Most people will easily choose shower cream over bar soaps. They lather more, don’t leave soap scum behind and smell better.
Essentially soap is a mixture of lye (potassium hydroxide or Sodium hydroxide) and animal fats or plant oils. Soap made this way is called lye soap. It forms scum with hard water and that is why people don’t like it very much, given that all naturally sourced water has some degree of hardness to it. It’s different from detergent which is made synthetically and doesn’t form soap scum.
Detergent cleansers don’t have to be in liquid form, they can also be made into bar form and this is called a syndet bar. Most shower creams aren’t liquid soaps because they’re detergent based, but that’s not to say it can’t be done .
Detergents, especially sodium lauryl sulphate have come under pressure for irritating the skin and making it more permeable to toxic chemicals. For lack of better alternatives, shower cream users are migrating back to lye soaps and syndet bars.
So, what do I choose?
In my hierachy of body cleansers: showergels, showercreams and syndet bars that contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and any of it’s harmful cousins sit at the bottom of the hierachy. These are followed by lye soaps, syndet bars without SLS, and at the very top, showercreams without SLS.
I’d be lying if I said that showercreams without SLS are easy to come by, when you fail to find them, the next best alternatives are syndet bars and castile soaps (lye soaps made from plant oils).
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