Bar Soap vs Body Wash: Which should you use?

by Barron Cuadro  |  in Grooming

Your skin is your largest and most important organ. And since everyone’s skin is different, effective maintenance for one guy isn’t always great for another!

In this article we’re starting off with the basics. Let’s compare the two main types of soap we use to keep our skin clean: bar soap vs body wash.

Selecting the right kind of soap for you is crucial to having skin that feels clean and moisturized. So which is better and which should you use? Let’s find out!

man smelling soap bar
Photo by Lara Jameson from Pexels

What’s the difference between Bar Soap and Body Wash?

Body wash and bar soap are the exact same thing when it comes to their overall purpose. One just happens to be a solid, the other, a liquid form.

And when it comes to getting clean, the different formats don’t make a difference. They both remove dirt and debris from the surface of your skin by gently dislodging and breaking it down.

Some soaps and body washes contain additives designed to address specific skin issues like dryness, clogged pores, and flaky skin.

So is one type of soap better than the other? Let’s explore.

Is Bar Soap Better? The Argument For Using Bar Soap

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of using bar soap.

man in white tshirt washing hands with soap bar
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

The Pros of Bar Soap

Eco-Friendly and Reasonably Priced

When compared to body washes, bar soaps are significantly more cost-effective. In most cases, a basic no-frills bar of soap costs as little as $1 to $2, and can last weeks.

Furthermore, bar soap requires less packaging and fewer resources to make than liquid soap, which is usually stored in plastic containers.

Fewer Ingredients

More often than not, bar soaps are pretty basic, compared to gels and body washes. This means they don’t need preservatives, like parabens, to keep them shelf-stable. This also makes it easier for soapmakers to create hypoallergenic bars. 

Cons Of Bar Soap

If Not Stored Properly, It Can Grow Mold

Though generally sanitary products, bar soaps can form mold on the surface if they aren’t stored correctly. It’s rare, but it happens. Think about it: mold only needs organic material, moisture, and heat to grow. All these things exist in your shower.

To be perfectly safe, you can wait for your soap to completely air dry before using it again. This potentially means having different bars for every person in your household.

Bar Soap Can Dry Out Your Skin

Most bar soaps have a high pH, which means that it can make your skin feel excessively dry. This happens to me when I use basic, old school bar soaps like Dial.

Plus, soaps that contain sulfates exhaust the natural oils on your skin. When purchasing bar soap, make sure to look for ones that don’t include harsh chemicals like sulfates, and to use moisturizer after your shower. 

Is Body Wash Better? Why You Should Consider Body Wash

Here are the pros and cons of using body wash.

green bottles on shower caddy
Photo by Sarah Chai from Pexels

Pros of Body Wash

Moisturizes the Skin

Most body washes are made with a mild to moderate formula that’s intended to keep the skin hydrated, smooth, and plump after use, while also preventing wrinkles.

It’s Hygienic And Less Likely To Grow Mold

Since body wash is contained in a squeeze or pump bottle, it’s protected from potential mold formation. Mold can form on the bottle though, but that’s easily taken care of with a disinfectant.

Compare this to moldy bar soap, which will just have to be disposed of!

Cons of Body Wash

Some of the Ingredients Might Be Questionable

Body washes contain more ingredients than soap.

So not only do you have to read the ingredients list to make sure there’s nothing in there you don’t want, but you’ll likely have to Google some of these chemicals too. Typically, body washes include preservatives to keep the product shelf-stable. 

If you have particularly sensitive skin, you’ll want to double check the ingredients in your body wash to be absolutely certain they don’t include elements that you’re allergic to. 

man standing behind shower curtain
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

So, Bar Soap Vs Body Wash: Which Should You Choose, and Why?

If all you care about is how well they clean, the format doesn’t make a difference.

If you have dry or sensitive skin, it’s probably a good idea to stick to body wash. There are a lot of body washes that are particularly made for sensitive skin types, free from fragrances and other harsh chemicals. 

If you have normal to oily skin, then go for the eco-friendly bar soap.

The most important thing to consider is what’s in the soap or body wash itself, and what your specific needs are. Do you have excessively dry skin or a chronic condition? Do you need acne treatment? What common soap ingredients are you allergic to?

When it comes to skin care, these considerations actually take precedence over format.

closeup of hand washing
Photo by Sarah Chai from Pexels

Our Favorite Body Washes and Bar Soaps

Of course, there are tons of options out there. I recommend these picks based on my personal experience using them. Plus, they’re relatively affordable and widely available!

Best Budget Pick
Dove Men+Care 3 in 1 Cleanser Bars
$17.25 $11.98 ($0.23 / Ounce)

I've used Dove soap bars for decades, literally. It's the only affordable brand I've found that doesn't dry out my skin. The Dove Men+Care Bars work great for both face and body, and I love how they smell... masculine, but not in-your-face.

02/14/2023 04:18 am GMT
Best Budget Pick
Dove Men+Care Body Wash
$25.94 ($0.36 / Ounce)

I recommend Dove Men+Care's bar soap wholeheartedly, and this version of their body wash is just as great. If you're more of a body wash + loofah guy, give this a try. Keeps your skin's moisture locked in and feeling clean and healthy after showers. They have a variety of scents and formulations as well.

02/15/2023 12:43 am GMT
Harry's Body Wash for Men, Variety Pack
$56.99 ($0.89 / Fl Oz)

Harry's Body Wash left my skin feeling incredibly clean and moisturized after my showers. But what I loved most were their signature scents. These are the best smelling body washes I've ever tried. The four-bottle variety pack includes one of each scent from their main line.

02/14/2023 10:53 pm GMT
Harry's Bar Soap
Starting at $3.19

Harry's bar soap produces a nice lather and gently cleans your skin, leaving a nice subtle scent. All of Harry's signature scents are incredible! I also recommend their body wash.


Other Questions, Answered

Do Dermatologists Recommend Bar Soap or Body Wash?

It depends on the needs of the person. Consult your own dermatologist if you think one or the other will make a big difference.

Sometimes, they’ll advise switching off depending on the season, recommending more moisturizing body washes for the winter. 

Also, many dermatologists recommend using a loofah for exfoliation with body wash. Everyone is different though. In most cases, if you have normal skin, you can use the process of trial and error to figure out what’s best for you.

Who Can Use Body Wash?

Unless you have a specific condition in which your dermatologist recommends a different soap format, anyone can use body wash. It’s generally better for people with dry skin

Does Bar Soap Dry Out Your Skin?

Because of the high pH of most standard, run-of-the-mill bar soaps, they may cause skin dryness. What’s more, the majority of bar soaps don’t include any moisturizing ingredients. To prevent skin dryness, apply moisturizer after your showers.

What’s Your Preference? 

Depending on what you’re looking for, either of these options will be wholly effective. When choosing between the two, keep in mind factors such as skin type, packaging, and, most importantly, the ingredients used. 

Do you prefer body wash or bar soap? If you’ve recently made a switch, what prompted it?

Let us know your thoughts! Hit us up on Instagram DMs at any time.