Don't Use Soap on your face & How to Pick the Right Cleanser

The title says it and I will say it all over in this post because this message needs to be out there: Do not use soap on your face.


Don’t laugh because this needs to be public knowledge that soap is not good for you face.


In this post, I will talk about:

  • The acid mantle
  • How to protect and repair the acid mantle
  • Importance of pH levels of a cleanser
  • Why soap is bad for the face
  • How to choose a good cleanser


We all dream of beautiful, glowing skin, right?


We continuously search for products and routines that can give us the skin we want. We buy all these creams, cleansers, moisturizers, serums, sunscreens, and tools and get special treatments in hopes that the day we’ve all been waiting for arrives that we can actually post a woke up like this photo in the morning without the need to edit out a single pimple or dark spot.


You might think you’ve got the routine down but then boop—new pimple forms. Then one more, and another! It’s crazy. What are you doing wrong?


If you are using soap as a cleanser, then mystery solved.


Take a bar of soap and look at it. That bar is alkaline.


Being alkaline means that it has a pH level above neutral. Water, which has a pH level of 7, is neutral. Any substance with a pH level below that is acidic and those above that level is considered alkaline or basic.


So, soap is an alkaline substance and the natural pH of the skin is mildly acidic, between 4.5 and 5.5.


What is the biggie? Why can’t alkaline and acidic be friends?



The Acid Mantle

First, we need to talk about the acid mantle.


The acid mantle is a thin film that guards the skin against bacteria and contaminants. What composes the acid mantle?

  • sebum that is secreted from the sebaceous glands
  • sweat


The combination of these two form the slightly acidic barrier that sits on top of the skin and plays an important role in protecting the skin from bacteria, viruses and contaminants that may try to penetrate into the skin.


The importance of pH levels of a cleanser

In order to keep your acid mantle healthy and intact, you have to maintain that slightly acidic pH level of the skin.


A face cleanser which is not pH balanced will weaken the structure of the acid mantle and expose your skin to all the dirt and contaminants. The more alkaline a cleanser is, the more chances of irritation on the face brought about by the stripping of moisture a.k.a. natural oils can occur which then leads to a whole set of problems for your skin.


Why Soap is Bad for the Face

When you continuously use alkaline products such as soap to wash your face, you are actually damaging the acid mantle and whacking up your skin’s pH level.


By using soap as your cleanser, you are leaving your skin in a worse state than it may already be in by:

  • Stripping it of all its moisture (natural oils)
  • Drying the skin
  • Sensitizing the skin
  • Allowing bacteria and dirt to infect and breed on the skin causing pimples and other skin problems


How to Protect and Repair the Acid Mantle

To keep the acid mantle healthy and intact, it’s important that your skin is not stripped of moisture and that you maintain its natural pH level by using the proper products.


For those who are tired of reading paragraphs:

  • Choose a good cleanser (Check list and recommendations at the end of this post)
  • Do not use soap (soap is not a cleanser, that should be clear by now)
  • Do not over wash your face (two times a day maximum)
  • Do not over exfoliate
  • Moisturize your skin (even oily skin types)
  • Avoid products with drying ingredients (alcohol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)


The first and most important one is to choose the right cleanser. There are a gazillion cleansers out there. At the end of this blog post, I have provided a checklist for picking a proper cleanser and some recommendations of products from bloggers and skin coaches I trust and also from my own personal experience.


For the hundredth time: Do not use soap as a cleanser.


When you got a good cleanser, remember to not over- wash your face because even a good cleansing can be overdone and destroy the skin. Same thing when it comes to exfoliating the skin. Overdoing is overkill. If you wash your face more than twice a day, you continually disrupt the natural pH level of your skin.


Keep the skin healthy and happy by using a moisturizer. Remember that I said stripping the face of its natural oils is bad because it ruins your acid mantle and disrupts the natural pH level. The one thing that helps the acid mantle strive is by keeping skin moisturized.


Lastly, by all means, never use drying alcohols on your face. That sht is ultra-stripping and drying for your skin. Some examples of drying alcohols or bad alcohols are alcohol denatured, isopropyl alcohol, Benzyl alcohol, methanol and ethanol.


Repair the Acid Mantle

Want some good news? A damaged acid mantle is not permanent. It may take a few hours or some months, depending on the damage done, for the skin and the acid mantle to be healthy and restored.


The key word in repairing your acid mantle is hydration.


The best way to do this is with moisturizer, of course. Get a moisturizer with really good hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin.


Another way is by using a toner.


Fun fact: Toners became popular for balancing the skin’s pH level after cleansing.


However, if you have a really good cleanser, toner is no longer necessary. But if you do decide to use a toner, make sure it has no alcohol in it. So many brands put alcohol in their toners because it gives a refreshing clean feeling after use and helps the product penetrate better (but it’s actually just drying your skin).



Choosing the Right Cleanser

Have you ever noticed after using a particular cleanser, that your face feels tight and less greasy? That’s actually a bad thing. It is a sign of dryness because all the oils have been washed away. Your skin is thirsty.


The skin does not need to be squeaky clean to the point that it is rid of all the natural oils that help protect it. This can happen when your cleanser has high amounts of alcohol in it or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), a very common surfactant ingredient in soaps and cleanser but is so bad for the skin because it strips all the goodness, leaving skin tight, dry and irritated.


The cleansing step, being the first step in a basic skincare routine, is very crucial. It is the make it or break it stage. With so many cleansers out on the market, it’s difficult to make a choice as to which one is the best for you. Don’t be fooled by advertising and gimmicks though because skincare is all in the ingredients and formulation.


A good daily cleanser should:

  • Have a slightly acidic pH level (5.5 is ideal)
  • Gives an excellent clean
  • Alcohol-free
  • Is not or does not contain soap
  • SLS-free
  • contain no fragrance/essential oils (will irritate the skin)


Cleanser Recommendations:

  • Bioderma Sensibio H2O recommended by Olena Beley (pH level: 5.5Just make sure to wash it off. Cleansing means removing dirt and grime from the skin and you gotta take all the product off too. 

  • Himalaya Purifying Neem & Turmeric Face Wash (pH level: 5.5I personally use it and it’s been so good to my skin.

  • Human Nature Nourishing Face Wash (pH level: 5.0This isn’t the best with removing stubborn makeup in my experience but it’s still great for morning cleansing or cleansing at night if you wore no makeup during the day.

  • Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser recommended by Kenna Whitnell (pH level: 5.5


A master list of cleansers with their pH levels 


If you read the entire article and reached the end, thank you, you’re a real champ! If you have been using soap on your face, no worries, I’ve been there too but now we know better.


I hope you can share this with all your friends and loved ones, especially those who still use soap as a face cleanser.




Photo Credits: Polina Tankilevitch via Pexels.com


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