Cleansers tend to come in two main types: soap and soap-free. Traditional soap, such as the colourful, scented bars you may use in the shower or at the sink, is very good at removing dirt and grime, yet the way it is made means that it is not very compatible with our skin.
Soap-free products, such as QV, use what is known as ‘synthetic detergents’, or syndets, which are as good as soap at cleaning, yet are much more gentle on our skin.
What makes soap irritating?
Soap is made through a process called saponification, which involves treating vegetable or animal fats with a strong base. This causes the soap to have a very high pH of around 10. Our skin has a slightly acidic pH of 4-5 and it’s been shown that washing with soap raises the pH of the skin temporarily.
This can cause irritation, and is a much more enticing place for bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, which prefers a more alkaline environment. It can take more than 6 hours to return to normal.
Why are syndets, like those used in QV, better for our skin?
A soap-free, pH-balanced cleanser has no more effect on skin pH than regular tap water. Syndets are processed in a wide variety of chemical processes other than saponification, which means that they can be formulated at a pH of around 5-6, closer to the skin’s natural pH.
Syndets are thus far less likely to remove intercellular lipids or irritate the skin in general, making them much more suitable for all skin types, especially sensitive skin.