Amino Acid-Base Surfactant: Facial Cleanser's Most Important Ingredient

Thursday 15 December 2011

An ideal facial cleanser feels silky smooth and leaves no residual traces after cleansing. It should also be anti-allergy and offers 100% cleansing power with zero agitation. It should be able to get rid of all facial dirt, aged cutins, sebaceous secretion, perspiration and makeup and give us clear unclogged pores to facilitate efficient absorption of skin-care nutrients.

A cleanser with thick lather could be due to the presence of excessive soap-base thickener which may have little nutritional content. So don't ever think "the more lather, the better". 

What is Amino Acid-Base Surfactant?

Amino acids are today recognized by the skin-care fraternity as the cleansing agent that boasts a pH value that is closest to that of the human skin. Amino acids behave very much like our skin cells; they get a "fever" if temperature exceeds 37 degree Celsius and they will "shrink" if the temperature drops.

The enzymes in our epidermis or outer skin thrives best in a mildly acidic environment, as this enables normal metabolism of the horny layer. Such an environment causes only minimal agitation to the keratin protein in the skin, hence will not trigger any concern of skin allergy. It also discourages the production of acne.

The amino acid cleansers sold in the market today generally fall into 2 categories:

1) Products incorporated with amino acids but the major cleansing component in the composition is either a soap or negative ion surfactant to enable a more powerful (which means potentially harmful) cleansing ability. Such products are not pure and hence are lower in quality.

2) The major cleansing component used is the amino acid-base surfactant, making them bona fide amino acid cleansers as characterized by their mild cleansing actions. A genuine amino acid-base surfactant is mainly formulated using amino acids enriched with plant source fatty acids. Such amino acid-base surfactant features a high concentration as it is not combined with many other surfactants.

Further, if an amino acid cleanser combines the use of an amino acid-base surfactant with another surfactant that can potentially cause agitation or irritation to the skin, it will fail to fulfill the beneficial appeal of mildness. Mild cleansing actions are the  biggest advantage of an amino acid-base surfactant - meaning it does not agitate the skin yet cleans our skin very well and keeps the natural protective film of our skin intact.

(Source: Shuang Hor Magazine - Issue 4 July 2011, Issue 6 November 2011)

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