Some info you may find interesting:
Letter from someone using beautipedia to Paula B (the author/cosmetic cop). It is long but for those really interested in the bar soap vs liquid/cream/gel water soluable cleansers it is well worth the read. The highlighting is mine.
There is a follow up article on "below the neck cleansing" if you are also interest. Let me know if you want me to post that one.
Your reviews are great, and I appreciate how you reference sources to back up your opinions. In your books you consistently disparage bar soaps, saying the ingredients that make them into bars can clog pores, but I've never seen a reference for this. With virtually any other ingredient present in a cleanser, you say "any benefit from this would be washed down the drain before it can do any good." Why wouldn't the ingredients that make soap into a bar wash away, too? I've used Irish Spring, body and face, for 25+ years, and never noticed any "clogs." Body washes, even ones that say "clean-rinsing," leave me feeling slimy. And non-deodorant soaps, by the end of the day, leave me with (ahem) body odor. So, why do you think deodorant soaps are unnecessary?
Marilyn, via email search
What an insightful question, and I can see why you are confused. In essence, there are some ingredients that cling to skin more than others. The ingredients that keep bar soap or bar cleansers in their bar form are only somewhat water-soluble, which is why a soap film can be left behind on your sink or bathtub. Other ingredients--such as vitamins, plant extracts, antioxidants, and other more fragile ingredients (like peptides)--don't like water and are easily broken down by splashing well before they would have a chance to either absorb into skin or have benefit. For example, antibacterial agents in soaps and cleansers can kill bacteria on skin, but they have far less benefit unless you leave them on the skin for a period of time. That's why leave-on hand disinfectants are more effective, and why surgeons scrub their hands for several minutes.
One way to think of it is by comparison to food substances like oil, lard, and butter, which are difficult to rinse away, while other foods are far easier to wash off a plate or your counter top. To some extent, the same concept carries over with skin-care cleansers. In terms of bar cleansers, the issue of receiving skin-care benefits other than cleansing and some deodorizing is clear. I'm not sure why there aren't studies to cite on this, but I assume it's because this concept of cleansing is well understood with no contradictory information to be found. Regarding clogged pores, there is research showing that certain trans-fatty acids (such as the ones found in most bar soaps and bar cleansers) can make matters worse inside a pore (Sources: Experimental Dermatology, 2005, volume 14, pages 143-152; and International Journal of Dermatology, October 2001, page 640). Additionally, a higher pH (over 8) can increase the growth of bacteria in the pore (Sources: Advances in Skin & Wound Care, July-August 2002, pages 176-178; and American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, April 2004, pages 217-223). That you, personally, haven't experienced skin-care problems (clogged pores) is completely understandable because while a problem is likely, that doesn't mean it happens to everyone.
One other point: My main issue with bar soaps and cleansers is not so much that they clog pores (though there is that potential), but that they are extremely drying and irritating. When skin is repeatedly irritated, it is less able to build new collagen and elastin, heal itself or keep its structure intact. This is far more of a concern from the neck up than from the neck down. That's because from the neck down, skin is usually less fragile since it hasn't been as exposed to the environment (meaning the sun) like the face.
By the way, in terms of soaps being drying and irritating for skin and causing problems for barrier repair, preventing dryness, healing, and reducing or eliminating sensitizing reactions, there is a great deal of research. Some of those sources include Skin Research and Technology, February 2005, pages 53-60; Skin and Hair Cleansers, March 9, 2005, www.emedicine.com/derm/topic508.htm; Dermatologic Therapy, January 2004, pages 16-25; Contact Dermatitis, August 2003, pages 91-96; Global Cosmetics, February 2000, pages 46-49; and Cosmetics & Toiletries Magazine, November 2003, page 63.
Last edited on 10/11/2012
Last edited on 10/11/2012