Difference between soap and bathing bars

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Yes! There’s a big difference between soap and bathing bar that is available in the market. Next time when you are visiting a super market, notice what’s written on most of the labels in the ‘bathing soap’ rack. Chances are, they will be called ‘beauty bars’, ‘bathing bars’, ‘moisturizing bar’, et al. Read here to find out how these products are different from a soap!

How many soaps are packaged as luxury bars or bathing bars or simple as a bar instead of being sold or marketed as a soap? Have you ever wondered at this discrepancy? Next time you go to a supermarket, check out the labeling of you favorite soaps. I remember one right now – Dove which is called a beauty bar.

What is a Soap? 
Soap is a product which is formed by the process of ‘saponification’ which includes the reaction between an alkali and an oil. When this reaction takes place, glycerin is formed as a byproduct and is present in the soap itself and gives the soap its moisturizing property. So, the ultimate product called ‘soap’ is actually a salt. The alkali used in soap making is called lye or Sodium Hydroxide. Lye is reacted with either Coconut Oil (it makes for a hard and lathering soap) or Olive Oil (which makes a mild soap). Now, when a soap is made, it needs a month or two months time to ‘cure’ to complete the process of saponification after which the soap is ready to be used.

These soaps are actually full of fatty acids and the cleansing action is that some of the molecules repel dirt and some molecules get attracted to dirt and that’s how the soap separates and cleanses. So, the molecules which attract dirt get washed off and molecules which repel dirt stay on our bodies and keep it moisturized. If you have ever used a soap which is made of lye, it is extremely gentle on the skin, doesn’t let your skin dry out and keeps your skin smooth and soft. These are some characteristics of soap which you do not generally find the counter-products sold as soaps.

Are the Bars available in the market Soaps?
Well, actually no. For one, I hardly remember any soap having Sodium Hydroxide in their ingredients list. Well, I do read my ingredients list and when I had read about this soap making, I had checked out many soaps in the market to find one true soap. No success there. And, second, I have read somewhere that the companies remove the glycerin content of their soaps or manufacture their soaps through some other method and that is why the soaps have SLS and such surfactants as their ingredients.  And, finally , do you think it will be profitable for companies to keep soaps for 2 months on the shelf to let them ‘cure’?

So what you you like to pick the next time you are buying bathing accessories – a soap or a beauty bar?!
– This post was originally published on Perfect Skin Care for You, a popular blog on beauty and skin care by Swati Murti. 

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