Can facial cleansers deliver actives, or do they just cleanse?

Facial cleansers, formulated using ingredients that can preserve active ingredients by coacervation (the bundling together of the actives in a way that protects them from surrounding water molecules) can deliver those actives when the cleanser is diluted with water upon application. However, not all actives are suitable to be deposited on and penetrated into the skin due to their instability and the short amount of exposure to the skin during cleansing. The greatest distinction between cleansers and other skin care products is that cleansers are a ‘rinse-off’ product while serums, creams, toners, etc., are ‘leave-on’ products that remain on the skin for longer periods of time, assuring actives remain on the skin.

For cleansers to be effective active ingredient delivery agents, greater concentrations of the actives are required, which increases the cost of the cleanser. Even when actives are in high concentrations, many will lose potency through oxidation when dissolved in cleansers, a drawback to leave-on products as well. When sensitive ingredients are exposed to the heat, air, light or moisture of the manufacturing process, the result is diminished effectiveness.

The solution to this problem is to power up all products at the point of use, adding the actives in their original powder form in the ratios desired just before application. This is the reasoning for all of Nutrient Skin Care’s nutrient boosters, whether added to cleansers or other products.

In order to enhance absorption of the actives, chemical, mechanical or enzymatic penetration enhancers are part of all of our boosters. Pumice and microdermabrasion crystals, as well as hydroxy acids and enzymes, are used in all of our facial cleanser boosters. Retinoids and hydroxy acids are part of our SkinNutrients line of boosters for leave-on products.

Back to the question of cleansers providing nutrients to the skin, the answer is “yes” with the reservation that the most effective application is delivered by increasing the nutrient content of the cleanser as well as lengthening the time of that application, ensuring greater opportunity for penetration.

Susan Nathan,
LE, B.S. Microbiology