The main difference between the types of soap are how the product reacts to our skin.
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Spoilt for choice at the supermarket when it comes to buying yourself a bath or hand soap?
There are many things to consider like budget, fragrance, and ingredients. But before sliding down that rabbit hole of options, determine the TYPE of soap you should be buying for yourself first.
Bath bar soap vs body wash vs shower gels
Depending on your skin type and where you live, the type of soap makes a difference.
Dr Illyse Lefkowicz, a board-certified dermatologist specialising in general and cosmetic dermatology tells Real Simple:
The main difference between a (soap) bar cleanser and body wash is the form they come in and how they interact with skin.
While they both do their job to cleanse, Dr Lefkowicz says bar soaps tend to be harsher than body wash and can remove essential lipids and proteins, or alter the skin’s pH level, which can cause skin irritation.
Body wash on the hand has a milder formula which is best suited for people with normal to dry skin.
Similar to body wash is shower gel. While they are both liquid cleansers, shower gels have emollients to soften the skin and mild surfactants that create a rich, foamy lather.
The main difference between the two liquid soaps? Dr Lefkowicz says it’s in their consistencies and concentration of ingredients. Gels have a firmer consistency with a typically higher concentration of fragrance.
What’s the best bath soap for you?
Soap bars and shower gels are recommended for people with oily skin types or living somewhere hot and humid (hello Malaysia!).
Body washes on the other hand tend to be more hydrating and moisturizing which is useful in colder weather to help avoid stripping moisture away from the skin.
Hand bar soaps vs liquid soap
When it comes to cleansing your hand, especially in times of Covid-19 where handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself from the virus, here are some factors to consider between buying soap bars or liquid soap.
First things first, both hand soap types are equally as effective as they will reduce the number of pathogens on your hands.
According to John Whyte, MD, WebMD Chief Medical officer via the Insider, here is a breakdown of some pros and cons for bar and liquid soap:
- The friction created by rubbing the bar against your hand can be more effective at removing debris like dirt.
- Usually more cost-effective.
- Sustainable option in the way it is packaged. (e.g. thin cardboard vs plastic containing liquid)
In addition, studies show the environmental impacts of soaps and their associated packaging found that bar soaps have a lower environmental impact than liquid soaps including carbon footprint and ecotoxicity.
- Tends to dry skin out more.
- Unsightly when used as they can get slimy or mushy.
- Can accumulate bacteria when they stay out in the open for a long time.
- Dispenser makes it easier and tidier to use.
- Often has added moisturizers with more scents and varieties available.
- Costlier than bar soap.
You may also come across foam soap but they may not be as effective as liquid or bar soaps in eliminating bacteria.
The research involved suggests that it may be less effective because it comes out of a pump as lather, whereas the liquid soap lather is built up in the process of handwashing.
Former advertising mad woman - turned mother to an amazing little girl born 3 months early - and now a returned writer. Also a textbook ambivert with no clue about today's pop music but a walking encyclopedia of music from the 80s and 90s.