Bar Soap Deserves Another Chance — Here’s Why
I have mixed feelings about bar soap. Using a bar in a hotel room bathroom will always make me feel warm and fuzzy because it reminds me of my grandma, but they're also slimy, slip all over the sink, can dry the hell out of skin, and I think they get covered in germs after you use them once.
As it turns out, my opinion is a pretty popular one. According to a 2016 data by research firm Mintel, bar soap sales were slipping, (quite literally) because millennials and women were in favor of liquids.
Fast forward to 2019, and it might be time to recycle cleanser bottles with all of those plastic straws because the OG facial wash is making a comeback. Re-thinking plastic is one of six global consumer trends that Mintel highlighted in its report this year.
Given that I now keep a metal straw in my bag because a ton of cafes don't have plastic ones anymore and try to use a reusable tote when I'm grocery shopping, I just might have to reconsider facial cleansing bar soaps because switching to one is a way I can make my beauty routine more eco-friendly, too.
But for me, giving bar soap another chance is dependent on whether or not they’re actually a breeding ground for germs. So, I turned to New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry for her opinion.
"This could not be farther from the truth," says Dr. Henry. "While some bacteria is in fact carried by some bars, they are barely detectable and pose no imminent threat to users."
In actuality, Dr. Henry says that there's a ton of benefits to using a bar. These solid facial cleansers tend to have fewer/no preservatives and a high concentration of benefits than liquid formulas. "Cleansers with more water require preservatives to stay fresh and effective. While not all preservatives are toxic, any option to avoid it altogether favors everyone including mother nature," she explains. "And with water drowning out some active ingredients in certain gels and liquid soaps, bar soaps sometimes offer better nourishing benefits to the skin."
As for those drying bars that I used in my childhood, Dr. Henry says that it's more about a cleanser's ingredients than its form. "Bar soaps with natural ingredients like plant oils and butter generally suit most skin types however, some bar soaps binders have an alkaline pH which does not pair very well with dry skin," she says.
While bar soaps cleanse skin just as well as any liquid, not all of them are great at removing makeup. Depending on the type of bar you're using, your makeup may just slide all over it. Instead, lather up the bar in your hands and then cleanse. "A highly moisturizing glycerin bar may not be the best to remove makeup," explains Dr. Henry. "If a bar soap must be part of the post-makeup routine (and you are concerned), it may be better to be preceded by thoroughly wiping makeup off with cleanser or micellar water."
Along with new-and-improved formulas, the bar soaps of today are also incredibly good-looking, and I can show you receipts.
Ahead, eight bars that'll convince you to give bar soap a second chance. Now all you'll need is a cute soap dish.
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Drunk Elephant Juju Bar
Thanks to a mix of virgin manula oil, heilmoor clay, and bamboo powder, this bar gently exfoliates and moisturizes skin as it's cleansing it. In other words, this is a bar soap that can actually streamline your morning skincare routine.
Joanna Vargas Ritual Bar
Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas has a thing for bar soaps, and it shows in the three options offered in her namesake product line. She tells me that the Ritual Bar is ideal for anyone looking to soothe and re-energize skin because it contains anti-inflammatory green tea, which can help minimize sun damage, as well as coffee, which can boost circulation.
Argentum Apothecary Le Savon Lune Illuminating Hydration Bar
It might look like an average bar soap, but this one from Argentum Apothecary holds some pretty unique, effective ingredients. It's formulated with DNA HP (a natural, marine-based hydrator) and patented silver hydrosol to hydrate and purify (making it great for those times you're dealing with breakouts) without drying out your skin.
Chanel Le Blanc Brightening Pearl Soap Makeup Remover-Cleanser
Leave it to Chanel to make an incredibly chic bar soap. This one is designed to remove makeup and cleanse skin.
Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Treatment Bar
Bar soaps can do more than simply wash your face. Fresh's doubles as a treatment mask for those times when your skin is in need of a deep detox.
Dove Beauty Bar
This drugstore bar soap is beloved by my grandma and dermatologists alike because it softly removes dirt, oil, and impurities without any irritation or stripping the skin of needed moisture.
Native Cucumber & Mint Bar Soap
Native's bar soap contains the clean ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil that Dr. Henry mentions. Plus, it has a fresh minty cucumber scent.
Herbivore Bamboo Charcoal Detoxifying Soap Bar
Blemish-prone skin types take note: Herbivore's bamboo bar has everything you're looking for in an acne-fighting cleanser. It's formulated bamboo charcoal, tea tree, and bergamot essential oils that work together to draw out impurities and balances oil production to prevent future breakouts.