Cleansers are never the most thrilling beauty products to write about, but this little hidden gem (at least outside of Japan) deserves a proper mention. Shabondama (“Soap Bubbles”) Soap is known in Japan for producing naturally derived (biodegradable), additive-free soaps. What it lacks in visual appeal and trends, it makes up for with reputation for gentleness and safety — in fact, its products are often used in hospitals, nurseries, and nursing homes.
Powder cleanser is rather good for travellers; it’s liquid-free, light, and compact (especially if you decant into little single-use sachets). I’ve used Shabondama Face Wash Soap Powder on and off for ages and I think it’s very nice if you just want a functional cleanser that’s travel-friendly. It is as uncomplicated as it comes — just one ingredient: sodium tallowate and/or sodium palmitate. It is the same soap ingredient found in Dove Beauty Bars and many Japanese cleansing products.
I’m totally baffled by the inexplicably bad reputation that soap seems to have developed in the West. Many articles and blog posts say it is one of the harshest ways to clean skin due to its inherent basic pH. What makes this so brilliantly ironic is that soap ingredient is the mainstay of Japanese skin-cleansing products, especially in lineups formulated for delicate skin! It is often prefered over synthetic surfactants as it is said to be safer overall long term. But each to their own — whatever floats your boat. How your skin feels and reacts afterwards is what matters.
I use the Face Wash Soap Powder as a face and body wash when I’m travelling. Sabondama Soap advises to use a foaming net and I most certainly agree — you want to work it into a fluffy, foamy lather first, and it’s near impossible without one. Unlike most cleansing powders in the market, it doesn’t have any exfoliating properties. It rinses off well and the lather is completely scent-free. It is effective without leaving my normal skin (especially the face) taut and stripped, but not so gentle that it seems to be a little wishy-washy and useless for the body. Makeup-removing will need to be done beforehand.
I have to say that I use this almost exclusively when I’m away and want to pack very light. Cleansing powders are just too much faff and this one-ingredient version is a bit mundane when I’m at home with all my potions. But Sabondama Face Wash Soap Powder‘s is a truly suit-all formula — safe for adults, babies, and the environment (it’s biodegradable) — that works nicely on the face and body.