Beauty Topic: Soap – is it bad?

I get asked this question a LOT. And the answer is no. Many of you may be surprised, since there are a lot of “soap-free” cleansers on the market, and I think the message has gotten rather confusing over the years. And I actually love bar soaps – I like the way they make my skin feel, travel easy, and can be used from head to toe. So, let me further clarify my answer: no, not all types of soap are bad. What causes some “bad” things to happen (like rashes, dryness, dermatitis, itchiness, etc) is not the soap itself, but the ingredients that are contained within the soap. What may feel like reactions to a soap being “drying” could be more likely a few common culprits:

  • Deodorants: check your soap’s label for anything that is identified as a deodorant. These types of soaps should only be used for your body, not your face. And even then, I dislike them. Deodorants can be rather harsh, and if you shower everyday (and don’t work on an oil rig), then you probably don’t need it when washing. 
  • Fragrance / Parfum: this is one of the most common causes of allergic reactions on the skin. Bar soaps especially are often scented or contain fragrance, and therefore can cause flare-ups of itching, breakouts, dryness, and rashes. My rule of thumb? I avoid soaps with fragrance.
  • Mineral oil / Paraffin: mineral oil, and variations of it, have been around for a very long time.  It’s an extremely common ingredient found in many cosmetics, soaps, lotions, and conditioners; mainly because it’s cheap and an ingredient that combines well with others. However, it’s not great to skin – it will clog pores if it sits for a long time, or create a “film” that causes skin to flake or feel itchy. If you have oily skin, this will not help clarify your skin.
  • Antibacterial ingredients: if you were a kid in the 80’s and 90’s, you’ll remember the antibacterial ad campaigns that were all over TV, reminding everyone how gross everything is that you touch. Unfortunately, while killing germs, this is also one of the fastest ways to dry your skin out. Other than your hands, you most likely don’t need antibacterial soap head to toe.

But what soaps out there are good to use? Well, here’s a list of my favorites – you’ll also notice most of them are from brands that have been around for a long time, especially since they can be used by any skin type, are affordable, and they deliver great results. Fantastic combination of reasons, if you ask me!

  1. Clinique Mild Soap – in the green soap dish, this is one of the best soaps on the market. I have used it head to toe, especially due to having more sensitive skin in winter. Skin feels balanced, clean, and calm.
  2. Dove Sensitive Skin Soap – if you have drier skin, you will love how moisturizing this is. Also, it makes a fantastic shave cream!
  3. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar – this is one of my new favorites. Also great for drier or combination skin, I find this makes an awesome head to toe cleanser. I often have this with me when I travel, as it is a face and body soap in one. 
  4. Shea Moisture Black Soap – an age-old type of soap, black soap is incredibly helpful in naturally fighting acne, clogged pores, and dullness in skin. It will also naturally deodorize, so it’s a very purifying soap for both men and women.
  5. Aveeno Moisturizing Bar – technically, this bar is soap-free. But it still functions like a bar soap. And it’s wonderful if you have hyper sensitive or dry skin – it comforts and cleans. Many people prefer it as a facial cleanser, but it is also wonderful as a body soap. 
  6. Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Soap and Lavender Soap – ohhhhhh, these are some of the best all-natural soaps you can get! The range of Dr. Bronner’s soaps are legendary, and these are some of the best examples of soap done right. Baby Mild and Lavender are two of my favorites. These are incredibly versatile, gentle, and purifying. And if you need reading material while in the tub, the labels are rather lengthy. 

“Soap” got a really bad rap over the years because of the harsh ingredients that had been commonly used in the distant past. But in the more recent decades, soaps have changed to be much more gentle and comforting to the skin. If you look for brands that stick to using good ingredients, you should have good luck. Especially if you like the convenience and affordability of bar soaps, give some of these a try! 

© 28daysbeauty 2015

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