When I was young and naive, I thought I should always wash my face squeaky clean. I have oily skin so I thought a good facial wash should dry my skin out.
I also excessively relied on my facial wash to solve my acne problem. I thought the reason I was having breakouts was that “I wasn’t washing my face enough”. Yikes! I’m glad I’ve grown out of that.
Facial Wash Basics
Our skin barrier (aka moisture barrier, acid mantle, stratum corneum), the outermost layer of our skin, prevents bacteria, viruses, and other irritants from entering the body through the skin. The skin barrier is also responsible for holding in moisture, keeping our skin soft, smooth, and elastic
Two major things damage the skin barrier: harsh surfactants and extreme pH levels.
Almost all cleaning products (facial wash, shampoo, dishwashing soap, laundry detergent) contain surfactants, which are ingredients that decrease surface tension. In other words, surfactants allow oil and dirt to be washed away from a surface (skin, hair, plates, clothes).
Sodium lauryl sulfate (aka sodium dodecyl sulfate) is one of the harsh surfactants commonly found in cleaning and personal care products. It strips the skin of natural oils and fatty acids, causing irritation and inflammation.
The skin barrier has a natural pH level of around 5.5. This mild acidity provides the skin barrier an ideal environment to perform its natural functions optimally.
Products that are too alkaline (pH 8.0 or greater) upset the skin barrier’s natural balance and can result in dry, tight, irritated skin. Products that are too acidic (pH 2.5 or lower) can also damage the skin. In worst-case scenarios, they can cause chemical burns.
The Sad Truth About Facial Washes
Sadly, MOST facial washes that are affordable and accessible to consumers have harsh surfactants and alkaline pH levels.
Popular facial washes damage the skin barrier, causing dryness, tightness, flakiness, itchiness, and sensitivity. Skin diseases like acne, eczema, and rosacea are also tied to a damaged skin barrier.
Students and low-income earners, understandably limited by budget, shop and use cheap and harsh facial washes. Worse, they grow accustomed to having a tight, squeaky-clean feeling after every wash and think that it’s how it should be.
The Best Facial Wash
NOT in bar form. The lye in bar soaps is alkaline, making bar soaps drying and stripping. Other binders used to keep the soap in bar form are alkaline too. (Also why you shouldn’t cleanse your body with a bar soap!)
PH level should be 7.0 or lower. pH 5.5 is ideal for face washes.
NO sodium lauryl sulfate. If you can, NO ammonium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate too. But sodium lauryl sulfate is the absolute worst and must be avoided at all costs because it’s one of the most drying and sensitizing cleansing ingredients in skincare.
NO alcohol if you’re sensitive skin. And by ‘alcohol’ I mean: ethanol or ethyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, SD alcohol, and benzyl alcohol. Especially NOT in the first 6 ingredients of a product which contribute the most effect on your skin.
NO cooling sensation. Usually from ingredients: menthol, mint, or eucalyptus. The tingling effect actually upsets the skin, and the “cumulative damage will end up causing more problems.”
NO need for salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and glycolic acid. (1) Salicylic and glycolic acids should be at pH 3-4 to effectively work versus pH ~5.5 of an ideal cleanser. (2) Plus, they’re in contact with the skin so briefly that they don’t have much effect.
How’d you know if you found the right cleanser?
The right cleanser won’t give you a tight, squeaky feeling after use. A harsh cleanser will strip your skin of its natural moisture and damage your skin’s natural barrier.
Human Nature Nourishing Facial Wash
Care for your delicate skin without the sting with tomato antioxidant properties that help strengthen delicate to normal skin against environmental damage. It also contains mild moisturizers that help soothe skin and keep it soft, supple and healthy inside and out.
aqua (water), decyl glucoside (coconut-derived), sodium lactate (sugarcane-derived), sodium gluconate (sugarcane-derived), glycerin (vegetable-derived), coco-glucoside, glyceryl oleate (coconut-derived), dicaprylyl ether (vegetable-derived), Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) fruit extract, dehydroxanthan gum, levulinic acid (plant-derived), fragrance (all-natural), farnesol, linalool, phytic acid (rice-derived), p-anisic acid (anise seed-derived), citiric acid
4.50 to 5.2
(According to Human Nature on of 02/13/2020 when I asked them on Facebook.)
Other Stated Benefits
- No parabens
- No SLS/SLES
- No synthetic fragrances
- No other toxic substances
(As printed on old packaging.)
Directions for Use / How to use
Shake well. While massaging a button-sized amount onto wet face, hum a catchy tune. Rinse thoroughly.
(As printed on old packaging.)
Store below 35° C (95° F) and away from direct sunlight.
How long can it be used after opening?
There’s no PAO (Period After Opening) symbol on the old packaging which tells how long the product can be used after opening.
Is it sulfate-free?
Yes. Human Nature Nourishing Facial Wash does NOT contain any sulfate.
Is it paraben-free?
Yes. Human Nature Nourishing Facial Wash does NOT contain any paraben.
Does it contain any synthetic fragrance?
No. Human Nature Nourishing Facial Wash does NOT contain any synthetic fragrance.
Is it safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women?
“All our products are 100% free from harmful chemicals, and safe for most people. For your peace of mind, you can consult your obstetrician-gynecologist/pediatrician first before regularly using any product.”
(Their answer on February 14, 2020 when I asked them on Facebook)
Is it vegan? Is it cruelty-free?
Yes. They have the Leaping Bunny logo on their packaging and other marketing materials.
As I’ve learned from skincare Internet, checking the first 6 ingredients of a product will give you an idea of what the product is mostly composed of, what it’s like, and if it’s generally safe for your personal use.
Also, scanning through the whole ingredients list, the product stays true to its claim that there are no SLS/SLES and synthetic fragrances. They also claim that there are no parabens, which is true, but parabens aren’t harmful. It’s just a pervasive scaremongering that should go away.
The formula is a clear, jelly liquid that smells faintly of a fruit, which I can’t quite place what (tomato??). The product gets thicker or chunkier when it’s stored somewhere cold (e.g. refrigerator, air-conditioned room, Baguio and Sagada in 21° C or less).
In the morning, I only use a pea size just to degrease my face. At night, I use a button size to remove dirt, excess oil, and other skincare products.
Massaging the product onto wet skin, it forms a thin, white, watery lather. It feels gentle on the skin: no stinging, no tightening, no cooling sensation. The product is also easy to rinse off.
Once dry, my skin feels soft, smooth, and bouncy. It’s doesn’t leave my face feeling tight and dry. I also don’t get dry, flaky patches around the corners of my nose and mouth like I used to with harsh cleansers.
However, in cooler, high-altitude places (like Baguio, Sagada, Taipei) where my face feels drier than usual, using the product can aggravate the dryness. I either use less of the product or use it less frequently. Then load up on moisturizer.
FACIAL WASH > Moisturizer > Sunscreen
First Cleanser > FACIAL WASH > Exfoliant (2-3x a week) > Moisturizer
Want to learn more about this routine? Read my Skincare Routine for Oily Skin or Skincare Routine for Oily, Acne-Prone Skin. Both are complete with product recommendations.
Don’t leave the facial wash on your face for too long. And don’t use it repetitively at a time. It may be gentle but it can still dry out your face with prolonged or excessive use. To remove makeup and sunscreen, use an oil cleanser before using a water-based facial wash.
If you’re visiting cold, dry places (Baguio, Sagada, overseas in 21° C or less), you may need to use the product less or switch out to a creamier, more moisturizing facial wash. See what works.
As a rule of thumb, any product that you transfer to travel bottles must be used asap because they usually go bad easily. This goes for facial washes too.
With the 200 ml bottle, the product would smell less pleasant as you get to the bottom of the bottle. It must be the product getting “old” or being exposed to high temperatures. For the best experience, store the bottle at less than 35° C away from sunlight.
Tbh, I’ve been using Human Nature Nourishing Facial Wash since around 2015. Some two years before that, I used their Balancing Facial Wash (green) which was also gentle on the skin, but the sharp edges of the bamboo bits were hard to work with long-term.
The company may say that Nourishing Face Wash is meant for normal to delicate skin, but it’s really great for ANY skin type. It doesn’t have any harsh surfactant, the pH level is closest to the ideal range, and the product actually delivers. I’m oily skin and I loved the product. I recommended it to a friend with dry skin and she loved it too.
As someone who’s also acne-prone, I can’t say this product has helped me with my breakouts. It’s misguided anyways to rely on just one product, a facial wash, to solve all your acne woes. Also, acne can be a symptom of something else: hormonal stuff, poor diet, stress, etc. What this product has successfully done for me was clean my face without stripping it of moisture.
Another thing to love about Human Nature Nourishing Facial Wash is its price tag. Currently, it’s at Php 80 for 50ml and Php 200 for 200ml. It may be a little more expensive than the popular but harsh cleansers, but it’s a LOT cheaper than many other sulfate-free, pH-balanced facial cleansers (COSRX Low-pH Good Morning Cleanser, La Roche-Posay, etc).
The product goes a long way too. A 200 ml bottle lasts me for 5-6 months. It may smell less pleasant towards the end of the bottle, but it’s tolerable and just as effective at removing dirt and grime. With proper storage, you can extend the freshness of the facial wash.
The only gripe I have with this product is that it’s NOT widely available outside of major cities in the Philippines. I am currently based in a suburb island and I have to buy my stocks whenever I’m in Manila or order it online.
This is NOT a sponsored post but I wholeheartedly recommend Human Nature Nourishing Facial Wash to everyone, regardless of skin type (unless you have a skin condition, then please consult your dermatologist first). The facial wash is gentle, non-stripping, and affordable. Definitely worth a try. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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