I Used to Be Anti–Bar Soaps, But This Is What Changed My Mind

Posted by Jimmy Gould on


Up until a few months ago, I had my shower routine pretty much set since my teenage years to now in my 30s. The products might have changed throughout the years, but it's always been shampoo, conditioner, face wash, body wash, and sometimes a razor and shaving cream. But recently, I made a major change to my routine: I decided to get back on the bar soap train.

I used to think bar soaps were outdated—something my grandma always had in her bathroom, whether it was hand soap or a body bar. I loved lathering up my loofah with body wash; it was a very soothing part of the bathing experience for me. Not to mention all the suds it created really made me think I was getting extra squeaky clean.

But when I moved into my new apartment last November and was shopping for toiletries to stock up on, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to buy a Dove Body Bar instead of my usual Dove Body Wash. I think it was equal parts feeling lazy about buying a loofah and wanting to try something new.

Even though I want to say that my life changed dramatically as a bar soap user, it didn't really. Showering was the same. It was still fun and somewhat therapeutic to lather up the bar in my hands like I used to with my loofah to get my body all suds-ed up. But after a few weeks of use, I did notice some things that made me feel good about my switch. Number one, it felt very low-maintenance, and I didn't have to worry about the bacteria lurking in my loofah because I didn't have one!

And when I did more research into the environmental aspect of the swap, I realized that bar soaps can be eco-friendlier. There's less packaging, its carbon footprint when it comes to transportation is lower because it weighs less and is easier to move, and it takes less energy to produce. Not to mention if chosen carefully, bar soaps have fewer chemicals.

Has all of this intrigued you? Take a look at some of our favorites below.

The Best Bar Soaps for Your Face

Herbivore Botanicals Pink Clay Soap


Herbivore Botanicals Clay Soap Bar ($12)

Good for dry and sensitive skin, Herbivore Botanicals' Pink Clay soap bar also contains geranium and blood orange essential oils to balance and smooth skin. A Dermstore reviewer wrote, "I use this bar every morning to clean my face and neck. It works so well! My face feels clean without feeling dry. I have combo skin that gets pretty dry in the winter and even then, I don't find this product to be drying. It also lasts a while. I will definitely repurchase."

Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar


Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar ($11)

Cetaphil is a cult favorite, so it's no surprise that the brand's cleansing bar has rave reviews, too. You can use it on your body and face. It's soap- and detergent-free and good for all skin types.

Drunk Elephant Pekee Cleansing Bar


Drunk Elephant Pekee Bar ($28)

Drunk Elephant's vegan soap is both cleansing and moisturizing and contains blueberry extract (an antioxidant!), honey, and virgin marula oil (an oil high in antioxidants and omegas-6 and -9). A reviewer on Sephora said, "I love this product. I have combination skin—oily forehead, but a very dry nose area. This bar does a great job of removing the oil without drying my nose area. I've been using this bar, in conjunction with my Foreo Miniat night. I've noticed my skin is smoother and has a healthy glow."

Vanicream Cleansing Bar


Pharmaceutical Specialties Vanicream Cleansing Bar ($4)

I absolutely love Vanicream's body lotion for my dry, sensitive, and eczema-prone skin, so when I found out that the brand also makes a bar soap, I was intrigued. The soap is enriched with the brand's skin cream, so it's moisturizing, too. One reviewer on Dermstore wrote, "I've gone through at least 10 of these bars now, will sometimes forget why I like it and try other 'sensitive' skin-friendly bars, and then immediately regret my disloyalty. I deal with eczema and back acne and this is the only bar that doesn't irritate either condition."

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cleansing Bar


First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Gentle Cleansing Bar ($15)

This bar soap is ultra gentle. It's got soothing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, vitamin E, and squalane. It can also be used on your body, too. One Amazon review reads, "I find this to be a good facial cleansing bar for my 60-plus-year-old skin. It's not drying or irritating in general and it actually cleanses my oily skin. Plus the price is very reasonable!"

Erno Laszlo The Famous Black Bar


Erno Laszlo The Famous Black Bar ($38)

Formulated with Dead Sea mud and charcoal, this soap will really clean your skin and remove any impurities or debris. It's also supposed to reduce the appearance of pores, too. One customer on Sephora left a rave review but with one caveat for people with dry skin: "This deep cleanser is amazing! It definitely gets the oil and makeup off my face, and leaves my skin smooth. If you have super dry skin or get eczema on your face, I would test this product because it does tend to irritate dry skin more."

Clinique Facial Soap


Clinique Facial Soap With Dish ($13)

I've used Clinique's facial soap on and off since I was a teenager, while dabbling with other products. I always come back to this trusted one because it really leaves my skin feeling clean but doesn't dry it out so much. Plus, I never experience irritation, and that's saying a lot because my skin is sensitive to many products.

DHC Pure Soap


DHC Pure Soap ($12)

DHC's Pure Soap is fragrance-free and contains hydrating and soothing ingredients like olive oil and aloe vera. One reviewer on Dermstore wrote, "This is my summertime soap when I get more oil buildup. It is a very effective cleanser and I usually just use at night after an oil-based pre-cleanse. After the layers of mineral sunscreen, I feel like a double cleanse really gets my skin prepped for nighttime repair products."


Osmia Black Clay Facial Soap


Osmia Black Clay Facial Soap ($24)

This one's made for normal and combination skin and is formulated with black Australian clay, Dead Sea mud, and coconut milk to cleanse skin and reduce redness. Many Amazon reviewers wrote that it helps their perioral dermatitis (a skin rash around the mouth).

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Botanical Cleansing Bar


Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Botanical Cleansing Bar with Tea Tree & Aloe ($24)

Another soap that works for your face and skin, this one contains antioxidants, shea butter, aloe vera, essential oils, and vitamins A and E. It'll clean your skin and protect it against free radicals and other environmental damage. A Dermstore reviewer said, "I love the tingling of the tea tree oil in this cleansing bar and it has such a fresh smell. It leaves my body and face feeling so clean with just the right concentration of scent. So pleasant."

Best Bar Soaps for Your Body

Dove Beauty Bar


Dove Beauty Bar with Cucumber and Green Tea Scent (16 Bars)($15)

This is the one I keep in my shower at all times now, and beauty editor Erin Jahns also says it's one of her recommendations. It's cleansing, refreshing, and moisturizing all at once—a total classic that you can't go wrong with. The bars come in different scents and variations, but my personal favorite is the cucumber and green tea one because it feels really soothing.


Meant The Every Body Bar


Meant The Every Body Bar ($20)

This is another favorite of Erin's. It works for both your face and your body (even your hands) and is nontoxic. Ingredients include goat's milk, coconut oil, pomegranate, and grape-seed oil.

Moroccanoil Body Soap


Moroccanoil Body Soap ($14)

Made with argan oil, shea butter, and aloe leaf extract, this bar soap will cleanse and moisturize your skin. Bonus: The product comes in recyclable packaging. A Sephora reviewer wrote, "I love this soap so much! It really lathers and makes my skin smooth and clean. The scent is natural and mild. I also noticed my back acnes improved after three months!"

Tom's of Maine Natural Beauty Bar


Tom's of Maine Natural Beauty Bar (6 Pack) ($24)

With no artificial fragrances or parabens, this soap is good natural option. This particular one contains coconut oil, but other varieties include shea butter, eucalyptus, and orange blossom. An Amazon reviewer wrote, "Love the scent and the moisture effect. I am also pleased at the durability of the bar. So many moisturizing soaps become soft and seem to dissolve so quickly, this soap does not."

Joanna Vargas Cloud Bar


Joanna Vargas Cloud Bar ($22)

Joanna Vargas's Cloud Bar is made to soothe psoriasis, eczema, and skin dehydration. Its ingredients include shea butter, sodium cocoate, 100% vegetable glycerin, and chamomile water to cleanse, reduce inflammation, stabilize collagen, and protect skin.

Malin + Goetz


Malin + Goetz Bar Soap ($16)

Good for all skin types, this bar soap comes in different scents: peppermint, rum, and lime. It will purify and moisturize, and it's free of sulfates, phthalates, and parabens. A Nordstrom reviewer wrote, "I am hooked on this soap. It leaves your skin feeling clean and smooth with no residue. It literally lasts for months. I look forward to stepping in the shower every morning to get that wonderful eye opening whiff of peppermint!"

Krigler Soaps


Krigler Soaps ($45)

For a luxe bath experience, try this bar soap recommended by Erin. It will leave your skin feeling so soft and smelling so good. Scents include patchouli, floral, and woodsy.