Does soap clean you better than shower gel?

I use both at different times. When I use soap, I’ve noticed that when I’m rubbing myself dry with the towel after, I see these tiny bits of something, which I think is dead skin. It doesn’t happen when I use shower gel. Does that mean soap is better, as in, it gives a ‘deeper’ clean?

Soap seems to make the bath harder to clean, and I’m not in a hard water area. I’m wondering if that is just from the ingredients or if it’s a consequence of removing more dirt from me (I bath or shower daily in case anyone thinks this is disgusting).

Also, is one healthier than the other? Or, do they both contain similar chemicals these days?

Hard to say on some of your questions.

In theory for average people on an average day either soap or “shower gel” should get the work done.

However, there are a lot of different variables. A soap or gel with an exfoliant will, indeed, remove the top layer of dead skin cells. The amount of moisturizing/drying can affect skin shedding as well. Shower gel tend to be more dilute than bar soap (shower gel is, in fact, mostly water) so it might be more effective on heavy layers of dirt and grease…unless what’s making you dirty dissolves better in the solvents in the gel than what’s in the soap.

Why does it take so much more time (and water) to rinse off “body wash” liquid-gel soap than regular bar soap? The former just seems much harder to get rid of.

Also, to the question in the OP, I find my skin is dryer and “squeakier” after bar soap. Maybe gel soap has more moisturizer?

Not all bar and gel soap are created equal. Chemical and/or natural additives, such as moisturizers and fragrances would seem to have an effect on rinsing them off.

My view is that soap is soap, and nothing can be added to improve its cleaning power, only to improve marketing outcome for the sellers. Myself, I use Mexican laundry bars, which are as close as you can get to pure soap without going to a craft fair, and economical, about a dollar a pound. I use Zote for shave, shower and shampoo, and nothing has ever worked better.

Broomstick and Trinopus are on the right track: most gel soaps contain moisturizers now, and some of them don’t even have ANY of what we’d consider soap at all (although they aren’t alone on that front: there’s a reason why Dove is called a “beauty bar” instead of “soap” on the box).

The moisturizers are the most likely explanation for both effects noted here: straight bar soap is often more drying, so you will see dry skin flaking off more with soap use (it’s clean, but hasn’t been exfoliated off - use a washcloth or one of those scrubby loofa things to exfoliate, or a “lava” type bar that has exfoliants impregnated in the bar) and shower gel will often leave a film of some sort of moisturizer on the skin - it’s supposed to, but I hate that feeling of slimy skin, so I either don’t use it, or I scrub the film back off again before I finish my shower.

Neither is inherently bad for you, and for the amount of actual dirt that modern urban humans come in contact with, both are perfectly adequate to clean your skin (hell, for most office people, warm water and a washcloth is perfectly adequate).

I don’t like the wasteful packaging. Not all of my stuff needs to come in a plastic bottle.

Cheap bar soap and a washcloth work as well as anything. Liquid soap is just a way for the soap companies to get more money out of people.