The Bar Soap vs. Liquid Soap Debate

Bar of Soap
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When it comes to shower suds, it’s time to spark the debate between bar soap and liquid soap. Which is better for your skin and causes less risk of contamination? We spoke with Jessica Weiser, M.D., to find out.

Let’s talk bar soap first. When it comes to bar soap, there are important factors to consider before leaving the bar uncovered post-shower. “Bar soap does harbor bacteria on its surface, so there is a potential risk of self-contamination or potentially spreading bacteria to someone else if the bar soap is shared,” Weiser tells InStyle. “Bar soap is moist and warm and therefore harbors more potential for bacterial and fungal growth on its surface.” In addition, Weiser mentions that bar soap is historically more drying because it contains sodium hydroxide. “However, with the advent of more synthetic detergents, these bars are more hydrating than they used to be,” she adds.

Unlike bar soap, which can be directly shared amongst different people, liquid soap is used in individual pumps to cleanse and hydrate the skin. “Body wash is more sanitary because it is dispensed in single use quantities and the remaining product is protected in the bottle,” Weiser says. “However, it is important when using liquid soap to thoroughly rinse and dry sponges and wash cloths because those too are significant sources of bacterial, fungal and even viral contamination.”

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