The Ultimate Bathroom Showdown: Soap vs. Body Wash

Battle #1: Clean factor

Tried and true soap has been around forever and it’s most likely not going anywhere. It’s synonymous with the word “clean” and it certainly does the job. It gets rid of surface oil and dirt quickly and efficiently. The down side is that some soaps, which have harsher surfactants (the detergent stuff in soap) can also strip away the naturally occurring oils that are necessary for healthy skin.

With body wash, you’ve got a more gentle approach. Body wash cleanses skin with liquid forms of SLS’s (the stuff that makes lots of suds and lather). You might not feel the same way you do after using a bar of soap, though, as that “squeaky clean” feeling (due to oils being stripped from your skin) may be missing.

Winner: Soap – this category is all about what is the cleanest and soap always wins in the battle against dirt 

Battle #2: Care factor

Remember those naturally occurring, healthy skin oils from above? This is where soap seems to fall short. If you’re experiencing tight, itchy or dry skin, that could be your soaps fault. A few companies have taken note and added moisturizers into their soap, but the results- when compared to the challenger here-aren’t all that convincing.

Body wash is bound to leave you with a noticeably different texture, softness and moisture level in your skin. Thanks to companies adding in glycerin and vitamin E as moisturizing agents, you’ll probably only need a body lotion for rougher patches like those found on your elbows and knees. Scent falls into this category, too, and you’re bound to get more variety in body washes when it comes to scents and textures (think scrubbing beads for exfoliation). The downside of perfume is that it might irritate sensitive skin but, that could be an issue for heavily scented soaps as well.

Winner: Body wash –  moisturized skin means healthier looking skin and, for those who don’t like to wear cologne or exterior scents, the fragrance found in body wash can make you smell nice.

Battle #3: Cost factor

This one is a little obvious. A bar of soap could run you anywhere from one to two dollars. It will last you about a month (assuming you take daily showers.) If it’s on a soap dish, elevated out of a pool of stagnant water, all the better for longevity.

Body wash, on the more expensive hand, will run you anywhere from five to eight dollars a bottle, which is about four times more expensive than soap. It will last you about 2 months if you use the recommended amount of 2 tablespoons per wash (again, assuming you take daily showers), which might be unrealistic. If it comes in a pourable form, it’s safe to assume humans will over-pour it.

Winner: Soap – hands down. It’ll cost you less and has less of an impact on the environment than body wash does. Using a bar of soap that comes in a thin paper box (which can be recycled) is always better than going through multiple bottles of body wash over a relatively short period of time.

Outside of cost, body wash is the better option for your skin but in reality, what suits you best is what you’re going to use. Making sure you’re taking good care of your skin (relative to your comfort level) is important. If soap is your tried and true go-to, then perhaps those pocketed dollars from your savings can go towards a moisturizing body lotion to balance out the effects on your skin.

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Bahar Niramwalla

A beauty editor, make-up artist and freelance writer, Bahar is the resident Beauty Basics expert for The Globe and Mail. Her weekly column pops up in the Style section, where she dishes out the answers to readers beauty questions. She’s also a well known beauty expert on-air, having appeared on CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show, Global Toronto’s The Morning Show, CityTV’s Cityline, CTV’s MorningLive Ottawa, CHCH Morning Live & Rogers TV’s Daytime Toronto & Daytime Ottawa. Outside of beauty, this girl is a travel writer with a penchant for adventure outside her comfort zone and a need to fill every page of her passport before it’s renewal time. Tweet her at: @baharniramwalla.

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