Liquid Soap vs. Bar Soap: Which One’s Better for You and the Planet?
We already know we have some die-hard bar soap lovers out there (namely, our At Last Naturals MSM soap lovers). But we also know that long-time liquid soap users may have a hard time converting to solid soap.
If you’re a liquid soap lover, you might be wondering...
- Is it even possible to love bar soap as much as you love your liquid soap?
- Will it last as long and provide the same benefits?
- Will it get dirty when it sits on the shower/sink ledge?
These are all valid questions, and we’re here to answer them! From ingredient efficacy to sustainability, let’s dive into the details surrounding the long-time competition between liquid soap and bar soap, so you can decide which option suits your needs and values.
While the ingredients in both liquid and bar soaps vary greatly from product to product, some things remain the same. In general, bar soaps require fewer (if any) chemical additives than their liquid counterparts. Because bacteria and other microorganisms need water to flourish, liquid soaps typically require chemical preservatives like parabens and formaldehyde to maintain freshness.
Liquid soaps also contain emulsifiers, fancy additives that keep unlike ingredients (like oil and water) from separating. While emulsifiers reduce the need to aggressively shake liquid products before every use, some of them may pose threats to your skin.
Not all emulsifiers are created equal. Some have been found to dry out the skin because they don’t mesh with the natural oils within your skin. This can affect your skin’s barrier function and cause irritation (especially if you have sensitive skin).
Long story short, bar soaps reduce the need for these additives, making more room for effective, natural ingredients. Our MSM skincare line (featuring our coveted bar of MSM soap) strengthens your skin barrier with ingredients derived from nature, including MSM, aloe vera, soybean oil, botanical extracts, and antioxidant vitamins a, c, and e.
These ingredients work together to unclog your pores, soothe impurities, brighten your skin, and lock in moisture — without the need for chemical preservatives.
Efficacy + Use
It’s believed that ingredients formulated with water (aka the ingredients in liquid soap) have a lower bioavailability than the oil-based ingredients in bar soaps. Bioavailability refers to the availability of the ingredient's active compounds, the same ones that deliver benefits to your skin once it absorbs them. Lower bioavailability can reduce the potency of the ingredients, preventing them from penetrating the skin to provide nourishment below the surface.
Our bar soap is particularly effective because of its hero ingredient, methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM), a natural source of organic sulfur commonly known as nature’s beauty mineral. MSM skincare is known for its unique ability to gently treat skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and rosacea without overdrying. Sulfur’s antibacterial properties allow it to clean impurities on the skin while simultaneously providing moisture to strengthen your skin barrier.
It’s safe to say we want the bioavailability of this miracle ingredient to be at its highest! That’s one great reason why our MSM soap comes in bar form.
That being said, once your bar of soap gets wet, it can grow bacteria on the surface as it sits in your shower. Here are some tips to avoid this bacteria growth.
- Rinse the bar in warm water before and after use.
- Use a special antibacterial soap pad for storage on your shower/sink ledge. This stone soap tray is made from stone that’s naturally anti-bacterial and mold resistant.
- Store your bar of soap where it won’t be in continuous contact with water, so it can dry between uses.
To stay on the good-hygiene train, don’t share your bar of soap with anyone else. It’s yours and only yours!
If you’ve ever searched “things I can do to help the environment,” you might be surprised to hear that bar soaps make the list. In a lot of ways, bar soaps are gentler on the planet than liquid soaps. Here’s how.
- Bar soaps have a smaller carbon footprint. Scientists from Zurich’s Institute of Environmental Engineering found that liquid soap has a carbon footprint 10x bigger than bar soap. The points below help to explain why.
- Bar soaps conserve water. It takes less water to produce bar soaps (obviously because liquid soaps contain water, but less obviously because liquid soaps also require bottled packages that require a lot of water to produce). Plus, bar soaps tend to last 6x longer than their liquid counterparts, and it takes
- Bar soaps reduce plastic use. Because they’re solid, they don’t require a bottle! This is a huge reason that bar soaps have a smaller carbon footprint and require way less water to produce. It’s estimated that the cosmetic industry produces 120 billion pieces of plastic packaging every year. Bar soap is an easy way to reduce that.
- Bar soaps can reduce chemical pollution. As mentioned above, bar soaps don’t require chemical preservatives and emulsifiers — things that would eventually end up down your drain and back into the environment.
Don’t forget, an act of care for the environment is an act of care for yourself. Your body and your environment are both your homes — and they should be treated with care. Eco-friendly soap bars can help with that.
At Last Naturals MSM Soap
For the many reasons listed above, our MSM soap is a fan favorite. Seriously, we once had to pause the production of our MSM soap, and our loyal customers couldn’t find a replacement that measured up.
If you’re looking to try out a new bar soap, our MSM soap is the perfect place to start.