Why You Shouldn't Use Hand Soap On Your Face

It's easy to think that all soap ultimately does the same thing. After all, bar soap, hand soap, and face wash all rid our skin of dirt and bacteria to keep it clean and fresh, right? If you're on vacation and find you've forgotten to pack your facial cleanser, the hotel hand soap may seem like a simple alternative. But does hand soap help or hurt when it comes to our skincare routine?

Dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur responds to a question posed by ShareCare regarding how facial cleansers work, stating, "The point of a cleanser is to clean off the oil, debris, and makeup that accrue during a normal day, and to do that you don't need anything harsh or too powerful." Dr. Marmur explains that through a chemical reaction known as "micellation," the product dissolves dirt and oils on the skin to make them easier to wash away. However, in doing so, some facial cleansers can disrupt the skin's natural pH balance, which usually sits between 4.5 and 6.5. With the help of a gentle moisturizer, we can quickly and easily rehydrate our skin. However, hand soaps can damage our facial skin in ways that may not be so easily remedied.

Hand soap can irritate skin and worsen acne

According to ShareCare, different areas of our body require different levels of skin cleansing, and the ingredients in hand soaps are tailored to the needs of the hands — not the face. Dermatologist Ally Wheeler states via Aglow Lifestyle, "The problem with washing your face with hand soap is that it can be very harsh on the skin. It will cause your skin to dry out, and your face will feel tight and irritated." The reason being is that hand soaps are designed to kill off bacteria and microbes on the hands, according to Life Savvy. To do so, it alters the pH balance of the skin, a process that is too harsh for the delicate skin on our face.

Not only that, but certain antibacterial properties of hand soap can prompt redness and skin irritation, according to Aglow Lifestyle. While you might think that an antibacterial hand soap could help clear up acne, in some cases, it can make acne worse (per Verywell Health). Because the development of acne can be influenced by several things, such as hormonal changes or overactive oil glands, you're better off sticking to an acne-specific facial cleanser that is specially designed to help treat the condition.

So while hand soap might seem like a tempting alternative in a pinch, it's best to avoid it and stick to products that cater specifically to the gentle skin on our face.