What is Really in Your Cleanser?

What is Really in Your Cleanser?

You use the same cleansing products each day, but have you ever stopped to read what is actually in your cleanser or really think about what you are putting on your face? When we buy our beauty products, we just take it for granted that the ingredients are beneficial for our skin and chosen for their purest qualities. It might surprise you to learn that all is not what it seems.

What is a cleansing product made of?

Cleansing products usually contain an ingredient called a surfactant. This includes soap and other lesser known chemical compounds. Of course, soap is something that we would expect to find in a cleanser, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is good for your skin. Over recent years skin experts have been expressing concerns about the harshness of soap products and the adverse effects it could have on your skin. The problem with soap is that it has a high PH value, typically in the range

of 9-10 (although some soaps can be higher!), this is far higher than the normal PH range of our skin which is around 4.5-5.5. Using products that are much stronger irritates the top layer of the skin, the Epidermis, which leads to dryness and flakiness and also breakouts.

The harshness of soap on your skin, whilst irritating perhaps, doesn’t do any major harm. However many cleansing products contain chemical surfactants which could be much more harmful. If you are checking the ingredients on your cleanser bottle common chemical surfactant by-products include Dioxane, Ethylene Oxide, Formaldehyde (known as Formalin). Just like soap, these chemical surfactants are too strong for our skin and will strip it of natural oils and cause irritation and dryness. There are other issues too which are far more concerning, we’ve taken each key ingredient in turn to see what the potential harm could be:


Also known as Dioxane 1,4 this product is potentially carcinogenic which means that it may cause cancer. It can also be detrimental to the functioning of major organs such as the kidneys and the lungs. Research shows it can impact on the nervous system too.

Known as: 1,4-Diethylene Dioxide; 1,4-Dioxacyclohexane; Di (Ethylene Oxide); Diethylene Dioxide; Diethylene Dioxide (Osha)

Ethylene Oxide

Another carcinogen, the effects of this product range from irritant causing allergies to cancer causing to a damaging effect on internal organs and the central nervous system.

Known as: Oxirane; 1,2-Epoxyaethan (German); 1,2-Epoxyethan, Aethylenoxid (German); Alpha,Beta-Oxidoethane; Amprolene, Anprolene, Amproline, Dihydrooxirene Oxide; E.O

Formaldehyde (Formalin)

This is a really toxic and highly carcinogenic ingredient. The additional side effects of Formalin include potential damage to internal organs and the central nervous system. At the very least it can cause potent allergic reactions.

Known as: Formalin; Formic Aldehyde; Merthaldehyde; Methanal; Methyl Aldehyde; Oxomethane; Oxymethylene

Having read all of this it’s likely that you may feel less inclined to use products containing surfactants in future. However, not all surfactants are created equal and there are some natural products that are gentler and perfect for use on your skin. In our Artesana products we use Decyl glycoside this is a mild non-ionic surfactant. The beauty of using this is that it is plant-derived and is 100% biodegradable, and of course it has no damaging effects on your skin or your overall health. It also fits with the ethos of Artesana Organic Skincare which is to use products that are completely natural and do no harm to your skin, because creating and maintaining beautiful skin is our goal!

Next time you are shopping for a new cleanser, why not choose from our range of 100% natural cleansing products, you will be safe in the knowledge that they are 100% pure and will only bring positive benefits to your skin!

Choose from:

Artesana Makeup Cleansing Oil


Artesana Hydrosol Face Foaming Wash


Artesana Hyaluronic Soap-Free Cleanser


Images courtesy of Canva and Shutterstock Surfactant Ingredient names courtesy of www.ewg.org

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