17. Cleansers, Scrubs, and Ultrasonic Brushes! Oh my!

Doctor Jacob here, and today we're talking about cleansers, scrubs and ultrasonic brushes. Oh my!

So let's start with cleansers. There are so many choices of cleansers or soaps or things to wash one's face with, and a lot of that is due to the beauty and cosmetic industry trying to sell more products. Soap and water used to be just fine, but some people find that regular soap is a little bit too drying, so they invented more creamy products like cleansers, which sometimes have the creaminess due to comedogenic ingredients. In many cases, cleansers contain things that could actually clog the pores in order to give them a more creamy feel. So if you're in doubt, take a list of comedogenic ingredients such as the same one that I have on my website for makeup, and take a look through all the ingredients of your cleanser and really scrutinize them.

Most cleansers can't fix acne, but they sure can worsen it. If you have more oily skin and you're looking for a product to wash the face, a regular bar of soap would be just fine. That being said, there are special bar soaps that are made with sulfur, which have anti-acne properties, they're anti-bacterial and they tend to be anti-inflammatory. I'll post a link in the Cleansers section of the website where you can find and purchase a bar soap that contains the sulfur that I'm talking about. There's also a type of prescription-strength cleanser which you can't get in the United States, at least without a prescription, that combines sulfur with sodium sulfacetamide. These tend to be really anti-acne, and I recommend many of my patients use them. In fact, they're the strongest type of cleanser out there to help with acne, for acne patients. So if you're interested in that, I'll also put a link to it on the Cleansers section of the website, but it is a prescription which you can get your doctor or other health care provider to prescribe for you.

One small note about sulfur-containing products, depending on the actual product that you have, the brand of sulfur wash or sulfur soap that you're using, some of them don't smell as good, so I'll put links to stuff that's acceptable. But again, it's just a soap, so you're not putting it on the face and going out with it, you're washing it off after 30 seconds to a minute. So that's cleansers.

Let's talk about scrubs. Adding some scrubbing grains within a liquid cleanser is a trick that often gets products to sell better to acne sufferers, but no amount of hard scrubbing or even gentle scrubbing can really get down to the root cause of acne, which is deep within the pores. Those little scrubbing grains are certainly not going to be getting down into the pores. So they may feel like they're doing something, but they're really not doing that much except for removing a little bit of dry skin from the surface if you have dry skin that tends to flake off. So I usually don't recommend scrubbing grains in a cleanser, or a cleanser with scrub grains in them.

The same thing goes for these cleansers with scrub grains in them in terms of being potentially comedogenic. If you choose to use it, you really have to check the ingredients, but I don't recommend using one of them.

Finally, let's talk about ultrasonic brushes. There are many ultrasonic brushes out in the market now, and many of them actually sell on a more gentle adaptor or head of the brush that can be used for patients with acne. That's important if you do choose to use one of these ultrasonic brushes, to know that you can get one of the gentle brush heads so that it won't irritate any clogged pores that you have, causing inflammation. I don't routinely recommend them, but some people really love them for removing makeup for example. Many patients who use them feel like it gets a deeper level of clean in terms of removing any makeup that's residual on the face. If you do use them, that's okay. Just in terms of using them with a soap or cleanser, make sure the cleanser or soap doesn't have comedogenic ingredients.

So in summary, I really don't recommend scrubs or scrubbing grains in a cleanser, and I'm not really recommending the ultrasonic brushes, because they really can't get to the root cause of the acne, which is down the pores. The brushes or the grains will never get deep enough to cleanse out the pores. On the other hand, in terms of cleansers, if you are using a liquid cleanser you really have to check the ingredients to make sure none of them are comedogenic. For patients with more oily skin, plain bar soap tends to be just fine. A sulfur-based bar soap, which you can find on the websites, has additional anti-acne and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as anti rosacea properties. For those of you under the care of a physician or other medical practitioner who can prescribe for you, there are sulfur and sodium sulfacetamide combination cleansers which have wonderful anti-acne properties. I routinely recommend them for my patients with acne.

That's it for today. Doctor Jacob here, we'll see you next time.