When it comes bar soap, the good news is that there are tons of safe options, many of which smell delicious. The bad news is that most of these soaps are difficult to find, as they are produced by small manufacturers and not sold in most drug or grocery stores. Thank goodness for Dr. Bronner’s (see review below), which you can find almost anywhere. Dr. Bronner’s is great option, although it does score a 1 on Skin Deep. All other soaps below score a 0, or have not been reviewed by Skin Deep. The list below is by no means exhaustive. You can find many more safe soaps via a search on Skin Deep, although it always feels a little overwhelming to me.
Bar soaps were much easier for me to review than shampoos and other products; unless a soap really dries out my skin or smells offensive, I feel that it’s done its job!
My Top Pick for Best Bar SoapI know it’s not cheap, but the most luxe bar soaps I’ve ever tried are the ones by Farmaesthetics. And the bar lasts a really long time, making the cost-per-use low.
What’s Wrong With Conventional Bar Soap?
Depending on the brand, conventional bar soaps might contain any number of noxious chemicals, but two to look out for are:
-Fragrance. Unless the label specifies that it’s scented with essential oils, bar soap probably contains synthetic fragrance, which means it contains phthalates.
The Good Stuff
My favorite bar soaps are made by Tandi’s Naturals. Tandi uses local ingredients–including beef tallow, although she does offer vegan options as well. Tandi’s soaps contain no concerning ingredients, are scented with essential oils, and come in delicious flavors like Minty Cocoa Swirl and Lemony Cedar.
Where to Buy: Gimme the Good Stuff’s online store or local farmers’ markets in Lancaster, PA. Cost: About $6 a bar.
Soap for Goodness Sake makes tons of different formulas, most of which score a 0 on Skin Deep (a couple score a 1, due to ylang ylang oil, which carries some additive exposure concerns). Some of their soaps are organic.
Where to buy: Amazon. Cost: About $6 a bar.
This line of handmade soaps are crafted from food grade olive, palm, coconut, sweet almond and castor oils, natural clays, goat’s milk, honey, herbs, grains and natural pigments, and scented with only pure essential oils. They contain no synthetic ingredients, no phthalates, no chemicals of any kind. These soaps are hand poured in small batches, cut, and wrapped by hand.
Where to Buy: Gimme the Good Stuff’s online store. Cost: $7 a bar.
Pangea makes great bar soaps, and they smell delicious. Note that the Canadian Pine with White Sage soap scores a 2 on Skin Deep because it contains clove oil, which the EWG considers an immunotoxin (who knew?). Note: Pangea has added sodium benzoate to many of their products so we are no longer carrying this line in our store. Their soaps, however, do not contain the controversial preservative.
Where to buy: Amazon. Cost: $8 a bar.
Dr. Bronner’s is a great go-to soap because of its wide availability. All the varieties score a 1 on Skin Deep. The only ingredients of slight concern are tocopherol (Vitamin E) and citric acid, but I feel comfortable with both of them. The yummy scents include almond, lavender, rose, peppermint, tea tree, citrus orange, and eucalyptus.
Where to buy: Natural food stores as well as many mainstream grocery stores and pharmacies, plus Soap.com and Amazon. Cost: Around $5 a bar.
These bars are organic and handmade, which helps to explain the higher price point. I’m a sucker for the pretty packaging on these soaps, but more important is the short list of ingredients–they change their formulas seasonally, but I’ve never seen anything of concern in any of their soaps.
Where to Buy: Gimme the Good Stuff’s online store. Cost: $12 a bar.
Beautycounter’s soaps look pretty on your counter or in your shower, and feature safe ingredients like organic shea butter and an array of essential oils.
The Bad Stuff
Dial is not as bad as Lever, but does contain fragrance, and several other mildly concerning ingredients, such as PEG-12 and PEG-9.