I’m unlikely to be the only person wondering what bath product to use. So to get to the bottom of this question, I asked experts about the pros and cons of each.

What are the differences between the three?
A bar soap is a solid cleanser, while shower gel and body wash are liquid cleansers. If you’re having trouble distinguishing between shower gel and body wash, here’s what to look for: shower gel has a gel-like consistency, while body wash can creamier, says Maiysha Jones, PhD, senior scientist at North American Personal Care. Division at Procter & Gamble, a consumer goods company that includes personal care and hygiene brands.

Which one to choose for your skin?
Let’s release the pressure first: there’s no right or wrong choice in using a bar soap, shower gel, or body wash. It comes down to personal preference and understanding which shape is right for your skin type, says Sabrina Henry, principal scientist at Aveeno, which makes skin-care products.

It should also be noted that specific products in each of the three categories can be formulated in different ways. That said, here are some generalities about each.

moisturizing
Body washes tend to contain more moisturizing ingredients, says Nicole Negbenebor, MD, dermatology resident at Brown University. But if you just need to clean up or prefer that extra clean feeling after a shower, a traditional bar soap or shower gel may be what you need, Jones says.

Just remember that depending on how they’re formulated, traditional bar soaps and shower gels can sometimes rob skin of its natural moisture compared to body washes, Jones says. You can, however, look for bar soaps that contain moisturizing ingredients.

pH level
Traditional bar soaps can be more drying than body washes or shower gels because they are more alkaline than our skin, which is an important consideration for those with dry or sensitive skin. Body washes, on the other hand, typically have lower pH levels, which are better suited to more sensitive skin, says Negbenebor.

Because our skin’s pH is slightly acidic (4 to 5), soaps with a pH of 5.5 and around would be best, while anything above 6 would be harsh on the skin, says Yousuf Mohammed, PhD, senior researcher at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute in Australia.

Irritants
For body washes and gels, you need to watch out for allergens (such as high amounts of perfumes and certain preservatives) that can trigger eczema. Bar soaps tend to contain fewer irritating preservatives, but if your skin is easily irritated, be sure to avoid soaps with lots of harsh fragrances or dyes, Negbenebor says.

Which is more eco-friendly?
From an environmental perspective, consumers may want to look for products packaged in recycled materials that they can recycle after use, Jones says.

Bar soap is the greener option because it can be wrapped with recyclable paper, says Eleanor Greene, editor of Green American magazine, a publication of the nonprofit Green America, which promotes environmental sustainability.

Shower gels and body washes, on the other hand, can be less eco-friendly because they’re typically packaged in plastic packaging, says Mitch Ratcliffe, publisher of recycling database and sustainability resource Earth911.com. However, if a gel or body wash brand offers a robust refill and recycling program, as some brands currently do, it can reduce waste and environmental impact on the environment in the long run.

If you want to make more of an environmental difference, perhaps it’s more important to consider how long do you spend in the shower. To save money and energy, you can take shorter showers and lower your water heater temperature to around 120°F, reducing the need for electricity or gas to heat water. your shower,” says Ratcliffe.

You can also switch to a low-flow showerhead that uses less water – ideally one with an Environmental Protection Agency WaterSense label, which can save at least half a gallon of water per minute you shower. , says Ratcliffe. And if you want your home to be more eco-friendly, here are 10 quick tips to make your home greener.

Personal vote
As someone who has oilier skin and doesn’t feel the need for extra skin hydration at the moment (but never say never), I might go back to bar soaps for now, because all that that reduces the use of plastic gets an extra point for me. Oh, and I guess I’ll take shorter showers from now on. It’s been some real, long showers, but that’s where you and I part ways.

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