The 5 Best Bar Soaps For Your Face

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By C Mandler
Originally Published: 

When I think of face wash, I usually think of gels, foams, gel-to-foams, and all the other various types of cleansers that come with plastic dispensers that never let me get the last bit of product out from the bottom. Luckily, there's a great, all too underrated face washing alternative out there: bar soap. Switching to one of the best bar soaps for your face is appealing for a few reasons: they're environmentally-friendly (goodbye, unnecessary plastic bottle), typically much more affordable, and safe to bring on airplanes without worrying about strict TSA liquid guidelines. Plus, they're just as effective — so what's not to love?

The main concern one might have when deciding whether or not to make the shift from liquid cleanser to bar soap are the ingredients. Washing our hands with soap often leaves them dry, so the concern that this principle applies to your face as well is totally valid. That's why it's important to be super ingredient-conscious when deciding which facial bar soap is right for you.

In a hurry? These are the best bar soaps for your face.

1. The Best For Most People: Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar

2. The Best For Acne-Prone Skin: Shea Moisture African Black Soap

3. The Best For Dry Skin: Ethique Bliss Bar

4. The Best For Sensitive Skin: Herbivore Botanicals Pink Clay Soap Bar

5. The Best For Oily Skin: Herbivore Botanicals Blue Clay Soap Bar

Just like any other cleanser, different ingredients work best to address different skin issues. The same way you wouldn't buy a cleanser with a high alcohol content if you have dry skin, don't purchase a facial soap that doesn't align with your skin concerns, either. Instead, pick a soap that's formulated with a non-comedogenic oil base to ensure that cleansing won't clog your pores or leave your skin with a severe lack of moisture.

As long as you listen to your skin and pick a bar soap that addresses your specific concerns, you'll replace your old cleanser with one of these babies and never look back.


The All-Around Best Facial Bar Soap For Most

This bar soap by Cetaphil is a classic go-to for all skin types, though it's advertised as being formulated specifically for folks with dry or sensitive skin. The bar itself is actually soap-free, but for most people, that's a plus, because it's far less likely to dry out your skin — and who wants that? However, if you're someone prone to bacterial acne, you might prefer an anti-bacterial formula, which isn't this. This soap cleans primarily with stearic acid, which may sound a little intimidating, but is actually a naturally-derived amino acid that's useful in soaps due to its ability to lower the surface tension of oils. Oil isn't usually water-soluble, but the introduction of stearic acid allows oil and water to mix and be washed away off the surface of the skin, giving you a non-abrasive deep clean.

One reviewer wrote, "Cetaphil is just great with all of its products, but this soap is awesome. My skin is sensitive and I have Eczema so finding a good soap that won't dry my skin is extremely important for me. I'm glad I purchased this one. It smells great and it leaves your skin feeling great."

Another commented, "Love it! It’s the only beauty bar that I have found that works for my sensitive combination skin! It doesn’t dry my face out or make me have breakouts like some other beauty bars!"


The Best Bar Soap For Acne-Prone Skin

There is a lot to love about Shea Moisture. They ethically source their miracle ingredient, shea butter, from women's cooperatives in Ghana, where they use a Community Commerce model to create sustainable economies for local communities. Shea Moisture produces this cult-favorite African Black Soap, which is known to be a super effective treatment for irritated, acne-prone skin. African Black Soap is a mix of naturally-derived ingredients: tamarind extract, palm ash, tar, and plantain peel, to be exact, which work to curb excess oil production and are even effective at relieving the unsavory symptoms of eczema or psoriasis. This facial soap also includes vitamin E, oats, and aloe to provide soothing properties to troubled skin, so whether your primary issue is itchiness or breakouts, African Black Soap may be the perfect remedy for all these maladies and more. If you have extremely sensitive skin, this product might be a little too abrasive for you, and while the fragrance in this product is made from 100 percent natural essential oils, if you're someone who reacts poorly to scented products in general, you might want to opt for a fragrance-free bar soap.

Also, note the 6,000 (and counting) rave reviews on Amazon. One fan of the bar soap commented, "I just got this yesterday and I'm in the middle of fighting a HUGE cystic acne problem on my chin. Last night it was ugly and big and screaming at anyone who looked at my face. I used this soap right before I went to bed and this morning it was MUCH calmer."


The Best Bar Soap For Dry Skin

Ethique is an eco-conscious brand that makes a variety of products in bar-form, which last up to five times as long as their liquid counterparts and eliminates the need for plastic waste. As of today, they've saved the ocean and landfills from over 400,000 plastic bottles. The Bliss Cleansing Bar is great for dry skin types because it's made with coconut butter, Kaolin clay, and vegetable glycerin — a cruelty-free humectant — so it'll give your skin the cleaning it needs without stripping your protective barrier of moisture and hydration. It also doubles as a make-up remover, so you can eliminate drying wipes and toners from your beauty routine, too — and it does this while somehow being 100 percent soap-free!

"This facial cleanser is amazing! It removes all of my makeup at night, yet leaves my skin so soft instead of dry and tight," wrote one reviewer.

Another gushed, "I’ve gone through many different cleansing bars in an effort to try to use less plastic, and had assumed that there were none that would work and not dry out my face-until I found the Bliss bar."


The Best Bar Soap For Sensitive Skin

Herbivore Botanicals has been killing the beauty market recently with it's beautifully packaged, natural, and effective skin care products, and this bar soap — one of three, each formulated for a different skin issue — is no exception. This 100 percent vegan bar is specifically geared towards folks with drier, more sensitive skin, and it's formulated without harmful irritants like silicones, mineral oil, sodium lauryl sulfate, alcohol, parabens, and fragrances. Phew! The hero ingredients in this facial soap are French pink clay, which helps control sebum production and deeply cleans skin without undue dryness, and detoxifying, anti-inflammatory geranium and blood orange essential oils, which help balance, soothe, and repair skin. The base of this soap is coconut oil, which works as a moisturizing carrier for the aforementioned ingredients, and while some find coconut oil mildly comedogenic, the other ingredients are clarifying enough that this product shouldn't clog your pores. Additionally, this formula is so gentle that it's safe for use in both the morning and at night.

One fan commented, "I like they fact that I can use it on my face it [doesn't] not dry out my skin. Like not at all! I come out the shower refreshed a lot of body wash and soaps can strip the skin of its natural oils but this product definitely doesn't do that. Must purchase for anyone who is looking for a natural/organic Soap."

Another reviewer raved, "Wish I bought this sooner. I've used this glorious soap for only 5 days and my skin has never ever looked and felt this good . I'm 57 and my face feels baby bottom soft."


The Best Bar Soap For Oily Skin

I know, I know. It seems like it's cheating for me to include two products by the same brand, but believe me when I say that I wouldn't do this lightly — their stuff is really just that good. Unlike the pink clay bar, which is ideal for dry/sensitive skin types, the blue clay bar soap is perfect for folks with overactive sebaceous glands that result in excessive oil production throughout the day. Blue clay's forte is balancing and purifying skin without stripping it of too much moisture. Coupled with lavender and litsea oils, natural astringents that work overtime to unclog pores and rid skin of acne/oil-causing bacteria. Even so, to some particularly sensitive skin types, lavender can act as an irritating allergen in higher quantities. However, this soap uses a super reasonable concentration of lavender oil (it's relatively low on the ingredients list) and is diluted by the moisturizing coconut and olive oil carriers, so unless you're predisposed to a reaction, you should be totally in the clear.

According to one reviewer, "Love this product. For years I've been bouncing from face cleanser to foaming face cleanser, trying to find something that I actually wanted to buy again. The first use of this bar left my face feeling far cleaner and brighter than anything else I have had. It is extremely gentle, but you can feel the difference!"

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