Why soap and skin aren't the best of friends?

Soap 2 today, soap today, soap and glory, soap brows, soap dispenser, cleanser facial, cerave cleanser, cleanser for face

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Social distance.

If 2020 was the year of being told what to do, then it was definitely the year of dry hands, maskne and craving for a night out on the beers, wine… or just a night out. And if you towed the line and followed instructions, then some time between Valentines Day and the Easter Bank holiday weekend your hands probably weren’t too grateful.

Here’s why. Soap is great for killing germs, removing dirt and all round cleanliness. An age-old solution to an even older state of grubbiness, soap is good at removing all sorts of things from dirty plates, stained clothes and as you’ll know, skin. Truth be told, it’s too good! And therein lies the problem. 

So let’s do a little deep dive on soap; the good, the bad, the ugly and the alternatives.

Soap. WTF is it anyway?

To know what soap is, we need to know it's made. 

Soaps are created through the process of saponification. Fats + bleach = salt soap + glycerin.That 's it. Nothing more, nothing less, unless you add essential oils and perfumes.

This is in fact the traditional way of making soap but modern day soaps are still based on this principle. Okay, now that we know how it’s made, let's look at why it's so handy (sorry, couldn’t help ourselves), and also why soap and skin might not be the best of friends after all.


  • Cleanliness: Soaps are really effective at washing away daily dirt and keeping your skin pores clean and rid of daily grime, sweat and pollution. 

  • Eco friendly: Solid bars are formulated with as little water as possible. So, they're a good way of helping the planet by reducing water consumption; every drop counts. 

  • Antiseptic: Another good thing about soap is its ability to effectively disinfect and remove germs. Up to 96% of all the pathogens “bad microbes” found on your  skin. Great to help keep COVID-19 away. Read more here


  1. It dries your skin. Conventional soaps, indiscriminately remove dirt, sebum and vital good oils from your skin. Result? The breakdown of the skin’s natural moisture barrier and increased water loss.

  1. Can make your skin break out. That’s right, soaps can actually increase sebum or oil production through continued use. How 's that possible? Well, as mentioned above, conventional soaps can dry your skin. As a defense mechanism your oil producing glands will try to produce more sebum to re-hydrate. This can result in pore clogging and increased acne production. If you want to know more, here's the science.

  1. Makes your skin more susceptible to infections. Our skin has two types of bacteria; the “good” and the “bad”. The good bacteria are responsible for fighting certain skin infections while the bad ones create them. Soaps normally have a pH between 10-11 in contrast to the skin's pH which is around 5.5. That’s a huge difference and can affect the skin's pH balance. This imbalance in the pH can kill all types of bacterias, good and bad and weaken your skin's barrier function, making is more sensitive and prone to infections.  

Don´t panic! There are alternatives. 


    Ok soap isn't really ugly, bad. The good and the bad are covered above. And if you’re after Ugly Soap, that's the place to go. Texan made, they seem like good people, check em out!


    Remember; not all soaps are bars and not all bars are soaps, so if a bar is not a soap, what is it? … A syndet! Not a riddle from a fortune cookie, but genuine skincare innovation that provides an alternative to soap. A "Syn" (synthetic) "det"  (detergent) in bar form, is a solid cleansing product made out of synthetic detergents. Think of them as solid cleansing gels.

    ... the positives to syndets? 

    Well, syndets do a great job of cleansing and can be made with a pH that closely matches the skin, which is slightly acidic . As a result, they can give a gentle option for cleansing your face and body. Like soaps, they can be made with little to no packaging for sustainability (we like to reduce, reuse, recycle), and they respect the skin’s natural barrier. 

    ... and the downside side? 

    Okay, we now know that syndets can be good for both our skin and planet, but we think traditional syndets left just a little room for improvement. As the name suggests, they’re synthetic. We're lovers of conscious beauty; the power of knowing where something comes from, and choosing nature's tried and tested active botanicals. 

    Disclaimer alert! It’s important to note that something isn’t bad for your skin, simply because it’s synthetic. There are plenty of valuable synthetic things on Earth which improve our quality of life, whether those are medicines, recycled polymers or Gore Tex on a rainy day.


    Having weighed up the pros and cons to soap vs syndests, the clever bods who work on Skin Sapiens formulations set out on a mission to discover the best of all worlds. The natural origins in soap, with the skin pH friendly properties of a syndet and the eco-friendly packaging solutions available to both.

    The solution?  

    SKIN SAPIENS cleansing bar, for face and body.

    The world's first certified natural syndet. 100% natural origin ingredients certified to the ECOCERT COSMOS Natural standard, Vegan Society approved and Leaping Bunny International Cruelty-Free. 

    Made with a blend of the best of the plant powered actives in a raw cut, solid bar, this innovative cleansing bar contains two great hero ingredients, jojoba oil and activated charcoal. 

    Jojoba oil is a liquid wax with excellent moisturising properties and a low comedogenic rating (meaning it doesn't cause breakouts). Activated charcoal powder works to absorb the daily pollutants and dirt that sit on top of your skin so they can be rinsed away. Combined, they can keep your face and body clean, fresh and nourished. Dermatologically tested, our cleansing bar is ideal for all skin types, even sensitive. 

    The best bit? It's low water content and 100% recycled carton packaging make it a winner for the planet too. So, what are you waiting for, get yours here and let's get rinsing?

    Peace. Love. And natural innovation

    Back to blog

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.