Costing around the same price as a Baconator combo meal from Wendy’s, Cetaphil is a staple of convenience and price in many homes. You can grab the popular face wash at pretty much any supermarket or drugstore, making it one of the most readily available products on the market today.
Seriously, the brand’s own site proudly claims that its sales average out to a bottle per minute. It makes sense; beauty blogs, magazines, and television commercials all bombard us with constant reminders to pick up the so-called “gentle cleanser”. That being said, if you actually delve into the ingredients and history behind the brand you will find that all is not entirely all that it seems.
Cetaphil Cleanser Ingredients
Though the product was invented by pharmacists in 1947, there are actually very few beneficial ingredients in Cetaphil. If you take a peek at the ingredients list, which is only eight ingredients long, you will notice that none of them sound particularly gentle. This is because they simply are not. Of the eight listings, many of them are actually outright concerning.
The full list is: Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Stearyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben. If you know a bit about skin care formulations and chemistry, you will probably see quite a few inconsistencies with their “gentle” claims.
For starters, there is not one, not two, but three parabens in this product. With consumers becoming more and more informed about the products they use every single day, parabens and other unsafe ingredients have come under fire recently due to their outright dangerous nature.
What About Parabens?
First commercially used in the 1950s, parabens are a sort of low cost preservative that helps extend the shelflife and stabilize beauty products. They are rather effective in preventing the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes but do come at a rather alarming cost.
Parabens are fine in moderation, in fact we often get exposed to them while eating or going about our day, but when introduced to the body regularly and in large quantities through beauty products, the results can be pretty scary.
Repeated high levels of paraben exposure very well may cause an increase in breast cancer prevalence and other forms of cancerous illnesses due to its ability to disrupt hormonal regulation. A British study in 2004 actually found that in nineteen out of twenty women with breast cancer there was a distinct link to parabens with traces of five different ones found within the tumors.
Health advocates worldwide are actually pressuring government agencies to ban the inclusion of parabens due to these potential risks.
Even more concerning, the product actually contains propylene glycol, a chemical that causes products and chemicals to seep into the bloodstream at a faster rate. This paired with the presence of three parabens is incredibly scary and should make you rethink using such a product.
The company literally claims that the product is so gentle that even a baby can use it but can a product really be labelled as gentle when it contains such a high level of potentially carcinogenic ingredients?
Couple this with the fact that parabens are entirely unnecessary due to there being dozens of viable substitutions for their usage when formulating products and you certainly have something to think about.
Aside from parabens, there are also other concerning ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate. A chemical that gives cleansing products their aesthetically appealing and texturally pleasant lathering abilities, sodium lauryl sulfate has been used for decades in soaps, shampoos, and like products.
What About Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?
It was discovered relatively recently, though, that the chemical is actually very irritating. Sodium lauryl sulfate is the exact opposite of “gentle”, as it is harsh enough that it strips away much of the skin’s healthy, protective lipid layer, leaving it dry and tight.
This stripping also causes a change in the skin’s natural pH, an effect that allows bacteria to more easily multiply on the surface of the skin. This paired with the damaged lipid layer allows the bacteria free reign to enter your pores and breed, forming acne breakouts and clogged pores.
On top of all of the negative ingredients, a quick search shows that literally none of the other additives provide any sort of positive skin benefit. For an equal or even lower price tag you can get a face wash that has natural ingredients that are capable of nourishing the skin and helping it heal.
Truly, there is no redeeming quality to this face wash. No single ingredient works to promote healthy skin. Instead, it very well may cause harm. In a world where even a casual consumer can easily see dangers and effectiveness ratings, it would seem that a corporation who cared about their consumers would make some effort to double check their formulations.
Even the dermatologists who once supported the Cetaphil cleansers are now beginning to question the validity of its gentle, effective claims.