We’re men. We sweat. We sometimes get dirty. We sometimes stink.
We need soap.
Not just any soap, mind you, but bar soap—that humble grooming tool that’s been around since almost forever. While bar soap (at least in recent years) may get a bad rap, you should ignore the naysayers after doing your research on the brand of bar you want, and concentrate on things such as how to use bar soap and its many benefits.
We’ll do exactly that with this post as we focus on all things bar soap. We think bar soap is great, and we’re not alone.
How to Use Bar Soap the Right Way
If you’re like most people, you follow a similar routine every time you step into the shower and do it more out of habit than anything else. There’s nothing wrong with that! But many grooming experts agree that there are ways to use your bar soap that will help you make the most of your time under the showerhead while ensuring that all the dirt, grime, and stink washes off your skin and down the drain.
Some do’s and don’ts
Don’t – Use bar soap on your face. Use a face wash or gel, unless your bar soap is like our Utility Bar and is gentle enough for use on your face.
Do – Take your time. Unless you’re pressed for time, don’t be in such a hurry to finish your shower. Take your time to ensure that you're clean from head to toe.Regular bar soaps can really dry out your facial skin.
Do – Use a fresh towel. If possible, always use a fresh towel after each time you shower. Doing so prevents the spread of bacteria on your skin.
Don’t – Wash your underarms and private areas with the soap bar. Instead, create a generous lather and use your hands to scrub those areas.
Give your body a good rinse to loosen up the dirt and excess oils on your skin. Be sure to shower with warm, not hot, water. Water that’s too hot can dry your skin, and even shorten the lifespan of your soap bar.
How to use bar soap in the shower
The best, most often recommended, way to use bar soap in the shower is to wash from top to bottom. Start with your face and neck then work your way down.Washing your face
Make sure your face is wet and well-rinsed before you wash it with bar soap. Your hands should be clean before you begin. Work the soap into a nice lather and apply it to your face with your hands. Gently massage it into your skin with a circular motion for about 30 seconds. Make sure you don’t scrub so hard that you irritate the skin.Starting at the top
One reason it’s best to start at the top and work your down your body is that you’ll ensure a total rinse. The less residue left after your clean yourself with bar soap, the better.Hands or no hands?
Some men prefer to use a washcloth in the shower, others rub the bar soap directly over their skin, some create a lather in their hands and then scrub. Does it matter? Not really. Although many people say you get a better lather with a washcloth or loofah. (More on potential washcloth woes later.)
- Once you’ve cleaned your face and neck, scrub your shoulders, arms, chest, waist, and down to your legs and feet. Many men ignore their legs and feet, but that’s a key tactical error for anyone who has frequent foot odor.
- After you’ve cleaned the front of your body, switch to your back (at least the places you can easily reach, that is) and work your way down to your buttocks and the backs of your legs.
It didn’t just seem like your mother was always nagging you about washing your hands, because in reality, she was. And what bugged her almost as much as your forgetting to wash your hands was that you never gave it your best effort.
So, let’s finally do it the right way:
- Take your time and vigorously rub the lather over your hands and between your fingers for 20 seconds.
- Scrub every area of your hands, including the fingertips, wrists, and under your fingernails (plenty of you probably endured a thorough fingernail “inspection”).
Finish the job by rinsing your hands thoroughly. If you don’t want to transfer germs back onto your hands, turn off the faucet with your elbow or a clean towel.
Make Your Bar Soap Last Longer6 Tips To Follow
It sucks when you find the perfect bar of soap and the next thing you know it’s the size of a sliver. While some bar soaps may last longer than others, there comes a time when you have to unwrap another bar and toss out what’s left of the old one.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, of course, but if you're budget-conscious, or prefer your soap to last longer than it does now, there are things you can do to extend its lifespan.
Keep it dry
True, you can’t help but get your soap wet while you’re sudsing up, but keeping it between uses makes a huge difference in your bar soap’s lifespan. Don’t keep it on a ledge in your shower where it’s exposed to a stream of water or excessive steam. Instead put it in a soap dish that drains water and put the dish on a ledge away from water.
Another tip: If multiple people use the same bar of soap, the chances of it becoming completely dry are slim to none. One way to resolve this issue is to give everyone a bar of soap and a place where they can store it between uses so it dries out.
Use a washcloth
While your hands are excellent for producing lather, a washcloth or loofah absorbs the lather and retains it for additional use. You’ll use less soap but get a nice sudsy lather that extends your bar soap’s lifespan. Just be sure not to keep that washcloth around too long before you refresh with a new one or it’ll start to smell musty (keep reading for more pros and cons regarding washcloths).
Cut the bar into pieces
It only stands to reason that a bigger bar of soap should last longer than smaller bars. Or, maybe not. There’s evidence that a smaller surface area of soap means less soap hits the water, and that makes it last longer. Cut your bar of soap in half, or thirds – you may be surprised how long each piece lasts.
Check the ingredients
A bar soap’s ingredients contribute to its lifespan, as well. Soaps made with oils and fats last longer than those made of softer, liquid oils.
Lower the heat
There’s nothing like a hot shower combined with a bar of soap that builds a wondrous lather. There’s a downside, however, because hot water makes bar soap dissolve more quickly and requires a bit more effort to work up a nice set of suds. Cooler water helps your soap last longer while also enabling it to maintain its shape and consistency.
The Great Debate: Is Bar Soap Unhealthy?
Bar soap got a bad rap not so long ago because of claims that it harbored bacteria and germs in unhealthy numbers. Many consumers accepted those claims as the gospel truth and switched to liquid soap, believing the latter eliminated the bacteria issue.
The real truth, however, isn’t nearly as cut and dry, in fact, bar soap isn’t bad for us at all. Sure, some bar soaps may dry out or irritate your skin, which is why it’s important to choose the right soap for your skin type, but that’s no different from any grooming product.
Here’s the bottom line:Yes, there are some germs on your bar soap
Consider this: half of the cells in the human body are bacteria and many of those live on the surface of your skin. But your skin needs that bacteria because it’s essential to your immune system and protects you from pathogens.
So, when you use bar soap, you’re essentially transferring microorganisms from your skin to your soap, and back again. It’s not as if your soap bar has a thriving over-populated community of unhealthy bacteria living on it.Your washcloth or loofah isn’t guilt-free
Washcloths and loofahs often remain moist for long periods, which promotes the growth of mold and bacteria. You then transfer that mold and bacteria to your bar of soap the next time that you shower.
The same principle applies to your soap holder or the shower ledge where you leave your soap bar when you’re finished with it. The constant moistness promotes and accelerates bar soap bacteria.Here’s how to get rid of bar soap germs
OK, so the controversy that comes with the claims that bar soap harbors germs by the gazillion isn’t nearly the whole truth, or even very much of it. Still, you may have worries about your soap bar and its potential for harboring germs.
If so, here are some things you can do to ease your anxiety:
- After wetting the soap, work its lather on your skin for 15 seconds before you begin to wash it off.
- Apply your soap directly to your body instead of using a washcloth or loofah. We just mentioned how those items could harbor germs in great quantities. If you prefer using a washcloth, use a new, dry one every time you shower. You can also toss your loofah into the washing machine from time to time.
- Keep your bar soap dry between uses. This is a point we’ll come back to frequently during this post because of its importance for many different reasons. For one, bacteria prefer to live in the water left on your soap versus on the bar of soap itself.
The bacteria found on your bar soap are much less of an issue than the bacteria you come into contact with in many other places, such as cell phones, computer keyboards, doorknobs, faucets, light switches, and even on the towels we use to dry ourselves after a shower. In fact, towels are among the most germ-laden items in your home, especially when they’re used often and retain moisture for a long period.But isn’t liquid soap more hygienic than bar soap?
While most liquid soap is antibacterial, or is marketed that way, that doesn’t mean it’s entirely germ-free, either.
For one, consider the liquid soap dispenser. If you’re not already cleaning it regularly, now’s the time to start because you’re constantly touching its pump with dirty hands. You should also clean your liquid soap dispenser regularly if you refill it often. The water used to create liquid soap can form a film inside your dispenser that’s laden with bacteria. Let the dispenser dry out completely before you refill it.
Something else to consider is the cleanliness of that liquid soap dispenser in your kitchen. It only stands to reason that a pump you frequently touch with hands that have just handled raw meat and other items would harbor a boatload of bacteria.
We don’t mean to bash liquid soap unmercifully, but finally, the liquid soap and dispensers found in public bathrooms of course also have high concentrations of bacteria. If you touch them after washing, your hands may end up with more bacteria on them than before you washed.Can your bar soap make you sick?
This question gets back to the original question, i.e., is bar soap sanitary? Again, while some germs live on bar soap (not nearly as much as you’d think) the chances of you becoming sick or developing a skin infection because of those germs are extremely low.
How to Keep Your Bar Soap Clean
The best way to ensure that your soap bar remains as sanitary as possible is by keeping it clean. One way to do that is to rinse it off with running water before cleaning yourself to wash away any of the germy “slime” that may have collected on it since the last time you used it.
You should also store your soap away from water whenever possible while allowing it to dry between uses. Keeping it dry is also a way to extend your bar soap’s lifespan, which we mentioned previously.
Place a sponge in your soap dish underneath the bar of soap to absorb the soapy liquid and potentially germ-laden gunk that may congregate on it.
You don’t have to spend much time worrying about sharing the same bar of soap with family members since you share many of the same microorganisms, anyway. But your soap will last longer if each member has his or her own soap.
The Benefits of Bar Soap - Some Facts You May Not Know
In a world in which different types of soap abound, it’s helpful to know the benefits of each type and how they may work for your skin type and lifestyle. Our focus is on bar soap, so here are some of its many benefits and some facts you may or may not know about it.
Benefit 1: Different Bar Soaps to Choose From
Not all bar soap is created equal. There are differences in the manufacturing processes, for example, and it never hurts to know what type you’re buying. As we’ll see, certain soaps work best with certain skin types, and more.
In general, however, here are the most common types of bar soap:Traditional Bar Soaps
Bar soap’s history stretches back to the pre-Biblical days, but it’s safe to say that the manufacturing process of soap has come a long way since then. “Traditional” bar soap comes from a mix of oils, such as animal fats and vegetable oils, water, and an alkali. The alkali works with the oils to trigger a chemical process known as saponification, which ultimately turns the mixture of oils, water, and alkali into soap.
The alkali used in the soap-making process is sodium hydroxide (lye). But the lye only catalyzes the chemical process; it’s completely dissipated during the creation of the bar soap.
While animal fat is still used in the soap-making process, most soap makers today use ingredients such as coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, and other nut and vegetable oils instead.Syndet Soap Bars
The typical bar of soap you see on the supermarket shelf usually qualifies as a “syndet” soap bar. That means the soap includes synthetic surfactants made from oil, fats, or petroleum products and is processed differently than the traditional saponification process.
Syndet bars include ingredients with somewhat daunting chemical-ish names such as sulfosuccinates, sulfonates, betaines, and sodium cocoyl isethionate. That doesn’t necessarily mean these soaps are bad for your skin because, in many cases, they’re pretty gentle.
Dove, the first syndet bar to hit the market way back when, is a good example of a mild syndet bar.
As an aside, manufacturers can only refer to their product as bar soap if it contains alkali salts of fatty acids primarily. That’s why you’ll most often see syndet bars referred to as “detergent” bars.Superfatted Soaps
In some cases, the process of saponification is left incomplete during the making of bar soap. This results in a soap that has more fat and oil, which can be a good thing because it improves the soap’s moisturizing properties and make it less irritating to the skin. The downside of superfatted soap is that some users consider them too heavy and not cleansing enough.Combination Soap Bars
Just as its name suggests, a combination soap bar mixes ingredients of syndet and superfatted soap bars. The result is a soap that’s intended to maximize cleansing while minimizing dryness and irritation.Transparent Soap Bars
The key ingredient in transparent soap bars is glycerin (added to traditional soap bars during the manufacturing process). The glycerin makes transparent soaps a bit milder than other soap types, although that’s not the case always. A transparent soap bar’s ingredients may still irritate the skin.
Benefit 2: You Can Choose For Your Skin Type
Bar soap isn’t a one-size-fits-all product. Not only do bar soaps include different ingredients, but they’re also best-suited for different skin types. You’ll want to choose your soap wisely, especially if you have sensitive skin, but every skin type is unique and you’ll want to get one that works best for you.
Let’s break it down:Soap for sensitive skin
Men with sensitive skin are more prone to develop itches, rashes, and other irritations that become uncomfortable. If you’re one of those men, look for organic bar soap that includes skin-friendly natural ingredients, including herbs that are soothing to sensitive skin.
Soaps with a tallow base, i.e., their ingredients include animal fats, provide excellent moisturization for sensitive skin and are very mild when compared with some other ingredients. They also can be good for men who suffer from skin disorders such as eczema.Soap for Dry Skin
Winter dryness and summer sun exposure can sap the moisture from your skin and leave it in desperate need of hydration. Moisture balance is a must for healthy skin, and if your skin is naturally dry or dried out by the elements you need to choose a bar soap accordingly.
Milder soaps, including those with organic ingredients, are ideal for people with dry skin. Soothing ingredients such as aloe vera, vitamin E, shea or cocoa butter, olive oil, and almond oil will help keep your skin moisturized throughout the day.
The vegetable fats found in coconut oil, palm oil, and shea butter also have excellent moisturizing properties. Choose fragrance-free soaps whenever possible because they don’t include harsh chemicals, such as sodium laureth sulfate, found in many bar soaps.Soap for Oily Skin
Many men have oily skin and excess sweat and body hair may exacerbate the slickness and greasiness. The best bar soaps for oily skin typically include glycerin to help clean the skin without robbing it of too much oil.
Look for soaps that are non-comedogenic, because they won’t clog your pores. Non-comedogenic soaps cleanse your skin of excess oils without robbing it of moisture necessary for healthy skin.
Be careful of over-cleansing your skin if it’s oily—doing so can kick sebum (your skin’s natural oils) production into overdrive and leave your skin feeling even more greasy and filmy.Soap for Acne-Prone Skin
Acne happens. Sweat, excess oil, and dirt can clog pores and lead to acne breakouts. Using a bar soap that’s overly-drying will trap dirt, oil, and bacteria that make acne flare-ups even more frequent.
Soaps that include salicylic acid will help fight zits and blackheads, consider using medicated or antibacterial soap. Triclosan, an antibacterial agent, is another ingredient you should look for in a bar soap if your skin is acne-prone.
You can exfoliate your skin with a gritty soap or scrub made from natural ingredients. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells that accumulate naturally, which can clog skin pores and lead to issues such as acne.
When in doubt, keep a couple of things in mind when choosing the right bar soap for your skin type:
- Ask a dermatologist for recommendations if you’re unsure of your skin type and what bar soap to use.
- Pay attention to how your skin feels. Just because a bar soap works great for someone else doesn’t mean that it’s right for you.
Benefit 3: Bar Soap is More Eco-Friendly Than Liquid Soap
The packaging of bar soap usually consists of paper or cardboard, both of which are recyclable and break down more easily in landfills than the plastic packaging of liquid soap.
There’s also the “waste” factor of liquid soap when compared to bar soap. Overuse is a common problem of liquid soaps because of their pump-action or squeezable bottles. Whether you use a washcloth, loofah, or your hand, it’s easier to know when you’ve dispensed the proper amount of bar soap. When you consider the higher cost of most liquid soap, overuse can take a bite from your budget.
Last, but not least, researchers say that the amount of energy used to make liquid soap is greater than the energy used to produce bar soap. Liquid soap production also requires a long list of different chemicals and requires up to 20 times more packaging than bar soap.
Benefit 4: Bar Soap is Good For Your Skin
While bar soap often gets tagged as being “drying” to skin, it’s a statement that ranks right up there with saying that soap bars are germ-laden. Many quality, crafted soaps contain glycerin, a humectant that attracts and retains moisture to your skin. They also may contain ingredients such as aloe vera and botanical oils that are decidedly skin-friendly.
Benefit 5: Bar Soap Doesn’t Contain Preservatives
Bar soap doesn’t need preservatives to remain effective, fresh, and safe to use. All other types of washes that use liquid must contain preservatives (although not all preservatives are harmful).
Benefit 6: Bar Soap Lasts a Long Time
Bar soap can last four to six weeks, or even more, as long as you let it dry out between uses.
Benefit 7: Bar Soap is Easy to Use
There’s nothing complicated about using bar soap: You remove it from its box, peel of the wrapper, (if there is one), and rub it on your skin or your washcloth.
Benefit 8: You’re Not Paying For Water
The main ingredients in a high-quality bar of soap are typically oils and butters. The main ingredient in most liquid soap is, *drum roll*, water! Properly-cured bar soap has very little water in it, so you’re not paying for excess liquid.
Benefit 9: Bar Soap Can Help Keep Your Clothes Fresh
It’s true, all you need to do is wrap a dry bar of soap in a cloth bag or piece of fabric and store it in your closet with your clothes. Not only will your clothes smell fresher, but it can even help repel insects.
Benefit 10: It Can Relieve Bug Bites
Tired of itchy bug bites? There’s no need to reach for that bottle of expensive anti-itch solution because you can relieve itching by rubbing dampened soap over the bug bite.
Benefit 11: You Can Use Bar Soap to Pick Up Broken Glass
We’ve all been there: You drop a glass on your kitchen floor or deck and it shatters into a few large pieces and dozens of much smaller ones. Cleaning it up is often a pain but, believe it or not, a bar of soap can make the job easier. Wet the soap bar and press it down on the area covered in broken glass; the bar will pick up even the tiniest of shards. Just be sure not to use it in the shower, even if you think it’s going to be “exfoliating,” it’s only going to hurt.
Benefit 12: Bar Soap Can Unstick a Stuck Zipper
Running a bar of soap along a zipper that’s stuck or snagged can get things unstuck before you know it. Hey, your mom may even have used this method on your jacket when you were a kid.
Benefit 13: Bar Soap Will Freshen Smelly Shoes
Feet can sweat. The perspiration and bacteria can easily lead to odor within your shoe. But don’t panic: Place a bar of soap inside the offensive shoe and let it soak up the stink overnight.
Benefit 14: It Helps Keep Your Fingernails Clean
Many men don’t mind a bit of dirt under their fingernails and many occupations leave you little choice. But you can keep the dirt under control by scraping your fingernails over a bar of soap before you work in the yard or garden. Once you’ve finished the work, all you need to do is give your hands a good scrubbing and the dirt and soap will come right out.
Benefit 15: Bar Soap is Travel-Friendly
Bar soap won’t explode or leak in your dopp kit, which is pretty obviously a good thing. It’s a pain to have to move your wet bar of soap to your bag after each use, but if you pat it dry after you’re done and then keep the bar wrapped in some way this will help prevent liquid messiness.
Benefit 16: You Can Use Bar Soap For Shaving
A bar soap’s lather and a good razor are all you need for shaving, whether your shave cream runs out or you forgot to pack it. Our Beardbrand Utility Bar is perfect for shaving, as well.
What is a Utility BarA Word or Two About Our Fabulous Utility Bar
So, what exactly is Beardbrand’s Utility Bar? Is it body soap? A beard and facial cleanser? A shampoo?
The answer is all of the above and more.
Another plus is that the Utility Bar is great for travel and helps keep the items in your Dopp bag to the bare essentials. You won’t need to pack a body wash, shampoo, beard wash, or shave lotion because the Utility Bar serves all of those roles.
The Utility Bar helps to simplify your life because it fills so many roles when you travel, or when you go to the gym, and its list of ingredients provides a very gentle wash and a rich, moisturizing lather. You’ll feel fresh and clean without the residue left behind by many other products while it keeps your skin and hair hydrated.
Our Utility Bar comes in six excellent fragrances: Tree Ranger, Spiced Citrus, Tea Tree, Old Money, Temple Smoke, and Four Vices.
8 Bar Soap Facts You May Not Know
A long historyThe history of bar soap
Man’s quest for cleanliness is far from new because evidence suggests that soap existed in ancient Babylon as early as 2800 BC. Even back then, it appears that being “ripe” wasn’t something to desire.
Meanwhile, soap-making in the United States dates to the early 1600s. By the mid-19th century, there was a clear distinction between bathing soap, usually in the shape of bars, and laundry soap. The first major soap manufacturing company in the U.S., the William Colgate Company, opened for business in 1806.
Is Soap Really “Soap?”
We touched on this earlier, but the bar soap you buy from the store isn’t always “soap,” and could technically be detergent. The problem with detergents is that they strip your skin of its natural oils and leave it in need of hydration. Store-bought soaps also include artificial ingredients and fragrance, that can be harsh on the skin.
How Soap Cleans
The process of how soap cleans works two ways:
- Soap lessens the surface tension of water so it wets what needs to be cleaned rather than balling up on the surface. The latter phenomenon can slow down the cleaning process.
- Soap molecules are water-attracting on one side and hydrophobic (water-repellant) on the other. The hydrophobic part of the molecule targets dirt and oil while the hydrophilic ends stick outward while waiting to be rinsed away with water.
Soap may also include abrasives designed to scour surfaces of dirt and grime. Note: Soap that leaves a “film” on the skin often gets a bad rap; but that film contains natural oils, which aren’t a bad thing by any means.Soap-Making is a Huge Industry
In 2010, the revenue generated by soap and cleaning compound manufacturing was over $50 billion.Early Soap Was Medicinal
Evidence suggests that early soap was often used for medicinal purposes, including as an aid to healing sores. Moreover, early soap production in Europe focused on the cloth industry rather than the cleanliness of humans.The Soap-Dynamite Connection
There’s no need to worry about blowing up your bathroom but there is a connection between soap and dynamite. It all began with the removal of a soap tax during the Industrial Revolution that made it easier to make gentler and better-smelling soap.
The removal of the soap tax cleared the way for glycerine, formerly a discarded product of soap manufacturing, for use as nitroglycerine in dynamite – a new invention at the time.The Soap Gangster
American con man and crime boss Jefferson Randolph Smith set up a criminal soap swindle in which he and his gang sold soap that supposedly contained money in some bars. They sold the bars at an inflated price, all while earning Smith the nickname “Soapy.” You could say he “cleaned up” until his dastardly deed was revealed.The World’s Most Expensive Soap
Feel like splurging a little or, well, a lot? Then consider the world’s most expensive bar of soap which has a price tag of $2,800. Made in Qatar, the soap’s list of ingredients includes gold and diamond powder.
How Soap is Made
Soap making has come a long way since its humble beginnings way back when. Researchers believe that the earliest soaps came from the sap of certain plants, but soapmakers soon discovered that fats, when combined with alkalies, produced saponified compounds resembling soap.
The technology involved in producing soap comes down to two processes: cold-pressed and milled. The cold-pressed method involves a hand-made process and won’t damage the benefits of essential oils, if used. “Natural” and artisan soaps typically come from cold-pressed processing.
Milled soap refers to manufactured soap produced in large quantities and may include natural or synthetic ingredients. The milled soap process involves higher temperatures than with cold pressing, and milled bars of soap generally last longer and are less expensive than cold-pressed soap.
The higher temperatures used in the milled soap process can burn off the product’s glycerin. Glycerin is great for moisturizing the skin.
- Fats, oils, and lye
Today’s bar soap comes from a mix of fats and oils that reacts with lye. Liquid fats react with the lye and thicken as they saponify (turns to soap). The hardening liquid is poured into molds and become hard enough for cutting and wrapping, usually within a day. The saponification process continues for a few weeks, however, until all of the lye reacts with the oils.
- Homemade vs. commercial
Once the saponification process is complete, the result is a bar of soap that contains 75% soap and 25% glycerine. In homemade soap, the glycerine is left and acts as a skin moisturizer and softener while also giving the soap a softer feel.
The glycerine is often removed from commercial soap. Fats from coconut oil and palm kernel oil often are added to ensure that the lye reacts completely, and to give the soap a softer feel.
- The kettle process
Among the most traditional methods for making soap involves melting fats and alkali in a large kettle (as in three stories high, in some cases). The mixture thickens within the kettle as the fat reacts with the alkali.
Many commercial soaps come from the milled process in which milling is an additional step. The cooled soap is crushed and kneaded as it’s fed through several sets of heavy rollers. Fragrances are added during this process, as well.
The soap-making process may contain other steps and processes not listed here, but we wanted to cover some of the basics.
If there’s one thing you can say about bar soap is that it’s still going strong after all these years. It remains one of the most effective products for enhancing your overall hygiene and for keeping you healthy, and it also has many benefits beyond keeping you clean and making you smell great.
We’d love your feedback: What type of bar soap to use? Why do you like it? As always, we welcome your comments.
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