What Is Toilet Soap And Is It The Same As Bath Soap?

So, is there even a difference between toilet soap and common bath soap? Well, it depends on who you are asking. Most men (myself included up until recently) would tell you that this is just some marketing scheme; big brands wanted to charge you more money for the same product, so they coined the term “toilet soap.”

But, once you get into it and do a bit of research, you do notice that there are differences between the two.

What is a toilet soap and is it the same as bath soap? The word toiletry stands for an object used in cosmetics, often to groom or clean oneself. From this we can conclude that a toilet soap is a soap, usually perfumed, used for washing our face, hands or our entire body.

Besides the name difference, there is another important distinction between toilet and bath soaps -  toilet soaps contain more fatty material, while bath soaps contain surface active agents with low TFM (total Fatty Matter). Higher TFM means toilet soap cleans and moisturizes the skin better, forcing bar soaps to "catch up" by adding other moisturizing and nurturing ingredients.

What Is Toilet Soap?

It’s no surprise that there are a ton of different types of cleaning products on today’s market. Among all of them, we somehow forget about soaps... Why is that? Though not as popular as they used to be, toilet soaps still do a great job of cleaning the skin and scrubbing the dirt. They make your skin squeaky clean, so to say.

Toilet soap is obtained by a chemical process called saponification. In this heat-induced reaction, the most commonly used vegetable oils become ‘soaps,’ as chemical compounds. Some of the components used in the production of toilet soaps are coconut oil, canola oil, olive oil, etc.

Products such as toilet soaps are packed with substances that degrade dirt from the surface layer of the skin and do not damage it, although some of them are mildly abrasive. This kind of soaps usually doesn't contain additional agents which are helpful for skin, but they do contain thickeners, colorants, and aromas to hide not so pleasant smell of processed vegetable fats.

One of the by-products of saponification is glycerin. In a regular toilet soap, most manufacturers remove this component and use it for something else. But this substance gives that smoothening effect after using soap, so sometimes it can remain in the final product.

Difference Between Toilet And Bath Soap

Toilet soap is not the same product as bar soap, which we usually use to wash hands, and sometimes for showering. The first one is a basic product intended for cleaning only, while the second group, also known as bathing soaps, is an 'enriched' version.

Bathing soap contains fewer chemicals than toilet soap, but there are some other elements. Various additives for skin softening, better hydration, and even components that rejuvenate and restore skin elasticity, such as vitamin E and collagen, are active ingredients of bathing soaps. Toilet soap contains vegetable oils, whose primary purpose is to remove impurities and germs from the skin,  and chemicals for maintaining consistency. Therefore, these products have a high percentage of TMF, or Total Fatty Matter, most often over 70% (between 60-80%), while this is not the case with ordinary bathing soaps.

A small amount of vegetable fat in bathing soaps means that the percentage of other components grows. And this means less power to clean. But on the other hand, they have other benefits, like moisturizing, emulsifying, and rejuvenating the skin. Not as good as products designed for that, but certainly help.

What is TFM in Soap?

If you asked me a couple of years ago what I look for in soaps, my answer would probably be the smell and whether it makes my skin dry or not. I didn't become an expert over the years, but I realize that, when choosing soap, we definitely should pay attention to other things, such as the before mentioned percentage of Total Fatty Matter. The “fatty” part relates to sodium salts of fatty acids in industrial soaps.

You probably didn’t notice, but this information is on every soap pack. According to the percentage of fat content, the cleaning products are divided into 3 groups. The first group (values between 75 and 100%) include the best toilet soaps because they have the highest part of fatty acids. For example, oleic acid products have TMF over 90%, and they are one of the best cleaners on the market.

The majority of toilet soaps that we can find in stores are in grade 2. Their percentage of sodium salts in them is significant, between 70 and 75%. The rest of the bar is made of moisture and additives. The third group (grade 3) also has a notable fat content of over 60%, but products from this group have less power to remove the dirt from the skin.

All products with TFM value below 60% are bathing soaps (or even some laundry soaps). The rest of the bar is fillers – moisturizers, glycerin, vitamins for skin nourishing, etc. However, a higher amount of these substances can sometimes be harmful. Such soaps are rough, loose, and often cause skin irritation.

pH Value – Bath and Toilet Soaps

In normal conditions, our skin has a pH value between 7 and 7.5, which means it is neutral or slightly alkaline. However, stress and poor nutrition make us 'sourer,' that is, our pH is lower than normal. In smokers, this value is even lower. The cosmetic products we use should be about the same value.

Ideally, the pH of the soap should be about 7, but this is only possible with glycerin soaps. In toilet soaps made from vegetable and animal fats, this is not feasible. Their pH value is between 9 and 10, which makes them alkaline.

The good thing is that microbiological contamination cannot happen in these soaps. But the bad thing is that the toilet soaps dry out the skin. So after bathing, we need additional hydration and care. Bathing soaps have a somewhat lower pH value, precisely because of the additives and the lower TFM value.

Is Toilet Soap Suitable for Every Skin Type?

I like the feeling of cleanliness that remains after using toilet soap. It seems like your skin is scratching and tightening, and if you don't use additional care, moisturizing body milk or cream, this feeling can be unpleasant.

So toilet soap is not the right choice for people with sensitive and dry skin. Rough cleansing agents can remove too much oil from the surface, which leads to drying out and makes it more vulnerable. But if you want to use toilet soap, choose one with glycerin, because of its moisturizing properties.

In people with oily skin, bathing soaps can help, but these will not regulate sebum production. Products of a higher TFM grade (toilet soaps) can help manage natural oils better, removing them without losing balance.

If your skin is problematic, you should not expect a miracle from a toilet soap. It's a cleaning product so it won't last on the surface; water will rinse it. The addition of essential oils and extracts, as well as additives for skin care, can help to make the skin softer and gentler after showering. But in any case, I recommend extra care for the best results.

Igor Marcikic
 

I've struggled with acne and oily skin for the better part of my life. Along the way, I've picked up some valuable information, tips, and tricks, which helped me manage my "situation." This website is a way of giving back and trying to help others like me! Enjoy your stay, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

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