Gone are the days when bar soaps were the only option for us for washing face. Today’s market is flooded with a wide variety of soaps and liquid face washes. With each claiming to be better for the skin, sometimes it becomes difficult to pick the right one. So, let’s find out the claims and weigh the pros and cons of each to ensure we use the right one for our face.
Bar Soap for Washing Face
If the prices are compared, the bar soaps are way cheaper than their liquid counterparts. But this can’t be the reason for you to consider it as less effective or damaging for the skin. If you really want to know about the impact of that aromatic rectangular solid soap on your face, here is the truth:
1. Safe pH levels?
We know that our face needs gentler care as compared to our body. Thus, making it essential to know what goes in your soap and how it could affect your skin. The normal pH of our skin is considerably low and ranges from 5.4 to 5.9 (1), thereby making it acidic by nature. Although in contrast, almost all the bar soaps have a much high pH level which thus making them alkaline. This alkaline nature of the soap tends to be harsh on the skin leading to dryness. It strips away the skin’s natural moisture and oil.
Using bar soap on your face regularly could eventually disturb the normal pH balance of your skin. You may notice that over a period of time, your skin is sure to become flaky, bumpy, itchy, dry, or even become prone to acne and breakouts.
The skin on your face is a lot more delicate and thinner than the skin on the rest of your body, which is why it needs gentle care.
With significantly higher levels of pH, bar soaps can slowly strip off the natural oils and moisture, which can damage the outer protective layer of the skin (2). The natural skin barrier works as a cover to protect your skin from environmental aggressors, UVA/ UVB damage, and even pollution. But, frequent use of bar soap for washing your face can hurt this natural protective shield and can hamper the health of the skin cells. This can make your skin dryer and lose its natural moisture and elasticity and will eventually lead to dry, patchy, dull, and uneven-toned skin. The natural radiance and suppleness of our skin can never retain if the pH level is disturbed.
Also Read – Using Face Wash with Salicylic Acid
3. Tight and Parched Skin
We are aware of the fact that usually, bar soaps lather extremely well and that too with larger bubbles. We also end up scrubbing our face thoroughly with this lather for a couple of minutes before washing it off. This could dehydrate your skin way too much and frequent use will worsen the situation. Even if you have oily or combination skin, it is sure to leave your skin feeling stretched and tight. And only a huge dollop of moisturizer could come to your rescue!
4. Makes Acne and Breakouts Worse
Studies have proved that acne-causing microbes develop and grow significantly in an alkaline environment (3). And we have already established that bar soaps have an alkaline nature. Thus they end up boosting and playing a key role in intensifying the growth of these microbes that can lead to acne breakout. If you have sensitive skin, bar soaps may have a harsh effect on the health of your skin.
Any product with 7 or more pH level can cause your skin to dry out or lose its natural elasticity
Liquid Soap or Face Wash for Washing Face
Unlike the regular ‘one fits all’ bar soaps, the face wash is curated especially focusing on the fact that the skin on your face is different from your body. You simply cannot use a soap that can be used for your body and your face and this is where the liquid soap or the face wash stands apart distinguishing it.
Liquid soaps or face wash come in various forms like gel-based, cream-based, foam-based, and even water-based. Even though they are a tad bit pricey in comparison to the bar soaps, they are curated as per skin types and skin concerns. Liquid soaps always have specific products with special ingredients to deal with various skin concerns, which obviously bar soaps lack.
But, here are some other important facts about a liquid wash, which you need to know:
1. Safe pH Level?
The pH level of liquid soap is much lower than that of bar soap. It usually ranges from 5 to 6 (4), which is almost similar to the skin’s pH level (5.4 to 5.9). Liquid soaps are safe to use since they have almost a similar pH level to that of skins and will not cause a pH imbalance.
For sensitive or acne-prone skin, use a soap that is non-comedogenic and sulfate-free.
The liquid soaps have gentler formulations that do not dry out your skin. Infused with various essential oils, hydrating, and skin cell boosting agents, these liquid soaps do not disturb the skin’s texture in any way. Therefore, there is a lesser chance of feeling tight and parched after washing your face. A mild face wash does not rip off the skin’s natural oils and moisture.
Instead, it locks it in and keeps the barrier intact to protect your skin from harmful UVA / UVB rays. Moreover, it helps to maintain the natural pH balance of your skin while removing dirt from clogged pores (5).
3. Personalized Skin Care
Liquid soaps are not like soap bars that one product is ideal for everyone, every skin type, or skin concern. Instead, liquid soap face washes have a wide range of specific formulations and ingredients to repair, address, and replenish your skin. They are curated in a way to address various skin types, here’s how to find the right kind of liquid soap or face wash –
Dry Skin – Pick a cream-based liquid soap as your skin needs utmost hydration and nourishment. Cream-based face washes are loaded with moisturizing ingredients like Glycerine and Shea butter extracts. Also, make sure it has less or zero traces of sulfate as it tends to rip-off moisture.
Oily Skin – Pick a gel-based liquid soap that does not contain oil. This will help you to get rid of the excess oil while maintaining the necessary moisture that your face needs.
Normal Skin – For normal skin type, you can pick any foam-based or water-based liquid soap or cleanser. You are blessed with a skin type that can tackle every skin concern with any formulation.
Sensitive Skin – Pick a face wash that is hypoallergenic, free of fragrance, chemicals, or alcohol. Antibacterial ingredients and exfoliating elements should also be avoided.
Combination Skin – Select a face wash that is gentle and non-irritating. Avoid if it has fragrance, chemicals, or alcohol.
Never use a soap with high fragrance on your facial skin.
4. Acne and Breakouts
Apart from the fact that liquid soaps typically have specific products to deal with acne and acne-prone skin, being less alkaline, liquid soaps do not encourage the growth of bacteria in our skin. It simply reduces the possibilities of breakouts to a large extent.
Bar Soap Vs. Liquid Soap: Which is better?
Liquid soaps are quite better than sulfate-loaded bar soaps for washing the delicate skin of your face. However, if you still need to use facial bars for some reason, try to find one that is non-alkaline, or non-toxic, plant-based, or is infused with organic essential oils. These bar soaps might be gentler than the regular ones and will not dry out your skin. You can also opt for a bar soap that is formulated with vegetable oil, milk, or Shea butter, etc.
Choosing a product for your face is a task itself, as the skin of the face is quite tender and needs more gentle care. So picking between bar soap and liquid soap is something that surely needs some thought. After weighing the good and bad, we know for a fact that bar soaps are unhygienic, and sure to cause pH imbalance, therefore, not the best choice for your face. They end up stripping off the natural oils and moisture from your face and making it more prone to dryness, aging, and dullness. Whereas, liquid soaps are mild, and do not disturb your skin’s natural pH levels. The liquid soaps are also curated as per your skin types and skin concerns, thereby giving you the ability to pick what suits you the best.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why does soap leave my skin feeling dry?
Bar soaps have a higher pH level than our skin. It makes our skin dry and dehydrated by stripping off essential oils from our skin. This results in dry, flaky, and uneven skin tone.
Is glycerin soap good for your skin? Is it safe for the face?
Glycerin-based soaps are safe and good for your facial skin especially when you have dry skin. Glycerin has moisture-locking properties that can prevent your skin from excessive dryness.
What’s the best way to wash your face?
Use lukewarm water to cleanse your face gently. If needed, apply a mild exfoliating product followed by a moisturizing lotion.
What are bad ingredients in bar soap?
Say no to your bar soap if it contains any of these harmful ingredients – fragrances, parabens, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, etc.
- “Evaluation of pH of Bathing Soaps and Shampoos for Skin and Hair Care” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “About Skin pH and Why It Matters” – healthline.com
- “Skin Surface pH in Acne Vulgaris: Insights from an Observational Study and Review of the Literature” – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- “Why the pH Balance of Your Skin-Care Products Matters So Much” – allure.com
- “Why pH-Balancing Cleansers Will Give You Better Skin” – glamour.com