In the Polish People's Republic it was considered a cult cosmetic. A dermatologist explains whether it is worth using it to wash your face

In the Polish People's Republic it was considered a cult cosmetic.  A dermatologist explains whether it is worth using it to wash your face

Most of us remember the so-called grey soap. This odorless block was an indispensable element of grandma's bathroom, used not only as a cleaning agent, but also for washing and cleaning. Currently, this simple and universal cosmetic is not as popular as it was a few decades ago. Can you use it to wash your face? Dermatologist explains.

In the Polish People's Republic it was considered a cult cosmetic.  A dermatologist explains whether it is worth using it to wash your face


  • Gray soap – is it worth washing your face with?
  • Is gray soap becoming a thing of the past in facial skin care?
  • A dermatologist reveals his evening care routine
  • Gray soap, a cult product from the Polish People's Republic, was used by our grandmothers and mothers not only as a natural cosmetic for washing the body and hair, but also as a preparation for skin diseases (e.g. acne, eczema) and an irreplaceable product for keeping the house clean. home. It cannot be denied that its use was versatile.

    Gray soap – is it worth washing your face with?

    True gray soap, also known as potassium soap, is a mixture of potassium salts of higher carboxylic acids, glycerin, citric acid and sodium chloride. It is free of artificial dyes and fragrances, so it is completely neutral and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which in theory may be helpful in some skin problems.

    Can gray soap now be an irreplaceable facial cleansing cosmetic? We ask dermatologist Monika Wasilewska this question, who dispels all doubts.

    – This is not the best choice for our skin. From a dermatologist's point of view, I do not recommend gray soap for facial care, which is currently available in drugstores. This product has an alkaline pH, i.e. above 8, and the natural pH of the skin is from 5 to 6, so it is slightly acidic. By frequently washing our face with soap, we can destroy its natural protection in the form of a hydrolipid coat and, as a consequence, cause dermatological problems – explains the expert.

    It is true that gray soap will do a great job of cleansing the skin of sebum, but as a result it will disturb its intercellular cement structure. This, in turn, will contribute to the loss of water from the epidermis and its dehydration, as well as a compensatory increase in the production of sebum, which is a vicious circle in the case of dermatoses with seborrhea, e.g. acne.

    – In exceptional situations, we can use gray soap to wash the skin. It is perfect for cleaning post-operative wounds and ulcers, he adds

    Is gray soap becoming a thing of the past in facial skin care?

    The expert emphasizes that the gray soap used by our grandmothers had a much better composition than those available on store shelves today. – Today, the so-called Gray or natural soaps contain many additives, such as preservatives, fragrances and substances that stabilize pH or consistency. All these improvers mean that it is not as clean, neutral soap as in the old days and therefore may irritate and cause allergies – he emphasizes.

    Nowadays, we have a huge selection of cosmetics and this can often be problematic. According to a dermatologist, the best products for daily washing are the so-called syndets with the physiological pH of the skin, i.e. between 5 and 6.

    The ubiquitous foams, gels, milks and scented washing soaps that you can buy in drugstores have much worse ingredients with a lot of allergens. The more additives they contain, the more irritating the skin is and thus they may cause dermatoses or worsen existing skin problems.

    – If we want to use the so-called natural soap, choose those that are really simple in composition or have healing properties. For people with problematic skin, you can use soaps: Castile, Aleppo (simple composition) or tar, sulfur, and silver (medicinal). They are often slightly greasy, do not dry out or irritate the skin as much as classic drugstore gray soap. In the past, this iconic cosmetic had a composition similar to Castile soap (i.e. produced only from fat and lye), but now it leaves much to be desired – says dermatologist Monika Wasilewska.

    There is also diversity among drugstore gray soaps when it comes to composition. – Therefore, if we insist on using gray soap, it is worth checking its INCI before purchasing it. Gray soap is not created equal and its labels must be verified. Some of these products are advertised as pure, gray soap, but in reality they are a mixture of preservatives, stabilizers and fragrances that may cause irritation – he points out.

    A dermatologist reveals his evening care routine

    The expert shares her care habits and admits that she is a fan of tar soap – an invaluable ally in the fight against skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis and dandruff.

    – I really appreciate tar soap because the addition of this wonderful, healing substance compensates for the negative impact of the slightly alkaline pH of the product. Even though I have access to many dermocosmetics, I prefer to use this product several times a week, interchangeably with a cleansing bar with a slightly acidic pH. Tar is a substance that has a beneficial effect on the skin barrier, has anti-inflammatory and gently exfoliating properties – it is ideal for people with imperfections. My evening care routine is as follows: first, I remove my makeup with micellar fluid, and at the very end I reach for tar soap or syndet bar – reveals the doctor.

    – As a skin specialist, I would like to emphasize that this care is not for everyone! The basis is to select it individually for the needs of a given skin, and each skin has different needs. However, I recommend minimalism in the amount of cosmetics to everyone, she adds.

    To sum up, conscious facial care involves wisely selecting cosmetics so that they support the physiological protective function of our skin, support dermatological therapies and do not harm us. Before purchasing, we should always check the composition of the product, avoiding unnecessary or allergenic substances, such as fragrances, dyes or some preservatives.