Facial Cleansers

It doesn’t really matter how much make-up you wear or which moisturizer you use on your face, if you don’t have clear skin underneath it all there’s really no good way to hide it.  Step one of everyone’s skin care routine is that pesky facial cleanser.  With so many options out there at the drug store, department store or health foods store it’s easy to become overwhelmed.  So what’s an eco diva to do?  Try a bunch of different ones, have the majority of them fail miserably (read: worst breakout I’ve had since I was 13) until a solution is finally found.

I have tried a variety over the years from Clinique, to Clean and Clear, to Aveeno, and more recently into the natural brands and even though I live in a desert (yes, there are parts of Canada that classify as a desert, but it’s definitely not temperature based, let me tell ya) I have always preferred the foaming cleansers.  Or at least I thought I did…more on that later.  Dermatologists and other skin care specialists are dead set against foaming cleansers because they are far too stripping, but I feel with the right kind of toners and moisturizers it’s better to clean things out in a major way than to allow the gunk to accumulate over time.  Since I’ve switched to foaming cleansers my aesthetician has told me how much my skin has improved.  So there, haha.

Genetics have smiled on me in this department and I have relatively calm skin.  After my hormonal teenage years my skin balanced out into a semi-normal leaning towards oily skin type with the occasional hormonal acne popping up on my chin.  None of the Clinique cleansers I tried worked for my skin.  I also dabbled into a few spa brands, back in the day, but also to no avail.  They all did a fair job and although none of them failed miserably, none of them actually kept my skin consistently clear.  And then I found Aveeno.

This little gem was my go to for years.  Like many others I’m sure I was under the assumption that Aveeno was a more natural brand of the drug store brands.  Props to their marketing department; they definitely have their branding figured out.  This foaming cleanser kept me virtually breakout free.  However, once I started to educate myself more about the chemicals lurking in cosmetic products I was shocked to find how many formadehyde releasing and carcinogenic ingredients were in this little bottle.  Not ideal for something I used on my face every day.  There’s actually been recent evidence in a few of the medical journals I subscribe to that indicate one of these ingredients bioaccumulates over time.  That means the more you use it the more heavy-metal-like toxins build up in your system.  Not ideal at all.  This cleanser may be less harsh and toxic than something like, say, Clean and Clear, but definitely not what this Diva was looking for.

LUSH was my first stop on the quest to finding a more natural facial cleanser.  Angels On Bare Skin is 100% natural with no synthetics of any kind.  If you’re interested in buying this one do buy it in smaller amounts as it will go bad and man alive does it smell something fierce once it’s turned.  It has a bunch of natural cleansing ingredients such as rose, chammomile and tagetes oil and also has ground almonds to make up the base and add a gentle exfoliant into your every day routine.  Making this paste into more of a cream to use on your face took a little bit of practice but I have to say that the first time I used it I was impressed.  It took off my makeup better than the Aveeno cleanser did.  That’s where it’s magic stopped for me, unfortunately, causing me to breakout on my chin and a little on my forehead.  This would be great for someone with normal to dry skin, but for anyone with a little excess oil this might not be the one for you.

Earth Science was a brand recommended in a book I was reading at the time, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.  It had a fair number of synthetic ingredients, but only two caught my eye: the sodium lauryl sulfoacetate which is a skin irritant, and the PEG-150 disterate which has the potential to be contaminated with another chemical called 1, 4-dioxane which is a known carcinogenic.  Yes, I know I said “the potential to be contaminated with” but before you dismiss that consider the following:  in 2008 46% of the ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ brands tested positive for this contaminant.  Products such as Clairol’s Herbal Essences, Olay Complete Body Wash, St. Ives products, Pantene Pro-V shampoos, Head and Shoulders, Garnier Fructis and Suave Naturals have been tested again recently and some still contain this carcinogen.  So, needless to say, I was a little wary but since it was a cheaper healthfoods brand I decided to give it a try.   Overall I was happy with it.  It was a nice blend of getting my skin clean and keeping it clear without stripping it too much.  My boyfriend uses this one every day and he really likes it.  The formula is the Clarifying Facial Was with cucumber and hyaluronic acid for oily/combination skin.

Newco is a local brand for me, but it ships worldwide and a friend of mine who lives on the other side of the country says it is available in her health foods store.  I was drawn to this one because it was a foaming facial cleanser, and I really missed that from the Aveeno one I was trying to replace.  This one has 100% natural ingredients but that’s where the good review ends.  I used this one for not even a week and I had the worst breakout I have had since my teens.  Big, tight, angry belmishes all over my face.  Even my cheeks that I can’t remember ever breaking out before.  Nothing else in my face care regime was changed, and I even barely wore make-up that entire week so I have no explanation other than how poorly balanced my skin became after using this cleanser.  I was chatting with the beauty representative at my local health foods store the other day and she had a similar reaction to this cleanser and her skin is generally pretty dry.  She said she also tried one of their moisturizers and felt like her skin was covered in butter because of the amount of grease and oil that accumulated there.  Gross.

I was surprised when I tried the Green Beaver purifying facial cleanser that I liked it as much as I did.  Espeically since it wasn’t a foaming cleanser.  It is 100% natural with only 4 of it’s 17 ingredients being naturally derived ingredients (such as glycerin) and has a light citrus smell that isn’t overpowering or overly-sweet.  It lathers nicely on my skin and has kept my skin perfectly balanced for almost three months now.  That’s right.  Not a single breakout, not even a little hormonal zit, for three whole months.  The grapefruit peel and seed extract have also worked their citrus magic to help lighten the acne scars I had left over on my chin from the Newco experiment.  The only con I have so far is that, even though it’s not a foaming cleanser, it is quite stripping and I am reminded a few minutes after I finish washing my face that I need to moisturize ASAP.  But, as my toner and moisturizer can balance out this cleanser and keep my skin as happy as it is I am a convert.  I’d definitely recommend this one to anyone with oily or normal skin.  I know I’ve only been using it for 3 months, but I would say at this point it’s working even better than my Aveeno did.

As an aside, I’m branching off into new territory today: I’ve decided to take the leap into natural deodorants.  I have always been super hesitant to try to break away from the wonderful odor and wetness protection of my Lady’s Speed Stick, but here I go.  With summer on it’s way and my city already hitting record temperatures for the season I figured there’s no time like the present. Wish me luck!


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