, rather than the cause. Many researchers feel that the resistance comes from ingredients like clindamycin and erythromycin, and that benzoyl peroxide lessens that likelihood.

Benzoyl peroxide has some other functions that can be helpful for acne control. It also works as an exfoliant, helping to unclog pores and reduce the appearance of blackheads. I feel that benzoyl peroxide is not as effective at unclogging the pores as salicylic acid, so if you have a lot of blackheads, you may want to introduce that ingredient into your routine.

Benzoyl peroxide comes in all forms. You can find it in cleansers, spot treatments, moisturizers, and serums. If you’re using a wash, you can leave the cleanser on your skin for a few minutes as a mask. If using a serum, it can be applied all over the skin or just on spots. You can even just treat the areas of the face that break out the most often. You can find it in strengths from 2.5% to 10%, though many studies have shown that higher percentages are no more effective than lower ones, but higher percentages often cause more adverse reactions, such as redness, flaking, and dryness.

Though this ingredient can be very effective, like many ingredients, benzoyl peroxide has its downside. I find that many of my clients react adversely to benzoyl peroxide, more so than other common acne treatments. I’ve even found that people can use benzoyl peroxide for years before suddenly developing adverse reactions. Because of this, I like to recommend that you limit your usage as much as possible. If you have been using it twice daily, try cutting your usage down to once a day once your skin starts to clear. If you remain breakout free, try going to every other day. Eventually, you may be able to stop using benzoyl peroxide entirely. Or you find that you need to stay on a routine that uses benzoyl peroxide just a few times a week.

It’s also important to remember that benzoyl peroxide includes…peroxide. This means that it will bleach clothing, sheets, and towels. It is one of the biggest complaints about benzoyl peroxide, but it’s also the easiest to fix. You can get some cheap white pillow cases or towels to use. If you’re applying it to the body, apply it at night and wear inexpensive white tee shirts to sleep. Also keep in mind that if you’ve tinted your brows or lashes, benzoyl peroxide may cause the tinting to fade faster.

If you’ve been using benzoyl peroxide and you’re suffering from adverse reactions, I have a few ideas. First, try using a lower percentage. Research shows that lower percentages are just as effective as higher ones and equally effective. Less isn’t always more when it comes to skin, so don’t worry about backing off a little. Next, try using the benzoyl peroxide less frequently. If you’re using it twice a day, try once. Once a day, try every other day. If cutting the number of applications down doesn’t work, try a light weight, oil free moisturizer underneath your benzoyl peroxide product. Finally, if these tips don’t work, try something that stays on the skin for a shorter period of time, like a wash just a few times a week. You’ll still get the bacteria eliminating benefits without as much irritation.

A final thought to keep in mind. Benzoyl peroxide and retinol don’t mix. If you’d like to use both ingredients, make sure that you use one in the morning and one at night. It will help to minimize irritation, as well as maintaining the integrity of the individual ingredients.

 

 

Like this post? Get skin tips and tricks delivered directly to your inbox by signing up for the newsletter!

You may also like:

The Ingredient Chronicles: Retinol

retinol skin care ingredientOne of the ingredients I love in my personal routine is retinol. It is always present. I recommend it for many different skin concerns. Let’s take a deeper look and see what it does.

Retinol and Retin-A, or the class of ingredients called retinoids or retinoic acid, are Vitamin A derivatives. These ingredients work primarily as exfoliants. They are special because they exfoliate the surface of the skin as well as the interior of the pore, unlike salicylic acid, which works just in the pore or glycolic, which works mostly on the surface. Because of the way they exfoliate, they are especially good at getting rid of deep clogs and textural acne.

Retinol is the over-the-counter version of retinoic acid. Retin-A is the prescription form of retinoic acid. However, don’t take this to mean that Retin-A is better than retinol. Some skin types may find that they can tolerate the lower doses in an OTC retinol product.

Retinoids have many benefits aside from just their amazing pore-cleaning abilities. Retinoids are the only FDA-approved anti-aging ingredient. It was being studied for acne prevention when people started noticing that their wrinkles were going away. When you have damage to the skin, the skin responds by creating scar tissue. Scar tissue is essentially collagen that has grown back irregularly, like you see in wrinkles or in acne scars. Healthy collagen is spiraled like a slinky, and it lines up in straight lines. Damaged collagen has grown back over- or under-spiraled, and it starts to bundle together and collapse on itself. Retinoids work on these irregularities by breaking down the damaged collagen and encouraging the growth of healthy, properly spiraled, perfectly aligned collagen. So retinoids are great for decreasing the depth of wrinkle and repairing acne scars.

Retinoids also help to control melanin production, which makes them great to repair the uneven pigmentation that many people see after years in the sun. For acne sufferers, especially those with deeper complexions (think: olive skin tones and deeper), it can fade the marks that remain long after blemishes have healed.

But here come the cautions. Retin-A is aggressive. Many people experience flaking, redness, and sensitivities while they are using it. Retinol (the OTC version) may be easier to tolerate for these skin types. It takes longer to see results than the prescription strength products, but avoiding the adverse side effects may be worth it.  Retinoids are also contraindicated for waxing, since it sensitizes and may cause lifting of the skin (read: a big patch of no skin… not the brow look you were going for!) Retinoids are absolutely contraindicated for pregnancy.

Retinol should always be used as part of your nighttime routine. It can cause photosensitivity, so you need to be diligent about applying a sunscreen every day (even if you get minimal sun exposure). Dermatologists usually recommend using the product every day, but more sensitive types might not tolerate that much. Stop using your retinoids if you’re going on a big beach vacation or if you’re planning on getting or have just gotten a deep chemical peel.

I really believe that everyone can find a retinoid that works for them, but you may need to try some variations to your routine or the way you use the product to minimize the adverse side effects. Here are some tips for dealing with the irritation that retinoids may sometimes cause.

  • Try using it less frequently. Try it twice a week, and slowly work your way up to more frequent usage. Once you start to see the results you want, you may want to dial your usage back again.
  • Apply a light moisturizer before the prescription. The moisturizer will act as a buffer between your skin and the prescription, slowing down the absorption. That can actually make a huge difference in the level of irritation.
  • Use a gentle enzyme mask to dissolve away the flakiness. This will help you control your urge to pick and keep your skin hydrated and smooth.
  • Try a soothing hydrating mask. Dry skin types can definitely use this help. Even acne prone skin types need this boost. Masking more frequently can help to give your skin that extra hydration and soothing that it needs.

Retinol and Retin-A are my hero ingredients. You can’t beat the multiple benefits that you get from one product. But it is an ingredient where less is definitely more, so find the balance your skin needs.

 

 

Like this post? Get skin tips and tricks delivered directly to your inbox by signing up for the newsletter!

You may also like: