By Sophie Wirt
Soap: For many of us, it falls under the umbrella of scarcely considered personal care products, along with, say, floss (though we're totally on board with fierce loyalty to the latter). While body washes, scrubs, and shower oils can deliver a cleansing experience that's nothing short of luscious, there's something about good ol' bar soap that delivers a clean feeling that's second to none. On the other hand, it's that same clean feeling that can send people running for their hydrating shower oils — after all, it's no fun to strip your skin and leave it tight, itchy, or dry. That said, for every bar soap that leaves skin feeling a little too squeaky-clean, there are just as many that deliver that coveted clean and improve the look and feel of skin. On a completely separate — yet equally as important — note, bar soap produces much less waste than a plastic bottle. We did some scrubbing to find the best bars to lather up with during your next shower.
Seaberry oil — otherwise known as seabuckthorn oil — is an antioxidant that's rich in omega 3 and 6. It's the hero ingredient in this hefty bar soap, which also contains shea butter plus naturally exfoliating cranberry and bamboo particles. Not only will your skin feel uber-soft after a single use, but also it'll smell every-so-slightly zesty, thanks to an infusion of orange peel, which also acts as another natural exfoliant.
$17 (Shop Now)
If body blemishes are an issue, consider switching your soap to this little black bar, which harnesses the pore-purging powers of charcoal. Plus, it's laced with a blend of tea tree and bergamot essential oils, which not only give it a pleasantly herbal scent, but also aid in balancing skin's oil production.
$12 (Shop Now)
This hefty, 100 percent vegetable-based soap doesn't provide much lather — or a super-strong scent, for that matter — but it does leave dry skin quenched, and supple, thanks to its high concentration of shea butter.
$14 (Shop Now)
Unlike most spinoffs, this rendition of the Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb fragrance does not disappoint. Instead, this pretty little bar packs a punch of the AllureBest of Beauty-winning scent (notes of rose, orchid, and patchoili) and lingers beautifully under the beloved eau de toilette (or any other floral fragrance).
$39 (Shop Now)
While you may not have time to set positive intentions every morning, this soap oozes happy energy every time you hop in the shower, thanks to notes of zingy grapefruit and bright orange.
$18 (Shop Now)
This soap makes one chic shower. Not only does it look elegant atop a soap dish (or really anywhere), but it also smells divinely like Chanel's iconic No. 5 fragrance. (Need we say more?)
$26 (Shop Now)
This Allure Best of Beauty winner looks like soap and smells like soap, but don't be fooled — it contains zero trace of the stuff. Instead, it relies on a much milder cleanser, sodium lauroyl isethionate, to whisk away grime without stripping skin. On the contrary, this beauty bar leaves skin soft and supple, thanks to its composition of one to four moisturizing cream.
$9 for eight bars (Shop Now)
Caress is an expert at infusing its products with luxurious-smelling fragrances. This bar, for example, elicits notes of orange blossom and white peach, which linger ever-so-subtly as you lather up — and after you dry off.
$7 for eight bars (Shop Now)
Similar to its liquid cleanser counterparts, this soap-free cleansing bar is a godsend for dry, itchy skin. It lathers without stripping skin of its natural oils, and it doesn't leave any semblance of residue. Plus, it's formulated for all skin types and features a mild, non-polarizing scent, making it a can't-go-wrong option for shared shower spaces.
$5 (Shop Now)
If you've dismissed bar soap as a dry skin culprit, allow this one to restore your faith. Made from African black soap — i.e. ashes from the likes of plantains and cocoa pods — plus an infusion of shea butter, aloe, and oats, this multipurpose bar simultaneously soothes skin and targets acne blemishes. It's so gentle, in fact, that it can even be used to calm eczema-prone skin.
$6 (Shop Now)
This oversized vegetable-based soap smells equal parts citrusy and sexy, thanks to natural infusions of bergamot, ylang ylang, and lime. When mixed with water, the pH-balanced bar produces a barely there lather that cleans skin without stripping it.
$25 (Shop Now)
This palm-sized bar packs a sensorial punch, thanks to the brand's delectable Fragrance Originale (to smell it is to love it). Not only does this baby provide an olfactory treat, but it also leaves skin feeling yummy by virtue of softening argan oil, shea, and glycerin.
$12 (Shop Now)
In case you've ever contemplated the sum of cocoa butter, coconut milk, sunflower seed oil, and castor seed oil, this bar soap is the answer: It smells cozy and feels like a hug. Plus, it's 100 percent natural and formulated without essential oils (which can sometimes cause irritation), making it the perfect treat for natural-beauty buffs and sensitive skin types alike. Lastly, we'd be remiss not to mention its adorable cat-centric packaging.
$10 (Shop Now)
If streamlining your AM shower appeals to you, give this two-in-one cleanser a go — it contains lanolin and goat milk to hydrate and cleanse both face and body, plus a healthy dose of egg whites to tighten pores. Simple, effective, and 99.8 percent natural to boot.
$8 (Shop Now)
This classic sea mud cleansing bar has withstood the test of time (over 75 years) and washed the faces of Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Madonna along the way. While it's technically a facial cleansing bar, there are no rules against using it anywhere you darn well please. Either way, sea mud and charcoal deliver a gentle-yet-deep clean, while glycerin replenishes moisture.
$38 (Shop Now)