CONSIDERING the fact that soap is over 5,000 years old, it is perhaps the oldest beauty product most of us would come to know. The regular household would not be able to operate without this cleansing bar. We use it to wash our hands, for bathing and sometimes, to cleanse our faces with gentler but just as effective versions. Many of our childhood memories when it comes to bathing, revolve around using a bar of soap, playing and making suds out of it.
With its many functions, it is no wonder why when it comes to buying a bar of soap that is suitable for you, there are so many different choices to pick from. Because it is often called so many different names - cleansing bar, moisture bar, medicated soaps, antibacterial soaps - it can get quite confusing picking out something as basic as soap. While one bar may resemble the next, there are many things to look out for when picking a soap that works for you.
The right suds for you
Soaps are historically made using glycerin, a natural moisturising ingredient that gives skin just the right amount of oil. However, many commercial soap manufacturers have taken out this luxurious natural ingredient and replaced it with chemicals, colourants, preservatives - many of which can irritate your skin. Furthermore, synthetic fragrances are also used to mask the odour of these harsh additives. The result? A bar of soap that can cause more damage than good to your skin.
Which is why choosing soap that is suitable for you is very important. Just like everything else when it comes to beauty, the first thing to consider is the type of skin you have. Using a too-harsh soap on dry skin will only leave you with flakes and itch due to tightness brought by the soap. At the same time, stay away from moisture-rich soap for skin that's prone to breakout. Find one with the right pH level for your skin, between pH 5 and pH 8.
Avoid using harsh soap on your face, especially the ones with antibacterial properties, as these soaps contain ingredients that are too strong. Instead, keep antibacterial soaps to help remove bacteria and germs from your hands. Look for soaps made from a blend of vegetable oils such as olive oil, coconut, palm, soybean or sunflower. These are the most gentle on your skin, regardless of type. Added ingredients like shea butter, cocoa butter, aloe vera and vitamin E make your bar of soap a little extra moisturizing.
Pick a scent that you best enjoy to make it a complete experience. With so many different fragrances out there, you won't be short of choices. Most soaps use essential oils, so you can be sure of a natural fragrance.
Always keep your bar on a soap dish or a soap saver to avoid your soap from getting soggy. This way, you can let the soap dry and allow the excess water to run off so you don't end up with mush.
The key is to read the labels to find out exactly what went into the bar of soap. That way you can decide what you want (or not) and what you like. If you find a soap that you love, stock up on it so you'll always have your favourite bar of soap nearby!
What goes in
Look out for these ingredients if you're looking for a bar of soap that does more than just clean.
Milk: Milk soaps, such as goat's milk, can be good for your skin. It calms it down and gives you a nice luxurious feel.
Oatmeal: Oatmeal soaps are great for people with dry skin.
Tea tree oil: If your skin is on the oily side, pick a bar of soap with tea tree oil as one of its ingredients to help reduce oil on your skin.
Almond: Perfect for exfoliating, almond will help remove dead skin cells, leaving your pores clean.
Aloe vera: Calm and soothing, aloe vera soaps are great for sensitive skin.