by: Dominique Flournoy
You have just finished working out or doing hot room yoga and it’s time to scrub all of that sweat off in your nice hot shower. I don’t know about you, but I like to make sure that when I step out the shower, I want my skin to be as soft and clean as possible. The hard part about shower time is deciding whether I want to use my body wash or my bar soap?
Ask anyone and you’ll probably get a strong opinion which is better for your skin. However, the answer actually would differ depending on your skin type and skin concerns. For some people, lathering up might seem very old-school, while for others the sight of a bubble-tastic loofah could give them a rash just looking at it. To settle this debate we are going to give you some tips that may help you decide which is a better fit for you and your skin’s needs.
Here’s what you need to know about soap bars versus body wash—and lathering up in the healthiest way possible.
How to Get the Grime off?
In terms of just getting clean, body wash may be your go to (sorry, had to)—bar soap is just as effective as body wash in ridding your skin of any dirt, oil, and bacteria that may have built up during your most recent sweat session. If the goal isn’t to exfoliate, then artisanal bar soap made with oils or shea butter and essential oils is all you need to rid your body of bad bacteria and dirt would be your best choice.
To Maintain Your Skin’s Natural Balance
No matter whether you’re using a bar soap or a body wash in the shower, read the ingredients labels carefully. With soaps and body washes, you want to avoid [products] that make claims of containing antibacterial agents like triclosan and triclocarban. (The two ingredients were banned by the FDA last year, and manufacturers have until September to comply.) Your skin is naturally coated with a layer of good bacteria. Triclosan temporarily sterilizes the skin, leaving you vulnerable to bad bacteria in the environment, while seeping into your blood stream and wreaking havoc on your gut flora. Look for natural ingredients on the label like shea butter, essential oils, and olive, coconut, or sesame oils—and steer clear of anything loaded with chemicals or preservatives.
Verdict: Depending on the quality of the body wash. Not the method itself.
To Exfoliate Your Skin
It’s time to say goodbye to those dead skin cells on your body. You can actually take your pick of either a loofah or a bar of soap that’s packed with pulverized walnut shells or other natural scrubbers. The exfoliant has to be finely ground, otherwise it just scratches the skin without providing much benefit.
But if you want to get really serious about exfoliating your body, there’s actually a third option worth adding to your shower caddy: The Butter Bar Skincare’s dry body brush is like no other! It’s effective and invigorating. Just make sure not to go overboard with your skin scrubbing—it can lead to irritation and razor burn.
Verdict: it’s a tie for second place. (Dry brushing comes in first place).
Hydrating Your Skin
Silky smooth skin starts in the shower. Conventional products made with chemicals marketed as moisturizing are designed to pull moisture out from deep beneath the epidermis, ultimately drying and damaging the skin in the long term. But body wash or a bar of soap alone won’t keep your skin as soft as it can be—so make sure to apply natural oils or water-based lotions after you lather up.
Verdict: Tie! (Hydration relies on what is used after the shower).
Keeping Your Skin Sustainable
What’s best for your body is one thing—but what about what’s best for Mother Earth? Bar soaps are superior to liquid soaps in this department, because they require less packaging and eliminate the need for plastic. They last longer, and natural bar soaps are made without any chemicals that might be damaging to the environment. Plastic sponges, loofahs, or other body scrubbing tools aren’t a good choice for the environment.
Verdict: Bar Soap
To Avoid Bacteria Horrors!
You might have heard horror stories about bar soaps and loofahs being bacterial cesspools—but are these rumors actually true? Loofahs and bar soap can breed bacteria if left in a moist environment, so both should be replaced on a regular basis. If there’s a noticeable accumulation of residue, then it’s time for a replacement—generally it’s recommended to replace monthly.
If you’re using a loofah, rinse it thoroughly after every use, store it in a dry location, and treat it with a diluted bleach solution every once in a while to prevent the buildup of residue, mold, and bacteria. With bar soap, the best way to avoid transferring any surface bacteria to your skin is to rinse it with water before using and store it in a dry location. And of course: Never share your bar someone else.