Soap has been a household staple forever. The earliest traces of a soap-like substance were found in ancient Babylon, but the soap bar as we know it was invented in the 19th century. We use it in more shapes and forms than we can count. It can be gentle and candy-scented or abrasive and medicinal, heart-shaped or liquid, homemade and purely organic, or packed with strong chemicals.
The following types of soaps are considered modern-day essentials.
- Toilet Soap
Often confused with bathing soap, toilet soap contains a higher percentage of fatty materials. These two soaps have a similar chemical structure – in essence, they are calcium or potassium salts of fatty acids. The main difference is that toilet soaps have more fatty substances.
You could say that toilet soap is a high-end variant of bathing soap, but is it better for your skin, too?
While both types are powerful cleansers, toilet soap is slightly better at killing bacteria and removing oil and dirt from the skin. It’s also a great moisturizer but is more abrasive and packs more chemicals than bathing soap. Therefore, it’s not the best choice for people with sensitive and dry skin.
- Bathing Soap
In place of aggressive cleaning chemicals, bathing soap contains a range of gentle additives that enhance hydration, make your skin softer, and even restore its elasticity and youthful appearance. In addition to emulsifying agents, many bathing soaps include vitamin E and collagen. However, the lower amount of cleaning chemicals means that bathing soap is slightly less effective as a cleanser.
Bathing soap kills fewer bacteria than toilet soap, so you might want to find a more powerful alternative for washing your hands. That doesn’t make it useless, of course. Bathing soap is still an excellent cleaning agent and moisturizer for different skin types, especially for your face and body.
- Beauty Bar
When they hear “beauty bar,” most people think of the Dove commercial. Healthy, natural skin and velvety touch are common associations with this type of soap, but beauty bars are not soap at all! At least that’s what marketing campaigns say – beauty bars are better than soaps.
Can this be true? Well, yes. Beauty bars are not typical soaps, as they contain a very low percentage of emulsifying agents. The cleaning chemicals present in beauty bars are also very mild. In most cases, they are not strong enough to wipe out bacteria, but they can wash away dirt and oil.
What beauty bars have in abundance are moisturizing creams and nutrients that help maintain a healthy skin appearance, texture, and tone, leaving it feeling smooth and soft to the touch.
- Medicinal Soap
There are many different medicinal soaps, but they all have the same purpose – to treat skin conditions. Their chemical profiles can vary greatly, depending on their practical use. Medical soaps can treat many acute and chronic conditions, ranging from acne to fungi.
- Antibacterial Soap
A combination of warm water and any plain soap is potent enough to wash away most bacteria attached to the surface, be that your skin, your kitchen tiles, or wooden floors. Why use a special antibacterial soap, then? Many people believe that this type of soap is for marketing purposes only.
Antibacterial soap, also called antimicrobial or antiseptic soap, has a few ingredients that plain soaps don’t. Most notably, it’s made with triclocarban or triclosan, a chemical used for eliminating bacteria. So, while most soaps only wash away bacteria from the surface, antibacterial soap kills them on the spot and stops them from spreading. That makes antiseptic soaps crucial for disease prevention.
- Dish Soap
Dish soap is a powerful chemical variant made specifically to cut through oils and be gentle on your hands. Though toilet and bathing soaps include emulsifying agents for washing away oil, too, dish soaps are matchless when it comes to cleaning solidified grease from all kinds of surfaces.
Soaps would never be able to help you get rid of grease from cooking if there weren’t for chemicals called surfactants – they help produce foam, which breaks down oily matter and makes dishes easier to clean. Dish soap used to include dangerous phosphates, but they are no longer added to the mix.
Did you know you can use dish soap to clean grease from virtually any surface? It was made to be gentle on your skin, so why not use it on wood, marble, or even textile? You can use dish soap to treat carpet stains, clean your jewelry, mop floors, and clean your window and appliances.
- Laundry Soap
Like most soaps, basic laundry detergent formulas include alkalies. Some major components in degreasing soaps, both for dishwashing and laundry, are surfactants, but laundry soap also includes anti-redeposition agents. Depending on the brand and type, many popular laundry detergents have PH modifiers, brighteners, water conditioners, preservatives, enzymes, and fragrances.
No matter how many types of soups you add to the list, there’s always more. While some are essential for personal hygiene, others are purely cosmetic. There are soaps made specifically for medical purposes and others that are multipurpose cleansers. Choosing the right kind is often daunting, so do your research. Even then, finding the best soup for your needs might take a while.