Why some soap bars are not bad for our skin

Dr Bronner's Magic Soaps

We often hear that soap bars are bad for our skin. But is it really? Whilst at Bud Cosmetics last week, I posed this question to owner Eric Chew since he used to make his own soaps in Australia. And his answer? It’s not true. It really depends on the soap content.

Soaps with glycerine are good for sensitive and delicate skin
I’ve since learnt that clear soap bars made from natural glycerine are actually good for sensitive and delicate skin as well as children. Glycerin is a humectant which attracts moisture to our skin, and leave skin feeling soft and hydrated while permitting it to breathe. It also contains healing properties and is thus good for those with sensitive skin like eczema and psoriasis.

Combination of vegetable-based oils provide moisturizing base
In addition, many natural and organic soap bars today are made from vegetable-based oils, such as olive, coconut, and palm and these when combined with the glycerin and water, provide a moisturizing lotion base and are not drying on the skin when used.

No artificial preservatives and harmful ingredients
You may also like to know that such soaps typically do not contain artificial preservatives that can irritate skin. They are also free of synthetic ingredients often found in mass-marketed soap such as Isopropyl Alcohol, TEA, Propylene Glycol and Triclosan that are suspected to be harmful to health and can cause severe skin irritation in some people.

No artificial fragrances and colorings to irritate
Such soap bars also not contain artificial fragrances and colorings which can cause skin irritations. Instead, they usually come with pure essential oil fragrances with aromatherapy benefits and some of these natural fragrances also have anti-fungal, and anti-microbial properties as well. I also learnt that properly made natural soap bars have no measurable free alkali, which is apparently the most common irritant in soap.

Soap bars could be milder than liquid soaps
So soap bars are not necessarily bad for our skin. In fact, some could even be milder in formulations when compared to liquid soaps. You just have to look at the ingredients and find out about the formulations. As long as it doesn’t make your skin all tight and dry, it should be fine.


  1. nicole says:

    Do you know the organic soap has expiration? How long an organic product can last? Thank you.

    Nicole: That’s a good question! I didn’t think about this. But most natural and organic skincare products should list an expiration date especially since they do not have preservatives. Depending on the formulations, I know some handmade ones are best used within 6 months of purchase while others can last longer when stored in a cool dry place. Once come into contact with water, it should be used up quickly. But some of the formulations last a long time!

  2. parisb says:

    This is useful info. As to how long it lasts, I have tried Lush soaps which is also handmade and they tend to “melt” after a while in our hot weather. So I’d say natural products (if truly natural) won’t last very long in our tropical weather.

    paris: It really depends on the formulation. I can’t recall if my Lush soaps lasted very long but Dr Bronner’s Castille soap is quite something. It is longer lasting than most I have come across.

  3. Joey says:

    Are traditional soaps made from herbal extracts safe (eg: Likas papaya soap)? I bought a bar recently and there was an advert about a competition on the box…for 2006! I asked the lady at the store and she told me soaps can last for a very long time so it’s okay.

    Joey: Hard to say. Depends on the formulation. But I understand that some soaps can last up to 5 years! You might want to try it on your skin first to see if there are any reactions before using it elsewhere. But if you can, get the freshest for the best effects.

  4. flym says:

    I’m now a fan of bar soaps because they’re more environmentally friendly. I like Dr Bronner’s and Filthy Farmgirl’s soaps. Is Lush available in S’pore now? They used to be around.

    flym: Arrggh no… ? I wish they are. I love their soaps for my hair. I guess they started out at the wrong time. If they come in again now, it would be a good timing.

  5. Jocelyn Yao says:

    Handmade Soap may last for 1 or 2 years. They are made from normal oils, like coconut, olive, palm oil. When coconut oil turn rancid, it is very obvious and the same goes for the soap, you can smell it. Fungus will grow on them as well since they dont contain preservatives! I have seen jams with expiry date up to 10 years, imagine how much preservative must have gone into that. Soaps that have long expiry date normally have enough fragrances and preservatives to keep them looking fresh! Be extra careful with fresh additives like cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, they have to be used up within 3 months after curing! anything longer is really a bonus

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