Soap Bar vs Cream Body Cleanser

Soap Bar vs Cream Body Cleanser

You may be wondering what the difference is between our Soap Bars and our Cream Body Cleansers. 

  • Do they both get you clean? 
  • Do they foam? 
  • Or, are they just soap? 

So, here is a simple breakdown of the difference between the two, so you can make the best choice for you. 

Ethique Pumice, Tea Tree & Spearmint Bodywash

Our Soap Bars

The original Ethique Soap Bars have been around for years and other than a face lift on the packaging (a new leaf stamp), they have been their same, tried and tested, beloved bars (pictured: Pumice, Tea Tree & Spearmint bodywash bar. 

Their primary difference is right in the name: they are soap based.

Soap, as a refresher, is what is made when oils (like rice bran or palm oil) are mixed with an alkali chemical like sodium hydroxide. The resulting product is hard, foamy soap. This is the stuff people can get incredibly creative with, creating beautiful designs and amazing textures. It’s quite a versatile product.  

Depending on what oils the bars are made with will create different properties for each bar; we have chosen our coconut and olive oil base as it makes hard, dense bars which have a nice foamy lather and aren’t drying. They are easy to mass produce too through a process called extrusion – which is where the ingredients are reacted into soap and cooked, ground into noodles, then squeezed with great pressure through a ‘soap plodder’ and shaped into the final product.  

The downside of soap is its high pH, which is impossible to avoid. You cannot lower the pH of soap, which is around 9 on average, meaning it’s squarely in the alkaline category (water is neutral at around 7, seawater is slightly alkaline at around 8 and human skin is acidic at about 5.5).  

This does bother some people – particularly those with sensitive skin. Your skin secretes lipids and amino acids, which form something called an acid mantle. This maintains this acidic pH of your skin which helps prevent water loss, microbial infection, dryness, and other skin irritations. Because your oil glands continuously secrete sebum, this acid mantle is restored after being washed and takes as little as 20 minutes to be restored in a healthy person. Washing with almost anything will disrupt this acid mantle, but it is particularly affected by products with a high pH, which is why some of you get that dry, itchy feeling after using soap. 

Ethique Cream Body Cleansers

Our Cream Body Cleansers

The cream body cleansers, by comparison, are more similar to our shampoo bars, than our  Soap Bars. This is because they are completely soap free and instead, are made with surfactants. If you want to understand the difference between soap and surfactants, read our blog all about soap and surfactants

Surfactants can be a gentler way to cleanse (when formulated well), because the pH can be manipulated to be much closer to that of the skin, resulting in less disruption to the acid mantle.  

Our cream body cleansers are smaller and have a less bubbly lather but a more creamy, dense foam. They are made with luxurious ingredients like creamed coconut, kaolin and sugar so they are non-stripping, won’t leave you tight and itchy. They still cleanse away dirt and oil, but are more nourishing.  

So, if you are looking for a cleansing bar to wash your body and you don’t mind using soap, an Ethique Soap Bar will be your go-to. They come in a range of delish scents and last well when stored correctly. 

But if you prefer a more luxurious lather, more hydration or just want something soap-free, reach for the cream body cleanser. They are equivalent to one bottle of liquid bodywash, and you can make them last even longer by using them with a loofah or face cloth. My favourite is without question the Lime & Lemongrass – it is super sweet, citrusy and delicious. 

And yes, you can use them to wash your face, and in a pinch, your hair. But please don’t use a soap bar on your hair! Want to know why? We have it all answered here: What is soap?

Happy showering!