The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
July 15, 2010

Why are body washes in plastic bottles more popular than bar soap?

While I love my boyfriend Isaiah Mustafa’s hot and funny Old Spice commercial, I do not love the product he is selling: Old Spice Scented Body Wash.

Isaiah Mustafa Old Spice Commercial

But according to a recent NPR story on men switching to bath gels, more and more men seem to think that body wash gels work better than bar soap. As a woman, I find bar soap to work fine, if not better than bodywash. So why the sudden unfortunate switch among men?

Why unfortunate? Because first of all, the ingredients suck:


The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database gives the product a score of 5: Moderate Hazard.

And second, of course, is the plastic bottle. The NPR story ends with a brief mention of the environmental impact:

Mr. John Kalkowski (Editorial director, Packaging Digest): It does have an environmental impact. People who are considering making that change from bar soap to body washes, may want to consider what that impact is.

GRAF: Kalkowski says the bottles can be recycled. But if they go into the trash can instead, those bottles create more waste than the small paper or cardboard packages bar soaps come in. And all that trash could add up to be body wash’s dirty little secret.

So what’s the deal? Guys, if you’re reading, what do you think? Do body washes actually work better for you than bar soap? Or are men just so influenced by advertising and convinced that all natural human body smells are bad that we have to cover them up with strong, probably toxic, fragrances?

Personally, I want my man to smell like a man — it’s part of what makes him attractive. But what do you think?

92 Responses to “Why are body washes in plastic bottles more popular than bar soap?”

  1. BeverlyDobere says:

    My name is Beverly. Switching to bar to gels(liquids) soap is a lifstyle choice and  your boyfriend Isaiah Mustafa’s should use a product like Semina-turals. This product is 100% natural African Liquid Black Soap or Aloe Black Soap. The ingredients is very simple (promise you). I would love to send you and your boyfriend free samples. My company name is SANKOFA CREATIONS is based in New York City. If you are interested please send me a email at . I would lik
    e to get feed back from you. Thanks for the discussion.

  2. davidaduff says:

    i’ve used bar soaps, tried body wash liquids, and switched back to bars.     
    i found that using liquid soap was both inconvenient and wasteful – i had to pick up the bottle, open it, squirt soap on my hand, then rub it around.   in the process, a lot of soap would get wasted – i had to repeat this process several times each shower.   it worked slightly better using a shower-wall-mounted liquid soap dispenser.   i also tried using one those spongy-scrubber thingies.   this worked and seemed to allow me to make more efficient use of the soap, however it took extra effort to wet the sponge, apply soap, squish it into the sponge, and rinse the sponge afterwards.
    contrast to using a bar – you just hold it in your hand, do a little rubbing around and you end up getting the soap where you need it with little waste.  
    as an aside: i like a soap that leaves my skin squeaky clean.  i’m not a fan of any kind of film left behind – moisturizers, oils, aloe, etc. nor of any strong fragrance.  it seems like 99% of cleaners these days try to compete based on how many different kinds of stuff i don’t like they can pack in (moisturizers, especially), so its kind of hard for me to find soap i like.  
    i currently use basic/cheap safeguard bar soap.  it comes in bulk packs in cellophane-wrapped recyclable paper boxes (vs. plastic bottles).  it doesn’t seem to leave much residue in my shower, either (which some people seem to complain about with other bar soaps).  

    the only slight problem of bar soap is storing it.  if you leave it sitting on a shelf in the shower or in an enclosed dish, it can make a mess.   i use a soap dish that has a little drain spout that hangs over the shelf in the shower and works great.   also of course, when the bar gets too small to use, just open another one and squish them together – easy and nothing gets wasted;  you get to skip the ordeal of eeking the last bit of product out of a plastic bottle.
    body wash: expensive, wasteful application, harder to use, takes extra time, wasteful packaging.
    soap: requires you have a proper soap dish/tray, otherwise it can be a little messy.

  3. dfbdf says:

    I’ve always used bar soap growing up and I still do. I’ve tried body wash along the way and… meh… I don’t really like it. It SMELLS nice but… I always see that they are trying to moisturize my skin or something and maybe that’s why but it never feels …Clean. I want me skin to be squeaky clean. Body wash leaves a bit of… slipperiness in my opinion.

  4. heyblue says:

    the fact is I won’t use body washes.  I hate them.  yes, I think they smell ok jut it seems like you use more, they cost more, and they don’t do as good a job.  They just cover up and don’t clean up.  To be honest, I didn’t think about the environmental impact, but now that it’s been brought to my attention that just one more reason I won’t use them.

    • TerranceLee says:

      And it’s sad that almost everybody is fooled into thinking that body wash is more effective than bar soap when it really isn’t. Sure they usually bring up the argument about how bars dry out their skin but I counter with telling them to use a brand made with moisturizing creams and apply some lotion after showering.

  5. TerranceLee says:

    As Flava Flav once “Don’t believe the hype” i’ve made the switch to bar soap about a year ago and I haven’t looked back since also with the invention of the soap saver mesh pouch I can extend the longevity of each bar I use. Also body wash seems to take longer to rinse off my skin than bar soap which means i’m wasting more water and I still don’t feel all that clean after the shower.

  6. TerranceLee says:

    As Flava Flav once “Don’t believe the hype” i’ve made the switch to bar soap about a year ago and I haven’t looked back since also with the invention of the soap saver mesh pouch I can extend the longevity of each bar I use. 

  7. steph says:

    My husband and I are in the process of moving towards a 90% reduction of plastic consumption in our household. He has followed my lead and is only using bar soap now… and smells exactly the same!  I also want to thank you for your inspirational Ted Talk.  I have been wanting to experiment using soap nuts as my laundry detergent (given that the only waste is a nut shell!) and I stumbled upon a company – NatruOli – that sells some wonderful soap nut products.  I was turned off by them, however, because they package their “green” laundry detergent and other soap products in plastic bottles.  I did what you advised – I wrote into them and encouraged them to check out plastic free websites and to consider that they are negating their green movement by their choice in packaging.   Thanks again for your inspiration and wisdom!

    • BethTerry says:

      Thanks for writing the company, Steph.  Did you get a response from them yet?  If they won’t switch, check out Laundrytree:

  8. BOSTON MIKE says:

    “Personally, I want my man to smell like a man — it’s part of what makes him attractive. But what do you think?”

    UMMMM … NO.

    I think you might be one of the few girls on this planet who isn’t bothered too much by people’s body odors.

    But as a man, I can tell you that 99% of women DON’T WANT YOU TO SMELL BAD. I’ve been in embarrassing situations before where girls have told me I needed to brush my teeth before we made out because my breath wasn’t very fresh or that I needed to use a stronger deodorant.

    These were my younger high school and early college years so I was kind of stupid when it came to hygiene and I didn’t realize just how important hygiene is when you are dating or in a relationship.

    Now that I’m in my late 20s I’m older and wiser and I’ve learned from those embarrassing situations. You need to find a balance between having good hygiene and using harsh possibly toxic chemicals like SLS (SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE or SODIUM LAURYTH SULFATE) which are actually carcinogenic chemicals that are used in toothpastes, shampoos, and body washes to create a stronger foam or lather.

    There are many body washes out there that are much more natural and some are even completely organic and they come in very masculine scents or at least clean fresh gender neutral scents. Frankly, soap bars tend to be a little gross because they collect dead skin cells and bacteria. And if dropped on the floor or sink most people feel gross using it again. This is why body washes are becoming so popular amongst both women and men. They are just easier, faster, and cleaner to use. Not too mention that many of them come with exfoliating agents such as micro beads.

    Body washes are the way to go, but finding a more natural one is important. Old Spice Scented Body Wash is just another low-quality commercial product loaded with toxic chemicals but packaged in a nice bottle and nicely advertised on TV.

    • Beth Terry says:

      Hi Mike. I think you misunderstand what I mean by “smell like a man.” I mean that I want him to be clean and simply smell like a human being instead of perfume. There’s a difference between having good hygiene and disguising your smell with synthetic chemicals. I would have probably agreed with your girlfriend who wanted you to brush your teeth before making out. Clean is good.

      I don’t buy the idea that soap collects dead skin cells and bacteria. You rinse it off every time you use it. Body wash is a relatively new invention, and it’s just the power of marketing that convinces people it’s more sanitary than bar soap — just like the marketing that tells people plastic bags are more hygienic than cloth bags or bottled water is more hygienic than tap water. Who’s profiting from you believing the hype?

      You mention micro beads… do you realize that micro heads are actually tiny pellets of plastic that get washed down the drain into our waterways where they get ingested by marine life and make their way up the food chain?

      I just can’t agree that body wash is “the way to go” when it comes in a polluting plastic bottle. Too many “natural” products are only natural on the inside but still come packaged in plastic, which itself is full of toxic chemicals and cannot be truly recycled.

      I hope you’ll stick around and read a lot more on this site about the problems with plastic.

  9. PhilR says:

    Well, I am the nonconformist on this forum.

    We use nothing but body wash in the bathroom primarily because it doesn’t leave soap scum. Although there is a residue, it is soft and washes off easily. Bar soap may be more environmentally-friendly but the chemicals you need to remove the scum aren’t. We use a wall-mounted soap dispenser and that probably cuts down on the waste; a bottle lasts us *months*. (I also itch less than with bar soap.)

    As fo the EWG ratings, they are bogus if you have any respect for the FDA.

  10. jennifer says:

    Not only do plastic bottles end up in landfills, but there is also the cost to the environment in manufacture of these bottles, and shipping them around to retail stores so that we can buy them. I switched to natural olive oil based bars from bottles a few years back, and am very happy. I buy local so that less oil is used or pollution created in the shipping process. Easy to find local, there are soapmakers everywhere. Shop around, find one with good, earth loving ingredients.

    Not only is bar soap better for the environment, but less chemicals is better for us too. The soap I buy is about $5 a bar, good quality, and if I take care of it properly by using a soap dish that drains, it lasts for well over a month. It doesn’t leave a film on my skin or in the shower, and I would assume that the poster who claims all bar soap does is probably using a commercial bar that is full of chemicals and made from tallow.

    I use bar soap for my face, body, and hair. I also find that using bar soaps, esp. those made with natural oils and essential oils for scent, to be a much more luxurious and sensual way to get clean.

    So, lots of benefits. I try to include a nice, delicious smelling bar of pretty, natural soap with every gift I give, to turn everyone on to or back to the benefits of using bar soap.

  11. jenni says:

    i recently switched to bar soap and couldn’t be happier. i rub it on a loofah (i think mine is a mix of recycled plastic and bamboo… know any good natural loofahs?) and it lathers infinitely better than shower gel. i have heard people talk about the film left from bar soaps, but my “out of africa” brand soap made with organic shea butter smells sooo good and doesn’t leave any residue for me at all. i’ll never buy another body wash gel

  12. celia says:

    Fascinating discussion! But are we having too much fun scrubbing each other down? I didn’t have time to read every entry, but one thing… “If we don’t buy it, they won”t make it”… maybe, but it’s better if we tell them why, lest they be confused and think we don’t like the smell or the color.
    I want natural, sustainable, not wrapped in a ton of plastic kinds of products, and I can’t make everything myself. I want AB 1998 to pass the Cal. Senate and become law. I want schoools to teach the truth about recycling.
    Many plastics cannot be reused or remanufactured. Virgin plastic is cheaper. They are thus landfilled and eventually end up in the ocean! The chasing arrows are meaningless. Doing my best to reduce plastic in my life. Thank you, Beth, for this forum.

  13. Amy K. says:

    I keep vowing to switch to bar soap once my supply of bodywash runs out, but I’ve also been making an effort to use as little as possible. We bought one Sams Club package (~half gallon) 3 years ago, and I’m only half way through!

    My husband technically uses bar soap, but most of the time he just sudses up with his shampoo and washes with the bubbles that run down rather than a separate step.

    I guess I’m saying we’re of the “use only enough” camp, rather than embracing a particular flavor.

  14. Lynne MacDonald says:

    I use Dr. Bronner’s peppermint for my hair, but I use a lemon verbena bar soap for my body. I like the lemon smell. Dr. bronners makes a lemon bar soap but I haven’t seen the liquid version yet, or I would probably buy it. A few posters mentioned refilling their Dr. Bronner’s. Are you talking about refiliing the 5 gallon jugs? I would love to be able to do that. Anybody know of anyplace in the Bremerton, kitsap area of washginton state that does that?

  15. Jen says:

    I just switched to bar soap from body wash to reduce my plastic consumption. My husband on the other hand likes using the body wash so he can use the poof and scrub his skin.

  16. alilz says:

    I used to body wash all the time but then I switched to wonderful bar soap — it’s locally made and all natural. It costs more than bar soap in the store but I also found that it lasts longer and has a wonderful lather.

    Plus it comes post recycled cardboard that can be recycled again. I get it at the Farmer’s market.

  17. Elizabeth Brunner says:

    Off-topic from plastic, but folks following this blog & amused by the Old Spice commercials might be interested. Wonderful video for a college library that uses same format as the Old Spice commercials and a handsome student with quite similar voice:

  18. I use Dr. Bronner’s soap. I don’t like the film that the bar soaps leave on my skin. I think that there are WAY too many chemicals being emitted into the environment. There is no emphasis on the long-term effects of what the corporations do to the planet. Their only consideration is the profit of particular actions. What good will it do us if the corporations make record profits, but end up killing us all off? Or worse yet, if they end up maiming, crippling and sickening all the people here? It is not on the corporate list of priorities…

  19. Rob says:

    I have recently gone to using bar soap, lily de valle made right here near seattle, Ballard Organics made in Ballard, a seattle community, or Dr. Bonner’s all in one bar soap

  20. Sandra Lee says:

    I cannot stand the smell of Old Spice on men. I can’t believe how men are not being sucked into all the male fragrance and toiletry marketing hype. I only use unscented bar soap myself. Unscented soaps are a small kindness you can offer to people with chemical sensitivity.

  21. Judith says:

    I’ve recently switched to Rhassoul Clay for washing, and it’s great.

  22. Elizabeth B says:

    Piper, ugh, that’s disgusting. I’d have demanded a refund!

    Great discussion, Beth. My husband and I buy handmade bar soap from our favorite B&B in Ashland, but we’re still using shampoo. Maybe next month on my summer vacation I’ll experiment with alternate ways of getting my hair clean. (I’ve tried shampoo bars and they left a nasty residue on my scalp. Blech.)

  23. Molly says:

    I used body wash as a teen and for a couple of years in college. I had gross idea about soap, mostly because the soap I pictured was the dirty slivers of Ivory soap found in neglected soap dishes around my parents’ house. Body wash smelled good and wasn’t Ivory. Then, I began to think about animal testing and started on my path to hippiedom, which became a lot more sudden when I became painfully allergic to nearly all of my body products. Bye bye, SLS!

    I switched to soaps from Indigo Wild and Burt’s Bees, both of which smell great and don’t irritate my skin. They have some great scents for men and women, but I like my man to smell like a squeaky clean version of himself after a shower, not some chemical smell. It was easy to convert my boyfriend because he doesn’t want to think about his body products, so if I give it to him and it isn’t too weird (like my deodorant crystal) then he’ll use it. These bars of soap come in delicious scents and are pretty cheap considering the ingredients. I buy the one lb. “junk bag” from Indigo Wild, with the broken bars they couldn’t sell elsewhere (which usually comes in a plastic bag, unfortunately), and it takes forever to use up the whole thing. I put the ones I’m not using in my dresser drawers because they smell so good!

    I keep a bottle of Method hand soap at my sink for guests, but I plan to refill the container with Dr. Bronner’s or something similar when I’ve used up the contents. It’s nice to have a pump when your hands are covered in something icky.

  24. Helen Kennedy says:

    Actually, our bodies don’t really need soap to be clean. Just rinse in the shower and go. Perhaps scrub a little with a wash cloth or loofa. And it is cheap and non-toxic as well! Try it for a month.

  25. Sonja says:

    About half a year ago I switched from using liquid handsoap to using bars (thanks to you and your blog). Those bars take forever to be used up, and unfortunately I haven’t found one yet that doesn’t dry my hands. At the moment I’ve got an olive soap that leaves a weird feeling on my hands. Since I believe in using up things that I’ve got I’m not going to throw it away though.

    I love liquid shower gels. I especially have a huge weak spot for the Bodyhsop Mango one. However I’ve decided once my current stash of liquid soap is gone, I’ll try to find a moisterizing shower bar. I only use a little bit of soap when showering, so one bottle will last me between 6 to twelve months. I have successfully weaned myself off of shaving cream (in cans), and even though I know the Bodyshop soap contains crappy ingredients, it does a very good lather for shaving.

    My parents still belong to the ‘bar soap’ generation, but all of my friends use only liquid soaps. I can’t even tell you why – perhaps it’s because you can just close the bottle and don’t have to deal with a slippery thingie in the shower, or because there actually way more different liquid brands (trying out is fun) in the stores.

  26. Cass says:

    I’ve used a lot of different soaps/body washes, both in bar and bottle form, and I’ve found that bar soap universally (at least, every type I’ve ever used) leaves a dry, waxy, filmy feeling on my skin, like it’s too tight. Usually, I buy a large jug of liquid body wash and use it to fill up a more manageable bottle. I use bar soap on vacations or trips on which I can’t take a checked bag, since I’d feel absolutely awful buying a travel size bottle, but my favorite part of getting home is always the fact that my skin no longer feels like it’s a size too small.

    I honestly don’t know what it is. It might just be me–I have weirdly sensitive skin, and can only use unscented soap/wash/lotion, so it might just be a byproduct of my weirdness–but I’m not willing to switch to bar soap long term because of it.

  27. D.C. says:

    Over the years I’ve tried many different bar soaps and shower gels of the “natural” variety. I’ve been unsatisfied with almost all of them. Bar soaps always seem to be either drying or leave a weird texture on your skin. Shikai shower gel is the only thing that really works for me, and every time I try something different I wonder why I bothered.
    I’m surprised that no one mentioned refilling your plastic bottles. Maybe it’s not that common in other places, but I have at least 3 local stores where I can and do refill my bottles. I plan to keep doing that until they wear out (will that ever even happen?). After that, stainless steel or glass bottles.

  28. Cindy says:

    Another bad thing about bottled body wash is that most people usually end up using a plastic loofah or sponge of some sort with it. There are a ton of excellent, all-natural scented and unscented bar soaps at places like Whole Foods. For my husband, I prefer the ones that have warm scents like cinnamon or cedar. Tea tree oil or peppermint are two other nice scents for men.
    I think bar soaps travel better too. I just wrap one of in a washcloth instead of using a plastic container. And I don’t have to worry about the airline rules about liquids or about the containers coming open in my bag.

  29. tan@tan/green says:

    This is a great dicussionand I don’t have too much to add except that Avenno oatmeal based soap leaves no hard to remove residue and isn’t too drying. And I second that washclothes are great – easy to knit too if you’re into that sort of thing!

  30. SusanB says:

    We use bar soap in the shower and bath at home, but both of us prefer liquid soap in a gym shower situation, for convenience coming, going and washing as well as safety in the shower and cleanliness in the gym bag. Not essential I agree but most of this useage is from stuff we already have and aren’t buying more of.
    We also use diluted liquid hand soap (which we buy in bulk) at home, my partner prefers it, its easier with complicated dirty hands, and not as messy.

  31. MrsKezner says:

    I have incredibly sensitive and dry skin, and I am highly allergic to coconut and palm oils, and the chemicals derived from them, which basically includes everything in most soaps. The only “commercial” brand of soap I can use is Grandmas’s Old Fashioned Lye soap. It is wrapped in plastic, but one bar lasts my family a good six months, and I’ve been able to give up lotion most months out of the year by using it. This allergy has forced me to really look at the ingredients in all of the products out there – soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and food… It is RIDICULOUS what you’ll find when you really start paying attention. I also use it to make homemade laundry detergent which has been amazing for my clothes. You can use the bar sop as well to make a liquid version at home if you really want to do so. It’s a great use for those little bar “scraps” that are tough to use.

  32. I was just about to do a post about how fabulous my hair looks since I started using bar shampoo. My ex husband had a thing for body wash, he wouldn’t even use bar soap when I bought it. I switched to bar because of the plastic, but now find bar soap much less irritating to my skin.

    One time after surfing I took a shower at a friends house and all he had was old spice bodywash and I felt so totally weird smelling like him I had to take a second shower. It does smell good, but not on a woman, its weird.

    I made a video about just this thing!

  33. Piper says:

    I started using liquid soap because it didn’t leave soap scum in the shower. I switched back to bar soap because of the plastic. It’s hard to find bar soap that’s not in plastic now. I went with Dove for a while, but it started coming in plastic. I tried some from Trader Joes but that’s in plastic, too. Next I’m going to try some Coconut Castille I got for 99 cents. I hope it’s really wrapped in paper. Sometimes even the paper fools you.

    I have no idea why men would choose what they choose but I’m reminded of going into this small shop last summer on a trip and there was a teenage boy working there, bored, spraying himself with that nasty body spray. The store reeked. His dad ordered him to scoop us some ice cream and he touched the cones with his hands. The ice cream tasted like body spray. Ugh. Definitely it has to be marketing because no way would a woman find that attractive and no way a teenage boy would spray that much perfume on himself without some kind of influence.

  34. Sakeenah says:

    We like bar soap for the shower. It is easy to find ones that are all natural that smell nice and don’t irritate sensitive skin. I find bar soap for regular handwashing leaves too much of a mess to clean even if using a dish and especially with kids, so I put Dr. Woods Castile Soap diluted in a foam pump dispenser. The kids use this in the shower too. Next I plan to make my own, I found a huge glass bottle of olive oil at an ethnic grocer for a really good price.

  35. Steven S. says:

    I used liquid soap in college, with the dorm showers. Otherwise, I would get a mushy mess of a bar of soap.

    At home, we use bar soap. Neither of them made me feel much different, however I do have a bottle of body wash for when I am at the gym, for teh same reasons.

  36. Ken says:

    Never had a thing for bath gels, but I’m not really a great fan of bar soap, either, despite growing up with it–don’t care for the scummy residue or the skin drying.

    Because of a lifelong problem with seborrheic dermatitis, I’m pretty much addicted to washing my hair with dandruff shampoos daily. Since I’ve got all of that lather going on on top of my head anyway, I just go ahead and steal some of it and move it to other areas of my bod as I shower. Works just fine. Not proud of the plastic, but it sounds like I at least get better mileage out of my shampoo (a bottle lasts 3+ months) than others get with the gels.

  37. Amber says:

    My husband uses bar soap.

    And I have to say, I have totally mixed feelings about this campaign. Especially it’s current iteration on Twitter and YouTube. The marketing and the response videos are BRILLIANT. But I wish that it were for a better product.

  38. Darris says:

    Intelligent response Jessica. If we don’t buy it they won’t produce it. Buying liquid soap in a plastic bottle is a simple discretionary item that we can easily forgo for something more responsible like a good bar of handmade, cold processed soap. If we can’t do it there we’re not really making a good effort. At least make a commitment to use bar soap in one bathroom ~ that’s a good place to start.

  39. I make my own soap from all natural ingredients including milk from my goats. I sell it too and would be happy to ship some to any interested parties. I don’t package it in plastic. After many long brainstorming sessions, I decided the naked bar is the way to go. I label each one using two straight pins and a tiny slip of paper. It lathers perfectly and rinses off easily leaving absolutely no residue. There is really no comparison to how wonderful this soap feels and leaves your skin feeling afterward.

    Store bought soaps are different from homemade for many reasons one of them being the glycerin produced in the soap making process is removed from store bought soap and sold separately, thus making a harder and more drying bar…not to mention whatever weird stuff they put in it.

    I live in the hot and humid southeastern part of the country. Moisture has never been a big problem as far as the soap is concerned.

    I really think these types of choices are about how committed one is to living and inhabiting our planet in a less invasive way regardless of how convenient certain things may or may not be, like cleaning the soap dish vs wiping under the gel bottle.

    By the way, men LOVE the soap I make on my farm. It’s brown for one thing and that makes them feel manly about using it.

  40. Ivy says:

    i must admit, I can’t use bar soap. I’ve tried, but I have super dry skin and it just left me insanely itchy. I mean, painfully so. I still try periodically, but so far haven’t found any that work–I wish that I could find the kind of shower gel I need (usually the kind with added moisturizer dumped into it, which is followed by the Lush bar moisturizer in the shower, then body butter after just to stop it from being painful when I get out of the shower) but so far no luck.

    Makes me wonder if there couldn’t be some sort of market for re-fillable shower gel. Sort of like a bulk bin system, you know? Perhaps different kinds. Yes, it’s still plastic, but you could use one plastic bottle for ages with that kind of setup.

  41. Madz says:

    I think its like the equivalent of the Lynx affect ads with bodywash. perhaps guys think they will be more diserable to women if they use it. In a sense, I reckon it is true that women are more attracted to men that smell good as a men to women who smell good. But I think there is also a difference between smelling good as in clean. and over the top scented which is obviously trying to overcompensate/mask stuff.

    I think with the body wash trend too there is also a misconception that using bodywash is a actually “cleaner” than bar soap and people assume bar soap has more bacteria because people are sharing their soap.

    Actually, scientists have done tests and found that used bar soap actually contains no harmful bacteria. Personally, I think that makes sense since soap is selfcleansing.

    I’m willing to bet there would be more bacteria found on the plastic nozzles of bodywash and the loofers.

  42. Jessica says:

    Like most people we never used anything except bar soap growing up. I only got into my loofah + shower gel phase because it was super cool as a high school girl to shop at Bath & Body Works (aka the over-whelming smells store). It was taken for granted that you used their shower gel and also gave it as gifts to all of your girlfriends for birthdays, etc.

    Since then, I’ve moved into a ‘cheap phase’ and only bought the bar that was on sales, and then moved to what i am in right now, which is the good, handmade soaps phase. I think I’ll stay here for a while ;)

    I mean, it obviously makes companies more money selling shower gel, so why not try to make it manly so the other half of the profit sector wants to buy it? I totally get it. Smart economically, yes. Smart environmentally, no.

  43. Rebecca The Greeniac says:

    Wow! Well, reading this post and all of the comments I think I realize how far I have traveled away from the “American norm”.

    I lived in Norway 25 years ago… before American standards of “cleanliness” (AKA “toxicity”) had made it to the land of the fjords. My host family bathed about once a month, and they actually did an “intervention” on me because they thought my daily shower was incredibly unhealthy! I promptly took up swimming so that I could bathe on a regular basis, but nevertheless, it forever cured me of the morning shower that most Americans take for granted.

    Here’s the thing. You really don’t need soap of any kind to get clean. In most cases water will do just fine. If you have hard water, any kind of soap will leave a film, and it will certainly dry your skin. Body wash will rinse clean since it is really detergent, not soap, but it is generally full of phthalates which are Gawd Awful petro-chemicals that mimic the effects of estrogen on the body. I just finished reading the book “Slow Death by Rubber Duck” (which I highly recommend) and I can tell you, I’ll never be putting that stuff on my body again!

    I go through about 1-2 bars of soap per year. I use it for washing my hands after using the toilet and for the few obvious places that need a little in my twice a week bathing routine!

    Come on people… embrace your humanity! We weren’t meant to smell like a perfume factory! Toxic is not clean!

  44. Frugal Kiwi says:

    Consumers have been hornswoggled into thinking suds= clean. Suds don’t do the cleaning. Manufacturers are selling illusion as much as anything else and most consumers are now convinced that no suds equals no cleaning.

    Personally, I make my own soap. Not hard to do and I know exactly what is in it at the end.

  45. Zenith says:

    Leanne, I love you.
    <3 Zenith

  46. Leanne says:

    Shower gels are a brilliant example of yet another product we never needed a decade ago, yet now we can’t do without.

    Welcome to the world of sucker consumerism!

    We don’t buy them.

    If people have dry skin, I’m not surprised: the first few ingredients in those shower gels are all salt-based. They’re basically rubbing different versions of salt on their skin.

    They’ll feel clean, and with the added chemical stinks (brand name: “fragrance”) they’ll smell like a factory walking past, but the gels will strip their skin of natural oils, send their skin pH off balance, and – as an added bonus – probably cause cancer, as most of the ingredients listed above have moderate to high risks as genotoxins and carcinogens.

    Happy washing!

    The alternative: use a plain, ordinary soap (which is fat and lye, no fragrance: you can make it yourself at home if you want), and follow up with some plant oil as a moisturiser e.g olive oil (if you have olive trees at home, you can make your own too). Easy, cheap, safe, and works well.

  47. brenda says:

    I forgot to add this: as far as the hairy bars go, washcloths do wonders. Works up a great lather plus no hair from rubbing the bar on your body. Just sayin’.

  48. brenda says:

    I was a body wash fan for a long time- but I was always having to change brands because after a week or two my skin would start to dry out & itch. So I learned how to make my own. I really liked it – no itching, etc. – and even started selling it. With our recent focus on reducing plastics use, the liquid had to go. There is no good way to package liquid soap that does not include plastic. So now, I am making the most wonderful bar soaps. I am a total convert. Since using just my bar soap, I have not needed to use any lotions or body butters to remedy the dry skin I once had. No palm oils or other undesireables, so no guilty conscience. And the wide variety of EO’s & FO’s available offer about any fragrance you can imagine. Or none. Also, I’ve begun making my own shampoo bars. My hair is clean, shiny & manageable without all those chemicals! My husband was a hard sell, but even he has survived the switch intact. Oh, I almost forgot – we don’t have soap scum issues anymore, either!

  49. Reenie says:

    This is a good discussion! I clean for others sometime, and the showers with gels usually have a fragrance that seems synthetic. I open the windows to air the room out. I’m guessing that many gel and bar soaps must have animal fat in them, because that fat creates soap scum, something that takes time to clean. I sometimes use Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap, always diluted as it is a concentrate; mostly though I use Chandrika bar soap which is very refreshingly cleansing to me, esp. in this summer’s steamy heat. Here’s a description of the soap:
    It’s is an Ayurvedic soap with a mild fragrance that is pleasing to me, probably because their are natural plant oils in it. It costs 99 cents a bar at our health food store; online purchases usually cost less.

  50. Condo Blues says:

    I switched from bar soap to liquid when a plumber told me that my pain in the tush to clean bathtub ring would be easier to clean if I switched to liquid soap. He was right plus, in my old house bar soap would melt in the shower. In my current home I switch between the two. A friend’s mom makes soap and sells it during summer and I buy it unwrapped from her. When her soap isn’t available I sometimes have to choose between soap in a plastic wrapper I have to toss or liquid Castill soap in a container and cap I can recycle. Zero waste wins. I have liquid shampoo and soap dispensers in my shower which means I can buy in bulk and decant.

  51. Darris says:

    I have tried my hand at soap making and took a weekend long soap making boot-camp ~ what an education! All bar soap is NOT THE SAME! To be truly cold-processed soap it will typically say, ‘sapponified’ oils of . . . . You should have no filmy residue with soap. It’s likely it’s melt and pour, french milled (which people mistakenly believe is higher quality), or the like. If you want a good bar of soap that is easily found try Dr. Bronner’s bar soaps. The liquid soaps are virtually the same as the bar soaps but with more water and other chemicals to retain shelf life. I buy a bar of cold processed soap where ever I visit. It’s a cheap treat and often I find beautiful, high-quality soaps. I was taught that to test whether or not the soap is melt and pour (chiefly glycerin) or true cold-processed (CP) is to slice off a piece and put it into the microwave for 20 seconds. The CP soap may soften slightly but the melt and pour will liquefy. Treat yourself to a beautiful bar of soap and feel good about not contributing more plastic trash to our already overwhelmed oceans. Thank you for this post Beth. And I have to say you have superb taste in men . . . the sexiest thing about Isaiah is his sense of humor.

  52. Clara P. says:

    I think that many people use shower gel b/c it is less messy than bar soap (having to clean the residue) and the enticing packaging doesn’t hurt as it looks nicer. I think people are too busy to stop and think about their choices – but if someone pointed out to them how much plastic is wasted and that the ingredients are possibly more harmful, people would happily switch back to bar soap! Sometimes I think it’s all about a bit of education to the consumer, who wants to do the right thing but doesn’t have the time stop and think about it (until they read a great blog like this)!

  53. Tina Clark says:

    We need to be balanced here. Most every bar soap I have found contains palm oil, which is extremely environmentally unfriendly. See for instance:

  54. Aaron says:

    I actually find that the liquid body washes work better.. But looking at the ingredients and being sort of hazardous to your skin, it will make me think before using them again.

  55. sui says:

    hrm… then what can one do for shampoo & conditioner in plastic bottles?

  56. I covered the economic and environmental benefits of bar over liquid in a recent post, but I didn’t consider the health angle, due to all of the additional “ingredients” in most body washes compared to a simple bar soap. Reducing your exposure to some of those chemical compounds is yet another great reason to “stick to the bar.”

  57. Alexandra says:

    Totally agree. Glad to hear Isaiah doesn’t really use Old Spice. Here at Chez Sven we use Allafia lavender mint soap. I get it in logs and cut it up into smaller bars. It comes packaged in brown paper.

  58. monkeyjen says:

    I was waiting for someone to mention this – Shawn Hill had it right – It’s the hair factor. When I was still living with my family – 3 girls and 1 boy all w/ long hair and my parents – hair on the soap was a HUGE pet peeve – bordering on a downright phobia. I instituted a strict body wash only regime, though I think old school dad still used irish spring or something.

    Now, I prefer bar soap and use it exclusively. Any plastic bottles of liquid soap, bubble bath, bodywash that I have left from gifts etc get used in the handsoap bottles. Currently, the kitchen is sporting a lovely coconut lime verbena foam bath and the bathroom has a CO Bigelow lavender suberb body cleanser. Waste not, want not.

  59. Erika says:

    There’s another situation no one’s mentioned yet. I prefer to use a liquid or gel soap in a gym shower situation.

    Here in the humid Pacific Northwest, bar soap never REALLY dries out. Add to that the natural humidity of a public shower room, and you have yourself a recipe for a sloppy gooey mess that used to be a nice bar of soap.

    Of course I’m a Dr. Bronner’s fan, too, so I would use their liquid or gel body wash. They do make a bar soap for those who were wondering, and it’s GREAT! I also use it to make my laundry detergent.

    Not to sound like a corporate shill, but you can order bars, shower gel, and much more from their website. And last time I ordered, orders over $20 get free shipping!

  60. Kumi says:

    My dermatologist/allergist actually recommended bar soap and spoke against any kind of liquid soaps as they have far more additives, including nasty chemical fragrances that gives me migraine! Also, most people end up using more soap than one needs, and ends up with drier skin. (The pump pushes out more “stuff” than when you rub a bar soap with your wet hands…) I suspect that some of those “moisturizing” liquid soaps are trying to compensate for this drying effect it produces.. I just use a simple unscented glycerin soap and it’s been great – and I have a super sensitive and dry skin. Now, if we could find a bar of dish washing soap, we’d be so happy…

  61. Clif says:

    Zest is all I use for body and hair.

    And now a male moment – Who is this Mustafa guy? – I’ll kick his butt!!!

    Ok, back to the topic at hand…

    My bunny uses several kinds of stuff on her hair and we discovered that these were providing an excellent home for bacteria in the drain trap. After about a month to six weeks, the drain would clog up. The cure was a cup of bleach down the drain left over night.

    She moved from the tub to the shower stall in the second bathroom. No more drain clogs with Zest alone. (don’t worry, I’m considering allowing her out of the shower stall to use the kitchen and the bedroom too)

  62. Jeanne says:

    Like Rachel, I can’t stand the leftover residue or film of bar soap and like the lather of body wash, however, am tiring of the plastic bottle even though I recycle. It’s the cap that really bugs me which in my city has to go in the trash. I’ll have to try Dr. Bronner’s as well as your suggestion too. Thanks!

  63. Zenith says:

    As a shared owner of ROLLING RIVER SOAP COMPANY, a Canadian natural bath and beauty company, I have oodles to say about soap.

    There’s a growing trend among the main stream beauty industry to bring customers products that are HIGHLY saturated in smell, taste, and sight. Because if it doesn’t taste like a bucket of pure concentrated strawberries then it really isn’t real strawberries. And if it doesn’t look like the brightest most concentrated version of yellow, then it must not be good for you. And if you’re not smelling like you just walked out of a vat of perfume/cologne then the product clearly isn’t doing a proper job. You’re not “clean.”

    And I think that’s where the misunderstanding comes in; men (and women, who are we kidding) are being conditioned to think body wash works better because it makes them smell like the most INTENSE SMELLING version of a concentrated-bottle-of-body-wash and not “just washed.” Because just washed is boring. Just washed is too pedestrian. Just washed isn’t what the ladies/men want. Maybe if you’re not smelling like a designer smell then you’re not good looking enough. You’re not hip enough. You’re not rich enough. What you definitely are, is pouring toxic chemicals directly onto the largest organ on your body, your skin.

    Smelling like the real version of “clean” or “just washed” is a subdued smell that doesn’t brand a company’s products well enough (and doesn’t buy into the media conditioning of the definition of clean), because you don’t have enough people asking “What are you wearing?” And to prove my point even more, ask yourself when the last time you asked someone (who was only washing with regular non-smelling fragrance free soap) what they were wearing? No one now a days cares about the fresh, clean smell of real clean.

    It still amazes me what people are okay with washing with. Bathing is the only activity where your body is primed, pores open to receive whatever you want your body to have. It’s the equivalent of opening your mouth and pouring food in. Why wouldn’t you want safe, non-toxic, healthy bath products?

    To expand this smell indoctrination even more we don’t don’t need to look any further than air fresheners. I was watching a commercial the other day for Febreze® wherein it stated that to get the things you can’t wash that clean smell, just use Febreze® and then it listed those “things-you-can’t-wash.” I was surprised to hear the commercial say curtains, pillows and furniture. Funny, just the other day I washed my living room curtains, bedroom curtains and office curtains (I also hung them outside to dry. gasp! in the fresh air) along with a bunch of pillows. I was planning on giving my couch a steam cleaning this week. And last time I checked Febreze® doesn’t smell like “clean.” Again, I feel like a broken record- it AMAZES me what people will spray in the air and put on their bodies. And we wonder why we have become a society of scent sensitive, asthma diagnosis, topically allergic people.

    Yet we don’t or won’t take the time to actually look into the ingredients listed on these products. Most of them are harmful chemicals and PLASTIC. Yes, Beth your arch nemesis, plastic in a liquid form. Plastic that these companies use as fillers to make more money; it’s kind of like adding bread crumbs to your meat loaf to make it go farther, except in the case of bath products it’s harmful.

    If we look into the ingredients of your example body wash for this post we find out why it’s listed as moderate harmful on the The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database scale (I would have listed it as highly harmful).

    WATER: this is self explanitory
    SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE: Is an inexpensive foaming agent, highly irritating and is known to cause hair follicle, skin damage, permanent eye damage in children and because it does not metabolize AT ALL, even liver toxicity. This is one of things that bad dreams are made of.
    SODIUM SULFATE: is the sodium salt of sulfuric acid and is used to as a filler and because it dissolves in water (this is part of what makes the shampoo feel like it is being rinsed out of your hair). Causes dryness in hair (yuck tangles), skin irritation and so on.
    COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE: A synthetic spreader. Basically this is used to make the wash feel like it is being spread around on you body, give it that fake feeling of silky smooth. It is also an allergen, this is what makes some people break out in hives and sneeze.
    FRAGRANCE: synthetic and allergen.
    SODIUM LAUROAMPHOACETATE,/b>: Also known as Genagen LDA is foam booster and cleaning spreading agent, known by many names loved by companies because it makes everything SUPER FOAMING like your enjoying yourself at a spa!! (it’s pretty woman in the giant bath tub all over again) Designed by 5 guys who thought that making a bigger better foaming-spreading agent would improve everyone’s cleaning experience (I am being sarcastic). Again, it gives that fake feeling of silky smooth. And what we should remember is that just because it is foaming like a son of a bitch DOESN’T mean it is cleaning, now days foaming does NOT equate clean.
    CITRIC ACID: preservative and weak acid.
    SODIUM BENZOATE: preservative, used in fireworks, and causes hyperactivity.
    POLYQUATERNIUM-10: reduces static in hair, enhances look and feel of hair
    DISODIUM EDTA: this makes all of the above stuff mix together and gives it that gel constancy. This is also the stuff that goes into the water and earth after you’re done washing with it and pollutes everything. Making other animals sick because once adsorbed into the body via skin and food it stops the absorption of Vitamin C along with aiding in the accumulation of heavy metals. YOU CAN NOT GET RID OF THIS STUFF once it is in the ecosystem.
    METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE: preservative, anitfungal agent, causes tissue damage, burns and is dangerous for long term use.
    METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE: is used as a preservative and is a chemical that is used to kill organisms. Causes brain damage and is TOXIC to human cells.

    Although, Isaiah Mustafa is cute and Old Spices commercial funny I don’t think I’ll ever take my chances washing with their product or letting anyone else that I love do so either.

  64. MicheleP says:

    I agree with the commentor who wrote that it makes a big difference which bar soap you are talking about. I have switched from bath gel and liquid soap to bar soap in the shower and the rest of the house. First, I don’t want the plastic packaging. Second, most have some kind of palm product in them. Third, I don’t like paying for water in my soap. Fourth, I don’t like the idea of shipping all that water. I have not noticed a higher level of soap scum but I do not buy detergent soaps. I buy from a soap maker at my local farmers market or KissMyFace plain olive oil soap. My buying choices are limited because I check for palm products in soap and won’t buy it if it contains any palm products – unless I am sure the palm products have not come from plantations clearcut from orangutan habitat in Borneo.

  65. graceonline says:

    Sigh. This is a tough one as I have sensitive skin. Whenever I found a bar soap in the past that did not a) cause me to break out wherever it touched me, b) dry my skin, c) leave a residue, d) give me a headache, and/or e) dry my skin so it itched mercilessly, I would rejoice and buy all the bars on the shelf. Inevitably, the manufacturer would change the formula, the one store within a 20-mile radius that carried the soap would discontinue, or the local artisan soap-maker would stop making it.

    Some years ago I discovered Shikai Yuzu moisturizing shower gel. It is a joy on my skin, I never have a reaction to it, the scent is mild and delicious, and I use so much less of it than I did bar soap. Plus, I can buy it in gallon containers at my local market. My first gallon has lasted more than two years so far. It’s about to run out, and I’m experimenting with recipes I find online for making my own gel using ingredients I do not have to source in plastic bottles. It may take a while to find the right combination that will nourish my skin and senses without irritation, but I’m committed to the task. I’ll share my search in my blog as I go along.

  66. Tracey says:

    Bar soap leaves scum only if it’s made from animal fats.

    Bar soap is good for you when it has “retained glycerine” – otherwise, it’s harsh.

    Try to find a locally made bar from a small manufacturer.

    Dr Bronner’s soaps are perfect, and their environmental record is the best. You can buy it in bulk, and refill it in bulk.

    To make an awesome shower gel, fill a bottle with Dr B’s Baby unscented soap, and add 5-10% essential oil of peppermint. It will form a gel!

    You can add other non irritating essential oils such as Himalayan cedarwood for that manly, yet family friendly scent. Note that cinnamon essential oil will eat through your skin.

    My pet peeve with Cocomidopropyl betaine is that it’s supposed to be made from beets and coconuts, but it’s normally petroleum source, and even if it’s vegetable source, it’s often GMO. *sigh* It was a good ingredient until I knew its dirty secrets!

  67. Gigi says:

    I love liquid soap, hard to wean myself from it because with liquid soap I don’t have soap sitting in puddles and melting away, left on the bottom of the tub, and its so much easier for hand washing, again no dried soap to wash and a dispenser (one I reuse and reuse) looks cleaner. there are recipes for clothing soap…I’m looking for one for liquid soap that I can put in a dispenser.

  68. Juli says:

    You know what bugs me? Old Spice doesn’t offer a bar soap version of its product. It would be so easy for them to do, and then they would have a better environmental choice on the market to go with that irresistible ad campaign.

    I’ve had male roommates who used copious amounts of liquid soap. It DOES leave residue, and when someone uses that much it inevitably gets on the shower curtain, the walls, etc. Liquid bath soap is IMHO the opposite of manly, especially using gobs of it. In my experience, it is guys who use way too much soap more often than women- dish soap, laundry detergent, bath soap, etc. Why is that?

  69. Katy says:

    Have you used store brand bar soap? That stuff really does leave your skin dry! That’s why I swichted to body wash before I was aware of all of the enviromental implications. Now I use homemade soap I buy at my local farmer’s market and that stuff is awesome… doesn’t leave my skin dry and has a nice, soft smell to it.

    Yeah, I would say the crappiness of store brand bar soap has contributed to the increase in the number of people using body wash. That and more and more men are starting to care more about their apperance.

  70. We’re using Ivory soap and Irish Spring Sport in bar form–have been for years. We’ve never had any complaints that we don’t smell good or bear the film of soap scum on our skin…I’ve been very pleased with Ivory’s performance on my 3 sons and I like how clean it gets me, too.

  71. Candice says:

    We use bar soap around here more and more. But I think the distinction needs to be made between detergent bar soaps like Lever 2000 and Irish Spring and good old, all-natural soap. Detergent bars *will* leave a soap scum residue, and so does body wash. They are made with the same harmful chemicals as the Old Spice! They also dry out your skin (thus the successful lotion industry…)

    Real soap is made from a mixture of water, lye, and oils. The lye isn’t harmful when the soap is made properly – if the soap was made properly, the chemical reaction during soapmaking will ensure there is actually no lye left in the bars. Real soap contains more glycerin, and no sulfates designed to create lather that really dry out the skin. Since we switched to real soap, I rarely need to use lotion.

    I buy my soap from local vendors (I just picked up two bars for $8 last week!) or if I can’t find any when I need some, I will buy from Etsy. I’ve heard Chagrin Valley is a *great* soap company and I wish I would have picked up some when I lived in the next town over… :(

    $8 is a lot for two bars, but those two bars should last my family (4 out of 5 of us use them) for at least 4 months. If you buy online, it’s worth it to spend extra and buy more because most vendors use flat-rate envelopes.

    Plus, you are supporting someone who owns a small business, instead of a huge corporation disinclined to look at the chemicals they are using in their products!

  72. WT says:

    I’m a doctor bonner guy I refill the plastic bottle and the ingredients are pure. What the writer is failing to do is think of why a male might prefer liquid soap. Answer hair we are covered with it and do you know what a bar looks like after we use it a hamster. So if you man wants to use a liquid let him he doesn’t want to get yelled at just switch to a natural soap preferably one that can be refilled.

  73. Meggi R says:

    Hmmm…. tough one. My dad used bar soap, but that’s really only because he’s scrooge… it’s cheaper. As to whether or not it makes you smell better, I don’t think that that is necessarily always true. In my opinion, my dad’s Irish Spring gel smells worlds better than old fashioned, smelly lye soap. But then again, there are tons and tons more scents available, and most of those, I like better. I buy shampoo and soap from, and I find that there are so many scents to choose from, it’s insane. My brother uses Coffee spice, Java Spice, or Scarborough Fair, and his girlfriend loves it. Although, she also loves him, and thus may have tainted judgement… nevertheless, it does smell manly. For him anyway. You can get samples for under three dollars, I think.
    Anyway, although I have only recently made the switch for environmental reasons, I find bars more or less equal…. with the added benefits of reducing waste, chemicals, and harsh glares at the airport (it WAS under two ounces last time, I swear…)

  74. Helena says:

    We used bar soap growing up and then with all the hype, I switched to shower gel in college and only recently (a few years ago) went back to bar soap with non-plastic wrapping. I actually buy my soap once a year when I go on vacation…I usually go to local arts/crafts stores wherever I’m vacationing (usually somewhere in the mountains, where there are plenty of crafty stores or farmer’s markets) and I stock up on the handmade soaps made by the locals (if they are packaged in paper and not plastic). They are EXPENSIVE, like $3-6 per bar, but to be honest, one bar lasts me about 6 months or more. I only take a shower every other day, sometimes once every 3 days in the winter when I’m not sweating in my garden or doing anything to make me “smell”. So that is why one bar of soap can last me so long.

    Unfortunately, hubby likes his liquid soap in plastic bottle, and I haven’t been able to convince him otherwise (yet), but am still working on it. We do recycle those though and we only buy them if they are plastic #1 and # 2 or # 5 which can be recycled in our county. If it’s #3, 4, 6 or 7, we don’t buy it.

    My hope is soon I can get him off the liquid stuff…he says it doesn’t dry out his skin as much as bar soap does, but i told him “try my soap!” because it is a very creamy homemade soap and very moisturizing…it’s made with goat’s milk!

  75. Meggi R says:

    Hmmm…. tough one. My dad used bar soap, but that’s really only because he’s scrooge… it’s cheaper. As to whether or not it makes you smell better, I don’t think that that is necessarily always true. In my opinion, my dad’s Irish Spring gel smells worlds better than old fashioned, smelly lye soap. But then again, there are tons and tons more scents available, and most of those, I like better. I buy shampoo and soap from, and I find that there are so many scents to choose from, it’s insane. My brother uses Coffee spice, Java Spice, or Scarborough Fair, and his girlfriend loves it. Although, she also loves him, and thus may have tainted judgement… nevertheless, it does smell manly. For him anyway. You can get samples for under three dollars, I think.

  76. Shawn Hill says:

    I switched solely becuase I hate it when someone else’s hair gets on my soap, which always happens.

  77. Billie says:

    This is one of the things that I have actually switched. I have gone from body wash to bar soap. My big problem with soap is that I am allergic to coconut oil. You don’t have a lot of choices once you remove all the soaps with coconut oil in them.

    Right now, I am getting it from Chagrin Valley Soap. Not exactly local but you can’t seem to have everything.

  78. Brittany says:

    We both used bar soap for a while after meeting, then with all the hype and before I became eco-friendly we used shower gel, now I have switched back to bar soap and my hubby doesn’t seem to mind, as long as he has something to wash with. I will continue to use the soap with the least packaging!

  79. Mary K says:

    When I met my husband, he used bar soap. I used shower gel, and I introduced him to the “wonderful” world of shower gel. Now I have switched to handmade bar soap both to avoid chemicals and plastic bottles. So, now I’m trying to get him to switch back to bar soap.

    He used Old Spice, and he has mentioned before that he thinks it either makes him smell less or makes him smell good longer (I can’t remember his exact words).

    However, I now think that the smell can be overpowering at times. I feel like he just spells like the shower gel and nothing else. So, I actually just told him yesterday that I’m going to find him some “manly” scented bar soap so that we can both be happy with the choice! Anyone have suggestions for (non-toxic) manly scents that might be used in bar soaps??

  80. Elizabeth Brunner says:

    My household will stick with low-scent soap in minimal packaging. I had never even heard of Isaiah Mustafa — don’t have television hooked up anymore. But good golly, he is handsome and funny in those commercials. Thanks for the You Tube link.

  81. Erin says:

    We (my man and I) use bar soap and have no problems with it. I think that to many people, lather + smell = clean when it comes to soap. Bodywashes usually have a much more potent scent that bars, and whereas with a bar you’d have to spend a lot more time lathering to get a lot of suds, with a bottle of bodywash it’s as simple as a bigger squirt – it requires so much less effort for more suds that we’re tricked into thinking it does a better job.

    These are just my best guesses, though. We’ll be sticking to our unscented bar soap.

  82. eleanor says:

    I successfully weaned my man off his shower gel obsession (he was using an entire bottle every two weeks or so). Good soaps don’t leave film or residue. I’ve successfully found one with so little packaging I don’t even know who makes it, he uses whatever he’s in the mood for, and I use the “ends” of the bars he considers too small to use (as a result, I never have to by soap for myself, so I couldn’t even tell you what kind he picks anymore, sometimes light brown, sometimes darker brown :P )

    It’s not just the increased packaging, which is bad enough. It also costs more to ship (money and resources), since you’re moving a fair amount of water around, and ounce for ounce it doesn’t last nearly as long, so it’s not a one-for-one swap. Like shampoo, it’s ridiculously wasteful and we’ve lived quite successfully, happily, and cleanly as a species before it existed. It’s not penicillin or injectable insulin, we’re talking “stuff to help remove dirt from skin” here.

    I’m as big a fan of most things European as most people, but I think their obsession with it is just another case of being ahead of the trend – not necessarily a good thing when that trend is part of a larger problem, not a solution.

  83. Bruce Rayner says:

    I use Dr. Bronner’s pepermint soap, which is the original body wash. I use it to wash my body, hair and and I also shave with it. I apply a little of the liquid soap on to one of those scrubbing thingies (made of plastic, by the way). We are fanatical recyclers so the plastic bottle doesn’t end in the landfill.
    Dr. Bronner’s website ( says the soap come in bar form but I’ve never seen it in the supermarket (Whole Foods) . If it was available, I’d switch in a minute.

  84. Kim Dunkelberg says:

    Personally, I’d like my man to smell like Isaiah Mustafa, I wonder if they could bottle that smell?

    Seriously, I think the trend towards more plastic bottles rather than less is appalling. I’ve been using bar soap to get clean for my whole life and it doesn’t seem to have mysteriously stopped working the past few years. I could get better on the no-plastic side since my favorite bar soap is shrink-wrapped, so does anyone have any suggestions on unscented hypo-allergenic non-drying plastic-free bar soap? We use Dove right now.

  85. Rachael says:

    As a woman who was raised on bar soap, I can say that I find liquid soap superior in many ways. I buy 5-gallons of Dr. Bronners and constantly refill a smaller Bronners bottle with it. Yes, it is plastic, but I can probably return the 5-gallon for reuse and if not, I will recycle it. I cannot stand the film bar soap leaves on the tub/shower and I can clean far less (and thus use fewer resources doing so) by using liquid soap. Moreover, the few times I use bar soap at a hotel or wherever, I do not feel as clean. There is definitely a residue. Anyway, I guess it is a personal preference. When I lived in Ireland, all the men I knew used liquid soap in the shower. I think it has been a European thing for years and they often know best.


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