The Pros and Cons of Bar Soap

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Growing up there was always bar soap in the shower. I wasn’t a fan. For several reasons. The first being I hate to do laundry and all the wash cloths over and over again add up. The second being that it just didn’t lather up as nicely as a body wash did. In retrospect, my mother always bought Irish Spring, which smelled amazing. I’ve never asked why she bought the bar soap, but some highly respected ladies of beauty use bar soaps. So, I decided to give bar soaps another try. However, I am nothing if not thorough so I gathered up quite a large collection and got to work. A lot of years have gone by since I last used bar soap, and I expected things had changed quite a bit. The thing with bar soaps are they work just as nicely with a loofa as a body wash does. That took care of ‘not being a fan’ reason number one and reason number two. And, it only took me about 2 seconds to figure that out. The other thing I figured out was no two bar soaps are the same. Each soap was unique from the others, but I found some common pros and cons between all of them.

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Pros:

Fragrance.

While many body washes  I’ve used over the years smelled amazing, the smell usually wears off within a couple hours. All day I found myself smelling fresh and clean. Bar soaps contain fragrance, which helps the smell last longer. Most liquid soaps on the other hand are scented, but you can still find fragrance-free or unscented soaps if this irritates your skin.

Appearance.

The packaging and appearance of the soaps (especially for a guest bathroom) are so pretty! I loved all the different shapes, colors, and smells. 

Calms Breakouts.

Bar soaps containing glycerin are good for people with sensitive skin, eczema and psoriasis as this ingredient has healing properties as well as the ability to attract water to the skin, leaving it feeling soft and hydrated.

Long Lasting.

While liquid soap isn’t as messy in the shower, I learned that I might be using too much each time. It’s easy to pump more than what is necessary into the loofa. Where as with bar soaps, I only use what is needed.

Price.

Drug store bar soaps are definitely less expensive than body wash. However, I found myself splurging on fancy bar soaps so in the end there wasn’t much of a price difference. 

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Cons:

Messy.

Without a proper bar soap holder in the shower, it melted away faster than I could use it. It also left a lot of slim on the bar soap holder in the shower.

Dry.

I could tell after the first day that even the “moisturizing” soaps were going to leave my skin dryer than I like. Liquid soap contains a lower ph level than bar soap and is therefore gentler and suitable for people with sensitive skin because it is also able to retain more than 30% of the skin’s natural moisture.

Cleanliness.

Because bar soap is left exposed to moisture, it is more likely to grow small amounts of bacteria. While the risk of getting a disease from the soap is probably not very high, I wouldn’t share it with a large amount of people.

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So, which is better? Do you have a preference? Bar soap or Body wash?

***beauty always comes from within, photo by Amanda Teague, xoxo behind the mirror***
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  • I much prefer bar soap over body wash, mainly because of the environmental cost of liquid soap packaging – I’m of the opinion that, like fancy razor blades, the promoted benefits of liquid soaps are mostly marketing hype. Grandpa’s Wonder Pine Tar soap is my soap of choice – It’s been around since the 1800’s and it does everything: body, hair and shaving and so consequently my bathroom shelf is minimalist in the extreme.

    • I have to say… I think I am with you on this one. Excuse my late reply, I am not able to log on as much as I’d like… but I am still going strong with some of the bar soaps above and I agree to the fancy razor comparison. We could all use a little more minimalism. :)

      • Can’t help but notice my partner goes through about three plastic bottles of liquid hand soap for every soap bar I use (washing daily, I assure you :). That’s about 100g of plastic waste vs each 120g soap bar.

        And yes, my Merkur reproduction of the original 1904 Gillette safety razor and vintage formula soap; century old technology, proves every bit as effective as the latest vibrating, multi bladed, lubricating stripped razor at a fraction of the cost.

  • I always love bar soaps for what, in my opinion, were inexplicable reasons. Reading your post with pros and cons has cleared a lot of them! Though I always have liquid soap in my bathroom I can’t help having and ending up using soaps instead. There are few liquid soaps that I prefer. I know it sounds stupid, but I have the feeling that it does the work better! And it balance my skin when it gets oily. It can dry it as well, but nothing I can’t solve with a moisturizer cream so… I am happy with it xx

  • Bar soap is a little bit old fashioned in my opinion. We always used bar sopa at home until my mom, already years ago and modern as she is, changed to gel. somehow I have the impression that bar soap is cleaner but that is probably because it dries the skin. and i like the smell and different colors and shapes but in the end always stick to gel. i heard there exists even bar soap for the hair, do you know that?

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