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Soap Wars

Hard Bar Soap versus Liquid Soap – What makes you a Happy Washer?

There’s quite a heated debate been going on for a while now as to which is best – the traditional bar of soap or liquid soap, in its many guises such as; shower gel, body wash, bubble bath & handwash.

Washing ourselves has certainly changed dramatically in my lifetime as I clearly remember the family bar of soap in our bathroom and with some fondness, my Nan’s preference for LUX whilst my uncle was a devout Imperial Leather man! Perhaps I’m just weird but I can actually remember who used what type of soap and I think as a child, passed some judgement on them based on their choice! I really did feel it said something about them 🙂

However, with the rapid rise and massive growth in the soap industry and particularly the liquid soap business, I now feel I may have been on to something after-all. Perhaps we do believe that our choice of soap does say something about us as a person. Think about the vast array on offer on supermarket shelves and the frankly confusing choice of shower gels and body washes. What is it that makes us pick one up?

  • For a lot of us I suspect we probably don’t think any further than ‘I like the smell of lemons’ or it may have added moisturisers (nowadays we’re all being constantly told we’re rapidly shrivelling up and MUST moisturise at every given moment – another debate for another day.)
  • We may be price-driven as there are often BOGOFS on shower gels (cunningly, around holiday time).
  • We may have been seduced by one of the very sexy TV advertisements for a new product and so ‘spontaneously’ decide to give it a whirl on our next shop, (subconsciously imagining a steamy jungle encounter with some bronzed Demi-God, oozing botanical goodness)

I believe we are having our brains washed – as well as our bodies! So thought sharing some information on both bar and liquid soap might help you decide which to opt for when next shopping.

  • We have been told, incorrectly, that bacteria collects and can spread if we use a family bar of soap. This is a proven fallacy as all soap has two basic components – one oil attracting molecule, that collects the grease and dirt from our skin and the other water attracting molecule, that rinses it off. The bacteria is also washed off with the foam.
  • A lot of liquid soap has a high aqua (WATER) content. This makes it heavier than bar soap, resulting in a significantly higher carbon footprint for transportation.
  • Packaging of shower gels and bubble baths are plastic whilst most hard bar soap has minimal packaging in comparison. Often its in cardboard boxes, making it an environmentally sounder purchase as cardboard can more easily be re-cycled and breaks down quicker in landfills than plastic packaging liquid soap comes in.
  • Bar soap lasts significantly longer. We over use liquid soap by squeezing too hard on the tube or just not really knowing how much we need to use to get a good lather. It’s pretty straightforward with a bar of soap to judge when you’ve got enough on your sponge. Plus every extra minute you take in your shower, washing off all that foam, is costing you and the planet, for extra water…Never mind the fact you’ll need to re-stock on soap next week!
  • The ingredients are actually probably what we want to be spending our money on and not fancy-dancy packaging. As most liquid soaps are petroleum based they contain a lot of (artificial) preservatives and stabilisers to retain consistency and prolong shelf-life. It’s always fascinated me that there are a lot of long complicated sounding words ending in ‘ium’, ‘onate’ and ‘hexene’ added to my soap. I confess to have never looked any of them up! But it does make you wonder just how many actual lemons are used and is it lavender oil or some chemical substitute? There are a myriad of chemicals used, some of which are incredibly harmful for both flora and fauna – just recently there were reports in the National Press on how damaging those plastic pearls found in many liquid soaps are for aquatic life.
  • One of the main supposed advantages of liquid soap is added moisturisers. Many hard bar soaps are made from natural animal or vegetable oils, natural ingredients rather than tacky chemicals, that are equally mild and gentle on even the most sensitive of skins. A lot also have natural glycerin/glycerol added which nourishes and protects our skin.

By now you’ll have gathered I’m more a fan of hard bar soap. Specifically I’m a fan of hard bar soap which contains as few ingredients as practicable to wash me and comes in as simple packaging as possible. I want to smell great when I’ve used it and don’t want to become a wrinkled hag because its PH balance is scary. Having said that, I’m as tempted by bubbles as anyone and so do treat myself to the occasional bubble bath – IF it makes the grade and is as natural as possible. Heyland & Whittle’s list of ingredients I HAVE checked out. Whilst some of them sound complex, their ingredients are natural and non damaging to us or our environment.

We stock two ranges of hard bar soap here in eclectica – because they both fit my criteria above. I use them daily and so am very happy to recommend you give one a try!

Happy washing 🙂

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