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Bar Soap vs. Liquid Soap: Which Is Better For Baby’s Skin?

The Asian Parent logo The Asian Parent 8/7/2022 kimbrua
© Provided by The Asian Parent

Just another thing that mothers today can thank science for is the variety of baby bathing products on the market today. Our brightest minds have come up with various formulations to ensure our babies’ skin is not only clean but healthy, smooth, blemish-free, and protected from germs.

And with such added benefits, manufacturers have also provided our mums with different forms of soap as well, the most common of which are bar soaps and liquid soaps.

Lucky we may be that we have several options for our little bubs, this wide range of products however now leave us with more questions than clear answers: which one do we use for our babies? Bar soap? Or liquid soap? Is one better than the other? Which one will help us avoid eczema? How do we protect our babies from germs? Which soap is better at giving moisture?

The answers to all of those questions are the quest of this article. So, read further to learn which of these baby foam-makers is more suitable for our sweet and gentle little darlings.

Why Choosing the Best Soap Matters

So, why is choosing which soap to use such a big deal? Our parents and their parents got away with just using regular soap. What’s all the fuss now for? Well, for one, the pandemic is one big factor. Ever since COVID-19 woke us all up to take hygiene more seriously, mums have fussed more over what products to use for their children.

But, even before the pandemic, our greatest minds have already been muss over what products to recommend for babies to use, mainly because regular soap could actually cause more damage to babies’ skin and can make it more susceptible to irritation, and allergies, and even breathing problems.

Our babies’ skin is three to five times thinner than ours, making them more delicate, ergo the need for more delicate products as well.

Plus, if we are not careful with what products to use on our babies, the skin conditions that they were born with could worsen. Say your baby got eczema, and you’re using baby soaps or baby washes that have irritants. Your baby’s eczema can be triggered or worsened.

That said, we can definitely say: the right kind of soap does matter. 

Image source: iStock

So, how do we know which soap to use?

What You Should Look For in Baby’s Soap

The first step in deciding which soap to use for your little one is to check these three things:

1. pH level

The pH level of baby skin is much higher than adult skin. It’s more acidic because they need a stronger protective layer to keep bacteria away. Most soaps, even baby soaps, have much higher pH levels, which could affect a baby’s pH and make their skin dryer or more damaged.

So, when you’re on the hunt for the perfect soap, find one that supports a neutral pH. The pH level of babies’ skin is usually 5.5, so find a product that has the same pH level.

2. Fragrance

Less is more. That’s all you need to remember when looking for the best kind of soap for your mini-me. The less smell there is, the better. Why? The fragrance is one of the many triggers of allergies. It can go so bad that it can even cause eczema flare-ups breathing problems for your child.

So, if you see the words “fragrance,” “perfume,” “parfum,” “essential oil blend,” or “arouma” anywhere in the label of the product, move on to the next brand. Your child with eczema deserves a better product.

3. Moisturising

The main purpose of soap is to get rid of dirt. It’s for that reason many soaps have so many chemicals. Too many chemicals, however, can dry out the skin pretty fast.

Since baby skin is much thinner than adult skin, use soap with too many chemicals, and their skin will dry out faster than ours. You don’t need baby soaps to be strong. You just need them to be effective. Just enough to keep the germs away but also moisturising enough not to damage the baby’s super delicate skin. 

So, as you are browsing a brand’s label for its pH level and fragrance, check if it has the keywords “moisturising” as well.

What You Should Avoid

Kiichiro Sato/AP/REX/Shutterstock

We’ve discussed at length what you ought to look for when shopping for your mini-me’s baby soap. Now, let’s talk about what you ought to look for and avoid.

1. Parabens

Parabens are a preservative, an ingredient often added to cosmetic products, so you can use them longer. How long you can use a baby product, however, should be the least of your concerns, as this ingredient can cause skin irritation on your baby. What’s worse is that it can even affect your baby’s hormone function.

So, if you see the words “Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, other ingredients ending in –paraben,” put the product back in the rack, and find another baby soap.

2. Sodium lauryl (ether) sulfate

This ingredient is otherwise known as SLS, SLES, sodiand um dodecyl sulfate, sodium PEG lauryl sulfate. This chemical is often added to soaps and shampoos for its foam-building abilities. And, yes, while the babies LOVE to play with the foam coming out of the soap we use to rub on their bodies, this particular foam-making ingredient can cause eye irritation, skin rash, hair loss, scalp scurf, and allergy. 

When you see this ingredient in the list, avoid it as much as possible.

3. Propylene glycol

What this ingredient does when added to cosmetic products is to help soften skin. Some products for baby eczema also contain this ingredient. However, this chemical can also cause allergic reactions. So, whether your baby has eczema or not, avoid this ingredient at all times – just to be safe.

Are Bar Soaps Better than Liquid Soaps?

We now know what components to check and which ingredients to avoid: have we finally settled on whether liquid soaps are better than soap bars and vice versa?

The truth is the answer to this question is neither yes nor no, because both bar soaps and liquid soaps can pass the checklist discussed above. Neither has less chemically damaging ingredients than the other.

The key to finding out which soap is the safest to use is not with the form of the soap but its composition: does it have a neutral pH level? Does it have a moisturising capacity? Does it contain harmful chemicals?

If the soap you have your eye on is a bar soap brand and has all of these components checked out, then you have found the perfect soap for your baby. If the brand you want to try keeps off all ingredients that will worsen your baby’s eczema, then you got the perfect soap for your baby.

The only difference between bar soaps and liquid soaps is which is more convenient for you to use. Do you want one that is easier to use? Get a bar soap. Do you want one that does not slip from your hand all the time? Get a liquid soap. Just as long as the soap you have chosen have all of those components checked out. 

 The Indus Parent, AiniBaby


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