Reasons Bar Soaps Make Your Skin Feel Sticky

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Nothing feels better than squeaky clean skin after a good shower, right? However, sometimes that’s not the case. You dry off and your skin is tight, dry and coated with residue! Right now, you may be wondering to yourself, ‘why does my skin feel sticky after washing with soap and water?’

Why does bar soap make your skin feel sticky? Many commercial-brand bar soaps (with a high pH level) leave a film on the skin, making it feel coated or sticky. If you have hard water, this can also be a factor, as the mineral ions in the water combine with the chemical molecules in the soap to form an insoluble residue that is difficult to rinse off.

Now that you know many store-bought soap brands can leave your skin feeling sticky, let’s take a closer look at this in more detail below. We’ll discuss why this is so and how to prevent it. We’ll also give examples of good brands to try as well as provide a recipe for a homemade soap that is both fun and easy to make.

So, if you’re ready to learn more about the ‘sticky’ situation that is bar soap, then let’s get started!

What is Soap Residue?

Soap residue is a film-like substance that sticks to the skin (and bathroom surfaces) and is hard to rinse off. It is composed of calcium stearate, magnesium stearate and alkali metal derivatives from the fatty acids or moisturizers that are added to the soap.

Minerals found in hard water, such as calcium, iron, and magnesium combine with the chemical substances in the soap, creating a thick, white residue that latches onto skin. This film refuses to dissolve, making it feel sticky, slimy or even dry.

Why Does Bar Soap Make Your Skin Feel Sticky?

Bar soap residue left behind after a bath or shower will make skin feeling sticky. If the lathering ingredients haven’t been completely rinsed off of the skin, it can leave behind a film that prevents the skin from ‘breathing’, thus inhibiting its ability to heal and renew itself. Therefore, it is very important to use clean-rinsing soaps (and preferably soft water) with natural ingredients.

Does Bar Soap Dry Out Skin?

While bar soap is very effective at removing dirt and germs from your skin, it can also strip the skin of natural oils. Bar soaps have a higher pH level than liquid soaps or body wash, which can result in dry skin. Dried-out skin feels tight and uncomfortable. A study has shown that soaps with a high pH have a dehydrative effect on skin can lead to itchy dry skin turning flaky and tight. It is also less likely to heal itself without the aid of a topical moisturizer or treatment. The International Journal of Cosmetic Science says your skin average pH is below 5 so when choosing a soap with a Ph that is 5 or lower.

Does Bar Soap or Body Wash Clean Better?

Most solid soaps have a pH level of 9 or 10 which can be harsh on the skin, removing essential oils necessary for health and renewal. Body wash is a liquid cleanser with a lower pH, which makes it gentler on skin. Lower pH cleansers also tend to rinse away easier, leaving less of a residue or film behind.

A bar like Dove, for example, has a low pH level (around 6) so it will not dry out the skin or leave it feeling sticky. A soap-like Zest, on the other hand, has a high pH level (around 10) so it is more likely to leave skin feeling tight, dry and coated. Below is a list of common soaps and their pH levels:

  • Dove – 6
  • Caress – 7
  • Oil of Olay – 7
  • Neutrogena – 7
  • Camay – 9
  • Coast – 9
  • Dial – 9
  • Irish Spring – 10
  • Ivory – 10
  • Nivea – 10
  • Tone – 10
  • Zest – 10

Best Bar Soaps That are Balanced for Your Skins pH Level

Knours – D-5 Calming Facial Soap

  • For All Skin Types
  • pH Balancing Facial Bar Soap Cleanser
  • EWG Verified Natural Ingredients
  • Wash away impurities, balance skin’s pH levels, and target breakouts without irritating the skin.
  • Natural Colors, GMO-Free, Phthalates Free, PEG Free, Silicone Free, Paraben Free, No Animal Testing
  • Shop Knours Bar Soap at Amazon

Natures Plus Natural Beauty Cleansing Bar

  • 500 IU Vitamin E with Allantoin
  • Natural Cleanser, Made with Organic Ingredients
  • Anti-Aging- pH of 4.5 – Vegan
  • This bar is made from natural, organic ingredients and is free of the harsh, skin irritating ingredients typically found in soap.
  • State-of-the-art manufacturing facilities maintain continuous adherence to cGMP compliance, superior standards, and are FDA and NSF registered
  • Shop Naturel Plus at Amazon

Gallinée Prebiotic Cleansing Bar – A Radiant Glow from Head to Toe.

  • Soap-Free & Gentle, Cleanse, Soothe, And Nourish Your Skin with This Patented Complex of Prebiotics  Lactic Acid. Gentle Enough for Face & Body
  • Gallinée Cleansing Bar Is Formulated At pH 5.8, Respecting Your Skin’s Natural pH Levels
  • Nourishes & Protects Your Skin’s Good Bacteria While Removing The Bad, Leaving Your Skin Looking Radiant, While Cleansing, Soothing, And Nourishing It Made WITHOUT Soap, Colorants, Parabens, Mineral Oils, Silicones, Microbeads, Phenoxyethanol Or Methylisothiazolinone
  • Shop Gallinee Prebiotic Cleansing Bar at Amazon

Mild by Clinique for Unisex Soap

  • A mild beauty soap Instantly provides a gentle cleansing
  • Helps soften & soothe your complexion
  • Leaves skin feeling perfectly clean & soft Suitable for all skin types
  • Dermatologist recommended
  • Shop Clinique soap at Amazon

What is the Best Clean-Rinsing Soap?

The best store-bought soap is Dove Beauty Bar for Sensitive Skin. In fact, it isn’t soap at all but rather a beauty bar containing nourishing ingredients that help retain moisture in the skin, rather than removing it. It is the number 1 dermatologist recommended brand on the market today and is hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, fragrance-free, dye-free, sulfate-free leaves no sticky, soapy residue.

Dove Beauty Bar for Sensitive Skin is readily available online through It also comes in a variety of different solid bar types as well as liquid body wash formulas. One is sure to be right for you so why not check it out today? Best of all, it can be shipped right to your front door in as little as 2 days! Trust me, your skin will thank you for it!

How Can I Make My Own Soap?

Making your own homemade soap is easy, fun and affordable. It is a great alternative to commercial-brand cleansers and perfect for the ‘crafter’ in you, looking for a new, creative adventure! And because it is the chemical ingredients in soap that often leave behind a residue, all-natural soaps are less likely to coat the skin. For a great, lye-free option, why not try the following:


  • 1 pound of glycerin
  • 2.5 ounces of pink Himalayan salt
  • 20 drops of grapefruit essential oil


  1. Chop up 1 pound of glycerin into cubes.
  2. Place the cubes into a stainless-steel pot or double-boiler and heat to approximately 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Continually stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until it reaches a smooth, thick consistency.
  4. Add the Himalayan salt and mix thoroughly.
  5. Add the essential oil and blend completely.
  6. Pour the soap batter into a mold.
  7. Tape cardboard over the mold and then wrap it with a towel.
  8. Allow the soap to sit at room temperature for 24 hours before removing it from the mold.
  9. Place the individual bars of soap on a piece of wax paper and let it dry or cure in a cool, ventilated area for several (3-4) weeks.
  10. Once completely dried (cured), place your soap uncovered in a decorative dish in the bathroom, ready for use!

You can choose other essential oil scents, such as lavender, sandalwood or vanilla for this recipe. Always do a small patch test on your skin when using essential oils to ensure you do not have an allergic reaction to them. Click here to see how to do a patch test.

You can also add turmeric to the mixture, instead of Himalayan salt, if you prefer your soap to be orange (rather than pink) color. As well, you can heat olive or coconut oil in a separate pan and then add it to the batter for a softer, moisturizing soap. The options are endless, so go ahead and indulge yourself!

What are the Ways to Prevent Soap from Leaving a Sticky Residue?

Apart from choosing a low pH cleanser, you can prevent soap from leaving a residue on your skin by installing a water softener or an electronic de-scaler. One to look into online at is the iSpring ED 2000 Electronic Descaler Water Conditioner.

This device is much cheaper than a water softener and essentially does the same thing, which is solving hard water problems without the need for chemicals or salt. It requires little maintenance and not only saves your skin but your pipes and appliances as well! Do yourself a favor and check it out today!


In summation, most store-bought bar soaps can leave a sticky film on the skin, which can make it feel slimy, rough and dry. If you have hard water, this can be part of the problem, as the minerals in the water combine with the chemicals in the soap to form an insoluble residue that is hard to rinse off.

It is best to choose a low pH cleanser, such as Dove, that is clean-rinsing or to make your own homemade, all-natural soap. Also, investing in a home water softener will help, as the salt in the softener helps remove the mineral ions from the water, making it easier to rinse away soap ingredients.