Bar soap has gotten a bad rap over the years. It’s thought to be unhygienic and full of harsh ingredients that dry out your skin. While it’s true some bars probably aren’t best suited for the skin on your face, there’s a new wave of cleansing bars out there that may make you rethink your holy-grail cleanser. Not only are they made with gentle, nourishing ingredients that cleanse without stripping, they also last longer, cost less and are more eco-friendly (no plastic bottles or tubes to toss!) than facial cleansers of the liquid, gel, oil or balm variety.
Still, we know it’s hard to kick bar soap’s negative reputation. So we challenged two intrepid beauty editors to swap out their usual cleansers for bar soap for a week. Victoria V., whose skin is on the drier side, took Eau Thermale Avène Cold Cream Ultra-Rich Cleansing Bar out for a spin. Jana D., whose skin is more oily, tried Sisley-Paris Soapless Facial Cleansing Bar. Read on to see if bar soap managed to win their hearts—and a spot in their showers.
“The Cold Cream Ultra-Rich Cleansing Bar has a lightweight feel and suds up well enough for me to use with an exfoliating loofah pad. My skin feels really soft after washing without that typical residue that bar soap is known for. I’ve also noticed that my skin has softened a bit and my foundation applies more smoothly.” — Victoria
“So far, so good! The Soapless Facial Cleansing Bar is super gentle and nourishing. It doesn’t leave my skin feeling stripped, which is important to me.” — Jana
“I would classify [Cold Cream Ultra-Rich Cleansing Bar] as sensitive/dry skin-friendly—it hydrates without stripping or leaving a weird chalky feeling. It’s hard to explain, but I do feel this light layer of moisture after washing. Maybe it’s just the ‘protective film’ that the bar claims to deliver. Sometimes ‘film’ can have a negative connotation, but in this case I think it’s great for dry skin types. If I wash with the cleansing bar, my foundation goes on smoothly without settling into dry patches (yay!). It does a decent job of removing my foundation; I just needed a little extra help with taking off my mascara (I like to wear waterproof on the daily).” — Victoria
“I was honestly surprised at how comfortable and hydrated my skin felt after cleansing with the Sisley-Paris bar for a week. I will say that it wasn’t the best at removing makeup, so I started double-cleansing with another cleanser. I also wasn’t exactly sure how to store it. I didn’t want to just leave it out in the bathroom, but I also felt like I shouldn’t leave it in a completely closed container.” — Jana
“While I probably can’t completely switch out my face wash for this particular bar soap, I definitely prefer to use it for its skin-softening properties.” — Victoria
“I really liked how it made my skin feel clean without any dryness or tightness, but I think I’d need to invest in a soap dish that lets the bar drain while covering it up. Altogether, I liked the actual formula of the soap, but there are some logistics I’d have to work out.” — Jana
Illustrations by Christina Fung