It seems so simple, so obvious, functional and mundane: keep your body clean. But, at a time when we focus on self-care, extolling the virtues of taking time to nurture our own wellbeing, we still skim over the foundations of what builds skin strength, resilience and defence, relegating this step of skin health to unimaginative, rudimentary chore status.
But why is cleansing so important?
Your skin, the ultimate protection.
Your skin is remarkable. One continuous organ from top to toe, it is a uniquely balanced and formidable defence system of the delicate biological equilibrium that lies beneath the surface. Yet we take it for granted daily.
We often leave the skin below the chin to fend for itself.
Skin never sleeps, it relentlessly safeguards us against external pathogens on a daily basis, our first line in defence against the damaging impact of pollution, UV, makeup, sweat. This natural barrier is a delicate balance of oils (lipids such as ceramides) and Natural Moisturising Factors (NMF such as amino acids).
The outermost layer of skin is called the stratum corneum. To imagine the way this physical shield is structured, think of a brick wall. This hardy layer helps suppress damage from aggressors and supports optimal hydration, by minimising TEWL (trans epidermal water loss). But, the shield only works if the lipidic structure remains intact.
Ceramides are a key lipid that forms the “cement” in the structure of the epidermis. Amino acids are crucial components to the functionality of healthy skin. The building blocks of proteins and peptides; Amino Acids perform precise functions in skin such as boosting antioxidant protection, transporting water through the skin structure, strengthening, reducing fine lines and the list goes on. Like many of these critical biological substances, they are likely to deplete with age meaning preserving their availability and function is key to skin resilience.
When we bathe, cleanse or exfoliate our skin, the surfactant system or cleansing agents that are most often used, can weaken and damage ceramides, leaving the skin barrier impaired and vulnerable, leading to reactivity, inflammation, dehydration, redness and discomfort. Ceramides are broken down or washed away with anionic cleansers while Amino Acids are removable by water, meaning that these hard to repair, essential skin allies are compromised.
Going back to basics; how to cleanse
It may seem obvious, but by neglecting the cleansing stage of the skin health management, it is easy to fall short on optimal care of the skin during the cleansing process. This will lead to a natural decline in the balance of the surface barrier function, which can damage and prematurely age the skin through pigmentation, texture and tone, loss of elasticity etc.
By adopting a considered approach to the physical side of cleansing, it will ensure that skin remains fortified against external stressors.
Gently does it – traditionally the tell-tale sign of clean hair or skin, but this squeak can be an indication that skin has been stripped of vital hydration. More product does not equal cleaner skin and can lead to the imbalance and a feeling of the skin being a “size too small”, tight and uncomfortable. Choose instead to spend less time cleansing, but more effectively, this helps reduces contact with cleansing agents to limit the potential for reactivity and loss of vital ceramides and NMFs.
Avoid friction - cleansing and exfoliating help purify the skin, encouraging fresh new skin cells to the surface of the complexion, but it must be limited in intensity, as excessive friction damages the barrier balance.
Getting in a lather - creamy, rich bubbles help lift surface impurities more gently, swiftly and effectively. This helps avoid trauma to the skin surface, minimises exposure to surfactants and helps maintain barrier function and skin resilience.2
Balancing act - an amino acid based cleanser offers a gentle, refreshing cleanse without disruption to the skin surface. Many cleansers are alkaline while the skin’s surface is acidic. It can typically take over an hour to restore skin neutrality. During this time, skin remains vulnerable and can become sensitised while the acid mantle is compromised.
If you have skin concerns such as acne, these steps may not be optimal for your needs.
Cleanse with more thought, naturally.
After 5 years of development, rooted in a personal story of sensitive skin that is prone to redness and irritation, we proudly bring natural wisdom and scientific innovation in alignment to transform cleansing for all, especially those with irritable skin.
Olverum Body Cleanser features our unique complex of 5 mild surfactants derived from sugar, amino acids and responsibly sourced coconut and palm. The dense, luxurious lather cleanses the body while respecting the skin barrier and leaves skin supple, soft and nourished with avocado oil.
Scented with the iconic aromatic blend of essential oils to help relax, ease stress and tension, restoring a sense of composure in both mind and body.
Sources & Supportive Literature:
Vulnerability of the skin barrier to mechanical rubbing https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S037851732030692X?via%3Dihub
How the Use of Facial Cleansers Affects the Skin : Facial Washing with an Ideal Lathering for Tenderness to the Skin
Functional assessment of a washing emulsion for sensitive skin: mild impairment of stratum corneum hydration, pH, barrier function, lipid content, integrity and cohesion in a controlled washing test