The most common cleanser used in the world to maintain skin hygiene is soap. Soap refers to a specific chemical reaction between a fat and an alkali resulting in a fatty acid salt with detergent properties.

There are currently three different types of bar cleansers on the market all called “SOAP”.

There are the true soaps, which are composed of long chain fatty acid alkali salts with a PH between 9 and 10.The high PH of these cleansers is excellent at thoroughly removing sebum, but can also damage the fats between the skin cells, known as intercellular lipids, in diseased or sensitive skin. This type of soap is good when the skin is very dirty or in someone with oily skin. The next type of “soap” products are known as synthetic detergents, or syndets, and contain less than 10% real “soap” with a PH adjusted to 5.5-7. These cleansers are less likely to damage the intercellular lipids, but also may not remove all of the sebum from extremely oily skin. This type of cleanser is good for people with normal to dry skin. A third type of “soap” known as a combar, combines alkaline soap with synthetic detergents to create a bar with greater cleansing abilities, but less intercellular lipid damage. This is the type of soap found in most deodorant bars.

Selecting the proper type of “soap” may be tricky, but once the three categories of cleansers are identified, the task becomes much easier. In general, all beauty bars, mild cleansing bars and sensitive skin bars are synthetic detergents.

Lipid-free cleanser

Lipid-free cleansers are liquid products that clean without fats, which distinguish them from the soap-type cleansers previously discussed. They are applied to dry or moistened skin, rubbed to produce a lather, and rinsed or wiped away. These products may contain water, glycerin cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, sodium laurel sulfate and occasionally propylene glycol. They leave behind a thin moisturizing film and can be used effectively in persons with excessively dry, sensitive or diseased skin.

They do not have strong antibacterial properties, however, and may not remove odor from the armpit or groin. They also are not good at removing excessing environmental dirt or sebum. Lipid-free cleansers are best used where minimal cleansing is desired. They are also known as milky cleansers.

Cleansing cream

Cleansing creams are popular among mature women; cleansing cream offered the alternative to the harsh alkaline soaps. Cleansing creams are composed of water, mineral oil, petrolatum, and waxes.

These popular products are used to remove cosmetics and provide cleansing for clients with dry skin in one step. They leave behind a residue on the surface that makes them a good cleanser for dry skin, but not such a good cleanser for oily or extremely dirty skin.

Scrubbing pads and implements

There are a variety of scrubbing pads and other implements that can be used to cleanse the skin.

Most of these devices are intended to aid in the removal of dead skin from the face and body, and can be used with a cleanser or with an abrasive scrub. The key is to select the implement and the cleanser such that your client will not experience skin irritation.

Abrasive scrub

The recognition that the removal of dead skin cells was desirable to produce smooth skin in maturing clients, led to the concept of an abrasive scrub. The rubbing of the abrasive material on the skin, a process known as exfoliation, remove the dead skin.

Unfortunately, this type cleanser causes spots or pigmentation and sometimes discoloration and premature aging because the skin’s protection is damaged.