Daily Question: Why Do Dermatologists Like Cetaphil?
Posted Sep 29 2011 2:12pm
I was wondering why dermatologists recommend Cetaphil, when everything except the water in it is synthetic, when it contains SLS, when it contains no antioxidants, omegas, AHAs, BHAs…anything. I understand it might not irritate your skin, but several of the ingredients have received negative press and have been labelled as potentially toxic. Moreover, there’s nothing in there I can see that will actually improve your skin. Am I missing something-is Cetaphil owned by a corporate giant who will destroy the reputation of any dermatologist who dares to criticise it?
You bring up an excellent point. Dermatologists classically have loved the Cetaphil cleansers because they are non-alkaline ( pH 6.3-6.8 ), lipid-free, non-comedogenic, and mild enough for sensitive skin. Cetaphil cleansers have a slightly acidic pH and contain high concentrations of hydrating cetyl alcohol (in the formula for all skin types ) and sodium lauroyl sarcosinate (in the formula for normal to oily skin ), both of which attract moisture to the skin, rather than stripping the skin of moisture like the lipids in bar soaps do.
Strike #1: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
That having been said, I understand your concern about the Cetaphil formulas. Both contain fair concentrations of sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a known skin irritant. In fact, pure sodium lauryl sulfate is used in ‘challenge patch tests’ to evaluate the barrier function of skin, because it strips away skin’s natural lipids, rendering it more susceptible to external irritants. Despite these facts, dermatologists have found patients using Cetaphil do not have irritated skin, perhaps due to the still-higher concentration of emollient cetyl alcohol and/or sodium lauryl sarcosinate.
With all of the concern out there regarding sulfates and parabens, I can’t imagine dermatologists will be universally recommending Cetaphil far into the future. Although the results from Cetaphil cleansers are almost always excellent, I know some of my more cautious readers would prefer alternatives free of sulfates and parabens, like the Aveeno Moisturizing Bar or the Dove Moisturizing Bar . Hopefully Cetaphil can reformulate their cleansers without sulfates or parabens while preserving efficacy in the future. At any rate, I have never heard of anyone having a negative reaction from Cetaphil, so the choice depends on how cautious you choose to be with your skin care. Good luck!