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Bar Soap vs Body Wash

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

When I was a teenager I remember everyone got their lotion from Bath & Body Works in the mall. Of course, once you picked out your favorite lotion scent (mine was sweet pea) you had to get the matching body wash. Beginning in my college years though I started learning about chemicals, preservatives, and harsh products that can be found in certain foods and body products, and how what you put in your body and on your skin affects your health and well-being, either right away or after long-term use. That's when I decided to break up with Bath & Body Works and my signature sweet pea lotion.

Shortly after beginning to make some small changes to my diet and the body products I used, I learned how to make soap for the first time. Deciding what kinds of oils and additives to include in my soap gave me a different perspective on the choices I had about what to put on my skin. These choices became even more serious to me when I decided to turn my soapmaking hobby into a business.

When I was doing some experimenting for my business, one of the things I learned was how to make liquid soap. Now liquid soap is basically bar soap processed a little further to turn it into a liquid form. To do this water must be added, and whenever water is added to products it immediately reduces the stability and shelf life of the product, which is one of the reasons I have chosen to not make liquid soap for my business. To stabilize liquid soap then (including body wash), some kind of preservative must be added to give the product a stable shelf life. Therefore, one can deduce that bar soap is the purest, most stable form of soap you can use.

I'm not going to give you a scientific journal here of all of the preservatives and chemicals that can be found in some of the bar soap and liquid soaps that are available at the big stores. There are enough sources online with this information for anyone who is interested.

The ingredients in The Sudsy Cow soap are some of the simplest you can find in bar soap. Only two base oils are used in these bars (coconut oil and olive oil), in addition to lye (you can't make soap without lye!) and milk. So three of the four base ingredients in The Sudsy Cow soap you can technically eat! (But don't eat the soap, that's just gross :) )

Beyond that, the additives used in The Sudsy Cow soap include essential and fragrance oils to give the soap a pleasant scent, and natural powders or clays to color the soap. Fragrance oils are chemically derived scents, while essential oils are plant derived. Since I prefer all-natural soap, most of the soaps I offer are scented with essential oils. However, some scents like Lilac and Bay Rum are just too good, so I make an exception for these fragrance oils. My soap doesn't include titanium dioxide, pigments, or micas, as these are not as trustworthy for long-term use on your skin. Since there are so many beautiful, all-natural ways to color soap available I rely on plant powders or clays. Clays are my favorite because they hold their color the best and they leave your skin feeling extra soft. You can check the ingredients list on any of the bars of soap before you buy to make sure you agree with what you're putting on your skin.

If you are looking for the quick takeaways for why bar soap is best, here they are:

  1. No preservatives. Bar soap is the most stable form of soap, requiring no preservatives.

  2. Less Waste. Ditch the plastic pump and plastic bottles

  3. Looks nicer and is simpler to use. A bar of soap in a dish next to the sink is a tradition worth continuing.

  4. Your skin feels cleaner. So many people tell me they feel cleaner using bar soap over liquid body wash.

The beautiful thing is, you get to decide what is best for you and what you want to put on your skin, but I hope you do a little research and give bar soap a try.

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