Help me treat my skin as well as it treats me.
November 10, 2009 9:13 PM   Subscribe

How do I figure out what facial cleansers are oil based, ph balanced and will treat my skin well?

I learned a lot from a recent AskMefi question about facial cleansers but found myself confused about what to actually buy...I know that I want to use an oil based facial wash and avoid anything with sodium laureth sulfates. I don't understand how Cetaphil gets such rave reviews if it contains such detergents...

My cheeks tend to feel dry most of the time and my t zone is usually normal (it gets a bit oily if I don't wash for a couple of days but I never look greasy). Bottom line is that I want to treat my skin in as natural and respectful a manner as possible so it may look its best and feel its finest.

Suggestions for specific products? Any help navigating product lines would be helpful.
posted by rglass to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Arbolene, $12.50 at your local pharmacy.
posted by Dragonness at 9:16 PM on November 10, 2009

I thought Cetaphil was soap-free. Anyway, you can try Pond's Cold Cream.
posted by dhn at 9:21 PM on November 10, 2009

No comment on how well it works (I can't handle greasy cleanser, personally), but I think Dragonness is referring to Albolene. (Arbolene doesn't google.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:22 PM on November 10, 2009

Response by poster: Albolene and other cold creams look like they are intended mostly for makeup removal. I should have mentioned above that I do not usually wear makeup. Am just looking for a daily or every other day cleanser of sorts.
posted by rglass at 9:31 PM on November 10, 2009

In which case, go for Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil. I know people who swear by it, but my oily skin would never go for this. It's not just for removing makeup, it's actually a cleanser. My friend never wore makeup, but loooved this.
posted by dhn at 9:39 PM on November 10, 2009

I use Origins Clean Energy Gentle cleansing oil in the winter when my skin is drier. I use it for regular cleansing as well as for makeup removal.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 9:49 PM on November 10, 2009

I am a huge fan of Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean face wash. You can get enough to last you a good six months or so for about $5 at Trader Joe's or $7 at Whole Foods. I've been using it for the last 3ish years and have never strayed. My only caution to you is that you should not expect typical "cleanser/soap" consistency from any oil based cleanser in my experience. They are generally very watery. Which is why a smallish bottle lasts forever.

For my body I use Dr Bronner's. Dilute! Dilute! Or rinse off well! But if you don't use too much, it gets you clean and smelling minty fresh with no detergents or much of anything else other than olive oil, peppermint oil and hippie sentiment. I wouldn't use it for my face cause it's pretty drying, though.
posted by crinklebat at 10:14 PM on November 10, 2009

I saw the Cetaphil haters on the other post, but I remain a big fan. For the record, Cetaphil doesn't foam. I have dry cheeks and a normal/oily-ish t-zone and Cetaphil is extremely gentle (most soapy cleaners irritate my skin, make it red, etc) and doesn't dry me out.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 10:27 PM on November 10, 2009

There might have been some confusion about Cetaphil. There's the normal-to-oily skin version, which I'm pretty sure does foam, and there's the gentle version, which doesn't foam. I have extremely sensitive, acne-prone, super red (probably rosacea really) skin, and my dermatologist told me to use the gentle version and so far it's working well. It doesn't solve my problems, but it certainly doesn't exacerbate them as most other cleansers seem to do.

However, I've found that my face doesn't feel nearly as clean if I don't use a soap on my face. Like, it feels like the Cetaphil doesn't clear off the oil or anything. I guess it's a good thing, but sometimes I just want to have that overly dry feeling soapy soaps give me. Just so you know before you swear off foaming cleansers.
posted by tweedle at 11:10 PM on November 10, 2009

If your skin isn't too greasy, and you want to "treat your skin in as natural and respectful a manner as possible"...what's wrong with warm water?
I have the same skin type, and just wash with warm water (and a mineral cleanser once a week). Everything else either dries out my skin or gives me pimples.
posted by The Toad at 12:49 AM on November 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

See if your library or bookstore has the book Don't Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me by Paula Begoun.
posted by conrad53 at 1:08 AM on November 11, 2009

Cold creams and oils are good cleansers and not just not for make up removal. Counter intuitively they dissolve or lift dirt and grime from the face. If you are curious, the oil cleanse method is based on using a combination of castor oil with another oil of choice then using a hot facial towel to combo steam and then wipe of the oil; it has worked very well for me.

Cetaphil, regular, is super gentle and I have had no problem with it, but I use it only once a week.
posted by jadepearl at 1:53 AM on November 11, 2009

Seconding jadepearl's oil cleansing method suggestion - very gentle and natural. The other nice thing about it is that it's not a one size fits all solution - since you're mixing it yourself you can experiment with different oils and ratios and figure out what works best for your skin during a particular time of year.

Also, since you mentioned that your skin can be dry, have you thought about switching up moisturizers? This will sound strange but I SWEAR by glycerin. A few months ago out of the blue I got these patches of flaky, dry skin on my face. This solved the problem with a quickness and made my skin happy, so I'm still using it.

I mix it 1:1 in a mini spray bottle with water. Let it sit on my skin for a few minutes, then put my moisturizer on over that. The glycerin helps your skin absorb moisture more easily. And if you like, you can add things like rosewater, etc. Downside: it can feel a bit sticky. Upside: It's all natural, and my skin is glowing and finally feels happily moisturized!
posted by Fiorentina97 at 5:59 AM on November 11, 2009

You must have seen my answer to that recent question.

I have very similar skin to yours, and I never use soap anymore - just warm water in the shower, some friction with a facecloth on my dry patches to get the flaky bits and then almond oil before I get out of the shower. I then blot off the oil with a towel - I don't even use moisturizer.

That combined with proper nutrition are your ticket to glowing skin. Seriously, my friends started asking what I was doing as my skin looks so good now.
posted by smartypantz at 7:04 AM on November 11, 2009

You might find the Cosmetics Database helpful.

As for recommendations, I find Kiss My Face Liquid Pear Soap to be really gentle. I moisturize with either Udderly Smooth Udder Cream all over my body and face (after a shower while still damp) or Dessert Essence Jojoba Oil, depending on the season.

This combination keeps my skin really happy all year long.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:23 AM on November 11, 2009

Blah! Desert, not Dessert. I knew I would do that...
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:24 AM on November 11, 2009

It's hard to tell if they're going to work for you because everyone's chemistry is so different, but I've had great luck with the Shu Uemura oil cleansers. I can't use them at the height of Summer cause I live in the tropics and I turn into an oil slick. But for most of the year, they're great. I use the green "anti-oxidant" one, a big bottle lasts me at least six months.
posted by runtina at 8:41 AM on November 11, 2009

tweedle: "There might have been some confusion about Cetaphil. There's the normal-to-oily skin version, which I'm pretty sure does foam, and there's the gentle version, which doesn't foam."

Yes. I much prefer the gentle version.
posted by radioamy at 9:55 AM on November 11, 2009

Albolene and other cold creams look like they are intended mostly for makeup removal. I should have mentioned above that I do not usually wear makeup.

I suggested Albolene (sorry for the typo) because it doesn't involve water, and indeed it's not just for makeup removal. I find any time I make my face wet it dries my skin out to some extent. With Albolene it's like washing your face with oil. The stuff is solid in the tub but turns to liquid on contact with skin. You then just tissue it off.

I just started using it and I think it's going to save my skin this winter.
posted by Dragonness at 11:01 AM on November 11, 2009

I will give you some Advice from M.D David E. Bank, Director of the center for Dermatology.

You have what is called "combination skin." One part of your face is dry and one part is not (Bank 3):

To start your treatment with combination skin, go to the scalp. You'll need a skin-care
routine that addresses both your oily and dry areas.

Use anti-seborrhic shampoos such as T-sal, Head and Shoulders Intensive Treatment,
or Denorex. (Since you're trying to go for simple and natural, I would look into Head
and Shoulders)

Avoid using gels and hair sprays as they can run down the face and block pores.

If Cetaphil doesn't fit you're fancy, just look for anything with Salicylic cleanser (SalAc)
or Zinc Pyrithione.

For a cleanser, the MOST important thing you should do is find something that is
fragrance free and alcohol free. Alcohol will dry out and age your skin.

After cleansing, put a hydrating moisturizer on the dry area, and a moisturizer for
normal-oily skin on your forehead.

Once a week, use a combination of two different masks, applying a clay based mask
to the oily area and a moisturizing mask to the dry areas.

Sorry for the long slew of advice. I hope this helps! I've had skin problems for years and wish I had discovered the awesomeness of Metafilter earlier. Let me know if this helps!

Source: M.D Bank, David. "Beautiful Skin"
posted by BettyBurnheart at 9:40 PM on February 4, 2010

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