Soaps to use or not to use?

After a visit to my bathroom and seeing my collection of toiletries, including shower gels and body washes, my grandmother couldn't help telling me how in their days, soap used to be a luxury - that they used to even make "lye" soaps at home to save expense. She disapproved of my "indulgence" in toiletries.

While dadi may be partly right (I don't need four varieties of shower gels at one time), the fact is that today, one actually needs several beauty products that were considered indulgences in the past.

In my grandmother's times, environmental conditions were not harsh for one's skin, and pollution wasn't choking your skin cells. So, the everyday soap, which does in fact strip your skin of natural oils, was something your skin could take more easily than it can now.

So, while soap still serves the basic purpose of cleansing, ordinary bars will strip your skin of the essential fatty oils.

All body washes are formulated to cleanse, without drying your skin.

1. Why not soaps?

Dr Aparna Santhanam, columnist for Good Housekeeping and Mumbai based dermatologist says, 'Soaps are, traditionally, alkaline in nature. As our skin is slightly acidic, soaps were harsh and harmful to its basic nature. Today, there are "neutral" soaps with glycerin as well as syndet (synthetic detergent), changing the alkaline factor. So choose the right one, if using.' Adds Dr Shehla Agarwal, Delhi-based dermatologist and cosmetologist, 'People with dry and sensitive skin must use body wash.

2. Why body washes?

Body washes, explains Dr Agarwal, are milder. 'They are not "hard" like regular soaps - they clean without ripping the skin of essential natural oils and fatty acids.' Dr Santhanam adds, ' Body washes are more hygienic as their surface is not touched by different users. They come in a closed container, so pollutants in the air do not affect them. They are also enriched with additional moisturisers which help nourish the skin better.

3. Face wash, a must

When it comes to your face, use a face wash. The skin on your face is more delicate and needs extra moisturising care that you do not get from the regular soaps. If you want to use soap on your face, choose the ones with moisturisers, glycerine or moisturising milk as ingredients.

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