When my oily skin started to feel tight after cleansing, I knew it was time to upgrade. Would Cetaphil’s iconic facial cleanser live up to the hype during a six-month trial?
Why do dermatologists always recommend Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser?
Dermatologists love Cetaphil because it is gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin.
It only contains eight ingredients (the fewer the ingredients, the less chance of irritation) and no fragrance (the most common cause of irritation).
I am impressed – such a minimalist approach takes confidence.
What is a harsh detergent doing in a cleanser for sensitive skin?
So why does it contain sodium lauryl sulphate, a harsh detergent and known irritant? Wouldn’t it dry out sensitive skin?
In the short term, no. A nourishing emollient cleverly buffers the skin from the detergent, and humectants attract moisture to the skin. I don’t know anyone who has ever reacted to it.
Does it deserve its reputation?
Maybe some dermatologists recommend Cetaphil because they are in the pockets of multinationals, but it was seen as a truly revolutionary alternative to soap when it was launched.
Foam. Yes, it does foam slightly, but it is still gentle because of the buffering.
Parabens. Despite the furore, there is very little conclusive evidence against parabens. However, from a marketing point of view, Cetaphil should probably consider replacing them.
Alcohol. Not all alcohols are drying. Cetaphil uses a high concentration of the humectant cetyl alcohol, not the drying, irritating type of alcohol.
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Our skin is not pH balanced!
Science has moved on however, and Cetaphil is starting to look dated.
A quick science lesson:
Alkaline cleansers (like soap) disrupt the acidic barrier of our skin.
If a new client has red, sensitive and spotty skin, I usually find that her cleanser is too alkaline. They dissolve lipids from the skin’s barrier, so moisture escapes and the skin dries out.
We need those precious lipids to give our skin a glow, especially after 35.
Cetaphil is pH balanced (6.3 – 6.8) and inspired a whole generation of pH balanced cleansers. But our skin is not pH balanced – it is slightly acidic (4.5 to 5.5).
So long-term use of pH balanced cleansers will damage your skin’s barrier and lead to premature ageing.
Conclusion: ironically Cetaphil doesn’t cleanse very well.
It doesn’t remove all makeup and sunscreen, so I used it as a second cleanser. (Ironically, the protective buffer prevented it from cleansing thoroughly and left a residue on my skin).
Its simplicity is also its downfall: it doesn’t contain any proactive ingredients. It’s time for Cetaphil to upgrade – I’m surprised that they haven’t already.