Bar Soap – Lover or Hater?
Olive oil soap is not a new thing but its pretty big in the hand-made, hand-crafted, artisanal world these days. I’m an olive oil producer who hates wastage. I just knew that we had to do something with the olive oil that we can’t bottle. In the most part, its what’s left behind when we’ve decanted off the oil. It’s an oil that is relatively heavy with sediment. There’s nothing wrong with it but its shelf life is somewhat compromised.
As luck would have it, my path crossed with a gorgeous lady named Grace in my local butchers’ shop of all places. Long story short, Grace now handcrafts our olive oil into a small range of natural soaps; an unscented manuka and oat bar soap, a lemon myrtle liquid soap and a lemon myrtle hand/body lotion.
Grace and I have developed a strong friendship and now that we live in different regions, we spend a lot of time on the phone. Many times, our conversation has drifted towards bar soaps and we ask a multitude of questions but one that has come up a number of times is: – why do some people love bar soap and do some people hate bar soap?
I guess nothing in this world is perfect and everything has advantages and disadvantages. Of course we all want different things so our needs vary. Here’s what we’ve come up with:
There is a huge shift towards reduced packaging. When you google anything to do with plastic bottles, the statistics are always billions and trillions. It is estimated that globally humans buy a million plastic bottles per minute, 91% of all plastic is not recycled and it is estimated that half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold next year. To be honest your soap bottles are not the biggest culprit but every bottle counts right?
For some people the thought of sharing a bar of soap with anyone is just repulsive. Truth is that I grew up in a family where that was the norm and so I’m immune to the concept that sharing soap is festy. We all have natural bacteria on our bodies and those bacteria are called our natural microbiome. The reality is that family members that live together tend to have a very similar microbiome. We sit in the same chairs, we hang out in the same spaces, we co-exist and so we share bacteria.
When we share a bar of soap, it is true that there can be some bacteria on the soap after use, we’ve just rubbed it all over our body after all. Those bacteria will only thrive if the soap is left sitting in a pool of water. Let the soap dry out between uses and ‘Bobs your uncle’. If you are showering immediately after the last person, give the soap a quick rinse before using it. The fact is that you are going to pick up more bacteria from your mobile phone than you are from your bar of soap. I understand, it’s not for everyone but I guess sharing soap with family members is one of those things I am just not precious about. Judge me all you like.
I remember when my parents installed a new shower when they were renovating. The day they commissioned the new shower they converted to using soap-free body wash. Ever since then, I’ve never seen a bar of soap in their shower and I reckon they’re not alone. Its the quest to avoid soap scum. Again – not something I’m precious about.
Rumour has it that if you rub your shower, bath and basin surfaces (but not the floors) with car or boat wax when they are new or beautifully clean then the soap scum can’t actually adhere to the surfaces. The surfaces stay cleaner for longer and cleaning times are seriously minimised. There you go, you can thank me later. I don’t know, I just think that bathrooms are places that need to be cleaned regularly so you clean them and move on. I’d rather deal with soap scum than rub my body with a whole bunch of synthetic additives and chemicals, but that’s just me. To be fair though – I also prefer a natural liquid soap at my kitchen and bathroom sinks – just to reduce the amount of soap residue sitting on the countertop soap dishes.
Soap on Skin
Well, truth is, I’m not a pharmacist, chemist or dermatologist so I don’t have the answers here. I just know the benefits of olive oil soaps on skin and I don’t stray from them anymore (bar or liquid). Claims of any soap to be moisturising should be taken cautiously – more likely some soaps are less stripping than others. The reality is that you wash soap off your skin so not too much can be left behind to moisturise. I do find though that a lovely natural soap leaves my skin feeling silky and I’m much less likely to need to moisturise to prevent visibly dry skin.
So, what soap you use is really a very personal choice. It is often influenced by what we grew up with, price, environmental impact, product performance and what makes us feel good. I don’t have the answers but I do love that we can produce beautiful olive oil soaps that feel good, perform well and that are enjoyed by so many of our customers. What’s your ‘go-to’?