No Soap, No Cry - Aid from Avene II

"The day I stopped using soap, my life changed." When I read this quote in "Aging Gracefully, the French Way" from today's NYT, I felt rather validated (take issue with much of the article, but more on that later). This is because for the last couple of months, my face has barely met a cleanser. True, and not afraid to admit it. I have never used regular body soap on my face in the shower. Mostly, I use unexciting and inexpensive cleansers from the drugstore. My biggest splurge has been a $17 Avene cleanser, which worked and felt good, but was not very different from Cetaphil.

A few months ago, I took to avoiding anything with harsh chemicals on my face, which is rather sensitive and prone to whiteheads. More than avoiding certain types of cleansers, I've made sure that I substantially cut down on my use of them. This has not been a problem since I'm lazy and don't really think my face is a rug that needs scrubbing.

My skin has been going through a lot of changes during these late 20-something years and so I preferred the most basic products possible - Avene's Cold Cream Emollient Soap-Free Cleansing Bar seemed to fit the bill. If you think that sounds like a mouthful and a little shady - get over it. It's just a bar of skincare goodness without harsh/drying soapy chemicals and some good old cold cleansing cream in a bar form (Pond's, you should really get it on this). If you ask why I bought a $9 soap (which is pretty inexpensive as far as most cleansers go, even some drugstore brands), the answer is simply that I convinced myself that a non-soap cold-cream cleansing bar is what my skin needs. I fancied an era where women tissued cold-cream off of their beautiful faces. Rather than slather cold cream all over my face, I decided I needed an updated, modern version - which is exactly what this little cleansing bar from Avene is.

It delivers precisely because it does so little - my skin basically feels the same after using it, except it is obviously cleaner. At the same time, there is a lot it doesn't do - strip, dry, irritate, etc. For someone who has always had slightly oily skin, this has been far kinder than "oil-free" cleansers which I'm convinced aggravate acne and sensitive skin. More importantly, because my skin has gotten drier over time (office heating/cooling systems make this worse), and it's too soon for me to use anti-aging products, I prefer to use skincare that is soothing and a little bit more moisturizing. It is so gentle, you could use it everyday.

I use it maybe twice a week, partly because it is expensive and a little smaller than I expected, so I'm conserving (and staying true to a more hands-off approach to skincare). Because the bar is rather rich, I initially found that the creaminess makes it "melt" away a little too fast, and I didn't want to use it all up too soon. However, it's been on my bathroom counter for almost 4 months now and it seems to be hanging in there just fine. If I can't find an inexpensive alternative (and I'm not sure I even want to bother searching and experimenting), this may be a repurchase (gasp!).

Granted, the warm weather always improves my skin, and a much lighter schedule has been easy on the hormones and stress. This makes it difficult to tell what difference this Avene bar has made, but I can say with great certainty that it hasn't irritated my skin in any way and that my face has been rather clear. My skin seems to be at its natural best after a long time (not perfect, but so much better).

Sometimes, less really is more. $9 @ Duane Reade drugstores or online.


Tanveer Parmar said...

I so totally know what you mean.. I too stopped using soap & face washes quiet some time back.. Now I use Ponds Cold Cleansing Cream at night & Neutrogena Gentle Cleanser in the morning. No more foamy suds for me - & my skin is getting better & better! :D

Suman said...

Again, glad you agree :) Which Pond's formula do you use - regular or the extra dry skin one? I find the regular to be too greasy.

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