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Is Cetaphil *Actually* Good For Your Skin?

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Anyone who has suffered from a bout of acne in their teens will swear by the miracle product that Cetaphil is supposed to be. Using Cetaphil is almost like a right of passage in a young adult’s life. Despite its no-frills, clinical packaging, it figures right on top with other hero products that have long been used to treat acne-prone or sensitive skin. Understandably, I balked when I recently discovered that it may actually be one of the most useless cleansers on the market, and one of those brands that has done so well courtesy a strong and effective PR strategy.

Let’s explore its contents to understand how the product really works. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser has eight ingredients, including water, cetyl alcohol, propylene glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), stearyl alcohol, methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Apart from water, everything else in it is synthetic and chemically manufactured. While it’s not to say that chemicals are bad for you — there are loads of them that actually do a good job of nourishing and protecting your skin — there are some that are just not effective. Cetyl alcohol is a wax and is used as an emollient in many cosmetic products, while propylene glycol is a common humectant, which means it helps in retaining moisture but also aids the product (and the chemicals) in penetrating into your skin. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a foaming agent used in both skin and hair products, and unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know that most people are moving away from using products with SLS because it strips skin and hair of moisture and is a known irritant. The three parabens work as preservatives but are known to be allergens. How’s that for a 101 lesson on chemicals that just can’t do your skin any good?

While Cetaphil might not irritate the skin, one thing is clear: there not one single natural ingredient in it that could be beneficial to your delicate facial skin. Nothing to nurture it or strengthen its barrier, nor any antioxidants that will fight free radical damage. What’s more, if you love wearing make-up it really doesn’t do a good job in taking any of it off.

We’re not saying it’s bad for you, but it’s certainly worth considering whether there’s anything in it with that’s actually beneficial. It only makes sense then to switch to products that give you your money’s worth and actually nourish, protect, and fortify your skin, no?

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