Dr. Katrina Habaluyas Luz is the face behind Ask Your Derma. She is a board-certified dermatologist in Metro Manila. She is also an educator and digital creator on all things skin, hair, and nails. She is a Diplomate of the Philippine Dermatological Society and offers online video consultations. You can also catch her on her Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube channel.
Before getting right into the best hand soaps available in the market right now, let’s first discuss some important points on what to consider when choosing a hand soap.
Soaps come in three types - bar, liquid, and foam. You might wonder if one is more effective compared to other types; the answer is no. Studies suggest that they are all equally effective in cleaning, so choosing among bar, liquid, and foam hand soaps depends on your preference.
Bar soaps are a clear winner when it comes to environmental friendliness and cost-effectiveness. Unlike liquid soaps that come with more plastic for its packaging, bar soaps are usually just packaged using a paper carton or a thin layer of plastic.
Bar soaps, depending on the brand, usually cost less than its liquid counterparts and they generally last longer. However, improper storage of bar soaps will cause it to easily melt it so, remember to always store it in a cool, dry place.
With the rise of eco-friendly consumers, many claim that bar soaps have a lower environmental impact than liquid soaps in terms of carbon footprint. This is attributed to the higher energy requirements of producing and packaging liquid soaps. I think an interesting point is also that if we base it on per-wash usage, we really do tend to use more amount of liquid soap than bar soap.
In terms of efficacy in cleaning though, you're good with either.
Liquid soaps often come in a pump dispenser, which makes it more convenient and easier to use. Unlike bar soaps that can easily catch different bacteria when just left out in the open, there is less chance for liquid soaps to be contaminated.
One downside of liquid soaps is that it is not really environment-friendly due to the plastic used for its container or packaging. If you often use liquid soaps, we suggest getting refills to lessen plastic waste plus, refills also cost less!
One of the reasons why liquid soaps are favored over bar soaps is because of the notion that microorganisms can thrive on in-use bar soaps.
An interesting journal by Heinze, et al. illustrated the results of several studies that concluded that bacteria are not transferred to the hands during washing with soap bars contaminated with microorganisms. But that notion regarding bar soaps is definitely difficult to change, hence, the preference for liquid soaps, especially with the pandemic. Liquid soaps can easily be brought around too if you are always on the go.
First of all, what are foaming soaps? Foaming soaps are aerosolized liquid soaps dispensed through a special pump that mixes the liquid soap with air. Because the soap is diluted with air, foam soaps appear to be more cost-effective and also would require the use of less water as you need not build up the lather.
There are conflicting studies though on the effectiveness of foam soap in reducing hand microbial burden. The study by Dixon, Nicolette, et al. showed that foam soap was not as effective as liquid soap in eliminating hand bacterial load possibly due to the fact that foam soap is already dispensed as lather and the amount dispensed per pump is less.
On the other hand, the study by Conover, D. revealed no significant difference in overall microbial reduction between foaming and liquid handsoaps. Definitely, more studies need to be done here!
Your hands are usually exposed to dirt because they are your “touching friend,” so you’ll definitely need something with excellent cleansing power. Maintaining your hands’ cleanliness is important to prevent bacteria that can cause diseases and infections.
Constant hand washing may be one of the causes of dryness because it strips off the natural moisture from the skin. This is why getting a hand soap with moisturizing ingredients is of utmost importance.
Glycerin is one of the most common ingredients you will find in many skincare products because it provides great moisturization and smoothness to the skin. It attracts water to itself, providing the skin more moisture.
Aloe vera is considered to be one of the best traditional medicinal plants and it has been used since time immemorial. The gel inside the aloe leaf contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that boast moisturizing, antibacterial, and healing properties.
Shea butter, meanwhile, is a fat that comes from the nut of the shea tree. It is a skin superfood because it contains vitamins and fatty acids that are easily absorbed by the skin and can overall improve dryness and soothe the skin.
The goal of handwashing is to remove debris, sweat, sebum, and microorganisms. Cleansers are formulated with surfactants that remove dirt and help in the solubility of oils. But these surfactants can be drying, so good thing, new milder cleansers are now available to minimize this damage and provide additional moisturization to the skin.
They can contain a humectant (e.g. glycerin), emollient, or occlusive (e.g. oils, petrolatum). Usually, these moisturizing washes contain more emollient than surfactant in their list of ingredients, with water being the first ingredient listed and oils or petrolatum the second.
Aloe vera is a botanical agent that also has been incorporated into these soaps. It has been shown to accelerate wound healing and to protect and soothe the skin. Interestingly, it also has antibacterial (to Staphylococcus species, Helicobacter pylori), and anti-fungal (to dermatophyte fungi) properties.
Most of the products on the market contain sodium lauryl sulfate, also known as SLS, and triclosan. These chemicals are commonly known to trigger contact dermatitis, and you sure want to avoid them as much as possible especially if you have sensitive skin.
First of all, what is sensitive skin? When you have sensitive skin, it means that you have higher chances of reacting to a product and developing signs of inflammation - be it redness, flushing, stinging, acne-like eruptions. With sensitive skin, you can develop an irritant or contact dermatitis - including one secondary to soaps.
Definitely, mild ingredients would be a good choice. As for triclosan, it has gotten quite a bad rep of late. But studies show it has a low sensitizing potential. In fact, the Swiss Contact Dermatitis Research Group patch tested 2,295 patients in a 1-year period and found positive reactions in only 0.8%.
As for sodium lauryl sulfate, it is a surfactant that also has gotten the heat. The International Journal of Toxicology has reported that both sodium and ammonium lauryl sulfate appear to be safe in formulations designed for discontinuous, brief use followed by thorough rinsing.
Buying something that’s fragrant adds to the importance of having a hand wash at home. It spices up handwashing especially if you have kids because they will be encouraged to wash their hands properly.
Checking the hand soap's label whether the ingredients contain synthetic or essential fragrances is necessary because this can make or break the product, especially if you have sensitive skin. Synthetic fragrances could further irritate those who have sensitive skin while essential oils, on the other hand, retain their natural properties so more often than not, they're deemed safe.
Citrus and mint essential oils have a refreshing scent that can stimulate the senses and boost your energy, while lavender and chamomile are known for their calming and soothing effects.
Definitely, fragrance is an important part of the personal care experience. But fragrance has also received a lot of heat because of the risk of irritation. However, to solely pin the blame on the fragrance is also wrong as it is possible that the irritant may be other ingredients incorporated into the product. Not to mention, fragrance isn't a single ingredient but may be many ingredients or even a blend of such.
In high doses, fragrance can cause irritation. Of course, if you have a sensitivity, then I'd definitely avoid fragrance. To make things even trickier, fragrance-free doesn't even necessarily mean that the product is free from fragrance - they could use floral extracts or essential oils or have added a masking fragrance.
**Prices may vary depending on the website and their campaign period**
|Volume / Weight||300 ml|
|Features||Cruelty Free and Vegan, Plant-Based, Residue Free, Safe for Babies, Locally-Made|
|Volume / Weight||100 g|
|Features||Fragrance-Free, Hypoallergenic, Dermatologically Tested|
|Volume / Weight||200 ml|
|Features||No Parabens, Phthalates, Mineral Oil, Alcohol, Silicones, Gluten, Soap, Animal Derived Ingredients, BPA|
|Volume / Weight||250 g|
|Features||No alcohol, No BHA, No BHT, No formol or formaldehyde, No parabens, No phenoxyethanol, No SLS, No synthetic colorants, No triclosan|
Scent - Ocean Rain
|Features||Free of Sulfate, Parabens, Colorant & Toxins|
|Volume / Weight||500 ml|
|Volume / Weight||259 ml|
Nature to Nurture
Bath & Body Works
Hand Soap With Aloe Vera
Pure White Liquid Hand Soap
Sensitive Beauty Bar
Natural Hand Soap
Antibacterial Odor Neutralising Lime Hand Wash
Shea Butter Extra Gentle Soap Lavender
Hand & Body Wash
Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash
Instantly Foaming Hand Soap
Eucalyptus Mint Foaming Hand Soap
Ultra-Gentle Hand Soap That's Safe for Babies
Filipino Families' Trusted Brand Over the Years
Best All-Around Soap for Sensitive Skin
Arm Yourself With the Natural Way to Fight Germs
The Best Hand Soap to Place in the Kitchen
Extra-Gentle Soap for Dry, Rough Hands
A Hand Wash with a Social Impact
A Splurge-Worthy Hand Wash
A Foaming Hand Soap That Kids Will Enjoy Using
Subtle and Refreshing Fragrance for All Ages
|Price Starts at||₱165||₱155||₱54||₱169.75||₱84||₱540||₱248||₱1,750||₱129||₱315|
|Volume / Weight||300 ml||450 ml||100 g||200 ml||250 ml||250 g||540 ml||500 ml||225 ml||259 ml|
|Features||Cruelty Free and Vegan, Plant-Based, Residue Free, Safe for Babies, Locally-Made||Anti-Bacteria||Fragrance-Free, Hypoallergenic, Dermatologically Tested||SLS/SLES Free||No Parabens, Phthalates, Mineral Oil, Alcohol, Silicones, Gluten, Soap, Animal Derived Ingredients, BPA||No alcohol, No BHA, No BHT, No formol or formaldehyde, No parabens, No phenoxyethanol, No SLS, No synthetic colorants, No triclosan||Free of Sulfate, Parabens, Colorant & Toxins||-|
Handwashing must be done as often as we can. However, there are situations where it must be strictly done. Below is the CDC's recommendations for the Key Times to Wash Hands:
The importance of handwashing cannot be overly emphasized especially during these times. Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of infections from one person to the next.
Additional tips from the CDC to prevent the spread of germs during the COVID-19 pandemic include washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice) or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean hands.
Here are some common questions asked around on the internet, answered by Dr. Katrina Erika Habaluyas Luz!
First of all, how do soaps work against viruses and bacteria? Soap doesn’t actually kill microorganisms on our hands, it simply breaks them up and removes them. Now the efficacy of the hand soap will depend on product-related factors such as the ingredients, the concentration, the formulation and user-related factors such as the amount used and duration, and method of washing hands.
According to the Harvard Health Letter, in studies washing hands with soap and water for 15 seconds reduces bacterial counts by ~90%. If hands are washed for 30 seconds, bacterial counts decrease to 99.9%. Something for us to keep in mind!
Using hand soap as a body soap shouldn't be a problem. But I'd suggest not to use the hand soap as a shampoo regularly, at least.
Our hair and skin have different physicochemical properties and manufacturers of haircare and skincare products take these things into account. For instance, shampoos need to be delicate, cleanse without degreasing, easy to rinse out, and not irritating to the eyes.
Soap, on the other hand, is formulated with stronger detergents for the skin, which can often contain more oil and dirt than hair. I actually looked at the ingredient label of my current shampoo and soap - although there are similar ingredients, there also are different ones, not to mention they are listed in differing orders - meaning different concentrations.
The World Health Organization Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Healthcare covers the basics of hand hygiene including handwashing with soap.
They shared the results of a laboratory-based study by Larson et al. which found that using only 1 ml of liquid soap yielded higher bacteria remaining on hands than using 3 ml of product to clean hands. Although they didn't specify the amount, around 3ml (equivalent to a little more than half a teaspoon) should suffice to cover the palm, fingers, and back of the hands.
As with all things we apply to our skin for the first time, make sure to check if you develop any signs of irritation on your hands. Our constant handwashing in this pandemic definitely can predispose us to greater sensitivities. Listen to your skin as always!
Good hygiene doesn't stop with handwashing! You also need to be clean from head to toe to smell the best, look the best, and most importantly, have a healthy body. See our other recommendations for the best products below.
Cosmetics and skincare
PC and Cameras
Home Appliances and Electronics
Food and drinks
Kids and baby
Interior and furniture
DIY and tools
Sports and fitness
Books, CDs, DVDs
Cars and motorcycles
Housing equipment and renovation
Smartphones and mobile phones
Investment and asset management
Credit cards and loans