Don’t get us wrong, cleansing is good for you. The absolutely worst thing you could do to your complexion is to sleep with your makeup on (the horror!). But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. While cleansing twice a day is fine, any more can actually damage and dehydrate your skin. How exactly does it do so? Well, for one, it can upset the balance of your skin flora.
Skin flora consists of all the microorganisms, including bacteria, that reside on skin’s surface and can actually help to strengthen skin’s natural defenses. According to Dr Ian Tan Yan Sheng, MD at IDS Clinic we shouldn’t try to get rid of the bacteria and microorganisms living on our faces because there is “strong evidence that shows that skin flora helps to control the colonisation of organisms that can cause diseases to humans, modulates our immune response and skin barrier function, and is integral for skin health.”
Julian Marchesi, Professor of Human Microbiome Research at Cardiff University School of Biosciences and Professor of Clinical Microbiome Research and Deputy Director of the Centre for Digestive and Gut Health at Imperial College London, echoes this sentiment.
“Don’t just think about your skin as a surface, there’s actually a colony of microorganisms living on you which all have functions, many of which relating to your health. And it is very important to maintain the balance of skin flora, because our body actually works in unison with it to protect your skin,” says Marchesi. “The bacteria and microorganisms on your skin actually act as a barrier on your skin to protect it from other invading organisms.”
However, when you over cleanse your face or use cleansers that are too harsh or strong, this can upset the balance of your skin flora. When this happens, it can cause your complexion to lose its moisture, as well as weaken it against external attacks.
Too much cleansing can also upset your skin’s pH balance. A healthy pH is essential to keeping your complexion, well, healthy. It can help to delay ageing and prevent irritation. In its natural state, skin is slightly acidic. This is because your protective barrier is made of sebum, amino and lactic acids, which helps prevent moisture loss and act as a protection against pollutants and external attacks.
However, over-cleansing or using cleansers that are alkaline in nature can disrupt skin’s healthy pH balance. This can result in anything from dryness, irritation, itching, sensitivity and tightness.
So the next time your OCD tendencies start to flare up and you feel like cleansing more than twice a day, just put down your facial wash and walk away.
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