Sulfates are a type of surfactant, which is what make cleansers lather and foam, and help with removing dirt, oil, and debris from your skin when you wash your face. For some people, sulfates are totally fine, but that's not the case if your skin is dry. "Harsh cleansers disrupt your epidermal barrier which is the top layer of your skin, and it's the most important thing that's responsible for keeping water locked in and from evaporating out," says Dr. Gohara, explaining that sulfates are typically what make a cleanser considered harsh. "The moment that barrier is disrupted, it's game over for dry skin."
In addition to looking for the word "sulfate-free" on your cleanser (or, at the very least, making sure "sodium lauryl sulfate," the most common sulfate, is nowhere to be found on the ingredient list), Dr. Gohara suggests seeking out terms like "gentle," "hydrating," and "pH neutral" on your products. And one common misconception worth keeping in mind? Just because a cleanser foams and lathers doesn't necessarily mean it's a no-go for dry skin—new foaming technology and "foam stabilizers" have changed the game for those of us who want a good lather that won't strip our skin. Just be sure to read the labels to confirm there's no secret sulfate lurking in there.
Need some recs? Keep scrolling.
Shop sulfate-free cleansers
If you’re looking for a face cleanser that won’t strip your skin, but will actually add hydration by way of oils and minerals, look no further than this best-selling cleansing balm. It removes dirt and grime from your complexion by binding oils to the oils in the formula, and when you wash it away, your skin feels clean—but never overly dry.
If you like a gel cleanser that really is able to bust through all of the dirt and grime on your complexion, opt for this one which is packed with easy-on-the-skin ingredients like green tea. It’s also a best-seller at Sephora, and we like it because a little goes a long way.
Oh hi! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts for cutting-edge wellness brands, and exclusive Well+Good content. Sign up for Well+, our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.
Loading More Posts...