The Truth About Washing Your Face With Only Soap And Water

If your bathroom counter needs a detox from all the beauty products you've been buying, you may want to start by getting rid of the cleansers you accumulated (and also probably tried, and didn't like). In fact, if you are lucky, and don't have sensitive skin, soap and water may be enough to take the daily grime off your skin before you're ready to turn in, and get the beauty sleep you've been craving. 

We're probably averse to using soap to clean our face because we've been told it contains ingredients that may be too harsh on our skin (and maybe even bacteria); this especially true in the case of bar soaps. This is sometimes true. As New York-based dermatologist Joshau Zeichner points out, soap can contain harsh cleansers that can leave your skin open to extra problems, including inflammation and dry skin (via Self). 

But, as Tiffany Masterson — the founder of a nontoxic skincare line points out — we may also be avoiding soap for the wrong reason. "People run from bar soaps. But they should be running from sensitizers [like fragrance and chemicals] that prematurely age their skin" (via Mind Body Green).

Bar soaps can be better

If you've decided cleaning your skin with just soap and water is the way forward, Zeichner tells Self that you need to find and use soaps that contain gentle cleansers which are able to respect the delicate balance of your skin. Even better, if you're really thinking about using soap to clean your skin, pick up a bar, instead of a bottle, of soap, instead. Doctor Sarah Villafranco tells Mind Body Green, "Many liquid soaps, even from natural brands, are packed with drying chemicals, surfactants, and preservatives that I'd rather avoid. Bar soap is made with sodium hydroxide, but when the formulation is done right, the sodium hydroxide disappears and you're left only with soap molecules and moisturizing glycerin." 

She adds, "Studies about bar soap show that while you may find some bacteria on the bar's surface, it is highly unlikely to cause disease and doesn't stick around after you wash your skin with the bar." Phew! In the end, whatever you decide to use, don't wash your face too aggressively, because too much scrubbing can lead to red, angry, and irritated skin.