There's something to be said for ditching the loofah and body wash, and returning to a good old-fashioned bar soap. These days you no longer have to choose from just commercial bar soaps that leave skin feeling dry, tight, and residue-y. The best bar soap for men are more natural leaning today, forgoing harsh chemicals in favor of plant-based ingredients and artisanal processes like the cold-process method.
But how do you find the right bar soap for you? At first glance, a bar of soap might seem like the simplest item to buy, but to find a truly non-drying one, it pays to look at the ingredient label. What you want to see: glycerin. Glycerin is a humectant which means it naturally attracts water to itself. The best soaps will have more glycerin, and therefore will feel more moisturizing. Lesser quality soaps, like many mass-produced soaps, strip out the glycerin and use it for other cosmetic products, thus leading to the dryness so often associated with the cleansing bars.
It's also important to consider your skin type. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you'll want a soap that's free of parabens, phthalates, or synthetic fragrances that may be irritating. It's also a good idea to look for one that contains hydrating plant oils (think olive oil, coconut oil, argan oil, and shea butter) that can nourish and repair the skin barrier. For oily, acne-prone skin, look for soaps that contain activated charcoal, a detoxifying ingredient that may draw out oils and debris from your skin.
With all that in mind, it's time to shop soaps. All of the bars below are highly rated on Amazon, and some even have thousands of positive customer reviews.
1. The Best Overall: A Natural Bar Soap With A Cult Following
Dr. Squatch Pine Tar Soap has amassed more than 2,000 reviews on Amazon — with the majority of them being five stars — and it's easy to see why. It's handcrafted in the United States using an all-natural, cold-process method that leaves skin feeling moisturized and clean (no oily residue). Featuring pure pine extract for a fresh woodsy scent, and oatmeal and sand for exfoliation, this chemical-free soap gets a good lather and sloughs off dead skin to reveal softer skin underneath. Plus, it's made with natural glycerin so it doesn't have a drying effect.
There is one caveat: many reviewers mentioned that the bar doesn't last that long, so if you're on a budget, this might not be the soap for you.
Fans say: "One of the best natural soaps I’ve used! The smell is amazing. Most natural soaps either smell like some form of women’s perfume, or have no smell at all. I get out of the shower now with a hint of true nature. I also love this soap does not leave my skin feeling dry or itchy. This is so important, especially since the weather is starting to get colder."
2. The Best Bar Soap For Face
Many bar soaps can have a drying effect, especially if used on the face, but Cetaphil's cleansing bar has a non-irritating, hypoallergenic formula that's perfect for all skin types. Plus, it's non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog pores. The mild soap is actually soap-free, which might seem confusing, but instead of using harsh detergents it uses gentle ingredients to cleanse the skin. While it's great for use on the face, it also can be used for an all-over body bar. Plus, it's formulated with glycerin to maintain the skin's natural moisture barrier, without stripping away natural protective oils or emollients.
Fans say: "This soap is the only one I can use with my sensitive skin and acne. I have tried countless soaps and creams and they all leave my face too dry, too itchy, too oily, etc. This soap cleans great and doesn't have leftover residue or smell."
3. The Best Exfoliating Bar Soap
With an impressive 4.6-star Amazon rating and more than 700 customer reviews, Marlowe's body scrub soap is another fan favorite. The glycerin-based bar is lightly scented with agarwood, sandalwood, and musk for an energizing, masculine scent, and expertly exfoliates away grit, grime, and dry skin. Yet, because of the proprietary Marlowe M Blend — which includes four key extracts to nourish the skin — it leaves skin feeling soft and moisturized.
Plus, not only is the soap paraben-free, phthalate-free, cruelty-free, and made in the U.S., the company is also dedicated to the social good. For every item purchased, soap is distributed to people at risk for hygiene-related illnesses in partnership with Clean the World.
Fans say: "I have probably tried about 10 different exfoliating soaps and this is the best by far. If you sweat a lot like I do, you need a soap that's going to lather well and scrub off the caked on dirt. Other brands I've tried just couldn't get the caked on dirt washed off. If you want a real effective exfoliating soap, I would give this a try."
4. The Best Soap For Body Acne
If you're dealing with body acne, you need The Healing Tree's Bamboo Charcoal Soap. It's an all-natural, detoxifying bar that contains only four ingredients: vegetable oil, water, glycerin, and bamboo charcoal. The simple yet powerful formula draws out dirt, toxins, and dead skin cells, making it ideal for anyone with oily or problematic skin. The hypoallergenic soap contains no chemicals, preservatives, or fragrances so it's gentle enough for those with psoriasis and eczema, and can even be used on the face. Plus, this deep cleaning, acne-busting soap leaves no residue behind.
There is also a vegan option of this soap that has a few more soothing ingredients, like Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, and Tea Tree Oil.
Fans say: "I wanted to try this soap as I have heard great things about it. Started using it a few weeks ago and after maybe 4-7 days the top of my back and back of my neck have cleared up tremendously. The soap does not leave a smell after, but during use you can smell something like a smokey (charcoal) smell, which I guess is to be expected since it is the ingredient."
5. The Best Bar Soap For Hair — & Anyone With Dry, Sensitive Skin
Whether you're looking for a bar soap that you can use on your hair, or you have sensitive skin and need a gentle, non-drying option, look no further than Noble Formula's Argan Oil Bar Soap, a cleansing bar created by a doctor for those with challenging skin conditions (i.e. dandruff, psoriasis, eczema, acne, or dry and sensitive skin). It's made with 2 percent pyrithione zinc (ZnP), a form of zinc with antifungal and antibacterial properties, that may also reduce hair loss, according to the brand. The handcrafted, natural soap features antioxidant-rich olive oil, moisturizing and penetrating emu oil, and calming and exfoliating milled oats for deep nourishment.
Fans say: "I have seborrheic dermatitis and rosacea. This soap arrived at the time of a painful flare-up. After a couple of days, my face was not as irritated and inflamed."
6. The Best Smelling Bar Soap
If you want a soap that's going to smell good in and out of the shower, you can't go wrong with Aspen Kay Natural's Dead Sea Mud & Charcoal Soap. With a 4.5-star rating on Amazon and more than 2,000 reviews, this artisan soap is on the pricey side, but it's earned some diehard fans. For starters, it has a fresh, natural scent derived from three essential oils: lemongrass, peppermint, and eucalyptus. The chemical-free soap is made with 100 percent pure dead sea mineral mud from Israel, activated charcoal, and tons of certified organic oils for deep hydration, like extra virgin oil oil, sunflower oil, sustainable palm oil, and castor bean oil. Plus, it's cruelty-free and vegan.
Fans say: "Let me say the bar is pretty thick and solid. Good quality and it smells great. I use it to wash my face and my arms. And I notIced quite a difference. My acne has almost cleared up. My arms are looking less scaly."
Mic may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Mic's editorial and sales departments.