ersatz (2): cleanser

There was an extensive search for substitutes for a couple of basic vital everyday products. You met the hair results on Monday; cleanser today, moisturiser on Friday.
UPDATED: August 2012

General approach to cleaning the face:

Oil, sometimes as a precleanse and sometimes followed by a very plain boring unscented moisturising/non-drying cream, liquid, or bar cleanser. Skin expresses a preference for creamy ones or plain oil. Environmental preference, if using liquid, for giant bottles. Top environmentalist (and travel-friendly choice) is solid bars, but I’ve yet to find something as moist, and my skin is being drier right now. For bars: no coconut or soy oil, & very little palm oil in the base (reason: zits) and avoiding soy and palm oil generally anyway (reasons: environmental and human ethics, unless 100% certain of acceptable provenance).

Previously, this is what I’d used for a long time—but it’s now tainted by not being cruelty-free and I couldn’t see why I shouldn’t be able to find a replacement that used more renewable sustainable oil:


Best options amongst liquids:

I also tried out about a billion bar soaps. That was not a good idea and was a PITA. Best ones so far amongst the “true soaps”:

This result came after testing out a lot of soaps; a saga that started with another one bites the dust and further soapy goodness. I should add that I also tested out some richer moister bar cleansers that leave a film on the skin; most use mineral oil (FWIW, if you’re avoiding, etc.), the best of those turned out to be Vanicream cleansing bar. Great on body but it clogged on my face: skin there is very fine-grain, and easily clogged by the wrong stuff (amongst other things, “wrong” as wrong /unsuitablemolecular size) sitting on top. It’s like Goldilocks: not too drying, not too moisturising, just right (for me). I’m embarrassed at the number of soaps I tried, tested, sampled, begged, borrowed… and won’t embarrass soap-makers who turned out to be perpetrators of crimes against cleansing sensitive humanity. Let’s just discreetly declare an amnesty and draw a veil over the whole affair.

But the very best, that I’m sticking with [Ed.:famous last words… see end of post…], is this:

  • olive oil soap (savon de Marseille)
    there’s various ones around, often made in Greece. Contain olive oil, salt, and water (that should be sea-salt; also, not usually listed for some reason, sodium hydroxide / lye, used up in the saponification reaction). A common one (my current one) is Kiss My Face ($2.99 for 4 oz, $3.99 for 8 oz)

Surprising, as I’d not used this stuff in aeons. I haven’t tested out pH (and I’m aware that pH isn’t the only factor at work here, and that the acid mantle rebuilds in minutes, and besides, is hard to wreck completely; that takes serious illness). But I’m aware that my skin doesn’t feel stripped and uncomfortable (sometimes painful) when I wash this stuff off, while in the shower.When it feels raw, it feels raw. There’s no mistaking that sensation or being confused about it, and no middle ground of “slightly shafed.” It’s raw or it’s not. In this case, not.

This is gentler on my skin than the oat & goat crowd. Unexpected.

And monumentally cheaper.

Late addition to the list: the olive soap ended up drying my skin… Two next moves:

  1. pre-cleansing with the DIY multi-purpose oil: added a bit of moisture
  2. changing soap 😦

Current cleansers:

  • Everyday Shea Moisturizing Body Wash, unscented version
    INGREDIENTS: Aqueous Neem Leaf (Azadirachta indica) Extract, Handcrafted Shea Butter Soap (Saponified Shea (Butyrospermum parkii) Butter and Virgin Coconut (Cocos nucifera) Oil), Cocamidopropyl Betaine
    COST: $12.00 – 16.00 / 950 ml
    LASTS: several months (somewhere over 6 and under 9, approximately?)
  • Chagrin Valley Olive & Babassu Shampoo Bar: yes, shampoo! Here’s a tip: CV’s face soaps are moister (more added emollients, superfatted) than their body bars, and their shampoo bars are moister than either and moistest of all. I’d tested out a bunch of CV shampoos and this one’s my favourite; alas, not so muhc as a shampoo (my preference for a bar-form is Get Lathered Shampoo That Rocks)
    INGREDIENTS: Saponified oils of olive, babassu, virgin shea butter (25% added after saponification process), castor bean; water
    COST: $2.60 / 1.2 oz or $7.25 / 7 oz
    LASTS: very solid well-aged bar; the sample size lasted me 4 months, the full 7 oz might actually last me a year


  1. Blinnie Serfling

    Thanks for the suggestions you share through this website. In addition, quite a few young women which become pregnant tend not to even attempt to get medical insurance because they fear they wouldn’t qualify. Although many states currently require that insurers produce coverage no matter what about the pre-existing conditions. Rates on these types of guaranteed plans are usually higher, but when thinking about the high cost of medical care bills it may be a safer way to go to protect your own financial potential.

    • gingerama


      IMPORTANT NOTE TO PREGNANT READERS (whether you are young or not), this post’s contents regarding cleansers has not been checked for safe use for ladies in your condition, and indeed contains no relevant suggestions whatsoever.
      I would offer the following tips in response to Blinnie’s comment:

      1. I would suggest moving to a civilised country (not the USA) where medical care is either provided by the state and paid for through citizens’ taxes, or where the private medical-care market is subject to state regulation and control and prices are scaled according to income/means; and not an American-style neocon free-for-all. Either way: if the place where you live sucks, and has no respect for basic human rights and dignity, I would strongly suggest moving. For further information on rights and what a decent quality of life should look like, see here:
      the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

      2. Now, I am assuming that this spammessage is intended for US residents (though your IP address would appear to be a common proxy). So, while there’s a lot of anti-UN, anti-human rights spoutings and spewings around, I should transmit the following information to you: not only did the USA play a key role in the UNDHR’s drafting (c/o Eleanor Roosevelt, and indeed c/o a basis in your fine and excellent Bill Of Rights), but the USA was one of the original 48 states that voted in favour of it (1948), even though your otherwise splendid country has proceded to violate the Declaration many a time over the last seven decades (not to mention other international human rights statutes and treaties not signed, or signed but not ratified). All of which might provide a further reason for moving.

      3. To which I would add a suggestion of moving state, within the USA, if you happen to reside in one of the states that enshrines anti-human-rights and–more specifically to your condition as a female human–anti-feminism as part of its official legislation.

      4. In any matter of health, the most important things are you: your health, well-being, happiness, quality of life, life. Not “your own financial potential.” You are not an object, someone else’s instrument, a cog in the corporate machine. Your worth is not your usefulness to the making of money. You have worth in and of yourself, as a human being. Same goes for other life-forms and potential post-singularity sentient entities.

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