Should You Think Twice About Using Bar Soap?

Compared to liquid body wash, bars of soap can provide a more exciting experience in the shower with a unique variety of scents and herb-infused qualities. However, unlike liquid body wash, bars of soap sit out in the open in your shower or bathroom. This exposure to bacteria and mold is likely the reason why many opt for liquid soap over bars of soap. As it turns out, though, this hesitancy around lathering up with a bacteria-laden bar of soap might be unnecessary.

As Elizabeth Co, Ph.D., a senior lecturer in biology at Boston University, told SELF, most of the germs hiding in that bar of soap actually come from your own skin. Despite the exposure to these germs from your skin, bars of soap are actually made with compounds called surfactants that actually remove the leftover germs and debris from your last wash simply by adding water. So, as long as you hold the bar of soap underwater for 15 seconds before washing your body, the germs from your last wash should be gone without a trace. Not only that, according to Tatyana Petukhova, M.D., a dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian, your skin's microbiome should protect you from "invading pathogens" (via SELF).

Contrary to popular belief, bars of soap can be just as moisturizing as body washes

While it is true that most bars of soap tend to be missing the moisturizing ingredients included in body wash formulas, New York City dermatologist, Marnie Nussbaum, told Birchbox that some higher-end bar soaps are beginning to contain ingredients that hydrate the skin just as effectively. "There are newer soaps made of shea butter and oils which are better for the skin, however be careful not to use anything with triclosan which has been banned in antibacterial soaps due to adverse effects," Nussbaum explained to Birchbox. "I also find patients tend to be more compliant with a moisturizing body wash due to the sensorial experience rather than a bar of soap."

For those who still feel wary about the additional germs and bacteria involved with using bar soap, there are a few ways to ensure that you're not slathering your body in a worrisome assortment of germs. Apart from wetting the soap before you use it, SELF recommends either ditching the washcloth or loofah altogether (their surfaces can hold a number of germs between uses) or washing the washcloth or loofah after a few uses. Additionally, investing in a soap holder with drainage slats can ensure that your bar of soap remains dry between use. This is a recommended practice since wet surfaces are more likely to attract bacteria.

Despite being a fairly unpopular option, bar soap is just as effective (and safe) when compared to liquid body wash.