The Facts on Soap
Glycerin Bars are great for normal-to-dry skin. They're clear because of punched-up percentages of glycerin, a thick liquid that acts as a moisture magnet.
Castile Soaps, based on vegetable oils like olive, are the easy pick if you want to go natural. But they can be drying, so they aren't ideal for your face; use them on your body in warmer months, and pick one of the other options here for the winter.
Beauty Bars usually don't have any residual lye in them after the soap-making process is complete (meaning they're gentle) and are packed with moisturizers such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides, making them ideal for sensitive and parched skin. They're great for face and body.
Acne Soaps have pore-clearing and oil-absorbing ingredients (look for charcoal and clay) to prevent breakouts. Some also have exfoliators like salicylic or glycolic acid, which are kinder to skin than gritty particles.
African Black Soaps are cleansers made with the ash of plantains, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves, and shea tree bark. Fans say they help every skin gripe from acne to rosacea.
Should You Use Antibacterial Soap?
Not necessarily. A recent study showed that some antibacterial soaps may not clean any better than a plain ol' bar does when you're washing your hands or taking a quick shower. In fact, the researchers found that it took nine hours for soap with a commonly used antiseptic ingredient to kill more bacteria than regular soap.
Can Your Family Wash Up With the Same Bar?
Some research suggests that you're unlikely to pick up germs from soap, but the Centers for Disease Control says not to share to avoid spreading staph bacteria. If you don't want to use separate bars, give each family member a washcloth to suds up with, and toss them in the laundry regularly.
This story originally appeared in the January/February 2016 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.
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