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Thread: Traditional Soap vs Cleansing Bars

  1. #1
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    Default Traditional Soap vs Cleansing Bars

    Recently I put in an order with Stirling Soaps to see if maybe traditional soaps will help me with my dry skin problem and it got me curious as to the pros and cons of traditional soaps vs modern cleansing bars. However, I couldn't find much reputable academic or scientific information on the subject, so I was wondering if anyone here knows of any? I'm not really interested in all the misinformed websites out there that blast cleansing bars as bad without evidence just because they have synthetic chemicals in them, which unfortunately seemed to be the preponderance of sites when I tried googling around, I want some sort of real evidence of the pros and cons of each (besides cost, obviously cleansing bars win there, usually).
    I know it might be somewhat of a YMMV thing as to the pros and cons but I am a curious guy, after all.

  2. #2
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    I am obviously biased since I make real soap, but maybe I can offer some information.

    Cleansing bars are not soap, they are detergents. Detergents are good for washing dishes and clothes because they do an excellent job at removing grease. Therein, however, lies the problem and the reason why they should not be used for cleaning your hands: detergents not only remove the grease from food, oil, etc., they also remove the good oils that are contained in your body. This is why people use lotion after a shower. The lotion replenishes the oils that the detergent stripped away from the skin. One would not need that lotion if one had used real soap.

    Real soap is the result of a chemical reaction between fatty acids and one or two bases. To make soap, you need oils and/or fats and lye. The byproduct of this chemical reaction is glycerin. Most of the "soap" you purchase in stores does not contain this naturally-occurring glycerin because the "soap" manufacturers have removed it because the glycerin is worth more than the soap itself. If a commercial "soap" does contain glycerin, it almost always contains glycerin because the "soap" manufacturer added back a little bit for label appeal. This is usually given away by the addition of sodium chloride, salt, on the ingredients list.

    Usually, the only pro of a cleansing bar is the price, which is most often rendered mute by the fact that if you take into consideration how long one lasts vs. how long a bar of real soap lasts, the real soap only costs slightly more. I also think this is an illogical argument. We take good care of our other organs. We try to eat low sodium food, we take multivitamins, we exercise, we try not to smoke or drink too much, yet then we turn around and abuse our body's largest organ: our skin. If we want to take good care of our heart, brain, and lungs, I think we should logically take just as good care of our body's largest organ by using skin care products that are good for it.
    Matthew | QueenCharlotteSoaps.com - Handmade hand & body soap, shampoo bars, tallow shaving cream and soap, aftershave balm, and much more

  3. #3
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    Ah, so real soap bars tend to last longer than cleansing bars? That is good to know.
    Strangely, regarding the oils and such being stripped, one article I read seemed to suggest the exact opposite, that actual soaps might be too strong and penetrate below the first layer of skin, stripping it of oils and moisture, while cleansing bars are gentler and won't do this.
    Of course I don't think this has really been my experience, as my skin is usually tight and dry after a shower and I currently use said cleansing bars. Then again, I also take hot showers and rub my skin dry with a towel, both of which are also apparently bad for your skin.

  4. #4
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    I believe both soap and detergent strips at least some oil away from your skin, but soap, unlike detergent, contains moisturizing glycerin. If you have not tried handmade soap before, I would highly suggest doing so. A local health food store, such as Whole Foods, should carry some small, inexpensive bars to try out. If you find they are not for you, you would only be out a few dollars, though I think you will end up going back for more, haha.

    As far as lasting longer, it comes down to how the soap is made and which oils are used. Soap is a lot like wine in the sense that it ages well. If you leave soap sitting for a year, it will have lost most of its scents, but will be rock hard and provide an even better lather and certainly last a lot longer than a bar of soap that is only a month old.
    Matthew | QueenCharlotteSoaps.com - Handmade hand & body soap, shampoo bars, tallow shaving cream and soap, aftershave balm, and much more

  5. #5
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    I just tried the CV bar I was given today. It seemed a bit... stickier than cleansing bars. It didn't want to slide across my skin much at all. It could have been partly due to the way I had to hold it though, that thing is a monster. I intend on cutting it in half before using it again. I guess we'll see after a few days whether there's any noticeable difference to my skin.

  6. #6

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    FWIW, my grandaughter has dry skin issues and was using pricey medicated creams from pharmacies with partial success. She tried the Bigelow green package soap next to the Bigelow shaving cream (ProRaso) at the local BBW. For her, that soap worked better than the pharmacy products and at a lot lower cost.

    HTH
    Last edited by john shea; 12-27-2012 at 05:33 PM.

  7. #7
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    You know, I just found out that the bars I've been using all along are actual veggie soaps. At least, The Body Shop bars are actually labelled as soap bars, not "cleansing" or "beauty" bars.
    So maybe using real soap won't help my dry skin after all, since that's apparently what I've been using all along. Well either way, after shipping Stirling soaps work out to around the same cost per bar (cheaper since I got them on sale), but for a 5oz bar instead of a 3.5oz one.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by stryker4526 View Post
    You know, I just found out that the bars I've been using all along are actual veggie soaps. At least, The Body Shop bars are actually labelled as soap bars, not "cleansing" or "beauty" bars.
    So maybe using real soap won't help my dry skin after all, since that's apparently what I've been using all along. Well either way, after shipping Stirling soaps work out to around the same cost per bar (cheaper since I got them on sale), but for a 5oz bar instead of a 3.5oz one.
    Stryker, I think perhaps the oil cleansing method (click here) might work for you. You can use it all over, and steam yourself in the shower before wiping down. I have seen great success in treating dry skin with this method in my practice - if your verging on eczema, then make your ratio as 2:1 olive oil to castor oil.
    Dan | Member of Old Spice Mondays, Order of Pinaud, BOTOC, LOSER

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by XuDan View Post
    Stryker, I think perhaps the oil cleansing method (click here) might work for you. You can use it all over, and steam yourself in the shower before wiping down. I have seen great success in treating dry skin with this method in my practice - if your verging on eczema, then make your ratio as 2:1 olive oil to castor oil.
    Well, it's not THAT bad of a problem. I suppose the best way I can describe it is that if I were black you might call my skin somewhat ashy. It doesn't get to the point of cracking or being scaly or anything like that. Just a little ashy and sometimes itchy. I'm hoping my new regimen of using tallow soaps, taking warm-not-hot showers, and letting myself air dry afterwards will help. If not, I might try something more extreme like the OCM.

  10. #10
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    So what bath bar has the most skin goodies in it ?
    Things like lanolin, cocoa butter, Shea butter etc.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmsodpc View Post
    So what bath bar has the most skin goodies in it ?
    Things like lanolin, cocoa butter, Shea butter etc.

    A bar made by superfatting unrefined Shea Butter is great for dry skin. 5% Shea is a good median value to notice a real difference. Oatmeal and Shea are good for problem skin like eczema. Lanolin is fantastic for locking in moisture. Some people get skin irritation from lanolin, however, I suspect a lot of them could be attributed to low quality lanolin or refined liquid lanolin. I've never found anyone who had a problem with semi-solid unrefined lanolin. Finally, the quality of the oils really makes a difference in the resulting fatty acid profile of the soap and how your skin reacts to it. Tallow soaps have a different profile that Vegan/Veggie soaps. I don't claim that one is better than the other, but YMMV is in effect for everyone. Mutton tallow and lard are also used in soaps, and lard (for me anyway) seems to react to my skin about the same way as tallow. Mutton tallow, especially grass fed, non-"roided" kidney fat, makes absolutely fantastic soap. It's just hard to work with because the fatty acid profile tends to make the soap seize extremely fast.

    Cocoa butter is a waste. It's far more expensive than Shea (at least 50% or more wholesale) and doesn't perform as well as Shea (YMMV). It is just harder to come by and folks aren't put off by the smell like some tend to be with unrefined Shea.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezlovan View Post
    A bar made by superfatting unrefined Shea Butter is great for dry skin. 5% Shea is a good median value to notice a real difference. Oatmeal and Shea are good for problem skin like eczema. Lanolin is fantastic for locking in moisture. Some people get skin irritation from lanolin, however, I suspect a lot of them could be attributed to low quality lanolin or refined liquid lanolin. I've never found anyone who had a problem with semi-solid unrefined lanolin. Finally, the quality of the oils really makes a difference in the resulting fatty acid profile of the soap and how your skin reacts to it. Tallow soaps have a different profile that Vegan/Veggie soaps. I don't claim that one is better than the other, but YMMV is in effect for everyone. Mutton tallow and lard are also used in soaps, and lard (for me anyway) seems to react to my skin about the same way as tallow. Mutton tallow, especially grass fed, non-"roided" kidney fat, makes absolutely fantastic soap. It's just hard to work with because the fatty acid profile tends to make the soap seize extremely fast.

    Cocoa butter is a waste. It's far more expensive than Shea (at least 50% or more wholesale) and doesn't perform as well as Shea (YMMV). It is just harder to come by and folks aren't put off by the smell like some tend to be with unrefined Shea.

    just placed another order with you a few moments ago....thanks again!!!
    also any samples would be appreciated!

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmsodpc View Post
    just placed another order with you a few moments ago....thanks again!!!
    also any samples would be appreciated!
    I just saw that. Thanks! Would you like shave soap or bath soap samples?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezlovan View Post
    I just saw that. Thanks! Would you like shave soap or bath soap samples?
    Thought I'd give you an update on those soaps you sent me. Almost done with the first bar (and this is between two people using it most days), and I'm impressed with the longevity, given that. I like them more than the Body Shop veggie soaps I was using beforehand.
    Have not had a chance to test the vegan acne bar on my face yet, as my triple-milled tea tree facial bar refuses to die (as triple-milled soaps often do). I tried the shave soap you sent me and I definitely noticed the lather stability was a bit low. It was still slick enough and good enough to shave with, so I'm almost certain the lather stability is just for aesthetic purposes. I have not yet received the fifth generation lime puck you were going to send me, so I cannot comment on that in comparison. I will definitely be placing another order for bath soaps at least when these run out (in several months, from the looks of it...).
    Successful 2013 Shave Sabbatical Participant

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by stryker4526 View Post
    Thought I'd give you an update on those soaps you sent me. Almost done with the first bar (and this is between two people using it most days), and I'm impressed with the longevity, given that. I like them more than the Body Shop veggie soaps I was using beforehand.
    Have not had a chance to test the vegan acne bar on my face yet, as my triple-milled tea tree facial bar refuses to die (as triple-milled soaps often do). I tried the shave soap you sent me and I definitely noticed the lather stability was a bit low. It was still slick enough and good enough to shave with, so I'm almost certain the lather stability is just for aesthetic purposes. I have not yet received the fifth generation lime puck you were going to send me, so I cannot comment on that in comparison. I will definitely be placing another order for bath soaps at least when these run out (in several months, from the looks of it...).
    Lime is in the mail as of yesterday morning. Hopefully you'll have it by the end of the week. You should see a huge leap in the lather stability. Please PM me and let me know what you think of the lime. It's 100% pure essential oil and nothing else. I upped the strength to keep the scent as prevalent as possible, but essential oils are always lighter than fragrance oils, and that is especially so for citrus types.

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    I'd just like to thank the artisan vendors here for their wealth of knowledge in the art and science of soap making. I've been using all of your shave soaps for the past few months and now I'm pretty well convinced that I should try out some of your bath bars too. I've been punishing my skin with Zest and Lever2000 for years. While they have kept me clean, my skin has always been slightly dry and itchy. It's making sense to me that I'm probably stripping my skin of all of it's natural oils.... and that is what is causing the dryness and itchiness. My suspiscions are mostly based on the fact that since I've started using "good soap" for shaving, I've seen an incredible improvement in the skin on my face and neck. I have a feeling that if I did the same and used a good quality soap for the rest of my skin, I would see similar improvement elsewhere. That, and I'm tired of putting a bar of Zest in the soap dish in my shower and getting a few showers out of it before having to replace it with a new one since it's mostly detergent that just gets washed down the drain at a fast rate. I think I'll be placing my order soon for some "real bar soap" that actually smells good.

    Thank you again for the time and effort you all spend in explaining your trade.

    Ben
    BOTOC / The Order of the Fat / 3017'er

  17. #17
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    I really like Nancy Boy bar soaps.

    Nancy Boy Body Bars
    Mike - - Hookem

  18. #18
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    I think I'm going to order some Stirling soap. You sold me Mr ezlovan

    Are TOBS bath soaps actual soaps, like what you make? I'm just asking for price comparison sake

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Memphis View Post
    I think I'm going to order some Stirling soap. You sold me Mr ezlovan
    I'm thinking about ordering some soaps from Stirling too once my Nancy Boy supply runs out. Have to support a fellow Central Texan. Where are you guys located?


    Quote Originally Posted by Memphis View Post
    Are TOBS bath soaps actual soaps, like what you make? I'm just asking for price comparison sake
    Good Question!
    Mike - - Hookem

  20. #20
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    I just received my half dozen bath bars from Stirling.
    Nice packaging and each bar looks nice and smells nice.

    Haven't used them yet.

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