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Medically Reviewed by Dr. Eva Simmons-O’Brien

Dr. Eva Simmons O’Brien received her MD from Yale University and is a board-certified dermatologist. With over 30 years of experience, she has worked for hospitals, established her own private practice, and consulted for organizations such as the FDA. Today, Dr. Eva runs her own practice in addition to serving as our Chief Science Officer.

disco body wash beats soap

Body Wash vs. Soap: Which is Better and Why

Body Wash vs. Soap: Which is Better and Why



There’s usually one main reason why men find this particular article: they’ve got a skin issue they don’t want to discuss with their bros. Bringing up your itchy back or flaky leg skin doesn’t usually flow into male conversations, but thankfully, it does with us.  

Your itchy, dry, irritated skin needs attention. It’s uncomfortable and not sexy. When body lotion just doesn’t seem to help, it’s time to turn your attention to the shower. The real culprit could be what you’re using to wash with, and if so, you’ve definitely got better options. 

Disco knows men’s skin. Our entire skincare line is formulated to work synergistically with the pH balance of a man’s skin (between 5.5 and 6.5 on the pH scale). It has taken our experts countless hours to choose the perfect, naturally derived ingredients to add to our products so they work better than any other you’ll try. 

When it comes to the soap versus body wash debate, we choose body wash every time. 

The purpose of any soap or body wash is to remove dirt from the surface of your skin, but most of the time, the soap clocks out after dirt removal. Body wash has the power to do more: restore, repair, and hydrate the skin and leave it smoother and softer. 

Here’s the shakedown on soap and body wash, so you can decide for yourself which is better and why.

The Argument for Soap

That golden yellow bar of soap has taken up residency in your shower for decades. It’s what you grew up with. No one ever taught you any different, so your reason for using soap is likely just habit, not because you think it’s any more or less effective than a body wash. 

All bar soap isn’t bad for you, it’s just that aside from cleansing, it doesn’t usually do much else. Here’s why soap has reigned our shower rituals for so long. 

Easy To Use

It doesn’t get much easier than a bar of soap. It doesn’t require a sponge, it lathers easily, and you don’t have to twist open a cap or squeeze a bottle. It literally goes from shower ledge to body and back again. 

The problem with this ease of use? Bacteria. Bars of soap can harbor tons of bacteria, which can hang out for hours and even days. When you use soap on your body, bacteria transfers to the bar, and then sits in a humid, damp shower for hours on end. It’s a bacterial breeding ground. 

While the bacteria on a bar of soap won’t likely make you sick, it’s definitely sick to think about rubbing it all over your body once it’s contaminated. 

It’s Cheap

Soap is cost effective. If you’re in a particularly low cash flow season, it’s definitely within budget. It also lasts a long time, however there is a caveat. Once soap becomes less than a half inch thin, it breaks easily and will have to be tossed. 

Your personal mileage may vary, but once the bar breaks you’ll have to replace it.

Environmentally Friendly (Mostly)

There’s typically not much left behind when you use a bar of soap. If you’re using a quality brand, the packaging is likely recycled and can be further recycled. That’s an environmental win. 

However, the production of soap can be taxing on land use. Many bar soaps contain vegetable oils which require land use for crops. If those crops aren’t sustainably farmed, the environment suffers. 

If you’re going to use bar soap, check the ingredients label and become familiar with the brand to make sure they’re doing their part to protect and preserve what they’re using. 


Soap does its job. It dissolves dirt and oil and washes it away. The problem is, it can sometimes do its job a little too well. 

Soap can be extremely drying, especially if it contains harsh ingredients. Most name brand bar soaps you buy at a big box store are going to contain ingredients like parabens, toxins, and ingredients that dehydrate the skin. 


Here’s where things get tricky. Soap may be effective, easy, and cheap but the ingredients aren’t always safe for use. At the very least, the ingredients in soap can be drying and leave your skin feeling itchy and flaky. 

Some soaps contain sodium hydroxide, which is extremely dehydrating to the skin. This is also sometimes labeled as “lye.”

Many soaps (and even some body washes) contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). This sudsing agent is rated 3 by Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep’s website, making it a moderately dangerous, potentially toxic ingredient. SLS has been linked to organ system toxicity, and irritation to skin, lungs, and eyes. 

Soap is also notorious for containing “mystery fragrance.” This is essentially a brand’s proprietary fragrance blend. The FDA does not require a company to release proprietary fragrance ingredients on the label, so you never really know what’s inside. 

The Argument for Body Wash

Soap may be the O.G. body cleanser, but body wash is definitely superior in terms of taking care of your skin. Body wash works like soap to eliminate dirt and bacteria that could cause body odor, but it also contains ingredients to help certain skin conditions. 

Dry skin, blemish-prone, irritated, or itchy skin can all benefit from a body wash. 

Easy To Use

Okay, you’ll have to flip a cap on the bottle, but we have faith you’re up for the task. Body wash can be lathered onto a sponge or directly into your hand for use. As a bonus: It won’t leave soap scum on your shower shelf or collect bacteria. 


Body wash is slightly more expensive than bar soap, but it does way more heavy lifting. Body wash includes more nourishing ingredients and does more for your skin than bar soap. 

Also, you won’t have to toss out the last little bit of product like you do with bar soap. You’ll be able to use it to the last drop.

Environmentally Safe

Body wash can definitely be environmentally safe, but note that not all body washes are created equally. Some won’t be safe for the environment. Bottles should be recyclable and should contain sustainably and responsibly sourced ingredients. 

Just so you know, Disco’s products are all environmentally friendly. Our natural ingredients are sustainably sourced and our products don’t contain environmental toxins.

Effective (Incredibly)

Soap gets the job done, but body wash does it with finesse. Body washes leave you clean by removing odor causing bacteria and dirt. It also helps to fight dry, irritated skin by nourishing it and hydrating it with moisturizing ingredients. 

Body washes can also include skin condition-specific ingredients to further help your overall skin health. 


You’ll find more ingredients in body wash that are intended to help and heal, but be careful --  some body washes can contain ingredients like parabens and SLS, just like their dirty bar soap cousins. 

The safest and surest way to get high quality body wash is to choose all natural washes from a brand you trust to keep you safe from toxic, irritating ingredients. 

The Verdict

Body wash by a landslide. 

Soap just can’t give you the same benefits that body wash can. If you're hellbent on using a bar of soap, lighten up and try a body wash. Seriously, you won’t regret it. 

Let’s Disco

You can grab a body wash practically anywhere, but if you want the best of the best, our Invigorating Body Wash delivers. 

Our wash keeps you fresh and clean with natural ingredients that won’t strip your skin and leave you feeling itchy. Here’s what’s inside:

  • Chamomile. Derived from the Matricaria Recutita plant species, chamomile holds antioxidant properties that soothe skin and protect from further free radical damage.
  • Horsetail. This plant-based extract has powerful antioxidants and skin-smoothing properties. It helps to wash away dead skin cells and promote new skin cell generation. 

    Horsetail is full of silica, which helps support your skin’s natural collagen production. Collagen helps keep your skin feeling and looking healthful and youthful. 
  • Aloe. Aloe is a plant extract that also has antioxidants, but helps moisturize the skin and repair and restore skin that is irritated. Aloe is incredibly soothing, so skin that is blemish prone or severely irritated can get relief. 

Our body wash, just like every other product we carry, is vegan, cruelty free, contains no parabens or unnatural fragrances, and is dermatologist formulated and tested. 

Soap versus body wash? Now you know the answer -- no need to bring it up with your homies in the middle of that pickup game. Grab a body wash and get on with your clean self. 




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