Health, Natural Beauty

12 Benefits of Bar Soap you need to Know to Ditch the Body Wash

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Have you ever wondered why someone would use bar soap instead of liquid soap or body wash?

I totally get it.

Body wash and liquid soap are pretty darn easy to use.

But a great bar of handmade bar soap has lots of benefits over the liquid stuff that I bet you’ve never considered.

And I should know: I’m the official Soap Addict, after all.

I’ve been using handmade soap in my own shower for more than 15 years, and making my own handcrafted soap for 11 years.

So you could say I’ve had some experience with bar soap.

WHAT IS SOAP, EXACTLY?

True soap is created by a completely natural process called saponification. Saponification occurs when oils, waxes or butters are mixed with sodium hydroxide, and a chemical reaction occurs that creates soap.

No sodium hydroxide (or lye) is left in the soap, it is completely transformed during saponification (isn’t chemistry amazing?!)

Another amazing side effect of saponification is natural glycerin is created and remains in the soap, making handmade bar soap gentle and moisturizing.

The soap hardens into a solid mass when it’s left to sit, or cure, for several weeks.

Lye originally came from wood ash and bar soap has been made in this way for thousands of years.

Traditional homemade soap was often crafted using animal fats a wood ash.

WHAT IS BAR SOAP MADE OF?

There are several types of bar soap, and they are NOT all created equal.

The bar soap you may typically think of when you think of a bar of soap (like Dove or Ivory) are not actually soap at all. They are closer to a detergent and can be very harsh and drying on skin.

They are usually filled with questionable ingredients and are not actually real soap.

Let’s take a quick look at the ingredient list for a Dove Beauty Bar (notice they don’t call it soap):

Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Tallowate Or Sodium Palmitate, Lauric Acid, Sodium Isethionate, Water, Sodium Stearate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoate Or Sodium Palm Kernelate, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Tetrasodium Edta, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891).

I do not recommend this type of bar soap, and absolutely pick liquid soap over a bar of detergent ‘soap’ any day.

The kind of soap I’m talking about is handmade soap that is created using the saponification process. It is a combination of natural oils, butters and waxes mixed with lye to create soap that is good for your skin and works extremely well to clean without drying or irritating.

DOES BAR SOAP KILL GERMS?

Kind of. But the answer is the same for ALL soap. You see, soap works by REMOVING dirt, oil and bacteria from skin and rinsing it away.

Check out this video that does an amazing job of explaining how soap works:

Now I know you’re thinking ‘but does the bacteria stay on the bar of soap’? Your bar of soap can be germy if you don’t store it properly. The soap sludge you might get if your bar of soap sits in a puddle for too long is where the germs are hiding.

So get a well-drained soap dish for your soap and give it a rinse before using it and you’re good to go.

BENEFITS OF BAR SOAP

A well-made bar of natural soap has lots of benefits over its liquid counterpart.

Bar Soap Lasts a Long Time

Bar soap that has been cured for at least 4 weeks will be hard and long-lasting. A bar of handmade soap can last a month in your shower if you store it properly.

Considering how fast my kids can pour a bottle of body wash down the drain, bar soap is a winner for my family!

Let’s talk for just a minute about how to store your bar soap so that it does last a long time.

The most important thing is to make sure it can dry out between uses. Store it in a well-drained soap dish (like this or this) and make sure it’s not sitting in water.

PRO TIP: You can prolong the life of your bar soap by cutting the bar in half or even thirds. By using just a small piece at a time and the other pieces will last longer since they have not been exposed to water.

Healthy Ingredients

Handmade bar soap is most often made with a combination of vegetable oils and butters. It is concentrated since there is no water added (like liquid soap). You can also choose a soap for your skin based on which ingredients are used.

Some of my favorite oils to use in bar soaps are coconut oil, avocado oil, almond oil, shea butter and cocoa butter. These are all completely natural oils that are great for your skin. Bar soap that has been made properly is extremely moisturizing and can be a great choice for dry or sensitive skin.

And since using healthy ingredients in all of my body care products is important to me, I stick with bar soap for a sure bet.

Botanicals Galore

Speaking of healthy ingredients, handmade bar soap often comes loaded with a plethora of botanical, herbal and natural ingredients to sooth your body and senses.

Clays, oils, dried herbs, charcoal and essential oils are just a few of the skin-loving ingredients you might find in a bar soap ingredient list.

bar of lavender palmarosa soap with pink clay.

Natural Glycerin

An important part of the saponification process that is used to make bar soap occurs when part of the oils are transformed into natural glycerin that remains in the bar of soap.

Glycerin is crucial ingredient in soap because it helps moisture to stay on the skin. Without it, the soap would clean you but your skin would likely be very dry after. If you take a look at any liquid soap or body wash ingredient list you will likely see glycerin added.

But glycerin is naturally occurring in handmade bar soap! How amazing is that!

No Water Added

Did you now that most of what you’re paying for in that bottle of body wash is water? Water is a primary ingredient in liquid soap and body wash.

Bar soap is far more concentrated. While water is used in making the soap, it’s taken out after the curing process is complete.

This gives handmade bar soap a shelf life up to a year (or more, depending on the ingredients used!).

Less packaging and plastic free = Eco Friendly

Bar soap has significantly less packaging than its liquid body wash counterpart, which is typically contained in a plastic bottle. Speaking of plastic, bar soap is the way to go if you’re looking for a plastic-free way to clean your body.

Many bar soaps are packaged in a simple paper wrapper or box, both of which can easily be recycled.

Bar soap is clearly a superior choice if you’re looking to up your zero-waste or plastic free shower game.

Less packaging, no plastic, a healthy ingredient list + no added water = a solid eco-friendly pick for body cleaning. Bar soap checks all of the boxes for an eco-friendly soap.

Cost Effective

A high quality bar of handmade soap averages $12 or less per bar. Given that it can last a month in a shower and several months by a bathroom sink, this is a small price for cleaning your body!

Easy to use

  1. Pick up the bar of soap.
  2. Wet the bar of soap.
  3. Rub bar of soap either on a washcloth or directly onto your skin.
  4. Rinse soap.

Cleaning your body doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Perfect for small spaces

If you’re rocking a tiny bathroom and are seriously short on shelf space in your shower, bar soap is the way to go.

It only takes up a small, 3-4” spot on your shelf. Or try one of these suction cup soap dishes if you’re really short on space (just make sure it’s hanging out of the water stream so it can fully dry between uses!).

Something for Everyone

Whatever your skin type, favorite scent, or ingredient preference is, there is a bar soap for you.

Handcrafted soap is often made with specific ingredients to work for various skin types. You can find a handmade soap for oily skin, acne prone, sensitive skin, one perfect for babies and so much more.

The same goes for scent preference. Whether you like floral, sweet, spicy or musky, you’re sure to find a bar of soap your sniffer will love.

Bar soap is ‘Extra’

Have you ever seen a super cute bar of handmade soap, packaged all pretty and smelling like something you want to eat? And did you think, ‘OMG, this soap looks amazing!’?

Have you ever thought the same thing about body wash?

No?

Me either.

A handmade bar of soap just brings something a little EXTRA to the table when it comes to presentation.

And bringing this little handmade bar of soapy goodness into your own shower is like treating yourself to a present every time you lather up. You deserve it 😉

Plus, bar soap makes a MUCH better gift than body wash.

WHERE TO BUY HANDMADE BAR SOAP

My favorite handmade soap is made by me! You can purchase completely natural, handcrafted soap from yours truly from my handmade soap company, Soap Addict.

Want to relish in the benefits of Bar Soap? Eco Living Mama readers get a special 20% discount on their first order with code ELM20

Handmade soap is a true labor of love for me and if you’ve never considered it before, I hope you’ll give it a try!