Bar Soaps Can Actualy Cause Acne Not Cure It

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Admit to an esthetician or skin therapist that you use bar soap, especially on your face, and you will get a look of horror and revulsion in return. Before you think that it is just a form of snobbishness, think again. Bar soap is bad for skin for numerous reasons.

Human skin has a natural pH of between 4.5 and 5.5 on a scale between 1 and 14. A neutral pH, like distilled water has, is 7. Anything above a 7 is alkaline and anything below 7 is acidic. That makes skin's pH naturally acidic. For skin to function at its best, its pH needs to remain balanced and fairly stable. An acidic pH keeps the skin's natural barrier functions intact.

Bacteria love mildly to moderately alkaline conditions. The acidic pH of the skin's secretions provides the best protection against bacteria by creating an environment that is hostile to bacteria. Changing the skin's pH by raising it can affect its ability to guard against bacteria.

Bar soaps are oils and fats that have been solidified in a chemical reaction caused by the addition of sodium hydroxide, or lye. Lye is a highly caustic substance with a pH of around 13. Most oils and fats used in soaps have a pH of around 7, so the final product has an alkaline pH. Many soaps have a pH anywhere from 8 to 10, making them significantly more alkaline than skin. Even pH balanced soaps have a neutral pH of 7, leaving them significantly more alkaline than skin.

Bar soaps often leave a film on the skin that can keep skin from breathing properly and has a lasing effect on the skin's pH. The body will eventually balance the skin's pH back to an acidic state over a period of hours, but this pH change caused by soap creates a temporary playground for bacteria that has long-lasting effects with continuous soap use.

A June 2001 study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology tested the effects of alkaline and neutral bar soaps and cleansers on skin over time. They found that instead of a reduction of bacteria, including the p.acnes bacteria responsible for causing acne breakouts, subjects who washed twice daily for two minutes with bar soap for 4 weeks showed an increase of acne bacteria on their skin over those who used a cleanser with a pH of 4.5. The study also noted that the moisture content of the bar soap users was lower and the skin was more irritated than those who used the acidic cleanser.

Since there is not as much lye used in the processing of liquid cleansers and body washes, they generally have a lower pH and are more skin friendly than bar soaps. For the greatest skin health, it is worthwhile to find and use a facial and body cleanser that has a pH as close to 4.5 to 5.5 as possible.

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