Soap is Ruining Your Skin


Washing hands

How much money have you spent on soaps, moisturizers, serums and masques emblazoned with the word “hydrating”? Odds are that you’re using up tubes and bottles of lotion, trying to replace lost moisture on a daily basis. Love that squeaky-clean feeling after washing your face with soap? Not only is it clean, but your skin is thirsty! It’s your largest organ, but it needn’t be your biggest problem anymore.

It can be perplexing, I understand. We are inundated with ads for skincare lines touting miracle effects in a jar. In the end, you most likely don’t have “problem” skin—you’re simply washing it too much. As a licensed esthetician, I’ve treated clients over the past five years with a myriad of skin concerns and issues including rise early and eczema. One of the most prominent complaints is dry, itchy, lackluster skin. Time and time again, the culprit is harsh chemicals and fillers found in face and body wash products.

Nowadays, many soaps are made with all natural, soothing ingredients. What if they’re added to replace what you’re washing away to begin with? Oil isn’t the problem—aggravating our epidermis with chemicals and over-washing it are the problems.

Break the cycle

It’s hard to cut out habits you’re used to in the realm of skincare. Soaps labelled “oil free” and “anti-acne” generally leave skin dehydrated. This actually stimulates the body, sending the message “hey, create more oil!” This in turn causes shininess, then you start scrubbing it all away again. It’s a vicious cycle. Many of us have been trained to use such cleansers since our teen years. Simply set them aside for thirty days and let your skin normalize. I guarantee you won’t go back to soap after seeing your new, healthy glow. Breaking any pattern can be a challenge at first, but simply swapping out toxic, drying products for simple, natural, household ingredients will yield great benefits.

Cool down, while you’re at it

A nice hot, soapy shower certainly feels amazing in the winter months, or after a challenging workout. However, lowering the temperature of your next shower is a great way to help your skin feel and look better. I know someone who takes a 60 minute hot shower every day; their skin is like leather. A nice lukewarm shower will do the trick, and keep it brief. Cooler water is better for your hair, too, particularly if you color it. Hot water can dry out your skin, hence the need for loading up on post-shower moisturizers, so just cool it down. I also recommend staving off dehydration by drinking a glass of water before you hop into the shower.

Isn’t it gross?

We are conditioned to think that extra clean is better and for most things, this is true. For example, it’s true of the floors in your home, your car, dishes and windows. However, I had an esthetics instructor who said “It’s a face, not a dish!” She used this simple comment to remind her students that our skin is an organ and shouldn’t be washed like a household item. Try swapping out your usual soaps for a little oil and fruit. Your face doesn’t get as dirty as your kitchen floor, so please stop washing it that way. There’s nothing gross about cleaning your face with the same beautiful, organic produce you’re eating.

Try this instead

Wet your hands, then emulsify a pinch of baking soda and a tablespoon of nut or olive oil. Spread it over your face using gentle, circular strokes. Add a little more water if it’s too thick or not spreading easily. I use straight coconut oil to wash my face every day, adding a little baking soda every four to five days. I don’t use a moisturizer, as there’s a nice healthy residue left after I gently massage the oil off with a warm, wet cloth. Mashing a chunk of a banana then adding a teaspoon of honey creates a hydrating fruit acid masque. Apply that once or twice a month to dry, dehydrated skin and you’ll see results right away. Considering that bananas are generally about forty cents apiece, this approach is a lot less expensive than a store bought treatment.

Less is more

According to the National Eczema Association “In order to prevent […] eczema flare-ups from appearing, you need to soak in water to hydrate, reduce microbes with bleach or soap-free cleansers.” Soap-free is the key phrase here. Take a look at your elbows and knees. Do you have dry, flaky skin there? Don’t run out to buy a bunch of ointment and medicated creams, as they’re loaded with fillers and chemicals. Instead, try massaging a bit of plain olive or coconut oil into these areas, then gently remove with a warm, wet cloth, using circular motions. Do this instead of scrubbing yourself raw then slathering on a ton of lotion. Two steps just became one; you’re saving time and money, and you look and feel better.