I'm off soap!

xray

Well-known member
Dec 12, 2012
Hey, guys. I started a thread back in November on another message board titled "Recommend me a bar soap." I got lots of helpful responses and I had fun trying out plenty of different soaps. But I still didn't feel satisfied. I was left feeling like the soaps didn't lather enough (ironically, one of the soap brands has "sudsy" in its name), were somewhat drying and just overall left me unsatisfied. When trying these soaps on my face, I was really able to tell how dry and tight they left my skin feeling.

So, being one that is in the science field, I decided to do a little research. What took me so long? I wish I had done this earlier. What I found was that dermatologists are pretty much in agreement that soap, plainly put, is just not good for the skin. And this opinion is based on research.

The biggest issue with "real" soap is that the pH is too high for our skin. Our skin is slightly acidic and soap is alkalinic. Here are a few facts from a study I will link to below.

Normal healthy skin has potential of hydrogen (pH) range of 5.4-5.9 and a normal bacterial flora. Use of soap with high pH causes an increase in skin pH, which in turn causes an increase in dehydrative effect, irritability and alteration in bacterial flora. The majority of soaps and shampoos available in the market do not disclose their pH.

...

Majority of the soaps have a pH within the range of 9-10.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171909/


A jump in just one digit in pH is huge.

a difference of one pH unit (ie from pH 2 to pH 3) is a ten fold (10X) difference in H+ ion concentration.

http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/biology/bio4fv/page/ph_def.htm

Another issue with soap is that it literally leaves soap scum on your skin. The following is from a website founded by a dermatologist that is all about the skin:

Disadvantages of soap

Soap is alkaline, which irritates sensitive skin, which is normally acidic. Alkaline skin degrades quickly as protease enzymes are activate that destroy the skin proteins.
Soap forms scum when used with hard water (water that contains a high amount of calcium in solution). The scum stops the surfactant properties, so one tends to use more soap.
Soap leaves deposits of carbonate salts on the skin. This irritates the skin.
Soap deteriorates on storage.
http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/soaps-and-cleansers/

So what's a good alternative? Syndets. A word derived form the words "synthetic" and "detergent." Yeah, I know, that doesn't sound so "natural." That doesn't mean it's not better for your skin. From a study:

It has been well established that cleansing bars based on mild synthetic surfactants (syndets) are significantly milder to skin than the more widely used soap-based cleansing bars. Mild syndet cleansing bars have also been shown to be more compatible cleansers for patients with a variety of skin conditions (e.g., acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis) and are recommended to be an integral part of patients fundamental daily skin care regimen. We have recently investigated the cosmetic benefits of mild cleansing in a group of mild to moderate photodamaged women who typically wash their faces with ordinary soaps. In a 4-week, double-blind, split- face clinical trial, it was found that daily cleansing with a mild syndet bar led to significant improvements in the appearance of skin compared with daily cleansing with a regular soap. Several skin appearance attributes such as texture, clarity, tone, and brightness improved significantly over the 4-week trial period, as assessed by the investigating dermatologist. Subjects noticed a significant decrease in the appearance of fine lines/wrinkles that was verified by in vivo texture measure- ments. These benefits of mild syndet bars over soap are linked to the syndet bar's ability to maintain the integrity of the stratum corneum barrier and leave skin in a more hydrated state.
http://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(04)03133-0/abstract

Back to dermnetnz.org:
Syndets

Synthetically produced detergents (syndets) were developed in the 1950s and are widely available. They are made from a variety of petrochemicals (derived from petroleum) and/or oleochemicals (derived from fats and oils). These hydrocarbon chain sources are used to make the lipophilic end of the surfactant molecule. Chemicals, such as sulphur trioxide, sulphuric acid and ethylene oxide, are used to produce the hydrophilic end of the surfactant molecule.

Compared with soap:

Syndets can be set to the normal skin pH of 5.5
The number of Proprionibacterium acnes (acne bacteria) is reduced
No scum is produced so they rinse off well
Washed skin is less dry
Sensitive skin is less irritated
They are more expensive.

Well, finding all of that out, I couldn't wait to try a syndet bar. So my next step was deciding on one. After a little more research, I decided to use one called "Vanicream Cleansing Bar." I found it at my local CVS (although next time I'm going to get it for less online). Yes, this is what I have been looking for! It wasn't at all drying, it lathered more than all of the soaps I have tried so far and I wasn't left itchy...at all.

I have tried body washes in the past that contained moisturizers and I couldn't stand them. They left me feeling like i had an unpleasant film on me. This product just leaves me feeling moisturized in a pleasant way. I'm really digging this!

I'm starting this thread in case there are any like me that have been looking for the perfect soap and it didn't occur to them that maybe "soap" should just be abandoned altogether. If you are completely satisfied with soap, fine, I don't want to change your mind or debate my findings, but if you're open to the fact that not everything "natural" is necessarily best and haven't been as satisfied with any "real" soaps yet, I'm urging you to give a syndet bar a try.

I haven't tried any others than the one I already mentioned, but I'm looking forward to it. If anyone has any syndet recommendations, I'd love to hear them.
 

cacio

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Nov 5, 2010
Thanks for the info, didn't know.

I guess that explains the name of one of the shower gels I have used, La Roche Posay Lipikar Syndet. Expensive, but I liked it. La Roche Posay has several face cleansers for different skin types as well, I assume they are in the category you say, but haven't read. In general, French pharmacy brands like La Roche Posay, Avene (Avene, not aveeno), and Bioderma specialize in this type of products (high tolerance, tailored to skin types, etc), though they are expensive.

In your post you seem to imply that you're looking for a bar. By impression is that this type of product usually comes in other forms (like pumb dispensers, flacons) rather than bars.

cacio
 

Suspended

Well-known member
Jul 28, 2012
Dove, or was it Simple, did a ph5.5 soap bar. This was about 20yrs ago, so I'm not sure they still do it. I remember it just seeming milkier than normal.

This info has been knocking about for forever, usually with a long list of expensive products you should buy for optimal skin ph ;)
 

Ken_Russell

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2006
Thanks for the info and also for the recommendations of the few soap brands that seem (at least to a certain point) to partially avert this.

Although might have mentioned this before adding the German brand Seba Med in the somewhat pricier category but still largely justified by its value for money to the recommendations for bar soaps but also shower gels/body washes still suitable in this particular situation.
 

Renato

Well-known member
Oct 21, 2002
Soap bars do a pretty good job of washing dirt off.
And they do a good job of getting suntan lotion off.
When I've used milder soap like Dove to wash suntan lotion off - it didn't work very well.

So whether to go to these Syndets you mention, really depends on whether one has sensitive skin, how dirty one is, how effective syndets are relative to soap, or whether one is trying to get suntan lotion or other gooey sunscreen moisturiser off.
Regards,
Renato
 

xray

Well-known member
Dec 12, 2012
You mean the Old Spice I was using? Probably, but I'm not really sure if it had "soap" in it. What I do know is that I am hooked on this Vanicream and my search for the perfect soap/cleansing bar/wash is over.
 

NoNose

Well-known member
Jun 11, 2015
Soap bars do a pretty good job of washing dirt off.
And they do a good job of getting suntan lotion off.
When I've used milder soap like Dove to wash suntan lotion off - it didn't work very well.

So whether to go to these Syndets you mention, really depends on whether one has sensitive skin, how dirty one is, how effective syndets are relative to soap, or whether one is trying to get suntan lotion or other gooey sunscreen moisturiser off.
Regards,
Renato

I had similar thoughts.. some soaps are better at accomplishing than others, the best I've found so far is a body wash that contains activated charcoal and skin is not left dry but I also don't have hard water. I'm curious about this Syndet now
 

xray

Well-known member
Dec 12, 2012
I had similar thoughts.. some soaps are better at accomplishing than others, the best I've found so far is a body wash that contains activated charcoal and skin is not left dry but I also don't have hard water. I'm curious about this Syndet now
I don't find the Vanicream bar "mild" in it's ability to clean. It will wash away sunscreen easily.
 

Titan

Well-known member
Mar 9, 2005
Earth Science makes a facial cleanser that can be use by men or women and it has a ph of 5.5. I have sensitive skin that easily dries and this product is described as a creamy fruit oil cleanser for dry/sensitive skin but it will wash off sport sunscreen from my face no problem. I like to keep my face washing simple and really dislike applying moisturizing lotion after I wash and I find I don't have to with this product. This product is one of the best I have found and I have tried many. I hope they never stop making it. When I find something that works inevitably the manufacturer stops making it and I begin my search again. Fortunately I have used this product for 20 years and it appears to be a core product. The name of the product is A D E Creamy Fruit Oil Cleanser. When it comes to cleansers I read not to use anything in bar form that creams and liquids were best. I use Dr. Bronner's castile bar and liquid soap for washing my body. The unscented or almond. The almond has a faint smell. Of course a fragrance free vegetable glycerin bar soap is ok for the body too. Does a good job cleaning without over drying. Kroger has a similar product in their Simple Truth line and the unscented castile bar soap seems even gentler than the Dr. Bronner's. Lastly Alba makes some great shave creams that are non drying. If you are like me and have sensitive skin and want to keep it simple try these products.
 

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