Soap can damage the natural protective barrier of the skin and throw your bacterial flora off balance. This can cause your skin to dry out and become irritated. For optimal care, it’s best to choose gentle body washes or soaps that are kind to the skin and its bacterial flora. YUN has developed a cleansing body wash for a mild and balanced skin treatment.
Protective barrier of the skin
The skin is our largest organ. The outer layer of the skin forms a protective film: the natural protective barrier or acid mantle. This acidic and oily layer contains moisturising ingredients and protects the skin from dehydration, bacteria and harmful environmental influences. The layer’s acidity or pH value is about 5.5.
Several factors can impair the function of your protective skin barrier. One of those factors is regularly using products containing soap.
Effect of soap on the protective skin barrier
Showering with soap is a daily habit for most of us. Soap cleanses the skin but it can also disrupt our natural protective layer.
Harsh soaps have a pH of 8 to 10. They can dry out the skin, causing the protective function of our skin’s natural bacterial layer to diminish. The skin becomes more susceptible to external influences and harmful bacteria can enter the skin more easily. Dry skin can cause irritation, inflammation and itchiness.
To cleanse the skin, without damaging its protective barrier and to maintain its acidity, it’s best to use a skin care product within the range of your natural skin pH: 5.5. Several gentle shower gels on the market today are pH balanced and/or soap free.
People with normal skin and with a stable bacterial skin flora (microbiome of the skin) are less sensitive to the effects of soap. But if you already have dry skin or if you suffer from acne or eczema, soap can be aggressive on the skin and its flora. If you do suffer from any of these conditions, you should limit the use of soap.
Effect of soap on the bacterial skin flora
Gentle pH balanced soaps are friendly to your skin but they may still affect the skin’s bacterial flora (microbiome). Harsh soaps and especially those with antibacterial components are most likely to disrupt your natural bacterial balance.
The superficial skin layer contains antimicrobial peptides that fight bacteria, fungi and viruses in a natural way. Research has shown that the use of (gentle and harsh) soaps reduces the presence of these peptides. This causes the skin’s defence mechanism to weaken, allowing microbes to induce malignant skin conditions.
Emulsifiers in soap
The main ingredients of soap are water-soluble substances, lipids and emulsifiers. Emulsifiers serve as a binding agent for water and fat to form a soap emulsion. They provide a cleansing effect, especially for oily skin, and they produce foam, which gives you a clean feeling after washing.
Although emulsifiers are an indispensable component of soap they can affect the skin’s bacterial flora (microbiome). They can attack certain groups of bacteria causing other bacterial groups to overgrow. Specifically, they can make skin dry or flaky and they can cause irritation and redness. Gentle soaps often contain less emulsifiers, which is why they usually produce less foam.
YUN soap, friendly for the skin and its bacterial flora
YUN has developed a shower gel that does not affect the natural skin barrier. It safeguards the balance of your natural microbiome. The shower gel contains all the right ingredients for a smooth and balanced treatment. This rich and foamy, yet gentle shower gel is the perfect complement to other YUN skin-care products.
- Two, A.M. et al., 2016. The Cutaneous Microbiome and Aspects of Skin Antimicrobial Defense System Resist Acute Treatment with Topical Skin Cleansers. The Journal of investigative dermatology.
- Yee, A.L. et al., 2016. MICROBIOME. Is triclosan harming your microbiome? Science (New York, N.Y.), 353(6297), pp.348–9