Basis Sensitive Skin Bar, a Gentle Cleanser for Eczema
According to the Eczema and Sensitive-Skin Education organization, the Basis Sensitive Skin Bar is a "non-soap cleanser" and is recommended as a soap alternative. Eczema, a chronic recurring skin disorder, can lead to dry patches of irritated, itchy skin. Nothing actually cures eczema, so the best course of action is to control the disease through consistent skin care, only using products that are gentle on sensitive skin. Harsh surfactants can damage the skin's protective barrier, as can aggressive scrubbing. Soaps that contain an alkaline pH just cause more irritation, since our skin has an average pH level of 4 - 5.5, and most soaps have levels reaching up to 10.5. Basis Sensitive Skin Bar has a pH between 5 and 6 ... close to the level naturally found in the skin, and therefore probably gentler than other soaps and cleansers.
So what's actually in this sudsy alternative that uses only 16 ingredients, yet has such a powerful reputation? Even a soap alternative needs surfactants to whisk away oil and dirt and create a nice foam, and Basis Sensitive Skin Bar has a few to get the job done. Sodium tallowate (which has been known to actually cause eczema and blackheads from time to time, but it's generally considered safe and gentle), sodium cocoate, and sodium palm kernelate do the job nicely, replacing some moisture thanks to their natural bases of coconut and palm kernel oil, along with fatty acids. Pentasodium pentetate is another cleanser found in the Basis Sensitive Skin Bar to help maintain its stability and appearance, while also boosting the foaming action. (However, the recommendation that this ingredient not be used on broken skin makes it an iffy inclusion for a bar used by so many eczema sufferers.)
The Basis Sensitive Skin Bar packs in five different ingredients to provide gentle moisturizing power: glycerin balances the water levels in skin to facilitate moisture, while almond oil extract, chamomile extract and aloe vera extract are natural soothers. Aloe vera has also been found to stimulate collagen production and speed up skin cell reproduction by as much as eight times, clearing up eczema from the inside out. Lanolin alcohol is another moisturizer, although it carries with it a bit of controversy, since it was classified by the CIR as a "Human skin toxicant" and sensitizer that may cause itching, burning, scaling, hives, and blistering of the skin; this was only found after exposure to extremely high concentrations, unlike those found in this product.
Two other ingredients in the Basis Sensitive Skin Bar did raise more concern: titanium dioxide and petrolatum. Titanium dioxide has been shown to be a photosensitizer that is absorbed by the skin and can result in an increased production of free radicals, but only at extremely high levels, and when acting as a sunscreen agent. Here, it's most likely used as a colorant to give the bar its milky color. Petrolatum can contain PAHS, a known carcinogen and toxin that is banned in cosmetics produced by Canada and the EU, but it is carefully monitored, and on the plus side, is an emollient that creates a sealing effect, softening skin and preventing moisture loss. The rest of the ingredients are fillers, stabilizers and chelators that keep the bar together, and cyclopentadecanolide serves as a masking or fragrance additive.
Overall, I was quite pleased with what I found in the Basis Sensitive Skin Bar. The majority of its ingredients are natural soothers and moisture boosters, and even the surfactants used are gentle. The few questionable inclusions aren't likely to cause problems in the concentrations found in this product, and aren't especially harsh or irritating. It's easy to see why Basis Sensitive Skin Bar would be gentle enough to clean sensitive or eczema-ravaged skin, and almost a third of its ingredients are tried and true moisturizers. Thanks to its soothing properties and gentle cleansing abilities, Basis Sensitive Skin Bar is also a favorite of acne sufferers. Check out reviews at Acne.org.
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Sodium Tallowate, Sodium Cocoate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Triple Purified Water, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Almond Oil, Titanium Dioxide, Sodium Thiosulfate, Chamomile Extract, Aloe Vera Extract, Cyclopentadecanolide, Pentasodium Pentetate, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Lanolin Alcohol, Beeswax