For the longest time when it came to skin care, most guys were content to live in the stone age, back when moisturizer wasn’t a thing and all-in-one cleansers filled men’s shower caddies from coast to coast. But now it’s 2020, and as a famous poet once said, the times, they are a changin’.
These days, guys are more and more aware about the products they use on their bodies and their faces. Korean beauty regimens, at one point the stuff of legend, have been finding their way into dudes’ nighttime bathroom routines, and for good reason: Gone are the days when men cared only if their skin was clean, and not if their skin felt good.
Bar soap, for example, was for a long time the only washing-up tool you needed. Whether in the shower or in front of the sink, if you wanted to clean something skin-related — even your face — you reached for a bar o’ soap. But these days, specially formulated cleansers have all but replaced bars as the face-wash du jour, because according to the powers-that-be, soaps “dry out your skin.”
But is that true? Are bar soaps actually that bad for your face? “Most body bar soaps do have ingredients that are known to dry your skin out,” explains Jacob Sainz, a member of Dollar Shave Club’s product team. “Those types of ingredients are typically used because they make the production of bar soap cheaper. Sodium lauryl sulfate, for instance, is used a lot because it’s a helpful foaming agent. However, SLS does dry out your skin, and while that might be okay for your less sensitive body, your face is much more susceptible to overdrying.”
Bar soaps, then, are bad for your face — assuming they have those face-drying ingredients in them. That said, there are bar soaps that are perfectly fine to wash your face with. “Go through the ingredients list,” Sainz says. “The fewer additives like SLS or parabens, the less moisture-stripping it will do and thus, the safer it’ll be on your face.”
So, as long as you check the label for some problem ingredients, at the end of the day, washing your face with bar soap is perfectly fine. Just remember, though, if your face does end up feeling dry, toss what you’re using and try something different. Your face will thank you.