Bar Soap vs Body Wash: Which Is Best for You?

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by  David Martin | Last Updated:  May 18, 2021

Here you are again, standing in the store aisle and wondering whether you should buy body wash or bar soap. 

For such a simple task there are endless considerations: which is more cost effective? Which will be more kind to Mother Nature? 

Which will have girls throwing themselves at you like a horde of zombies to get a better smell?

In this article I’ll do a deep dive into the long-fought battle of bar soap vs. body wash so you can choose which is right for you.

Dr Squatch Citrus Cedar Bar Soap 1 41y64qVz6dL
Bar Soap Body Wash
Ease of Use Easy Easy
Cost Low High
Cleansing Full cleansing Full cleansing
Ease of Transport Easy Medium
Environmental Impact Minimal High

Bar Soap vs Body Wash Overview

For the sake of specificity, we’ve chosen two champions to duke it out in this gladiatorial cleaning contest. 

Representing global patrons of bar soap and anyone with an affinity for holding slippery things, we’ve chosen Dr. Squatch’s Cedar Citrus Bar Soap. Dr. Squatch creates organic soaps that help you feel like a man and smell like a champion. 

Dr. Squatch all soaps on tree stump

This edgy suds-supplier has waged war against big soap brands whose products technically classify as detergent. Tired of your soap treating you like a ceramic plate? Dr. Squatch’s soaps are made with all natural ingredients and essential oils to make you smell like a dream. 

Pros:

  • Natural soaps that don’t treat you like dirty laundry—they’re much gentler than most soaps on the market, so they’re excellent for guys with sensitive skin.
  • Huge selection of soap scents for whatever suits your sniffer.
  • Manly packaging and branding.
  • Made with essential oils, shea butter, and kaolin clay for gentle cleansing and exfoliation.

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive for a bar soap.
  • Can be dissolved quickly by excess water in the shower.
Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus Bar Soap

Chuck Norris doesn't use bar soap. The Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus Bar Soap uses Chuck Norris.

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Our competing champion is Every Man Jack’s Activated Charcoal Body Wash. Born from a lack of men’s natural cleansers at affordable prices, Every Man Jack’s Activated Charcoal body wash is formulated with salicylic acid to cleanse deeply and prevent acne breakouts. 

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Their body washes are made without parabens and sulfates, which are harsh, synthetic chemicals that can dry out and irritate skin. Combined with activated charcoal, this body wash drags out toxins and impurities to leave your skin clear and happy. 

Pros:

  • Made with salicylic acid to reduce acne breakouts.
  • Activated charcoal purifies skin and reduces aging signs.
  • Sulfate and paraben free.
  • No use of animal by-products makes this soap cruelty free.

Cons:

  • Fairly expensive for body wash.
  • Uses plastic packaging, which is a bummer for the environment. 
Every Man Jack Body Wash

This body wash reduces acne breakouts through a combination of black charcoal and salicylic acid. You can call it the wombo-combo, or you can call it something else. No matter what you call it, this stuff rocks for kicking acne to the curb.

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If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Which Should You Use?

Ease of Use

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For ease of use, body wash enthusiasts will decry the simplicity of washing with a bar of soap, citing the difficulty and their own revulsion in holding the slippery bar of soap in the first place. 

Bar soap disciples will turn an equally derisive gaze towards body wash, citing the extra steps of opening the bottle, flipping it over, and pouring body wash onto your washcloth or loofah.

In my journey through manhood I’ve used both body wash and bar soap, so I’ll call this as objectively as possible. 

In a strict number of steps to get your lather on, let’s count.

Every Man Jack Activated Charcoal Body Wash: 

1. Flip the lid

2. Pour body wash onto washcloth or loofah

3. Scrub up

Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus Bar Soap: 

1. Scrub up

This high-profile, rigorous, granular experiment has shown us that bar soap is easier to use, from an objective look at the number of steps to get sudsy. 

The ease of use consideration doesn’t stop there, however.

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Once you’ve started the lather, another important consideration is how easy it is to finish the job and get every inch of your Greek statue of a body clean. Nothing frustrates me like getting half your body scrubbed and then not having enough lathering power to get the rest of you clean, meaning you need to pick up the soap or body wash again. 

To be honest, I’ve only ever had that issue with body wash. The recommended volume of body wash varies between a shot glass and filling the palm of your hand, which is obviously dependent on the size of your body and your mitts. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to grab the body wash bottle again, which is basically like grabbing a bar of soap since my hands are already slippery, and pour out more to get the head-to-toe scrub. 

Bar soap has never given me this issue, especially Dr. Squatch bar soaps. These bricks of soap start out with square edges that make them easier to use in the beginning and are big enough to be most comfortably handled by big ol’ man hands. 

Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus on forest floor

A little lathering with the Cedar Citrus bar goes a long way, and I’ve never had to pick the soap back up after putting it down. It’s the little things. 

The Winner: Dr. Squatch’s Cedar Citrus bar soap is objectively easier to use in this case, and will get you scrubbed and sudsy with little effort. 

Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus Bar Soap

Chuck Norris doesn't use bar soap. The Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus Bar Soap uses Chuck Norris.

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Cost

A graph from Statista compares the average cost per unit of soap across a number of categories in 2020:

pasted image 0

As you can see, per unit, the average cost for a bar of soap is significantly cheaper than body wash. In our specific matchup, Dr. Squatch’s Cedar Citrus bar costs $7, with Every Man Jack’s Activated Charcoal body wash retailing at $9 per bottle. 

It’s also worth looking at the average use duration between bar soaps and body wash. Many make the case that the greater volume of soap in body wash extends the term of use and therefore justifies the cost, but this may not be the case. 

A study found that consumers use six times more liquid soap than bar soap to wash their hands. While this is only referencing hand washing, the same statistics apply to washing your whole body. This is one of the reasons manufacturers moved towards selling liquid soap in the first place—they get to sell 6 times the amount of product. 

The Winner: Not only is bar soap cheaper on average, it also lasts longer. Looking to get maximum bang for your buck and clean skin? Go with Dr. Squatch’s Cedar Citrus bar soap.

Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus Bar Soap

Chuck Norris doesn't use bar soap. The Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus Bar Soap uses Chuck Norris.

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If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Cleansing Ability

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When it comes to cleansing ability, soap is basically soap. It dislodges dirt from the skin’s surface and dissolves excess oil. Where soaps differ, and in this case where bar soaps differ from body wash, is in the ingredients and mechanisms for dirt removal. 

Bar soap cleans your skin by dissolving dirt and excess oil. In many cases, bar soaps dissolve more oil than is necessary and leave your skin with that squeaky-clean feeling. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t a good thing. 

Dr. Squatch soaps flatlay

In the case of Dr. Squatch, this isn’t an issue. Natural ingredients like shea butter and essential oils work to cleanse the skin and break down dirt while keeping your skin from drying out like a raisin. This is the case for most organic soaps since they’re formulated with natural, hydrating ingredients rather than harsh, cheap, cleaning chemicals. 

Fighting out of the opposite corner, body wash also cleans your skin by dissolving dirt and excess oil, but is typically made with ingredients designed to treat common skin conditions like dryness, clogged pores, and skin flaking. 

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These ingredients are referred to as emollients, which fill in the micro-cracks in our skin to make it appear fuller and smoother. In general, it’s safe to say that dudes with temperamental skin will be better suited by the sensitive cleansing of body wash. 

A stereotypical mark against bar soap is the fact that bacteria can breed on bars after use. According to Tatyana Petukhova, a dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medical, most of the bacteria on your bar soap is from your own skin.

In fact, it’s estimated that half the cells in the human body are bacteria, many of which live on your skin and comprise what we call your skin microbiome. That’s right — bacteria doesn’t singularly lead to disease and body odor. Thus, there’s little harm in skin bacteria being transferred to your soap and back. You’ll still get clean. 

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We recommend that you keep your soap out of standing water, however. The quicker the soap is dry the better. But, what many miss from this argument is that washcloths and loofahs have equal, if not greater ability to host a bacteria party. According to Dr. Philip Tierno, a clinical professor of microbiology and biology, the nooks and crannies of washcloths or loofahs are actually more fertile breeding grounds for potential pathogens. 

Thought your loofah was all cute and sudsy, huh? Turns out it’s basically a cesspool of microorganisms if not taken care of properly.

So at the end of the day, bar soap and body wash are evenly matched in cleansing ability and inherent cleanliness. In our specific matchup between Dr. Squatch and Every Man Jack, however, I’m giving Every Man Jack’s Activated Charcoal Body Wash a slight edge. 

The salicylic acid helps fight acne and prevent breakouts, which is simply a feature that Dr. Squatch’s Cedar Citrus bar doesn’t have. That’s not to say that Dr. Squatch won’t get you clean and smelling great, salicylic acid is just tough to include in a bar of soap. 

The Winner: While both soaps will get you clean and smash your stench into oblivion, Every Man Jack’s Activated Charcoal Body Wash has a few extra bells and whistles that give it an edge in the cleansing category.

Every Man Jack Body Wash

This body wash reduces acne breakouts through a combination of black charcoal and salicylic acid. You can call it the wombo-combo, or you can call it something else. No matter what you call it, this stuff rocks for kicking acne to the curb.

Check Best Price on Amazon Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Ease of Transport

20210409 DrSquatch FlatLays IMG 2882

The common argument for ease of transport is that body wash is much easier to travel with than a slurpy, squelchy bar of soap. All you have to do is throw a little bottle of body wash in your dopp kit and boom, good to go. 

I think this is a bit simplistic, especially if you have a body wash of choice, like Every Man Jack’s Activated Charcoal Body Wash, which doesn’t get made in travel sizes. This means you’ll have to go out, buy a little travel size bottle, and do a transfer before your trip. 

Then, if you’re the cautious type, you’ll put that travel size bottle in a little zip bag to contain any potential spills. Not sure if you’ve been counting, but that’s quite a few steps.

When I’ve traveled with Dr. Squatch’s bar soap, all I’ve had to do is pop the bar of soap in the zip bag and bon voyage. Better yet, if my excursion requires flying I don’t have to worry about exceeding TSA’s liquid volume limit with a bar of soap. 

The Winner: It’s significantly easier to travel with bar soap. Thus, Dr. Squatch wins this category, too.

Dr. Squatch Bar Soaps

A pet peeve of mine is when a bar soap smells good, but it doesn't transfer that smell to your skin. I'm a big fan of these soaps (especially the Cedar Citrus) because the natural oils and shea butter nourish your skin and infuse it with essential oils.

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Environmental Impact

Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus on split log

As we discussed in the Cost category, bar soaps cost less and last longer. This means less product is used, which therefore means less packaging, energy, and resources in the supply chain. 

A study from Conservation Magazine found that bar soaps and their associated packaging have a lower environmental impact than body washes in many categories. Much of this is due to the higher energy requirements of producing the raw materials and packaging for liquid soaps. 

In fact, over the entire production process, liquid soap consumes five times as much energy for raw material production and nearly twenty times more energy for packaging production than bar soaps. Quite the impact. 

Liquid body wash also contains water, and considering that some five billion people will be affected by water shortages by 2025, this is an impact to be considered. 

Dr. Squatch’s soaps are sustainably-sourced with natural ingredients and packaged in recyclable cardboard to minimize their environmental impact as much as possible. 

Dr. Squatch three soaps on tree stump

Every Man Jack’s products are formulated with 97% naturally-derived ingredients, and their bottles are made with 50% post-consumer recycled plastic, which I appreciate. That being said, these benefits don’t outweigh the high cost and high consumption rates presented by body wash. 

What’s more manly than Hugh Jackman obliterating full-grown trees into kindling with an axe? Hugh Jackman caring about his mother. Mother Earth, specifically. Be more like Hugh. 

The Winner: There’s little contest here: Dr. Squatch not only cares about your skin and cleanliness, he also cares about the wellbeing of Mother Earth. 

Dr. Squatch

Dr. Squatch fills a need for organic, masculine soap in a positive way. Featuring fresh scents and natural ingredients, the soaps nourish your skin effectively and smell great. After a week of use, my skin is already less dry and flaky.

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Which is Best for Your Skin Type?

If you’re shopping for soap based on specific skin considerations, we’ve compiled a short list below and our recommendations between bar soap and body wash for each:

  • Dry Skin: I like organic bar soap for dry skin. A soap like Dr. Squatch is made with saponified oils that nourish and rehydrate the skin after being cleaned. I’ve personally had great results in the dry winter months with bar soap.
  • Sensitive Skin: I also recommend bar soap for sensitive skin. If your skin reacts to fragrances or dyes, there are many scent-free and dye-free bar soaps to choose from.
  • Acne: I recommend body wash if you struggle with body acne. A body wash like Every Man Jack’s Activated Charcoal Body Wash is formulated with charcoal and salicylic acid, which will both fight and prevent outbreaks.
  • Oily Skin: I recommend organic bar soap for oily skin. Many organic bar soaps contain natural ingredients that can rebalance irritated skin and reduce the overproduction of oil.

Washing It All Down

Tallying the total score, bar soap wins! Of course, this doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong or have the hygiene of Tom Hanks in Castaway if you use body wash. Body wash gets you clean, but bar soap gets you clean in a more cost effective and eco-friendly manner. 

That being said, bar soap isn’t right for every guy, so here’s some specificity:

  • Use bar soap if:
    • You like trees and our planet and want to see it thrive
    • You like to spend less and get more
    • You’re good at holding slippery things
    • You travel frequently
    • You have dry, sensitive, or oily skin
Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus Bar Soap

Chuck Norris doesn't use bar soap. The Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus Bar Soap uses Chuck Norris.

Check Best Price Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
  • Use body wash if:
    • You hate holding slippery things
    • You have acne or skin blemishes
    • You’re a germaphobe and clean your washcloth or loofah regularly
    • You hate soap scum in your shower
Every Man Jack Body Wash

This body wash reduces acne breakouts through a combination of black charcoal and salicylic acid. You can call it the wombo-combo, or you can call it something else. No matter what you call it, this stuff rocks for kicking acne to the curb.

Check Best Price on Amazon Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

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