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Cleansing, Not Scouring – The Importance of Gentle Face Cleansers!

You might think, dear reader, that skin cleansing is rather straightforward. No matter how you do it, or when, or what with, the results are pretty similar, right? No! This common assumption couldn’t be further from the truth, we’re afraid, and it could be causing your skin to needlessly suffer.

But fear not, as help is at hand! We here at LUMI love to steep ourselves in the science of skincare, and have been busy at work combing the latest research into how best to cleanse skin without damaging it or its microbiome in the process.

So, without further ado, let’s explore everything you could want to know about skin cleansing, and find out how you can keep your skin happy and healthy!

Leave the Foam Alone – The Uncomfortable Truth of Synthetic Surfactants

There are a lot of cleansing products on the market today. You need only walk through the cosmetics aisle of your nearest supermarket to find dozens of different cleansers, all with varying ingredients and compositions. 

You might be forgiven for thinking that this means the stuff inside a cleansing product doesn’t really matter too much, and that there are only minor differences between the various options.

This is really not the case in practice, however. It’s important to stress that the type of cleansing product you use on your skin really matters. If you leave this article with only one fact in your mind, let it be that one! 

Cleansing products work by using surfactants (surface active agents). Surfactants are compounds that reduce the surface tension of liquids and help remove unwanted debris from the surface of the skin.

So far so good, but surfactants are not all created equal. Synthetic surfactants, such as those found in the cleansers of most big-name skincare brands, can be harsh on skin, stripping away natural oils on the skin’s surface and damaging the skin’s protective barrier.

And that’s not all. Thanks to their toxicity and slow biodegradability, synthetic surfactants can have a detrimental impact on the environment, as well as the health of your skin. The skin’s microbiome can be severely affected by synthetic surfactants, leading to dysbiosis, a state where our essential microflora are imbalanced or depleted.

Sodium lauryl ether sulfate, also written on labels as sodium laurel sulfate or SLES, is an extremely common synthetic surfactant, found in lots of cleansers, shampoos, and shower gels. It’s lauded for its cheapness to produce, ability to bind to dirt, and for how much foam it produces (which users often falsely equate with effectiveness). 

But there is plenty of evidence to suggest that SLES is bad news for both our skin and the environment. Studies have found that SLES reduces cell viability of skin, commonly causes irritation including redness and itching, and can also be toxic for aquatic life if the compound reaches marine environments before properly degrading.

After all that, it might surprise you to find out that SLES is supposedly an improvement on its parent chemical, sodium lauryl sulfate (SFS), which can still be found in many products today. SFS is notorious for its ability to cause irritation to skin and its toxic effects on aquatic life.

A study found that after using SFS, lower amounts of bacteria associated with skin protection and repair were present on participants’ skin, whilst levels of pathogen-associated bacteria were elevated. 

It’s not just SFS and SLES that cause issues, though. Another common synthetic surfactant that is supposed to be ‘kinder’ than SFS, called sodium lauryl sarcosinate, has been shown to reduce the amount of beneficial microbiota present on skin and reduce the skin’s protective barrier function. 

All in all, we think synthetic surfactants are simply too much trouble, both for humans and the environment. That’s why we’re so keen on natural alternatives! 

LUMI Cleansing Milks – Brilliantly Effective Whilst Gentle on Skin!

Okay, so synthetic surfactants are out. But what can you use in their place? Fortunately, there are plenty of organic alternatives to choose from! 

Natural cleansers can perform the exact same function as synthetic surfactant-based washes, removing dirt, dead skin, and other detritus, whilst being much kinder to your skin and its microbiome in the process. Research shows that products with lots of chemicals and complex compositions are in general no better at cleansing the skin than those with natural, simple compositions.

At LUMI, we place a lot of importance in both cleansing skin and always being gentle enough to leave the skin barrier healthy, happy, and intact. Our team of skincare specialists have developed two brilliant cleansing milks, each designed to fit perfectly into your routine, depending on your individual needs.

Our classic Moisturising Cleansing Milk effectively cleanses the skin’s surface without upsetting the balance of your microbiome or damaging the skin’s protective barrier. And thanks to its 100% organic composition, you can be assured that your cleanser will be just as gentle on the environment as it is on your skin.

The Tundra AHA-BHA Cleansing Milk offers the same thorough-yet-gentle cleansing and fully natural composition, whilst also including AHA-BHA acids that gently exfoliate the skin and prevents clogged pores. This cleansing milk helps keep acne at bay and is perfect for anyone seeking to enrich their skincare routine with those all-important keratolytics! 

Whilst not a cleansing milk, we’d also like to shout out our brilliant Babyface makeup remover. BABYFACE is specially formulated to be an effective cleanser for the whole face that doesn’t irritate the skin or your eyes, an all-too-common complaint with artificial makeup removers. As if that wasn’t enough, BABYFACE also nourishes your skin and its microbiome, too. We couldn’t live without it!

No matter the specifics of your skin or what you want from a cleansing product, LUMI have you covered – all without using those dreaded synthetic surfactants that are such bad news for both us and the environment!

Some Extra Tips for Great Skin Cleansing – Direct From Our LUMI Skincare Experts

1. Don’t double cleanse It can be really tempting to overdo it when it comes to skincare products. If one dollop of something is good, then two must be even better, right? Unfortunately not. 

 This logic should never be used for cleansing! Products are formulated to be used exactly as their label suggests, and a second cleanse isn’t likely to make you cleaner, but instead degrade your skin and the helpful bacteria on its surface.

 2. Cleanse once a day – Most people know by now that washing your hair too often can strip it of its natural oils and cause more issues than it alleviates. A similar principle should be taken with your skin! 

Whilst cleansing is an essential part of any skincare routine, over-cleaning the skin will only serve to strip away essential oils from its surface, potentially leading to an overproduction of sebum and a host of other issues.

We recommend cleansing the skin once a day as part of your nighttime routine. There is little need to clean the skin after sleeping, and your skin will thank you for not overdoing it with the scrubbing!

 3. Use your fingers – You may have heard ‘tips’ suggesting that you use pads, cloths, or brushes whilst washing to better cleanse your skin. Some companies even sell electronic brushes that sand down your skin as if it were a piece of furniture!

Avoid all of these options, which range from pointless to downright detrimental. Your fingers are the perfect tool for washing your face, and as a bonus, they’re also completely free!

 4. Lukewarm water and nothing else – Do you often find that your skin is bright red after cleansing? Then you might be using water that’s too hot for your skin. Fight the temptation to scald your skin, and instead gently remove cleansing milk using lukewarm water. It’s just as effective, and a lot kinder to your skin!

On the topic of water, we recommend that you stick to simple H2O. There is really no need to use products such as micellar water to rinse off a cleanser, and it could potentially cause irritation and other issues. Your skin is built for water – stick to it!


Ready to ditch the synthetic surfactants and start giving your skin the kindness it craves? Click on either of the products mentioned above to be whisked away to our wonderful webstore. Looking for something else? Check out our entire range of science-backed, all-natural skincare solutions right here!



  1.   Adu SA, Twigg MS, Naughton PJ, Marchant R, Banat IM. Glycolipid Biosurfactants in Skincare Applications: Challenges and Recommendations for Future Exploitation. Molecules. 2023 May 31;28(11):4463.
  2.   Güder S Sr, Güder H. Investigation of the Chemical Content and User Comments on Facial Cleansing Products. Cureus. 2023 May 7;15(5):e38673.
  3.   Leoty-Okombi, S.; Gillaizeau, F.; Leuillet, S.; Douillard, B.; Le Fresne-Languille, S.; Carton, T.; De Martino, A.; Moussou, P.; Bonnaud-Rosaye, C.; André, V. Effect of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Applied as a Patch on Human Skin Physiology and Its Microbiota. Cosmetics. 2021, 8, 6.
  4.   Mijaljica D, Spada F, Harrison IP. Skin Cleansing without or with Compromise: Soaps and Syndets. Molecules. 2022 Mar 21;27(6):2010.
  5.   Paciello S, Russo T, De Marchi L, Soares AMVM, Meucci V, Pretti C, He Y, Della Torre C, Freitas R. Sub-lethal effects induced in Mytilus galloprovincialis after short-term exposure to sodium lauryl sulfate: Comparison of the biological responses given by mussels under two temperature scenarios. Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2023 Aug;270:109644.
  6.   Townsend N, Hazan A, Dell’Acqua G. New Topicals to Support a Healthy Scalp While Preserving the Microbiome: A Report of Clinical and in Vitro Studies. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2023 Oct;16(10 Suppl 1):S4-S11.
  7.   Walters RM, Mao G, Gunn ET, Hornby S. Cleansing formulations that respect skin barrier integrity. Dermatol Res Pract. 2012;2012:495917.
  8.   Zhao H, Yu F, Wang C, Han Z, Liu S, Chen D, Liu D, Meng X, He X, Huang Z. The impacts of sodium lauroyl sarcosinate in facial cleanser on facial skin microbiome and lipidome. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2024 Apr;23(4):1351-1359.


Moisturising cleansing milk
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What do we need to achieve flawless clear facial skin? A gentle but effective facial cleansing that stimulates cell renewal and prepares the skin for new nutrients. An efficient facial cleansing milk gently exfoliates, removing dirt and dead skin cells. After cleansing, the skin remains pleasantly moisturized and radiant.
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Tundra AHA-BHA Cleansing Milk
24.00 -
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This gentle-yet-effective cleansing milk has been specially developed to care for acne-prone skin, delivering brilliant results without drying out skin.
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BABYFACE Makeup Remover
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The creamy blend of plant oils and bioactive ingredients frees the face in just seconds from the grip of strong mascara or eyeshadow. The skin stays soft, clean, and clear - just like a baby.
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