The best exfoliating soap bar

Posted by Jimmy Gould on


What does an exfoliating soap bar do?

If you’d like smoother, softer skin, body lotion isn’t the only product you should be using. An exfoliating bar sloughs away dry skin and makes it easier for moisturizing products, like lotion, to seep into pores.

Exfoliating soap bars, while effective, are considered gentle alternatives to dry brushing and chemical body peels. Many bars also include nourishing ingredients, like shea butter or olive oil, to soothe and soften skin.

We’ve put together this buying guide on exfoliating soap bars to help you find the right one. We’re also sharing our favorite bars at the end, with Aspen Kay Naturals Exfoliating Coffee & Oatmeal Soap topping our shortlist with its rich, refreshing scent.

What to consider about exfoliating soap bars

Perks of using an exfoliating soap bar

Besides sloughing away layers of dry, dead skin, exfoliating soap bars offer a few more benefits.

Exfoliating soap bars help even out your complexion to bring out your skin’s natural radiance. All-over exfoliation also boosts circulation throughout the body. Some people use exfoliating bars before shaving to expose hair follicles to get a better, closer shave. 

Physical vs. chemical exfoliants

In the world of exfoliating soap bars, you’ll come across three types: physical, chemical and dual-action exfoliants.

Physical exfoliants rely on tiny, textured bits in the bar to buff away dry or dead skin. On the other hand, chemical exfoliants include ingredients that trigger natural shedding or peeling without scraping skin. Dual-action exfoliating soap bars, as one would expect, include both types of exfoliators. 

What to look for in a quality exfoliating soap bar

Popular exfoliating agents

Some of the most common physical exfoliating agents include oatmeal, dead sea salt, coffee, baking soda, sugar and ground nuts and seeds. A few bars use plastic microbeads or silica. 

As far as chemical exfoliating agents go, botanicals, fruit enzymes, glycolic acid and lactic acid remain the most popular. 

Other ingredients

Exfoliating soap bars are formulated with various ingredients that can help soothe and brighten skin.

Because exfoliating soap bars are, to some extent, stripping, many are formulated with ingredients that soothe or nourish the skin. For example, shea butter and other humectants hydrate the skin and improve its natural moisture barrier. Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties, and according to Healthline, may calm redness or minimize breakouts. 

A few exfoliating soap bars include activated charcoal or clay, both of which have detoxifying properties. They’re effective at drawing impurities from pores for deeper cleaning. Charcoal and clay are also effective at controlling excess oil. 


Exfoliating soap bars are available in various scents, ranging from woody and earth fragrances to invigorating, pick-me-up scents like coffee, citrus and peppermint. 

Some consumers appreciate aromatherapy, but scented bars aren’t for everyone. Fragrance-free bars may better serve individuals with sensitive skin and those sensitive to smells. There are also exfoliating bars that forgo artificial fragrances — and stick to naturally-derived ones instead.


All exfoliating soap bars are solid, though their consistency and texture vary based on their ingredients. Those with physical exfoliants typically have gritty, rough textures, whereas bars with chemical exfoliants tend to be smoother. 

How much you can expect to spend on an exfoliating soap bar

You’ll find a few budget-priced exfoliating soap bars for less than $5, but they often contain synthetic ingredients. Jump to the $6-$10 range, and you’ll see bars with high-quality exfoliating and moisturizing ingredients. High-end and specialty bars cost $12-$16. 

Exfoliating soap bar FAQ

How often should I use an exfoliating soap bar?

A. It depends on your skin type. Those with sensitive or mature skin benefit from limiting use to once a week, while those with oily skin can use it up to three times a week. 

Can I skip other exfoliating products when I use an exfoliating soap bar?

A. To some extent, yes. If you double-up on exfoliating products, you could be doing more harm to the skin than good by triggering breakouts. Some people continue to dry brush on days they don’t use the exfoliating bar.

What’s the best exfoliating soap bar to buy?

Top exfoliating soap bar

Aspen Kay Naturals Exfoliating Coffee & Oatmeal Soap

What you need to know: This premium exfoliating bar is made with certified organic ingredients that are sustainably sourced.

What you’ll love: This formula includes soothing organic shea butter, olive oil and essential oils. It has a unique texture combination from ground oats and coffee bits. It’s not as harsh on the skin as other bars.

What you should consider: This bar is an expensive choice for an everyday soap bar.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Top exfoliating soap bar for the money

Oliver Rocket Pine Tar Soap

What you need to know: Consumers appreciate this handmade bar that exfoliates, detoxifies and nourishes the skin.

What you’ll love: Made with activated charcoal as well as coconut, vegetable and olive oil. Sea salt gives the bar a fine, gritty texture that gently buffs away dry skin. Pleasant pine scent. As a three-pack, it’s a genuine value buy. 

What you should consider: The bar might not be the best option for those with sensitive skin.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Worth checking out

Marlowe. No. 102 Men’s Body Scrub Soap

What you need to know: This bar is popular among consumers who prefer simple, effective formulas.

What you’ll love: This cruelty-free formula is free of parabens, phthalates and glycerine. It’s safe to use on the body and face. It contains the light, neutral scent of agarwood, sandalwood and musk linger. This soap functions as a two-in-one product for body and face.

What you should consider: Exfoliation is relatively intense with this bar. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon