Updated: Jan 29
We all know, cleansing is ancient and natural. It is said by certain anthropologists that hygiene was an instinctive need in human beings, and in fact all animals, from the start of evolution. And that, much before we knew the science behind germs causing disease, we instinctively knew what is ‘icky’ and found ways to wash it off. Like even as cavemen and cavewomen.
It’s not surprising then that now in the present day, we have a different cleansing product for every part of the body. But like those human discoveries that hold remarkable potential when used in the right way, cleansing too, can cause harm when overdone.
If you are into washing your face several times a day, and if for the sake of convenience, you prefer to carry a product in your purse that cleanses because its primary ingredient is a surfactant, you may want to take a step back and read this. Surfactants are not natural. They are laboratory compounds that are extremely effective in removing oil and dirt. However, the human skin and scalp have a complex microbiome that gives them strength to ward off unhealthy invaders and in turn gives us immunity. A surfactant in a face wash tends to wash off this healthy bacteria and your natural sebum. This if done too frequently, completely throws your skin off balance.
There is a reason that oils have been used so extensively for cleansing. The early cavewoman discovered the first soap as a residue of animal fat and ash from roasting meat, and used it to wash off stains. Ancient Greeks and Romans used oil and a scraper, known as a strigil, to cleanse their skin from sweat and dirt. The use of flour and mud was also common in the form of pastes, like in the ‘Kippuru’ or atonement tradition of Mesopotamian times. Natural cleansers remove just the excess sebum, and free us only from the dirt and bacteria that could be harmful. They are much balanced in nature, and unless overused, do not cause harm to our skin.
Going back in history was important for us to be able to formulate a cleanser for your skin care ritual. As you possibly know by now, at Oleum Cottage, we avoid surfactants entirely. Not just the sulphates, but all of them. We trust ancient wisdom on this. Our two cleansers, the Pollution Defense Cleansing Gel and the Mesmerising African Black Cleansing Potion, are natural. As natural as they come. And for those who tell us they don’t have time for skin care, we say we understand. Change takes time. But if you were to do just one thing good for your skin today, let it be switching your cleanser.