4 Reasons Bar Soaps Make Your Skin Feel Tight

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Everyone is familiar with the phrase “squeaky clean,” and for many who use bar soaps when they bathe, they know the sensation being referenced. While often associated with being clean, it’s not exactly the most pleasant feeling. This is because this feeling is actually caused by irritation or swelling in some form or other.

For those who bathe with bar soaps, the sensation of your skin feeling tight after bathing can be caused by a number of reasons, including:

  1. The soap is drying out your skin
  2. The pH level of the soap is too high
  3. Your skin is irritated by the soap
  4. Residue from the soap is being left over when the water dries

While many will have you believe that being squeaky clean is a good thing, you’ll find that if you’re experiencing this sensation after bathing you might want to reconsider the soap you’re using.

Your Soap is Drying Out Your Skin

Anyone who has experienced the sensation of tight skin after bathing knows that it’s not a pleasant feeling. You can feel your skin pull with each movement and your face feels like it’s going to crack into several pieces with too much expression. Many simply accept this feeling as the price of being clean, indeed it is an indication that we are clean.

This isn’t the case though. If your skin is feeling tight after bathing it could be because it’s too dry. Some soaps are too harsh for our skin and scrub away too much of our natural oils. A soap that scrubs away too many natural oils is leaving your skin exposed and bare, with none of its natural moisturizers.

One of the modern marvels of our skin is that it can largely self-regulate and condition itself. The oils that many teenagers are conditioned to hate are actually designed to keep our skin healthy and supple.

Imagining your skin as a piece of leather can be helpful. Just as you wouldn’t want to use harsh cleaners on a pair of leather boots, you shouldn’t do that to your skin either.

By drying out your skin, a harsh soap literally leaves your skin dehydrated. This, in turn, makes it less pliable and supple, causing the sensation of it feeling tight.

Your Soap’s pH Level is Too High

Another theory as to why your bar soap is leaving your skin feeling tight after bathing has to do with the chemistry behind the soap. Happening at a molecular level, the pH balance of your skin could be getting thrown off by the soap you’re using.

The reason your soap might be leaving your skin feeling tight could be because the soap you are using has too high of a pH level. A high pH content can cause swelling of the stratum corneum, or outermost layer of the skin. This swelling can cause the sensation of your skin feeling tight.

This swelling of the stratum corneum is enough to cause the feeling of skin tightness, but this reaction can cause further effects beyond just skin tightness. By causing the top layer of your skin to swell, an increase in the pH level on your skin can cause deeper penetration of the soap. This deeper penetration can exacerbate the other processes listed in this article.

This process allows for further soap binding to the stratum corneum. As the water begins to dry and evaporate, this soap binding reduces the water retention qualities of the skin proteins, further drying out the skin.

While the high pH level of bar soap can cause the feeling of skin tightness in its own right, it is much more likely to be a factor that amplifies the other causes listed here.

Your Soap is Causing Skin Irritation

The feeling of skin tightness can be caused by something as innocuous as your bar soap is simply irritating your skin. Just like other things you apply to your skin might cause irritation, things like deodorant, perfume, or makeup, bar soap can have the same effect.

The cause of this is simply your skin reacting to something in the soap. Similar to any other allergic reaction, your skin might react by getting red, itchy, or swelling and causing a feeling of tightness.

Soaps will often contain unnecessary ingredients for a number of reasons. They might add extra dyes to give it a more vibrant color or add various perfumes to give it a stronger smell. All of these added ingredients are another potential irritant for your skin. Adding to the problem is the fact that many of these ingredients are chemically based and not organic or natural.

If you have sensitive skin, or even if you don’t, these chemicals can cause irritation for your skin that can manifest itself as a slight swelling of the skin. This swelling will create the sensation of the skin being pulled tight.

Your Soap is Leaving a Residue on Your Skin

This might seem like a silly reason for why your skin feels tight after bathing with bar soap, but it might just be the reason you’re experiencing the sensation. A thin layer of soap residue left behind on your skin and drying could cause it to feel like your skin is tight.

If you aren’t thoroughly rinsing the soap off of your skin you’re leaving behind a thin film of soap residue on top of your skin. This film will dry out as you dry off from bathing, and as it does it will become more rigid and brittle, much like your skin does when it dries out.

Because it’s a thin layer on top of your skin it will feel like this layer is restricting the natural movement of your skin. As you move more you might notice that this feeling goes away, as you break up the film and make it more pliable to the movement of your skin.

How to Solve the Problem of Your Skin Feeling Tight

Thankfully, there’s a number of things you can do to try and reduce or completely avoid the sensation of your skin feeling tight, none of which require a drastic change in routine on your part. These tips also have the added benefit of being good for your skin, regardless of whether you experience skin tightness or not.

Because this issue is caused mainly by the soap you’re using, you can address the feeling of tightness in your skin by changing to a milder soap, changing to a bar of organic soap, moisturizing, adjusting the length of your shower, and rinsing more thoroughly.

Change to a Milder Soap
This is one of the easiest fixes for addressing skin tightness and should be considered even if you aren’t experiencing this sensation. A milder soap I simply all-around better for your skin.

In recent years, dermatologists have recognized that raw cleaning power should not be the sole measure of whether soap is useful. They’ve come to understand that the natural oils our skin produces are necessary to its overall health, and have since scaled back the cleaning power of soaps.

That said, some soaps, especially those for men, have yet to internalize this message. If you’re experiencing skin tightness it’s likely because you’re still using soap of this kind.

Changing to a milder soap that’s more geared toward maintaining a healthy balance of cleanliness and natural skin oils could help resolve the problem. Many soaps have reduced the chemicals in them and some have even added moisturizers to help combat the drying out effect. These soaps could be good options. There is a great selection of mild soaps for your skin at Amazon. Go check them out online.

Change to an Organic Soap
Sometimes just moving to a milder soap isn’t enough. Many people have sensitive skin that will react to almost any chemical applied to it. For these skin types, it could be worth changing to an organic soap to try and address the feeling of skin tightness.

By moving to organic soap, you’ll eliminate all chemicals and be able to know that you aren’t applying any to your skin when bathing. You’ll also be using a more environmentally friendly and sustainable soap.

For many, this could solve the problem of skin tightness. Though, if it doesn’t solve the problem, you’ve at least ruled out the possibility of it being caused by the chemicals in the soap you were using. You can find organic soaps at Amazon. Bali natural soap happens to be one of the more popular ones.

  1. Moisturizing
    This might sound like a solution that misses the mark in terms of addressing the feeling of tight skin after bathing, but it could be just what you need. While many are led to believe that the feeling of tight skin is a result of bathing, it could be that your skin is simply too dry to start with, regardless of the bathing process.

    Some people simply have dryer skin than others. This can be a natural feature of how your body works, or it can be caused by environmental factors like cold and dry weather. Exposure to the elements can take a toll on your skin and dry it out.

    If you’re experiencing dry skin before bathing and the using a harsh soap while bathing, you likely aren’t going to suddenly have hydrated and healthy skin. It may be the case that you can handle the soap you’re currently using, but because you’re starting the process with dry skin you’re still experiencing the tight skin sensation.

    In this way, it’s important to moisturize regularly in between bathing. Especially for those in dry or cold climates, or who experience prolonged exposure to the elements, moisturizer can help make sure your skin is getting the nutrients it needs to stay supple and healthy.

One of the popular natural moisturizers is Honeyskin which can be found at Amazon.

Adjust the Length and Temperature of Your Shower
This one is as much about overall skin health as it is about addressing the feeling of tight skin after bathing. Long, hot showers will both irritate and dry out your skin, both of which will play a role in causing the skin to feel tight after bathing.

While the joys of a long, hot shower are known to just about everyone, those relaxing showers aren’t necessarily the best for your skin’s health. The added time under the showerhead means prolonged exposure to both the water and heat coming from it.

When skin is exposed to water for prolonged periods of time it will lose its ability to retain its own natural moisture, and as the water is dried off it will take the skin’s natural oils with it. Without these natural oils, your skin loses its ability to regulate itself and its moisture level.

The heat of a hot shower will exacerbate this dehydrating process. Taking long and hot showers can make eczema symptoms worse and can cause dry skin and itchiness in those who don’t suffer from eczema. By shortening your shower and cooling the temperature, you can help maintain healthier skin and avoid the tight skin feeling.

Rinsing More Thoroughly
This is another possible solution that, while it might seem ridiculous, might just be what you need to get rid of that tight skin sensation. Rinsing more thoroughly after bathing will help to make sure all soap residue has been removed from your skin, thus removing it as a possible cause of the tight skin feeling.

While it’s important to thoroughly rinse after bathing simply for the sake of actually being clean if you’re experiencing tight skin after bathing it can be doubly important. For those who don’t properly rinse off, a film of soap and dirt residue in leftover on top of the skin.

As this film dries, it becomes less malleable and pliable to the movement of your skin. It’s this inflexibility that gives the sensation of your skin being tight. In this case, it has very little to do with the skin itself, and more to do with the film on top of it being brittle and immobile.

Rinsing poorly also means you’re leaving the chemicals and fragrances from the soap you’re using on your skin. As these chemicals linger on your skin, they can cause further irritation to it, potentially causing swelling and the feeling of your skin being pulled tight.

Rinsing thoroughly can prevent this film from building up and causing the feeling of tight skin. It’s possible that this doesn’t solve the problem of the tight skin sensation. If that’s the case, consider yourself cleaner and proceed up this list of possible solutions.

If you experience the feeling of tight skin after bathing, these tips could be a good place to start to try and address the issue. While not a comprehensive list, your case is likely caused by one of the above-mentioned scenarios. These tips can be helpful for more than just addressing the feeling of tight skin though.

Using a gentler soap can help get your skin to a balanced level of clean and naturally occurring oils. Organic soaps can give you the comfort of knowing you aren’t putting manmade chemicals on your skin. Moisturizing is simply a healthy practice to do to help your skin remain supple. And shortening your shower will help keep your skin from drying out.

Building a shower routine around a combination of these tips can help to not only prevent the feeling of tight skin after bathing but also can put you on a path to having healthy skin.

What Are Some Other Shower Tips for Healthy Skin?

With the problem of skin feeling tight after bathing addressed, it’s worthwhile to read up on some other helpful shower tips for maintaining healthy skin. These tricks include not over scrubbing, rinsing your hair with cold water, and properly drying once out of the shower.

  • Don’t Over Scrub
    Exfoliating is great and should be incorporated into your shower routine, but any more than a couple of times a week is probably too much. Over exfoliating will only cause irritation for your skin without providing any added benefits. Shaving also counts as exfoliating, so keep that in mind when determining your routine.
  • Rinse Your Hair with Cold Water
    While it’s important to not take too hot of a shower so as to not dry out your skin, finishing with a cold rinse of your hair can have the benefit of closing the pores and cuticles on your scalp, helping to seal them off from dirt and bacteria. This will help promote and extend the time that your hair looks clean and shiny.
  • Dry Immediately, and Correctly, After Showering
    It’s important to dry immediately after exiting the shower, as allowing the water air dry will allow it to remove additional moisture from your skin as it does so. In addition to drying immediately, be sure to pat yourself dry rather than rub yourself dry. This will help to avoid added irritation to your skin.

Keeping a good shower routine is important for more than just preventing the feeling of your skin being tight after bathing. Maintaining good shower practices can help keep your skin healthy and supple. Incorporating these tips can help you do just that.