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Move past conventional cleansers: You and your baby need special care

Move past conventional cleansers: You and your baby need special care
PHOTO: Pixabay

In Singapore’s tropical weather, managing dry and sensitive skin can be a real struggle.

This is especially true when it comes to caring for the thin, delicate, and extra sensitive skin of newborns and babies. According to a study, 1 in 5 babies in Singapore struggle with eczema.

Another study suggests that atopic eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is the most common skin condition affecting adults and children, including babies. It affects up to 20 per cent of school-aged children in Singapore. And for most patients, symptoms begin during the first year of their lives. This is where skincare products, especially a good gentle cleanser for dry skin and sensitive skin can step in.

Such cleansers get rid of pollutants and dead skin, whilst maintaining the natural oils and moisture in the skin.

However, in a sea of products all claiming to be “gentle and nourishing,” how do you choose what’s best for your child’s sensitive skin?

In this article, we take you through some of the fundamentals of what makes an ideal skincare product. This way you can make an informed decision.

What does science say about gentle cleansers for dry skin?

Gone are the days when conventional cleansers performed the only core function of helping clean the skin. Today, a gentle cleanser for dry and sensitive skin not only cleans but also provides moisturisation and hydration benefits, thus keeping the skin healthy.

However, it is important to note that not all cleansers can do that.

In fact, according to a paper published by Dermatologic Therapy, some products use harsh surfactants in the blind pursuit of providing “maximum deep cleaning” that can cause damage to skin proteins and lipids, leading to after-wash tightness, dryness, barrier damage, irritation, and itching.

Ingredients like parabens (a class of widely-used preservatives in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products), colourants, and fragrances can also damage sensitive skin.

Research suggests that only cleansers that not only minimise surfactant damage to skin proteins and lipids but also deposit and deliver beneficial agents such as occlusives, skin lipids, and humectants under wash conditions are able to provide skincare benefits like better hydration, as well as mechanical and visual properties.

Findings of another extensive research suggest that surfactants that cause significant skin irritation interact strongly with skin proteins. Because of this, several surfactants and surfactant mixtures have been identified as “less irritating” mild surfactants because of their diminished interactions with skin proteins.

Another important thing to bear in mind when looking for an ideal gentle cleanser for dry skin is the pH of the cleanser.

High pH (pH 10) solutions, even in the absence of surfactants, can increase stratum corneum or SC (this is basically the outer layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis) swelling and alter lipid rigidity. This suggests that cleansers with neutral or acidic pH, close to SC-normal pH 5.5, maybe potentially less damaging to the skin.

So, the next time you are on the lookout for an ideal gentle cleanser, remember to look for a product that is free of parabens, colourant and fragrance, and has balanced pH value.

Ceramide-based cleanser cleanses gently and replenishes skin with moisture

Another important factor to consider when choosing the ideal mild cleanser for your bundle of joy is its base ingredient. Thanks to the past two decades of advances in this field, now there is deeper understanding of the roles of SC proteins and lipids in their interaction with cleanser surfactants.

It is found that this interaction leads to skin dryness, irritation, and erythema.. Well, that’s a lot of science talk, isn’t it? But it’s also important to know.

Allow us to explain.

Today, skin cleansing technology has evolved from basic soap to syndet bars (synthetic detergent-based bars). These bars contain key moisturising ingredients, such as lipids and emollients that offer skincare benefits beyond cleansing and are mostly neutral or acidic (pH 7 or less), and thus less harmful. This, as compared to traditional soap-based cleansers that are more alkaline in nature (pH 10).

Furthermore, emollients, which are a cosmetic preparation used for protecting, moisturising, and lubricating the skin, replenish the fatty acids and sterols lost during the wash process.

They also minimised the depletion of skin lipids on a newborn or toddler’s sensitive skin. Even doctors recommend gentle cleansers with emollients, especially for children with eczema-prone, dry and sensitive skin.

“A gentle cleanser with emollients is important in children with eczema-prone skin to restore healthy skin barrier function. This together with emollient creams will reduce episodes of acute exacerbation,” says Dr Ong Eng Keow, Paediatrician from International Child & Adolescent Clinic.

Ceramide-dominant lipid-based formulation rebuilds protective skin barrier

Last but definitely not the least, is the IT ingredient that is a must for healthy, moisturised skin – ceramide.

In an interview, Dr Mary L. Stevenson, M.D., assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Health, shared that our skin already makes ceramides and they are a crucial part of the outer protective layer of skin.

She further explained that ceramides are basically lipids that keep hydration in. They also protect against anything that might irritate our skin, she added.

Another specialist, Dr Rajani Katta, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Houston advocates that applying more ceramides on our face actually helps fight dryness and flaking, and even eczema. Additionally, ceramides are proven to be the key to fighting skin ageing, and are more potent than other more commonly known ingredients, such as retinol, niacinamide, and peptides.

Ceramide is the cement that holds the skin barrier together. Insufficient ceramide means that the skin barrier is unable to function properly. With its unique 3:1:1 ceramide-dominant lipid-based formulation, Ceradan range of products repair the compromised skin barrier. They do so by incorporating ceramide into skin cells and creating an accelerated restoration of a healthier skin barrier.

This article was first published in theAsianparent.

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