We’ve all been told in one way or another that using bar soaps to cleanse our skin is all but healthy-complexion suicide. While most experts agree that the harsh, drying iterations you’ll most commonly find in drugstores shouldn’t find themselves anywhere near the delicate skin on your face, it’s important to keep in mind that not all bar soaps are created equal. They’ve been getting a bad rap for years now, but with their impressive abilities when it comes to providing a thorough cleanse, squashing acne, soothing sensitivity and even improving chronic conditions like eczema, bar soaps just might be the game changer your skin care routine needs.
What’s So Scary About Soap?
From a chemistry standpoint, true soap is made by mixing fatty acids (mainly animal fats and vegetable oils) and sodium hydroxide (lye) together. Part of soap’s tarnished reputation stems from its traditionally high pH levels (at 9 or 10 as compared to the skin’s 4 to 5), which can strip off your skin’s natural oils and leave it feeling tight and dry. Most soaps of yesteryear were also formulated with harsh ingredients like fragrance, artificial colors and sulfates. Another issue common among soaps? They’re commonly shared and left exposed on the sink or in the tub, which makes them more prone to bacterial contamination than liquid soaps.
Fortunately, formulations of bar soaps have advanced significantly over the years. And with more natural ingredients and artisanal soap-crafting methods, many of today’s “soaps,” or “cleansing bars,” pose benefits that reach far beyond removing oil, dirt and makeup.
The Best Cleansing Bars
After years of staying out of the skin care spotlight, bars are slowly sneaking back in. These new breed of bars—some contain very little soap, others have none at all—are just as skin-friendly and luxurious as their liquid counterparts. They also offer more skin-friendly pH levels in addition to nutrient-rich, highly moisturizing ingredients, such as glycerin and essential oils. Extra points for being a greener choice than liquid soaps because the packaging materials—primarily paper and cardboard—break down more easily in landfills than plastic packaging.
Ready to give bars a chance? Check out DermStore’s favorites below.
Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar, which contains mud from the Dead Sea, is purported to accomplish a host of skin care objectives, such as exfoliating, improving blood circulation and fighting acne. Charcoal reduces oiliness to prevent blocking pores that can cause breakouts.
Phytomer’s Seaweed Soap is a 100% natural cleanser that acts as a massage glove, gently exfoliating built-up debris while relaxing the skin and body. Formulated with natural marine extracts that fill the bath with an invigorating aroma, it gently removes dead cells and helps make the skin supple. Can be used on a daily basis.
PCA Skin Pigment Bar rids your skin of dirt and debris as it controls breakouts and diminishes dark spots with exfoliating kojic, azelaic and tannic acids. Aloe vera, witch hazel and rosewood extracts calm inflammation for a glowing complexion.
First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Body Bar features red clay to absorb pore-clogging impurities and banish excess oil without irritating or drying out your skin. Rosemary leaf oil provides astringent properties to control body breakouts and tone skin, while glycerin ensures your body stays properly hydrated. Ideal for oily and acne-prone skin.
Drunk Elephant JuJu Bar gently cleanses your complexion to minimize pores, hydrate and dissolve dead skin cells. Fragrance-, paraben- and toluene-free, this multitasking bar utilizes the healing powers of mud and bamboo to remove excess oil and preserve your skin’s natural essential oils. Safe to use for even the most sensitive skin—your face appears brighter and more youthful.
The Cures by Avance Algae Loofah Bar works to renew the skin by cleansing, moisturizing and exfoliating. The seaweed-based formulation also purifies and nourishes, allowing the skin to become ultra healthy and fresh. Dead skin cells are removed, dry patches are hydrated and the body glows with renewed smoothness and clarity.
Triumph and Disaster Shearer’s Soap is formulated with a translucent palm kernel oil base that conditions and cleanses your skin at the same time for a soft and refreshed feel. Glycerin delivers cooling, lightweight hydration, while poppy seeds slough off dead skin to stimulate new cell growth and promote a smooth and supple texture.
ARCONA Raspberry Clarifying Bar uses raspberry extracts to calm irritated skin and reduce inflammation and salicylic acid to clear skin and prevent future breakouts. This cleanser smooths away skin impurities and gently exfoliates acne lesions to reveal clear, radiant skin.
Herbivore Botanicals Bamboo Charcoal Deep Cleanse Detoxifying Soap Bar features activated bamboo charcoal to draw out impurities and toxins from deep within your pores, delivering a thoroughly refreshing cleanse. Works especially well to clean and care for oily, combination and blemish-prone skin types.
This gentle bar soap from Noodle and Boo is formulated for extra-sensitive skin. With a base of 100% pure vegetable oil, it’s free of drying, irritating detergents and surfactants to keep your baby’s skin clean but comfortable. Oatmeal and aloe provide ultra-soothing hydration, making it a relieving treatment for diaper rash and other skin irritations. Formulated hypoallergenic and tested by dermatologists and pediatricians.
100% Pure Butter Soap features an emollient triple-milled formula that infuses your skin with antioxidant-rich moisture as it removes dirt, excess oil and other pollutants from your skin. Coconut and grapeseed oils defend against environmental damage. Avocado and shea butters promote elasticity, while rosehip oil brightens your complexion with intense doses of vitamins C and E.
12. DHC Mild Soap
DHC Mild Soap conditions, cleanses and refreshes the skin using an emollient-rich lather that thoroughly removes dirt, grime and oil, without stripping skin of its natural moisture. Clear and simple, it’s free of unnecessary colors and fragrances, and works great on the body, as wall as the face.