Photo credit: mfrietsch
What are syndet bars? Syndet is short for “synthetic detergent.” These cleansers typically contain less than 10% soap and are beneficial for those who have rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, sensitive skin, or dry skin (xerosis). Syndet bar cleansers have also been recommended by dermatologists for other skin conditions such as acne since regular soap can irritate the skin.
True Soap vs. Syndet Bars
So what is the difference between soap and syndet bars? Soap is extremely effective in cleansing the skin. It strips away everything, including our skin’s natural oils. Soaps are known to be harsh and its use can damage skin layers that regulate the hydration of our skin. Those are at least two of the reasons why soaps have a drying effect. Soap bars also have a pH ranging from 9 to 10, making it more alkaline in comparison to our skin which has a slightly acidic pH from 5 to 6. Washing your face with regular soap can increase the pH of your skin which will lead to more water loss. The increase in pH of your skin also creates a more favorable environment for microorganisms, such as the dreaded P. acnes that is linked to acne.
Syndet bars are mild and cause less damage to our skin. The pH of syndet bars are usually around 5.5, which is very similar to the natural pH of our skin. These bars are effective cleansers, cause minimal damage to skin layers, and do not have the harsh stripping effects of regular soap. This leads to less dryness, less skin irritation, and better control of acne.
Finding Syndet Bars
People always ask me which products are syndet bars since it is never stated in the product name. If you are not sure, look at the ingredients. Sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) is the most common synthetic detergent found in popular brands such as Cetaphil® and Eucerin®. Other synthetic detergent ingredients include the sulfoccinates and betaines. Another hint that a product may be a syndet bar? You will never see the word “soap” on these products, they are often referred to as “beauty bars” or “cleansing bars” since they are not considered real soap.
Here is a list of popular syndet bars that have had great reviews:
- Cetaphil® Gentle Cleansing Bar
- Dove® White Beauty Bar
- Dove® Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar
- Eucerin® pH5 Soap-free Bar
- La Roche Posay Lipikar Surgras Cleansing Bar®
Can’t find any syndet bars in your area? If you are crafty you could consider making your very own syndet bar!