Why You Shouldn’t Wash Your Face With Bar Soap
What’s the deal with soap? One of the first lessons any newcomer into the skincare world gets is something along the lines of “Never wash your face with bar soap.” To reinforce this rule, many cleansers are clearly labeled “soap-free” in big, scary letters, as though soap were the worst possible ingredient we could use on our skin.
Yet, there are still aisles full of the stuff in every supermarket and drugstore out there, so people are obviously using soap and living to buy more of it. What’s more, there are plenty of skincare brands—reputable brands—that make soap specifically for the face, so clearly the “no soap” rule is somewhat up to interpretation.
To help us navigate the stigma around washing your face with bar soap, we laid it all out in this article to find out the truths, the myths, and what so-called “facial soaps,” if any, are actually ok to use on your face.
What Is Bar Soap Made Out Of?
To understand why bar soap may be potentially bad for washing your face, first let’s look at what’s in it. Typical bars of soap contain long-chain fatty acid alkali salts with a pH between 9-10, along with other common ingredients including detergents. These cleanse the skin but can also increase the pH of skin, disrupting its normal pH. When this happens, the skin barrier is compromised and we see irritation, dryness, flaking, and redness. Other key ingredients to avoid include sodium lauryl sulfate as well as parabens, as they are known to cause endocrine dysfunction.
Should I Wash My Face With Bar Soap?
Most soaps that we see labeled as “soap” are true “bar soaps,” as opposed to “solid cleansers” (which we’ll get to later) meaning they have a high pH of 9-10. The skin’s natural pH is slightly acidic, in the range of 4-5—the level at which its microbiome thrives—and altering its pH can cause irritation, dehydration, and make skin more prone to sensitivity and redness. So the long and short answer is yes, bar soaps are, at least from a chemical standpoint, bad for washing your face.
One of the best examples of true soap is, ironically, the longtime facial favorite Ivory, which would be considered harsh and drying for most people. However, not all bar soaps are made the same. What the soap is composed of makes a huge difference, so understanding these differences will help you pick the right one for your skin. Still, most of us choose liquid type cleansers over bar soap, as they’re formulated specifically to cleanse facial skin while respecting its delicate barrier function.
Are There Benefits to Washing My Face With Bar Soap?
Despite their potential to wreak havoc on healthy skin, a chief reason many people still choose to wash their face with bar soap comes down to environmental awareness. From the environmental point of view, there is no question bar soaps use less packaging. And because there is no water in them, shipping costs and environmental impact is reduced. Bar soaps can be great for their lathering effect and ability to remove grime, dirt, and cleanse particularly oily skin, but choosing the right bar soap is key.
What Soap Should I Use Instead?
There are several solid cleanser options available that would be less harsh on skin, but choosing a liquid cleanser specifically formulated for facial skin is better than washing your face with bar soap since many are stripping, drying, and irritating.
If this article has completely put you off washing your face with bar soap forever, we’re at the ready with a face wash that works for each skin type.
The Final Takeaway
You only have one face, so you need to make sure it gets the best care. While we may have been brought up on the ease and convenience washing our face with bar soap, both science and the breakdown in this article agree that cleansers specifically formulated for the delicate facial skin tend to be the better option. The good news is that nowadays, brands seem to be more aware than ever of the importance of products that respect our skin’s microbiome, so finding a cleanser both you and your wallet love is easier than ever.
Shop Wild Naturals Face Wash for a gentle but effective way to wash your face!