My parents bought Irish Spring at Costco when I was a kid, so I’m no stranger to bar soap. But, as an adult, it’s never been my go-to for washing my face; until now. Bar soap has come a long way since the 80s, and I’m here for it. Today’s cleansing bars are a far cry from the strong-scented, bright-colored curved rectangles of my childhood. Keep reading to learn why “solid skincare” might be a better alternative to your current liquid, cream, or gel face wash. Maybe after reading this you’ll consider a switch to bar soap too.
Is Bar Soap A Safer Alternative?
I looked into bar soaps, to begin with, to decrease my daily exposure to chemicals and hormone disruptors. According to Million Marker, toxic chemical exposures are responsible for up to 70% of chronic diseases. Those diseases include infertility, cancers, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and many others. A huge source of chemical exposures in humans is the products we put on our bodies. The average woman uses 12 personal care products daily, including 168 different chemicals.
A solid bar needs fewer ingredients. Oils replace water, and stabilizers aren’t required. There is no need for preservatives to keep bacteria from growing. Often, bar soaps use purer ingredients and lack artificial fragrances or unnecessary chemicals. Plus, their packaging is generally free of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
Other Benefits Of A Switch To Bar Soap
Decreasing your exposure to EDCs or unnecessary ingredients isn’t the only reason to consider the switch to bar soap. Here are a few more for you to ponder:
- Environmentally Friendly-Bar soaps are generally plastic-free and often packaged in recycled, or recyclable, paper or cardboard. You can use every last bit of a bar of soap, so there is no waste or anything to throw away once the bar is gone. Lastly, bar soaps require less water, if any, during production.
- TSA compliant-with solid skincare, you don’t need travel sizes. You can put them in a carry-on or checked bag and never have to worry about anything leaking. I also cut my bars into smaller pieces for travel—more on that below.
- Cost Less-A little bar goes a long way. A small bar of soap costs less than a typical bottle and lasts just as long, if not longer, depending on usage.
Switch To Bar Soap? Things To Consider:
Decide what’s important to you. Are you committed to using organic or all-natural vegan products? Is there a particular skin ailment you wanting to improve? Are you allergic to something? Just remember to read the ingredient list. Not all hand-crafted soaps are vegan or all-natural. If you have questions about ingredients, the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetic Database or Million Marker has some great resources.
You will see “low pH” bars advertised. I think this is more of a marketing ploy; let me explain. Our skin is naturally acidic (pH 4.5-5.5) to act as a barrier to bacteria and produces an acidic secretion called the acid mantle. The acid mantle requires cleansing of oil, dirt, and germs, and the most effective way to clean the acid mantle is with a slightly alkaline cleanser (pH <10).
Harsh bar soaps have a pH of 10-14. Some soap companies use harsh synthetic surfactants/detergents and the excess alkali in their bars to make them harder, extend their shelf life, and increase lather. Those bar soaps are made with lye and can disrupt your acid mantle, which is problematic for skin.
Properly made bar soaps with an alkalinity between 8-10 do not harm at all; instead, they are very beneficial. Research shows that after washing, the skin quickly reverts to its own natural pH by producing more acid mantle. In other words, if you are using a natural ingredient cleaning bar with a pH below 10, there’s no cause for concern.
You will need to decide what fragrances you like and if you are okay with synthetic versus natural fragrances, etc. The tricky thing about fragrances is that companies are not required to disclose their fragrance ingredients. Under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, the components that make up fragrance are “trade secrets.” Instead, you may see them labeled as “fragrance” or “perfume.”
I’m not going to get into the fragrance debate here. Just know that fragrances can hide EDCs and do your research, decide if you are okay with fragrances in your products. It speaks volumes about a company if they are willing to share their fragrance recipe. I’m all about transparency, and that’s one reason I fell in love with Hugh and Grace.
Do You Need a Facial Bar Soap?
Can you use the same cleansing bar to wash both your body and your face? Yes, you can, as long as it’s gentle and non-irritating. Listen to your skin. The right bar soap will leave your skin feeling clean and refreshed but not tight, dry, or itchy. And, if you need a more moisturizing soap for your body or face or vice versa, you can absolutely use two different types or brands. I still think you’ll see cost savings and a smaller carbon footprint with solid skincare.
How To Store Bar Soap
I know you know how to use soap. But, here are two tips you might not have considered, especially if you’re just now making the switch to bar soap like I did.
- Keep your bar dry when not in use to avoid bacteria and make it last longer. Avoid storing your soap in the direct stream of the shower and use a soap rest.
- Cut your bar into smaller chunks to last longer or to avoid purchasing multiples. I also love to trim off a small piece from my regular bar to take when traveling.
Hugh and Grace Cleansing Bar
I’m using the Hugh and Grace Cleansing Bar exclusively because it checks all the boxes for me. It has a light, clean/citrus smell that the whole family likes, cleanses without drying, is totally free of hormones or EDCs, and has made an enormous difference in my 30-something, stressed-out, mom acne. And, if you read the section about pH above, the pH level of the cleansing bar is 9.78.
Hugh and Grace is entirely transparent about their mission and ingredients, including fragrance (essential oil blend of ginger, bergamot, lemon, and orange). Each bar lasts me about two months (Hugh and Grace says 20 days with average use, but I’ve been seeing them last much longer). I cut the bar into two pieces, one for my sink and one for my shower.
Have you heard of Hugh and Grace yet? Click here to learn about this mission-based brand of high-performing, natural, and endocrine-disruptor-free products. Everything is safe to use during pregnancy and on children! if you’re ready to switch to bar soap, you can shop the cleansing bar in singles or a three-pack or as part of a bundle here. If you do choose to shop Hugh and Grace, make sure to use “customer referral #” 2783 when you create your account for $10 off your first order of $50 or more.
Team Bar Soap
Tell me, are you sold on solid skincare? Do you already use bar soap as part of your routine? Feel free to comment below with your experience or reach out if you have questions.