A woman washes her hands with bar soap

What is better - shower gel or bar soap?

Have you ever paused to reflect on your shower soap preferences? Perhaps you're devoted to the nostalgic feeling of using the same scented bar soap you've used since childhood. Or maybe you can't imagine feeling truly clean without lathering up with a loofah and body wash gel. It's time to question where your shower soap loyalties lie and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each cleansing method.

What's the difference between body wash, shower gel and soap bars?

To begin, let's understand the differences between body wash, bar soap, and shower gel. While all mild soaps serve the same purpose of removing dirt from your skin's surface, the variations lie in their ingredients and mechanisms of dirt removal.

Bar soap functions by dissolving the dirt on the surface of your skin. When sweat and dirt mix with your body's natural oils, they can settle on your skin and foster the growth of bacteria. Bar soaps break down this oily layer and remove pathogens from your skin. Natural soaps have supercharged ingredients that help to retain moisture and nourish your complexion.

On the other hand, body wash employs the same cleansing mechanism but often includes a blend of ingredients designed to address common skin conditions. Dryness, clogged pores, and skin flaking can be addressed with the use of a body wash. These products usually contain ingredients that restore skin moisture, which may be stripped away during the cleansing process.

Shower gel, as a thinner and less hydrating formula than body wash, simply cleanses your skin and in most cases without infusing it with moisturising ingredients. It doesn't cling to your skin in the same way as body wash does.

MORE: Are shampoo bars worth it and how to use them?

When should you use body wash or shower gel?

  1. Dry Skin: If you frequently experience dry, stripped, or flaky skin after showering, it's best to use body wash or shower gel. Body wash items can include ingredients that hydrate by sealing in moisture.

  2. Chronic Skin Conditions: Individuals with chronic skin conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis, or acne should consult a dermatologist for recommendations on suitable cleansers. There are specialised shower gels or body washes specifically tailored for these conditions, and a dermatologist can guide you on ingredients to look out for or avoid.

  3. Exfoliation: Cleansing agents often incorporate natural or synthetic exfoliant ingredients. While these can be found in bar soaps - such as natural ingredients like apricot powder, strawberry seeds or poppy seeds, they are also found in body washes. When using body wash, it's recommended to use a loofah, washcloth, or sea sponge for additional exfoliation during your shower.

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When is bar soap the better choice vs shower gel or body wash?

Bar soap on a table next to natural ingredients and essential oils
  1. Environmental Concerns: Bar soap is generally more eco-friendly than shower gel or body wash. Bar soaps are often packaged in recyclable boxes, leaving no waste after use. In contrast, shower gels may contain microbeads, which have been controversial due to their environmental impact, or come in plastic bottles.

  2. Allergies: Bar soaps typically have fewer ingredients than body soaps and gels. They usually don't require preservatives to maintain shelf stability, making them free of parabens. Additionally, bar soaps are easier to make hypoallergenic, and there are numerous herbal and all-natural options available.

  3. Bacterial Concerns: There was once concern that harmful bacteria could breed on the surface of bar soap. However, studies dating back to 1988 have shown that the risk of bacterial contamination from a used bar of soap is minimal. While sharing bar soap with household members is not recommended, individual use poses little risk.

  4. Travel soap: Soap bars are a great alternative on vacations and holidays, without having to take liquids with you in your luggage. They also tend to last longer and use up less space in your bags.

MORE: What is palm oil, where does it come from and why is it bad?

When selecting soap, it's essential to be mindful of the ingredients to look for and avoid. Regardless of the soap.

To wrap up, each product has its pros and cons but deciding what is better comes down to your personal preferences. If you opt for more eco-friendly and vegan options, then soap bars will be the best choice. However, if you need specialised formulas for skin conditions, then look out for particular ingredients to help our complexion. But, if you're searching for a quick cleanse that doesn't go too deep, then body wash will tick the right boxes.

Check out our range of vegan soap bars that are perfect for any travel luggage.

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vegan soaps, lip scrubs and candles you'll love

our handmade soap bars are vegan, homemade in the UK and cruelty-free. there's no palm oil, parabens or SLS in our products and they're designed with you and the earth in mind. soaps have added shea butter for nourishment, whereas lip scrubs are infused with vitamin E and sweet almond oil to help nourish the skin. when it comes to our soy wax candles, they're made up of vegetable wax, eco-friendly cotton wicks and recyclable glass jars which can be re-used or re-purposed to prevent waste.

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