Soap is one of the best types of cleansing products available. True soaps are made by mixing an alkali with fats (tallow) or an oil (olive, palm, coconut) while others are made from synthetic compounds.

All soaps are alkaline to a greater or lesser degree and this will have an effect on the pH balance of the skin.

Synthetic soaps generally have a lower pH (closer to the natural pH of the skin). Over time, a skin that is too alkaline may tend to become sensitive or irritated. Soaps do tend to have a drying effect on the skin and should be followed with a toner and moisturizer for your skin type.

A gentle soap is fine for cleaning the body but this, too, should be followed with a moisturizer.

You will have to make your own choice, as soaps are sold in many categories – lotion (synthetic), detergent soaps, deodorant, milled or French- milled (very hard), floating (soft), castille (olive oil), cocoa butter, baby soaps, medicated, superfatted or those with herbal, fruit or vegetable extracts or scents.

For the face, even on an oily skin, we usually recommend a more neutrally balanced cleansing milk. Most are made for normal to oily, acneic, ageing, sensitive or dry skins.

Proper cleansing eliminates environmental pollution and grime, perspiration build-up, accumulation of skin secretions and the oil base of cosmetics, but with as few drying effects and disturbance to the Ph as possible.

Cleansing should stimulate the circulation without irritation and your complexion should look and feel fresher, cleaner and smoother without a tight, dry feeling. To enhance the facial cleansing program on your oily skin, you would do well to use an exfoliting cream or a deep-pore cleanser once or twice a week.

Do all sunscreen lotions contain PABA? I am going south soon and I think I may be allergic to these types of products.

It is not uncommon for people to develop an allergy to PABA but not all sunscreens contain this (Para-aminobenzoic acid) as an active ingredient.

Other popular screening ingredients are benzophone derivatives, salicylic acid derivatives, and P-aminobenzoic derivatives such as iso- amyl and glycerol.

The active ingredients should be listed on the labels, if not, the sunscreen may not give you adequate protection.

In the past couple of years, I have noticed that my lip line has become dark brown. I am not on medication, have a good diet, wear very little makeup, don’t smoke and I wear a sunscreen when I’m out in the sun. What can this be from and what can I do?

The skin on the lips is the thinnest in the body. The lips have very little moisture and contain virtually no melanin. Because of this relative lack of natural protection, they can become dehydrated very quickly as a result of wind, cold, alcohol, smoking, medication, sickness or allergies to lip products and, of course, the sun.

Any change in the pigmentation of the skin around the lips may be due to damage (eg. sun damage) over the years.

Men – and women who do not wear lipstick – should use an ultra-violet- absorbing lip balm all year round. Today, many lipsticks incorporate the UV protection in their formulation.

For a darkened or freckled lip line, try using a bright lip color; avoid brown-toned lip pencils and lipsticks.