SPA Magazine, The Truth About Soap  Bloom Organic Complexion Soap
February, 2010 Issue

By: Natalie Rios

Is washing your face with a bar of soap bad for your skin? We’ve got the answers.

For years, women relied on simple bars of soap to wash their faces, but with the arrival of liquid, foam, and cream cleansers came the idea that bars dry the skin and clog pores.

It turns out that some soaps got a bum rap. “In general, they’re not bad,” says Jennifer Reichel, M.D., director of Pacific Dermatology & Cosmetic Center in Seattle. “Some bar soaps can be very gentle and moisturizing and do not necessarily trap oils and chemicals.”

The soaps that deserve the negative attention are those that contain synthetic detergents or surfactants (like alkyl benzene sulfonate). “Synthetic detergents can be drying, which makes them a poor choice for many skin types,”says Angela L. Bowman Wales, president and CEO of Lillian Skincare, a manufacturer of organic skincare products.

But liquid cleansers can cause problems as well, according to Julia Hunter, M.D., founder of Skin Fitness Plus, a cosmetic spa in Los Angeles. Detergents (often sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate), preservatives (such as parabens), and antimicrobials (triclosan, for example) can cause inflammation and disrupt hormones. Instead, opt for soap with coconut oil, shea butter, glycerin, or olive oil. Although these emollients are often thought to cause breakouts, there is generally not enough in soaps to have such an effect. “Personally, I would choose emollients over inflammatory chemicals,” says Hunter.

Spa’s Favorite Soaps:

Arcona Berry Fruit Bar Cranberry and raspberry extracts neutralize free radicals. ($38)

Sisley Paris Soapless Facial Cleansing Bar Calendula and tropical resins remove excess sebum and tighten pores. ($65)

Suki Sensitive Cleansing Bar Organic shea butter and lemon grass extract moisturize and soften skin. ($11)

Woodsprite Organic Body Bloom Organic Complexion Soap: Rose hydrosol and Bulgarian rose essential oil make for a gentle cleanser that suits maturing skin. ($10)