SoapNut vs SoapRoot - Which is the Better Face Cleanser?

Testing soaproot and soapnut face cleansing ability this spring/summer has been both interesting and fun. Here are my experiences with these 2 natural surfactants and how their face cleansing properties and abilities compare. 

If you just popped in and want more background, you'll find links to previous posts (and a couple of how-to's so you can make your own) at the bottom of this post.

Now, let's get serious about these test results!

Test Period

Both decoctions were tested over a period of 2 months, switching between the 2 at one-week intervals.

Each decoction was used once a day – replacing either my regular morning or evening cleanser. If used as an evening cleanser, my regular eye-make-up remover was used for the eye area, and the decocction 'took care of the rest'.


Both deconcoctions were packaged in a foam bottle and applied using a small face brush.

Soaproot is difficult to work with because it has absolutely zero foam stability. The foam disappears so quickly, it can barely be photographed.

These 3 shots were taken within 30 seconds.

Even though application is a bit challenging with such a runny product, it is both doable and worth the trouble.

Soapnut has a good, stable foam that allows you to apply to the face, but dissipates almost immediately upon contact with the skin. Although it is far easier to control and use than soaproot, the big negative is the scent. Soapnuts have an unmistakable vinegary smell that is pungent enough to cause a pull-away reaction when sniffing the liquid. Even though the foam is not quite as strong-smelling, it can at best be described as 'tolerable' by even the staunchest soapnut fan.

Lather Wanna-Be

As for lather - don't be fooled by any foam you see.
It is not lather.
It is merely foam - fluffed and puffed up due to being pumped out of a foam bottle.
It does not behave like lather.
It is not even close to lather.
It is a lather wanna-be.
I'll bet it really wishes it could be lather and give you a luxurious experience like the lathers in TV commercials.
But it can't.
So don't snicker at it, or it might dissipate even more quickly.

Cleansing Ability

Both soaproot and soapnut have an excellent ability to cleanse gently and effectively without the slightest trace of drying the skin. I was equally pleased with both in this respect.

For comparison, I tried the same method, using only plain water. The result: my skin felt dry and taut afterwards.

Not so with soaproot and soapnut.

They both left my skin feeling refreshed, soft, and clean.

Thumbs up to both in this respect (and both are forgiven for the lack of lather for this very reason).

Make-Up Removal

Neither were tested with make-up removing ability as a goal, but it is notable that both were equally efficient at removing my regular (light) application of cream foundation and cream blush.

Eye-Stinging Ability

Both soaproot and soapnut are equally harsh with eye contact. For this reason, don't ever consider using either of these products on children.


Also - be VERY aware of how and where you apply while cleansing your face.

pH Comparison

Both of these have a skin friendly pH.
Soapnut decoction has a pH of 4.5
Soaproot decoction has a pH of 5.7

More Pros Than Cons

Both of these are quite efficient cleansers, and both have positives and negatives that make it hard for me to choose an absolute winner.

Speaking strictly from a pH viewpoint, my skin fares better with the lower pH of soapnut, but that pungent vinegar-like smell makes it a challenge to love. Granted, the smell mellows with use, but that could be due to my nose 'adjusting' to the scent.

To my own surprise, I have continued to reach for both soapnut and soaproot decoctions off and on since the end of the 2-month test period.

That's the best indication that both are winners – they both offer more positives than negatives.

More About Soaproot and Soapnut on This Blog

How To - Soapnut Decoction
How To - Soaproot Decoction
How To Use a Soaproot/Soapnut Decoction as a face wash
Soaproot and Soapnut Decoction Comparison
Natural Surfactants - Soapnuts
Natural Surfactants - Soaproot


mksd said…
Thank you for this amazing post. I prefer to mix both of them while making a solution. Maybe this options attracts your interests too.
LisaLise said…
Hi Mksd - Yes, I've tried both together as well. There are many options with these natural surfactants!