Want to find the best soap for your bath and shower? Bar soaps have a reputation for being more drying and harsh on the skin, but this isn't the case if you get the right one! You can find bar soaps to moisturize, hydrate, control acne, exfoliate, and nourish aging skin. And, depending on how they're made, they can even last longer while sitting on your shower caddy.
We took all this into consideration when we chose 10 great bar soaps for you to try. Our favorite is Dr. Bronner's, because it comes in a variety of formulas all with simple ingredients, and works for a variety of skin types. Check out the rest of our list, and make sure not to skip the buying guide, reviewed by a board certified dermatologist, because choosing a bar soap will be a lot easier with our advice!
Dr. Levy is a board certified dermatologist practicing in NYC and Westport, Connecticut. She has expertise in treating inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. She has an interest in skincare and takes a personalized approach to all of her patients.
mybest US' editing team consists of experienced members who have backgrounds in writing, editing, translation, and more. We are dedicated to researching what makes a product or service the best to users in the US in order to create top-quality articles. From skincare, to kitchen appliances, and to DIY supplies, our mission is to find the best ones for you.
The expert oversees the Buying Guide only, and does not determine the products and services featured.
Table of Contents
Skin types vary from person to person, so it makes sense that there are a bunch of different types of soap as well! Keep these next few points in mind when soap shopping, and you’re sure to find one that you and your skin will love.
It’s often best to look for a soap that’s transparent. These soaps contain a high percentage of glycerin, a humectant, which will cleanse your skin without removing too much of its natural oil. Glycerin is made from plant oils and works well for almost all skin types and conditions, including dry skin, eczema, and acne.
At the same time, it's non-greasy, so it's good for oily skin, too! It may even provide anti-aging effects. All these great properties make it a common ingredient in bar soap. One drawback, however, is that it can dissolve more quickly, so make sure to keep your soap dry when not in use.
Oleic acid, a fatty acid with a profile very similar to that of your skin’s natural oils, is another good ingredient to replace the moisture taken away by the cleansers in the soap. Many plant oils and animal fats are high in oleic acid. In bar soaps, the common ones you'll see are plant oils like olive and sunflower.
Soap requires liquid as an ingredient, and this is usually water. However, cow's milk or goat's milk can be used instead. These contain fats that are good humectants to seal in moisture.
Those with oily and combination skin types can be less picky about choosing a bar soap because you likely won't have to worry about over-drying your skin (unless it's oily because it's dehydrated, of course).
Bar soaps contain fatty acids, which are mild surfactants good at washing off sebum. These can come from ingredients such as palm oil, tallow, coconut oil, or cocoa butter. On the product label, you're most likely to see palmitic acid and lauric acid. Lauric acid can be more drying.
Charcoal can absorb oils, but there's evidence that it takes a long time to do this. It's unlikely you want to leave your soap lather for several hours while the charcoal binds to the oil and dirt on your skin! So, there doesn't seem to be any benefit from using it. It's not harmful, however, so if you find your skin feels better after using it, stick with it.
If you have acne on your chest or back, look for a bar with salicylic acid or charcoal. These both can reduce sebum and oil production and unclog the pores. Make sure you leave on the soap for a few minutes before rinsing it off so that the ingredients have time to work.
At its most basic, all bar soap needs to contain are animal fats or vegetable oils, water, and lye (sodium hydroxide). After this, things are added to change the color, provide a scent, or give other benefits. If you have sensitive skin, you may want to stick with the simplest formula possible, but there are some extras that can be good for you.
Ingredients that can help soothe your skin include oatmeal, which reduces inflammation, calms itching, and acts as an emollient to help dry skin. Aloe vera can help with eczema, psoriasis, and rashes. Tea tree oil has also been shown to be effective for eczema treatment.
For those with sensitive skin prone to irritation, try to choose something that doesn’t contain any artificial fragrances or unnecessary additives. Some medicated soaps have antibacterial ingredients, which can be irritating for sensitive skin. Unlike liquid soap, bar soap doesn't inherently need antimicrobial agents or preservatives.
Some other things to avoid are sulfates like sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). Sulfates are used to get more lather or prevent soap scum buildup, but they can also irritate sensitive skin.
Exfoliant bar soap is a good choice for removing calluses and dead skin on areas like your heels. Look for pumice or sand (silica). Coffee granules, clay, sea salt, oatmeal, loofah, or even cornmeal can also provide exfoliation.
Tea tree oil is a great addition to your soap if you suffer from a condition called tinea versicolor. This is a very common condition that results in a pink or white scaly rash on the chest and back. It's caused by an overgrowth of the yeast that normally lives on the skin. This yeast multiplies in warm and humid weather and can cause the rash.
Tea tree oil can be used to help reduce the amount of yeast on the skin and prevent tinea versicolor from occurring or even treat the active rash. Since this condition is often chronic and recurring, adding a tea tree oil soap a few times a week can be helpful.
The most common method of soapmaking is cold process saponification. Here, it’s easy to control what kind of soap pops out, just by changing what kind of oils you use; coconut oil, for example, will give you a bar that produces mountains of foam, and adding in shea butter will give you something hydrating.
Hot process saponification is the same but uses heat to speed up the process, and the resulting soap might have a different texture. Saponified soap is often superfatted, which means it has extra oils compared to the lye. This makes them a good choice to hydrate and moisturize skin.
Milling takes a pre-made soap and then remakes it by grating, melting, and adding color or scent to it before re-molding it, sometimes up to three times! These may be called French milled or triple milled. Because these soaps are processed more, they have less water and air in them, so tend to be harder and last longer.
Milled soaps have a smooth consistency and even distribution of ingredients and fragrances. The extra processing also ensures no lye is left over, making milled soap a safer choice for those with sensitive skin. Finally, they tend to produce more lather, which you may prefer.
You might want to look for certain aromas in your bar soap. Aside from fragrances, essential oils can provide a scent you'll enjoy.
Lavender is known to be relaxing and may be a good choice if you take a shower or bath before bedtime. Peppermint oil can help with headaches. Citrus oils are often considered mood boosters. These could be a good choice if you shower in the morning, or for the winter when you need some perking up.
Click to purchase
Cuticura Medicated Anti-Bacterial Soap
Best Bar Soap for Sensitive Skin Recommended by a Dermatologist
Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Bar Soap
Best Natural Soaps for All Skin Types
Pre de Provence
Pre de Provence Sandalwood Shea Butter Soap
Best Long-Lasting Bar in Over 40 Varieties
Legend's Creek Farm
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Daily Bar Soap
Best Goat Milk Soap That Soothes Skin Irritations
Basis Sensitive Skin Bar (6-Pack)
Best for Masculine Scents That Aren't Overpowering
365 Vegetable Glycerin Soap (Lavender)
Best Mild Glycerin Soap With a Variety of Scents
Baxter of California Men’s Body Bar
Best Exfoliating Soap for Acne or Keratosis Pilaris
Shea Moisture African Black Soap
Best Moisturizing Soap for Aging Skin
A Wild Soap Bar
A Wild Soap Bar Yucca Root Shampoo & Body Bar
Best Body and Shampoo Bar With Tea Tree Oil
Aspen Kay Naturals
Aspen Kay Naturals Dead Sea Mud Bar
Best Charcoal Soap That Provides Extra Minerals
Dove is a brand familiar to many, and this bar soap is a mild choice for sensitive skin or facial use. It claims to be made up of one-fourth moisturizing cream, and it's hypoallergenic and fragrance-free.
"I've been using the Dove beauty bar soap for over 20 years," Dr. Levy says. It's gentle, sensitive, and effective at leaving the skin feeling smooth, clean, and hydrated. The fragrance is minimal. I recommend the sensitive skin bar for those with eczema or atopic dermatitis."
Throughout its decades-long history, Dr. Bronner’s soaps have developed a kind of cult following for their superior quality and wide range of uses. The hemp-oil-based bar soaps are no different.
Even the Baby-Mild version was too harsh for some reviewers' faces, but for use on the body, most reviewers say it's non-drying and non-irritating. Other uses for these bars include things like homemade laundry soap.
This soap from Pre de Provence is quadruple milled and comes in a huge variety of formulas, all enriched with shea butter. The milling process makes for bars that are uniform in consistency and last longer.
This goat milk soap comes in a variety of formulas, like Oatmeal and Honey, Pear Cider, and Coffee Scrub. They all offer the benefits of goat's milk: lactic acid for gentle exfoliation, and fatty acids for moisturizing. This pine tar bar also soothes itchiness from conditions like eczema or bug bites.
Reviewers caution it can get gooey and leave black flakes, so make sure to let it dry between uses and keep it out of the shower spray. Users find it works wonders on itchy skin and isn't too harsh for sensitive skin, either.
Dr. Squatch makes a variety of natural soaps, with interesting scents like Pine Tar, Spearmint Basil, Grapefruit IPA, and Cool Fresh Aloe. This one has few ingredients, making it a good choice for mildly sensitive or normal skin.
Reviewers do mention it needs to be kept out of the shower spray or it'll dissolve quickly, and some wished it lasted longer in general. But they love how it lathers well and makes their skin feel soft.
Glycerin soaps are great for dry skin as well as oily, and this variety pack is great for those who like to switch things up a lot! You get 24 different scents, like lavender, pineapple, spring rain, and sandalwood.
Reviewers mention that the oatmeal variety is gently exfoliating. They also like how the soaps are not drying and don't leave behind any film.
This bar has apricot pieces for physical exfoliation, but the star ingredient is salicylic acid, which breaks down dead skin, clears pores, and helps address acne. It may be a bit harsh for your face, but if you suffer from body acne, you should give it a try.
Reviewers wish the bars were bigger, but those with KP say it helped smooth their skin a lot. They also found it cleared up acne on their back or shoulders.
This soap’s ingredient list includes shea butter, olive oil, and avocado. These make it a wonderful choice for dry skin. Green tea and vitamin E add benefits for aging skincare.
This little bar of soap is super versatile. Formulated to be gentle yet cleansing on everything from your hair to your face to your body, it is ideal for anyone who likes a no-fuss shower routine. It's enhanced with tea tree oil, a natural deodorant and antiseptic, as well as other botanicals.
This soap from Aspen Kay Naturals is handmade and contains only natural ingredients. It is suitable for all skin types and is scented with essential oils. The key ingredient is mud from the Dead Sea, which is meant to exfoliate, draw out impurities, and hydrate.
Still have questions about bar soaps that haven't been answered? Dr. Levy is here to answer some commonly asked ones on the Internet!
"Bar soaps that are meant for the body often have fragrances that could be very harsh or irritating for the gentle facial skin," Dr. Levy says. "Additionally, bar soaps for the body may also be more abrasive than soaps for the face.
There are bar soaps that are made for the face, like sulfur bar soap or charcoal bar soap that can be used for patients with rosacea or acne, respectively. These are safe for the face. Nothing permanent will occur if you have to use bar soap for your face in a pinch, but your skin may become dry or irritated. Make sure you wash it off well and use a gentle facial moisturizer after."
Dr. Levy says, "Both bar soaps and body washes can clean the body of dirt and bacteria effectively. However, bar soaps usually have fewer ingredients than body washes or shower gels. They are less likely to contain preservatives or fragrances, thus are great for those with sensitive skins.
Some shower washes or gels can be drying for those with sensitive skin or eczema, so using a hydrating bar may be a better option. Additionally, bar soaps usually last longer than body washes or shower gels, making them better for the environment since less plastic is involved."
"Store the bar soap that you are currently using on a dish with slits at the bottom so that water can drain from it," Dr. Levy recommends. "Keep it away from the bath faucet or showerhead so that it can remain as dry as possible. For bar soap that is not in use or for travel, you can store it in a closed container or a plastic waterproof pouch."
Make your shower or bath time better with the right items. Here are some products to improve your daily routine.
Not sure you've found the right product for you yet? Take a look at what Amazon buyers like for bath soaps.
No. 1: Dove｜Cuticura Medicated Anti-Bacterial Soap
No. 2: Dr. Bronner’s｜Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Bar Soap
No. 3: Pre de Provence｜Pre de Provence Sandalwood Shea Butter Soap
No. 4: Legend's Creek Farm｜Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Daily Bar Soap
No. 5: Dr. Squatch｜Basis Sensitive Skin Bar (6-Pack)
View Full Ranking
The descriptions of each product are referenced from content available on manufacturer, brand, and e-commerce sites.
AppsBusiness apps, Cooking apps, Dating apps
Home goodsBath supplies, Ceremonial occasion supplies, Cleaning supplies
Home electronicsAir conditioners and coolers, AV accessories, Blenders and food processors
PCComputer supplies, Desktop computers, Tablets
CameraCamera bags and backpacks, Camera supplies, Digital single lens cameras
BeautyBlushes, Bronzers, Cleansers
HealthBody care products, Health accessories, Health foods and supplements
Food and drinksAlcohol, Breads and jams, Cocktails and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages
KitchenCoffee and tea products, Cooking utensils, Cups
FashionFootwear products, Men's shoes, Sandals
AccessoriesWristwatches, Accessories and jewelry, Umbrellas and parasols
Kids and babyBaby carriers, Baby food, Baby formula
InteriorBeds, Beds and bedding, Chairs
HobbiesAromatherapy products, Art supplies, Arts and collectibles
OutdoorBarbecue grills and fire pits, Camping beds and cots, Camping gear
Home, garden, and toolsAgricultural materials and gardening supplies, Exterior and garden furniture, Materials and repairing agents
Sports and fitnessSports shoes, Surfing supplies, Badminton supplies
PetsBird and small animal supplies, Cat supplies, Dog supplies
MediaBooks and magazines, CD, Children's books, picture books and illustrated encyclopedias
GamesGaming accessories, Nintendo Switch games, PC games
AutomotiveCar accessories, Car navigation systems
GiftsChristmas gifts, Father's Day gifts, Gifts for children
Mobile devicesMobile phone and smartphone accessories, Wearable devices and smart watches