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It might be time to switch (back) to bar soap. A rise in soap demand due to the coronavirus pandemic has lead people to pick up bar soap again when the liquid stuff is out of stock. But some have started to realize that perhaps the best bar soaps should become a go-to even post-pandemic, with a ton of nourishing, refreshing ingredients packed into palm-sized packs for the bath or shower.
Love for bar soap (and distaste for shower gel) is nothing new. Health and eco-conscious consumers have been extolling the benefits of bar soap for a while now, citing better ingredients and much less packaging waste. And they might be on to something.
Bar Soap vs. Liquid Soap
The claim that bar soap uses healthier ingredients is backed by science: preservatives and parabens are typically required to create a shelf-able liquid soap. Parabens have been widely used in cosmetics since the Fifties, but numerous studies are now finding that some parabens could be linked to skin problems, reproductive issues and even breast cancer. What’s more, liquid soaps normally use chemical emulsifying agents and stabilizers to create that silky, liquid texture. Bar soaps, on the other hand, typically use far fewer ingredients in total. They’ll use raw, natural ingredients, including plant oils to maintain their structure instead of chemicals.
In terms of environmental friendliness, bar soaps are the clear winner. While liquid soaps require a large plastic pump container, bar soaps normally use minimal packaging. This means less waste and no annoying empty containers in the shower. Plus, the best bar soaps usually last much longer than a container of liquid soap.
So, with these benefits in mind, why did bar soap see a decline? The prime suspect is a common misconception that bar soaps hold bacteria. However, studies have found that bar soaps are antibacterial as well as antiviral.
What to Look For When Buying Bar Soap
Before making the switch, check out our tips below for finding the best bar soaps.
Skin Type: If you have dry or oily skin, opt for a soap with extra moisturizing powers. If you have normal or combination skin, go for something down the middle that won’t over-moisturize. Our roundup includes soap for all skin types, so be sure to check which soap works with your skin type.
Ingredients: Always pick soaps that rely on plant-based ingredients instead of harsh chemicals. A good formula might things like glycerine or nut butter for moisture and essential oils for scent. Avoid harsh antibacterials such as triclosan or artificial fragrances.
Scent: Some soaps contain a light scent, which can be a great confidence-booster when you hop out of the shower in the morning. Of course, not everyone wants a scented soap, so always be sure to check whether a soap is scented or not.
What Are the Best Bar Soaps for Men?
If you’re looking to reap the health and environmental benefits of bar soap, read on. We’ve rounded up six high-end bar soaps for men that are likely to replace that pump for good.
1. Kiehl’s Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap
Kiehl’s full name is actually Kiehl’s Since 1851, referring to the date that their first pharmacy was opened in Manhattan. Kiehl’s is (rightly) proud of their longstanding expertise, and it makes sense that the old brand would make one of the best bars of soap around.
The Kiehl’s Ultimate Man scrub soap offers a deep, full-body exfoliant with natural ingredients including bran and oatmeal. This strips away oil and dead, dry skin (you’d be surprised how much we all have) leaving your whole body smoother and cleaner. But, thanks to glycerin, the soap also moisturizes, making it good for both oily and dry skin types. Plus, the soap boasts a light, refreshing scent.
2. Duke Cannon Big Brick of Soap Set
Not sure what kind of scent you want from a bar soap? Check out this Big Brick soap set from Duke Cannon. You get three different bars that each feature a unique, masculine scent inspired by the great outdoors: campfire, leaf and leather and fresh cut pine. And, as the ‘Big Brick’ name suggests, each bar of soap is very large – three times bigger than normal bars, to be exact – which means less waste. Add the fact that these soaps are triple-milled (a condensing process) to their large size and you’ve got a bar that should last very long.
Duke Cannon also uses an unconventional product testing method. They send samples to the soldiers at Fort Ripley in Minnesota and make sure that their products hold up in the field before releasing them to the public.
3. Ursa Major Natural Bar Soap
Ursa Major is a relatively new skincare brand that has been making waves with their all-natural products. This premium bar of unisex soap is one of Ursa Major’s best-sellers, delivering moisture, exfoliating powers and an invigorating scent with plant-derived ingredients. Moisture comes from creamy shea butter, but exfoliation comes from a less obvious ingredient: volcanic rock. Ursa Major also makes ample use of peppermint extract which provides a crisp feel and energizing aroma. In short, this bar of soap is a great place to start your day.
4. Bravo Sierra Hair & Body Solid Cleanser
If a soap works for active-duty soldiers, it’s certainly good enough for civilian use. That’s why Bravo Sierra (like Duke Cannon) sends their soap to military bases for hardcore testing among soldiers. This bar soap passed the test, and uses a minimal, natural formula to make it one of the best. Shea butter and oat kernel flour lead the moisturizing, whole-body soap while a bit of coconut cleanses. It also features a nice woody scent thanks to white vetiver and cedarwood. These straightforward, natural ingredients make the soap suitable for both hair and skin.
5. Dr. Squatch Men’s Cedar Citrus Soap
Tasteful yet masculine soaps aren’t easy to come by, making this Dr. Squatch bar soap a great find. The soap’s showstopper is a scent of cedarwood, citrus and rosemary which is engineered for guys, although it’s good enough to be unisex. We also love the ingredients list on Dr. Squatch’s soap because it’s incredibly short (just ten ingredients) and only features raw, natural stuff that you’ll actually recognize without a chemistry degree. The soap is formulated to exfoliate and hydrate in equal measure, making it good for just about any skin type.
6. Diptyque Eau des Sens Soap
If you want to treat your skin, try this Eau des Sens bar soap from Diptyque. The French brand is famous for their ultra-premium scents (in both skincare and candles), and this Eau de Sens exemplifies Diptyque’s expertise. Plant-based ingredients including sweet almond oil and moisturizing glycerine make up the soaps chemical-free formula. It’ll clean and moisturize better than most, but the scent of bitter orange, spice and wood is what makes the soap stand out. And even though Diptyque is proud of their scent, the smell is subtle and unobtrusive with, say, cologne.