Think of the most consequential debates in history: Kennedy vs Nixon, Gore Vidal vs William Buckley, the Socratic dialogues themselves, upon which so much of modern critical thought is based. These pale in comparison to the monumental rift that is body wash vs bar soap. Body wash is more convenient and is often less drying to the skin; bar soap is more environmentally friendly and doesn’t need preservatives. And so the debate rages on. If you prefer a bar or you’re looking to convert, there are loads of bar soaps out there that don’t dry out the skin like some beauty bars do. Traditional bar soaps made by independent producers have become increasingly popular for their natural ingredients and unique scents, as well.
One thing to know about bar soap is that not all of it is actually soap. In order to be considered soap, it must be composed of alkali salts of fatty acids. Glycerin is a natural byproduct of traditional soap, but many manufacturers remove glycerin to use in more expensive products. That’s why a lot of the bar soaps you see at the drugstore are marketed as “beauty bars,” they’re not technically soap, they’re a detergent, and the FDA requires that the products be classified differently.
This is part of the reason why independent soap makers have become so popular; it’s not just the price tag and hip packaging. Many smaller labels use traditional “cold-pressing” methods that result in soap with glycerin. The benefits of glycerin soap are that it actually moisturizes the skin and can help with acne and signs of aging. For what it’s worth, body wash is also a detergent. If you’re looking for traditional bar soap, consider these all-natural exfoliating body scrub bars.
1. MARLOWE. No. 102 Men’s Body Scrub Soap
This scrub bar is made with passionflower fruit, green tea, and willow bark extract. It has pumice for exfoliation, and it has natural glycerin. It has a masculine fragrance composed of agarwood, sandalwood, and musk. It’s an effective if initially rough exfoliant.
Pros: Bar is large and lasts a long time, effective exfoliant, natural ingredients.
Cons: Exfoliant can be too rough for some.
2. Dr. Squatch Deep Sea Goat’s Milk Soap
This exfoliating bar has an earthy scent and is free from SLS and SLES, which are harsh chemicals which can irritate the skin. It also features an exfoliant. The bar is available in a variety of other earthy fragrances like cedar citrus and pine tar.
Pros: Recommended by reviewers with sensitive skin, bar lathers well.
Cons: Some found that the bar didn’t last long enough.
3. The Yellow Bird Dead Sea Mud Bar
This bar soap is made using traditional cold-pressing methods and has exfoliating pumice. It’s made with dead sea mud, which can reduce psoriasis and skin impurities. It also has invigorating charcoal. The bar is also formulated to help with acne, and it’s designed as a unisex option.
Pros: Reviewers found that it helped with acne. The bar contains no parabens, sulfates, or synthetic dyes or fragrances.
Cons: Some felt that it dried their skin out.