Have you ever struggled with making a choice between bar soap and body wash? I know I have.

I’ve used and still using both of the products either for the body or face. Just about when I think I’m done with bar soaps, a great product -like the one from Jack Black, makes it to my den, and I change my mind. Same thing happens with great body washes.

Now, the job description for both these products is basically the same, cleansing our bodies, but there are certain facts and myths differentiating the two and getting us all confused about which one is better.

Some call bar soaps non-skin friendly, giving them a bad rep, while others shout for these little staples because of their ease of use. Plus, who can ignore the cost part! Aren’t body washes considered to be a little on the costlier side?

In this post, we will discuss each and every aspect of both these products side by side, comparing them at the end.

Next time, standing in the skin and beauty aisle of your go-to store and looking for the perfect body cleanser won’t be so overwhelming.

What’s bar soap all about

Bar soap. Uses and ingredients

Bar soaps have been the frontline fighters for personal cleanliness since ages. And in fact, they are determined to stay around despite the fact that market today is flooded with tons of liquid soaps, rapidly becoming the popular choice for consumers.

Further reading: Best bar soaps for men

This traditional bathroom staple comes in different shapes, colors and fragrances, and after the recent developments for specific skin types as well.

Let’s explore the world of bar soaps and see all the available choices.

Types of bar soaps

Apart from shape and scent, bar soaps also differ in their key ingredients, manufacturing process and usage.

Enlisted below are basic types of cosmetic soaps available in the market:

Personal Care soaps

Personal care bar soaps are specifically made for our personal hygiene needs.

These may contain a mix of ingredients for cleaning the skin and may also come with antibacterial properties to prevent bacteria and viruses from spreading.

Scented soaps

Scented soaps contain a few additional ingredients for captivating fragrance.

Beauty soaps

Apart from featuring attractive fragrances, beauty soaps also contain special ingredients to favor specific skin types.

They can feature glycerin and honey for dry skin or blend of special oils for normal to combination skin.

Medicated soaps

Medicated soaps are particularly crafted to prevent and treat skin problems like acne, blackheads, clogged pores, body itching, bacterial or fungal infections.

Moisturizing soaps

Breaking the bad rep that bar soaps are drying, moisturizing soaps are packed with rich ingredients that tend to keep you skin hydrated and moisturized.

Common ingredients found in bar soaps

Soaps are generally made from a through a process known as saponification, which includes mixing of water and Iye with animal or vegetable oil. The oil used for manufacturing is what determines the characteristics of the soap.

The most commonly used vegetable oils for soaps include palm oil, palm kernel oil, rice bran oil, castor oil, groundnut oil, coconut oil, etc. On the other hand, common non-vegetable oils are tallow or beef fat, lard or pig fat etc.

Other ingredients include fragrance, cleaning agents and antibacterial chemicals.

How do you use a bar soap

Bar soaps come in a solid molded form and are used in conjunction with water for washing and cleaning the body.

They contain surfactants, which when comes in contact with a solid surface and water wets the dirt and effectively holds dust particles in suspension. When rinsed off with water, it removes the dirt and grime substances easily.

Bar Soaps For Different Skin Types

Bar soaps today, pack just as much luxury, if not more, than body washes. These traditional staples have undergone a major upgrade and now check off all the items on your list of must-haves for a bath product.

From fragrance to presentation to skin care; bar soaps have a lot to offer.

Let’s find out which type of bar soap will suit your skin regimen.

Sensitive Skin

If you are prone to skin allergies organic soaps with natural skin-friendly ingredients will work best for you. Some of the organic bar soaps constitute herbs that help reduce skin irritation.

If you have a sensitive skin that is dry as well, go for soap with animal fats like goat milk to keep it moisturized.

Dry Skin

Mild soap bars with ingredients like vitamin E, shea or cocoa butter, aloe vera, almond oil or olive oil in bar soaps work best for dry skin.

Vegetable fats have good moisturizing properties and are excellent emollients that keep the skin moisturized.

Try to go for organic or fragrance-free soaps as they do not have harsh chemicals that may dry your skin.

Oily Skin

Non-comedogenic soaps are the perfect choice for people with oily skin as they help keep your pores from clogging. Look for one having glycerin.

Acne Prone Skin

Medicated and antibacterial soaps are highly recommended for people having acne prone skin as these soaps are specially crafted to curb breakouts.

Look for ingredients like triclosan or salicylic acid as they help treat and prevent acne.

The body wash

What is body wash and what is the difference with soap

Image courtesy: pogrebkov/BigStock.com

Body washes are liquid cleansers with fancy bottles and alluring scents.

Basically, body washes are an emulsion of water and detergent base along with some added scent and help suds up and get cleaned.

Further reading: Best body washes for men

Practically, most of the body washes available in the market today come with milder surfactant bases and are pH-friendly as well, which makes them suitable to be used as shampoo as well.

Types of body washes

There are three basic types of body washes being marketed these days. Read on to learn more about them.

Shower Gels

Shower gels are clear, brightly colored cleansers, made of mostly water and detergent.

Since shower gels are specifically designed to be used on skin; they tend to lower detergent levels as compared to shampoos. They work pretty well at removing oil and grime from the skin.

Moisturizing Body Washes

Moisturizing body washes feature a creamy formula, which is thick and nourishing.

Apart from cleaning, body washed offer the added benefit of moisturizing the skin as they contain high levels of oil and petrolatum.

Further reading: Top men’s moisturizers

Exfoliating Body Washes

Exfoliating body washes come with grains or beads from different ingredients like sugar to help remove dead skin and keep your skin supple and smooth.

Common ingredients

The ingredients are what make a pre shaving oil the best

Image Courtesy: kerdkanno/BigStock.com

Shower gels generally contain the same basic ingredients as bar soaps like water, foaming agent such as sodium laureth sulfate or SLS, and betaines, the chemical components binds all the ingredients together. But body washes use a detergent base for cleaning the skin, which is often of synthetic origin (derived from petroleum).

Most body washes also include surfactants to create the foam; emulsifiers to increase foam, preservatives to enhance their shelf lives and fragrance.

How do you use a body wash properly

Body washes are used with a loofah, washcloth or pouf.

All you need to do is take a small amount of body wash on a wet loofah and use it on gentle circular motions on skin to create suds.

Body Washes for Different Skin Types

Just like any other skin care product, the perfect body wash depends on your individual skin type.

Here’s how you can pick the one that’s best for you.

Sensitive Skin

Moisturizing body washed free of added fragrances and dyes are best for sensitive skin.

Looking out for ingredients like a gentle detergent such as lauryl glucoside; glycerin (as it helps hold moisture); and sunflower seed oil (which by the way, it helps soften the beard and skin) can help achieve the best results.

Dry Skin

Creamy formulas with moisturizing ingredients and mild detergents can help if you have a skin that dries the instant you splash some water.

Get a body wash with sodium lauroyl isethionate, which is a mild soap, and hydrolyzed milk protein or petrolatum, which helps soften the skin.

Oily Skin and Acne Prone Skin

Body washes containing salicylic acid or glycolic acid are perfect for oily skin prone to acne.

Tea-tree oil is another ingredient that can help you reduce inflation and breakouts.

Bar soap Vs Body wash

Now, that you know all about bar soaps and body washes, it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of each so that you can easily choose the one you’d like to see on your bathroom shelf.

Today, we are comparing these bath staples based on the key factors that we all take into consideration while shopping for the perfect product. Take a look.


You might be acquainted with the notion of bar soaps being a little unhygienic. Little did you know that researchers have found something totally contradictory.

Studies suggest that if the soap bars are rinsed off between uses, it is highly unlikely to transfer bacteria. On the other hand, body washes require a loofah or wash cloth for cleansing, which can become prime breeding grounds for germs and bacteria unless thoroughly cleaned frequently.

Effect on Skin

Skincare is a major reason why most people switch to body washes.

While body washes are easily sold on their moisturizing and oil control benefits; these days one can easily find soaps that boast of the same properties.

Gone are the days when the only job for soaps was to clean dirt. We are looking at some major upgrades with nourishing bar soaps available in the market for every skin type.

So, this one is a tie between bar soaps and body washes, we suppose.


Body wash. Uses and ingredients

The overall ease of use for a product is something we just can’t ignore before buying.

Bar soaps are pretty simple to use, just unwrap and bathe. On the flip side, body wash requires accessories (loofahs and wash cloths).

Convenience also includes their travel-friendliness. Although bar soaps have zero probability of exploding in your suitcase unlike body washes, but at the same time nobody likes to carry around at wet soap bar.


Normally, bar soaps tend to last longer than body washes. However, bar soap’s usability tends to diminish towards the end of their lifespan.

The size of a bar soap eventually becomes so small with use; you just can’t use it to the fullest.

You can effectively exploit the cost of your body wash after turning the bottle upside down. A little strategic rinsing can also help you use every last drop of your body wash. (We know we all do that!).


Well, this one completely depends on individual products.

Although you might consider bar soaps to be cheaper than body washes, but these days if you are looking for soap with specific properties like moisturizing, it can cost you much more than a body wash.

That is of course after considering the life span and usability for both the products.

Our recommendations

Some great men’s bar soaps for every skin type, that won’t leave you broke, are the below:

Dove Men

Dove Men Care Body and Face Bar Soap

Dove Men Care Clean Comfort Soap Bar is a great cleanser that delivers refreshed and hydrated skin. It features really mild cleansers and one quarter moisturizing cream to help maintain the moisture of your skin. T

he soap is non-comedogenic, which means it also keeps excess oil at bay.

Sal 3

If you are tired battling oily skin that’s prone to acne breakout, try SAL 3 soap bar with Salicylic Acid. It is an advanced colloidal sulfur-based wash without any added scents.

Salicylic acid and sulfur together provide you the benefit of their antifungal and antibacterial properties along with their keratolytic action. It helps lower the pH level of the skin and also improves the hydration to manage excess oil.

L’occitane Shea Butter

You can trust L’Occitane Milk Shea Butter Extra Gentle Soap if your skin falls in the category of combination of dry and oily.

This gentle bar soap formulated with nourishing shea butter is simply perfect for everyday use. It helps retain the natural moisture of the skin and helps maintain the natural defenses of the skin.

And some good body washes for men for all skin types that are available everywhere at very good prices are the following:

Nivea Men

You can easily remove cleanse and fight dry and flaky skin with Nivea Men 3 in 1 Body Wash. It is made from a soap and dye free formula with bamboo extract as the main ingredient.

This body wash is perfect for those having sensitive skin as it offers soothing care without irritating or drying the skin.

Body Shop Tea Tree

Your oily and acne-prone skin needs The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Body Wash, which is made from a triple blend of natural and purifying ingredients. Tea tree oil, lemon tea tree, and tamanu oil together targets excess oil and gives you a shine free complexion.

This body wash also helps prevent breakouts, giving you a clearer-looking skin.

Old Spice

Old Spice Dry Skin Defense is probably the best body wash you can get if you have dry, flaky and itchy skin. It can be also useful when you want to wash your facial hair and help with dry skin under your beard as well.

It thoroughly cleans dirt and grime from the body, while moisturizing it at the same time so you can enjoy a comprehensive skincare regimen without having to use a ton of products on your body.

Closing thoughts

There is no clear winner of this lather over lather battle since both have their upsides and downsides. You can expect the same skincare and cleansing effects from both the products as long as you know what you are buying (ingredients).

One that’s perfect for you largely depended on your personal preferences and requirements.

We suggest keeping any prejudices aside and trying out a few of both to choose the one that delivers the best results for you.