Bar soap converts, unite!
Bar soap or body wash? The question is almost as controversial as asking if you prefer smooth or crunchy peanut butter (it's crunchy, btw). Bar soap and its liquid counterpart do the exact same thing—cleanse your skin—just in different forms. The truth is there's technically not one that's better than the other, it's just personal preference.
But before diving into the best bar soap brands, Mona Gohara, MD, a dermatologist and WH Advisory Board Member points out that you technically shouldn't be using a technical "soap" on your skin at all. "A soap is a cleanser with a high pH, one of about nine or ten while the pH of skin is about five. Thus, using a soap on the skin can disrupt its normal pH, causing a barrier breakdown and irritated, dry, skin," she explains.
"That being said, soap is great for dirty dishes, clothes, etc. [They're] just often a smidge too harsh for skin." Instead, she says to seek out cleansing bars rather than bar soaps. How can you tell the difference? "Soaps can be in the form of bars or liquids and are usually made of sulfate-based surfactants—you'll specifically want to stay away from the word sulfate on the ingredient list, even more specifically sodium lauryl sulfate."
Some benefits of using a bar soap over a liquid:
Bar soaps almost act like a washcloth to better rub away dirt and oils when you apply it directly to your skin.
Bar soaps typically use less ingredients because they don't contain water, so they don't need stabilizers.
Bar soaps cut back on plastic waste since they're typically housed in minimal paper packaging rather than a chunky plastic bottle.
With so many brands making bar soaps nowadays, the options are practically endless so the choice is yours. But, here are some of the best bar soaps that will leave your skin clean but never tight and dry.
1Glossier Body Hero Exfoliating Bar
Made specifically to be used on your body, this new bar from Glossier is like your favorite exfoliating scrub, but without the mess of scooping it out of a jar. Super fine bamboo powder exfoliates away dead skin cells, dirt, and oils that's then replaced with moisturizing ingredients like sunflower seed oil and aloe leaf juice.
2CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar
This is the same fragrance-free, dermatologist fave, just in a bar form. You'll still get all of the moisturizing benefits of ceramides, just without the bottle.
3Joanna Vargas Cloud Bar
This richly moisturizing bar is like a cloud for your skin—just as the name infers—thanks to its blend of glycerin, coconut oil, and shea butter. The unexpected ingredient: Chamomile water, which also helps soothe and moisturize.
4Dove White Beauty Bar Soap
Possibly the OG when it comes to "cleansing bars" that won't strip the skin, the Dove beauty bar is the same pH as your skin so it's left happy—not dry—after you use it.
5Bioré Rose Quartz + Charcoal Facial Cleansing Bar
Shaped like a rose quartz and infused with quartz powder, this cleansing bar is just as fun to use as it will be pretty sitting on your sink.
6Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar
amazon.com$32.94$14.98 (55% off)
Another dermatologist fave, this cleansing bar uses coconut oil and glycerin to keep it super hydrating.
7Lano Egg White Cleansing Bar
Made with lanolin (derived from sheep's wool), egg whites, and goat's milk, this bar soap is definitely not vegan, but it will give you a deep clean without stripping your skin dry. It's also made without parabens, fragrance, or dyes, making it good for sensitive skin types.
8Avene XeraCalm A.D Ultra-Rich Cleansing Bar
This line from Avène is made specifically to help keep sensitive, irritation-prone skin types soothed and happy. It's pH-balanced and uses a blend of Avène's signature thermal spring water and evening primrose oil to help keep skin strong and protected from even just your tap water.
9Drunk Elephant Pekee Cleansing Bar
A blend of marula oil and honey allow this bar to melt into skin while also melting away your makeup for easy removal. It also includes blueberry extract to help soothe.
10Osmia Black Clay Facial Soap
Australian black clay and Dead Sea mud make this cleansing bar more of a treatment than a wash. Use it to help balance and tone oily or acne prone skin while also cleansing the day away. Sweet almond oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, and coconut milk keep it hydrating so your skin is left soft and fresh.
11Herbivore Pink Clay Gentle Soap Bar
A gentler clay option, this one from Herbivore uses pink clay to help draw out impurities for a deep clean that won't irritate your skin. It also combines coconut oil, olive oil, and vitamin E to make it extra soothing.
12CLINIQUE Acne Solutions™ Cleansing Bar For Face and Body
This cleansing bar is infused with acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and zinc to help clear out clogged pores while also calming skin.
13Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Treatment Bar
If you're looking for a short ingredient list, this is the bar for you. Made with simply umbrian clay and nothing else (yes, really), this bar can be used as a cleanser, mask, or spot treatment to reap the clay's absorbent benefits in all forms.
14Erno Laszlo The Famous Black Bar
Cleansing Dead Sea mud is blended with glycerin and palm oils for a nourishing yet deep clean that will also help keep oily, acne-prone skin in check.
15Ursa Major Morning Mojo Bar Soap
Rosemary, eucalyptus, peppermint, and grapefruit make this bar extremely refreshing (good morning!) while fine granules of volcanic rock offer major exfoliation.
16UpCircle Fennel + Cardamom Chai Soap Bar
The blend of chai spices in this coconut and shea butter bar will warm you up almost as quickly as that chai latte—if nothing else, it smells just as delicious.
17Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Botanical Cleansing Bar
Aloe and tea tree make this bar great for oily or acne-prone skin as it will help balance out oil production while also soothing. Papaya extracts also help gently exfoliate for a more even skin tone.
18Suki Sensitive Cleansing Bar
Colloidal oat flour and shea butter make this bar super calming while the citrus scent gets you energized.
19Schmidts Lavender + Sage Natural Bar Soap
Shea butter and glycerin are blended with exfoliating jojoba seeds for a rich lather that deep cleans but doesn't lave you dry.
20Nubian Heritage Soap Bar, Indian Hemp
Made with a blend of five vegetable oils, this bar guarantees your skin will be left soft to the touch. Naturally antiseptic and antibacterial neem oil helps heal the skin and crushed hemp seeds exfoliate.