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Personal Hygiene & The Soap Debate

29 January 2013, 07:18

This article is in response the Maureen Dent’s:

http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/The-Great-Soap-Scam-20121112

Bar soap is bad for the skin; that includes that white bar with ¼ moisturising creme.

The reason for this is because cosmetic companies use sodium/potassium hydroxide to make the soap. This is highly alkaline. And since the skin is protected by a layer called the ACID MANTLE, applying anything alkaline will neutralise/destroy this layer. The acid mantle is secreted by the sebaceous glands.

The acid mantle protects the skin by keeping the natural bacteria (called commensals; Propionibacterium acnes) on your skin healthy, which in turn prevents pathogens from entering or causing infection (acne). There is a big difference between pustules (pimples) and acne vulgaris (a very serious condition, whereby the Propionibacterium acnes causes infection in the sebaceous glands, due to acid mantle impairment). The every-day teen just has papules (blackhead = precursor, causes pustules), which can turn into the yellow infected pustule.

Other products that are formulated properly, that use nanotechnology can be very beneficial to your skin. Also, products that contain active ingredients that are ionised (positive or negative charge) can be forced into the skin using iontophoresis (a positive / negative galvanic charge is applied to the skin, which forces the active ingredient into the skin by using the force of repulsion).

However, most, if not all cosmetic products just stay on top of the skin, as their molecular structure is too large to pass through the acid mantle and stratum corneum (top layer of the epidermis). Also, the skin has another protective function.

The Barrier of Rein, in the deeper layer of the epidermis (stratum granulosum) is an electro-physical layer than prevents unwanted foreign bodies from entering the dermis (deepest, vascular layer where keratinocytes are formed). Therefore, any product that is not formulated properly will not pass through this barrier. Nano molecules used in iontophoresis are able to do this; as they are formulated to pass through this layer, once the galvanic current is applied to the skin (the galvanic current temporarily disrupts the Barrier of Rein).

I use liquid body wash and it is perfect. I had a lecturer at college that didn't use ANY products, just soap and she has perfect skin.

It all depends on the individual. Not all people react the same way. This is why all teenagers should see a professional cosmetologist, so that his/her individual skin can be assessed. This will also ensure that each person knows their own skin, and what to do when there is a blemish or other problem.

I am in no way endorsing Maureen’s article, or her views. This is my knowledge of the subject, as I studied Cosmetology. Personal hygiene is of utmost importance, so as to prevent the cultivation and spread of pathogens. Just washing with water is not enough. Use of a liquid body wash is the best option. Using that "white bar with its moisturising creme" as an alternative to soap is foolish, as it is exactly the same as soap, it just ‘allegedly’ contains ¼ moisturising crème. The pH (that ad is a lie, we tested it in class) is the same as a normal soap bar, ie. around 11.

I hope this helps with people’s understanding of our largest organ; the skin.

Sources: The Essentials of Human Anatomy & Physiology, Elaine N. Marieb

                Bronze Academy of Health & Skincare

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