The Best Bar Soaps for Every Skin Type

Our list offers options for folks with dry, flaky patches, acne, excess oil or sensitivities like eczema.


A humble bar of soap is perhaps the most important tool in your grooming regimen. Though often overlooked, soaps come in a staggering array of compositions, and packaging often touts a laundry-list of ingredients. Understanding the best soap to buy starts, first and foremost, by considering your skin type and analyzing the components of a soap to see what will suit your needs.

In technical terms, soap is a salt of a fatty acid. When vegetable or animal fats (triglycerides) are combined with an alkaline solution (e.g. lye), the triglycerides hydrolyze into soap. It seems complex, but soap production dates back thousands of years. The early processes for making soap combined boiled fats with ashes. Soap making became more complex as civilizations grew, and by the middle of the 15th-century, soap making was semi-industrialized in France. The post-Industrialization 19th-century saw the growth of the soap industry, but the next major innovation happened in 1916 when Germany developed synthetic detergents as a response to the shortage of fats due to the first World War. By the 1930s, Procter and Gamble developed a process that decreased soap production times to under a day, effectively cutting weeks from the process.

The industrialization of soap created the hard bars you now find at any big-box store or motel. Truth is, many of these conventional soaps are very harsh; they’re very alkaline and contain preservatives, artificial colors and synthetic fragrances that irritate the skin. Fortunately, there is now a wide range of soaps formulated to clean without irritating. While the processes and ingredients differ widely, the result is the same: a solid cleanser you’ll actually enjoy using every day.

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