Why I Stopped Using Bar Soap + Body Oil Cleansing + Cleansing with Scrubs

For most of my life, I struggled with acne and breakouts, and not just on my face. My back and shoulders were pretty much always a point of embarrassment for me. As I got into making my own skincare, I learned more about the skin. The protective lipid layer that naturally exists is often damaged or removed by soap. Soap works by attaching to oil and washing it away with the water, the problem with this becomes that the protective layer is made of oil. As soon as this oil is washed away, you body begins to try to replenish it and protect your body. For your face, this often looks like your skin becoming an oil slick an hour or two after you wash your face. For your body, this is often that dry feeling as soon as you towel off, followed by flaking and dry skin.

I was used to this cycle, throw in a dash of acne and ingrown hairs, and a touch of hormonal acne and PCOS... joy :)

I started making bar soap. Several hundreds of bars of soap later and hours of digging through forums, and I learned something really important about bar soap. All natural bar soap (oil + lye) is alkaline. All of it. No matter what ingredients you add or what acids you manage to encapsulate in the bar, natural bar soap is alkaline and does strip the acid barrier of your skin. I know there are those of you who use bar soap and love it. That is totally fine, and everyone is different. The pH of your water as well as your own skin can have an effect on the pH of the lather on your skin.  This lather typically leaves your skin feeling tight or slightly dry.

You can "superfat" your soap, adding extra oils that aren't turned into soap. This oil is left on the skin once the lather is rinsed, making the skin feel moisturized. The problem with this becomes you are still stripping your skin and leaving the pH higher than it is meant to be. Many of you have tried a natural deodorant just to have it leave your pits red and bumpy. This is all because of pH. Your skin is meant to be acidic. Water is neutral at a seven and all bar soaps are at least a 9, alkaline. Your skin is closer to a 5-6. This change in pH is also why the method of bar shampoo and ACV doesn't work for me, but that is another blog.

The more I researched and tested, the more I started to see the problem with soap. Even my dear Castile soap was a harsh pH of 8-9. No matter what I did, I could not lower the pH of the soap without losing the foaming action of the soap. The more tests I did for face and body wash, the more my skin broke out and cracked. I began to get an almost scale-like layer of skin on my legs and face. Oils wouldn't penetrate and no matter what I did, it seemed to be getting worse.

I finally gave up on soap about two years ago. I boxed all my bars up and tucked them away. I had made true olive only castile soap, mixed butters and oils, and even tested my own hemp liquid soap. They were all too harsh for skin, in my opinion. This is not popular, but it has proven life-changing for me and my sensitive skin.

I started experimenting with washing my hair and body with just clays and herbs and then scrubs. Scrubs made a noticeable difference. My skin was clearer and softer and my almost constant clogged hair follicles quickly went away. The combination of exfoliating and humectant sugar combined with non-comedogenic and light oils was the key. Its not tricky, expensive, or a secret. It is, however, so simple it is hard t believe with all the products marketed to us today. We are told we need body washes, scrubs, lotion, butters, creams, gels, and treatments. The idea that we can use one product to cleanse + exfoliate + clear + hydrate + moisturize, and that it can be made at home is almost unfathomable,

The oils MATTER, more than any other part of this. If you want to make a DIY scrub, use Low-Oleic Sunflower, Fractionated Coconut, Hemp, Maracuja, or other zero comedogenic rated oils. This is the key, and why sop many DIY scrubs with coconut or sweet almond don't lend long-term results.

Over the last year or so, I have started formulating with an apple-based cleanser. This is a semi-natural product, but it is basically a salt made from the juice of apples. It is literally the only foaming cleanser I use on my skin. It doesn't strip and leaves your skin clean without ever feeling tight. I am working on some clean-rinsing scrubs, but I very much like the idea of just oil and sugar scrubs.

If you struggle with your skin, definitely consider ditching the bar!


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