Before we tackle the pros and cons between soap bars and shower gels, let’s get beyond the slippery surface and dive into the ingredients that make these two bathroom staples a must have!
Bar soaps are are usually made out of liquid fats like (animals fats or vegetable oils) to help give its hardened shape after the process of saponification (which literally means “to turn fat or oil into soap by reaction with an alkali). Traditionally used by our grandparents (and ancestors for all that matter), soap was introduced way back from the 2800 BC in Ancient Babylon and still is being used until this day, proving there’s still demand for its existence.
Shower gels generally have similar ingredients but they largely come in a liquid form. The three main chemical component that help them help stay in tact, run gooey and go foamy are water, sodium laureth sulfate, (SLS) and betaines. Although liquid gels specialized in cleaning products have been around for quite some time as early as in the 1880’s, the idea of body shower gel is still pretty contemporary. They are also known by many names such as body wash, cream, milk, shower oil and the list goes on.
If you are a sports player or an outdoor person, someone with bacne (acne on the back skin), and easily sweats a lot, bar soaps make a solid wash for your body. It’s great for removing dirt and grime because of its stronger cleansing action and slightly on the alkaline end of pH (thanks to its sodium hydroxide a.ka. Iye, the white deliquescent compound). However, an overuse of the bar soap might lead to dry skin which is why we hardly find skincare in that form. Solution? Purchase high end bar soaps which will more likely contain emollients such as glycerin, oils, lecithin, amino acids and vitamins.
Otherwise, shower gels could save your day. Known for their moisturizing goodness, liquid form body wash is much gentler for normal, dry and sensitive skin. Pick the ones without soap, closest to the natural body pH and then, have a splash out under a lukewarm shower. This will surely help nourish your skin.
Bar soap’s standard of hygiene stays on the low side as it usually doesn't come with a soap container that helps it stay clean and dry until the next use. For that reason also, it’s doesn’t qualify as your best travel buddy either because of its sheer nature of being slippery and always wet. Recommendation? Invest in a good soap container as it might come in handy.
As for shower gels, having their own containers definitely helps especially it preserves their delicious odor-busting smells that linger on your skin afterwards. It is easier to lather on the entire body and also portable to be used anytime and anywhere. They come in many styles of packaging from the smallest of travel packs to the bulkiest of containers for daily use.
However, you have to be extra careful each time you open up those lids or pressing the pump. With these packaging, there’s a tendency that you would squirt it out more than you need. Especially when it’s versatile enough for bubble bath making. Options? A bar of soap usually could last for the entire family longer and promises less wastage compared to shower gels.
This development though is not so popular among our tree hugger friends. With mass plastic production, usage and non-biodegradable disposal, we have to admit, it is not the best practice to stay hygienic while contributing to nature’s pain point. Suggestion? Get those refillable packs instead of keep buying the hard plastic container for your next round of shower gel purchase. Another option is, revert back to your eco-friendly neighborhood Mr. Bar Soap. Always more humane and has a higher chance to be sustained.
Let us know your personal favourite and the reasons to it by commenting down below! :)