Master list of bar soap recommendations

The task of reporting on my bar soap experiences continues to be somewhat daunting. To really test a given soap, it’s necessary to try it several times, continuously and exclusively, over the course of days. With only one wash, even the most drying soaps don’t necessarily cause the cracking, dryness, even peeling or hangnails that surface with regular use. (Fortunately, I found only a few such drying soaps.)

So, I am going to use this post as my master list, editing it as I go rather than adding new posts on this topic.

I have done my best to determine that each of these products is a true soap, but as I recommend on the site, always, always check first. These are my subjective experiences and opinions.  This earlier blog post on dry skin, eczema, and soap, may be helpful for evaluating products.

PLEASE NOTE THAT EACH OF THESE RECOMMENDATIONS IS FOR JUST THE SPECIFIC SOAP LISTED, OF THAT SPECIFIC “FLAVOR.” A RECOMMENDATION FOR ONE PRODUCT IN A LINE OF SOAPS DOES NOT IMPLY A RECOMMENDATION FOR OTHER SOAPS IN THE SAME LINE. SOMETIMES THE OTHER SOAPS IN THE SAME LINE HAVE PROBLEMATIC INGREDIENTS, FOR EXAMPLE. Also, not all of these soaps are necessarily okay for bathing infants because of other ingredients – I wanted to give grownups in the household some options, too. Always read ingredient labels for individual needs and sensitivities, and because manufacturers can change ingredients.

I am not grading these soaps so much as trying to categorize them.  Even the soaps in Category C (too drying in my experience) may work well for other people or may serve a purpose in someone else’s eczema removal process.  I personally use soaps in the A, A-, and B categories.  It all comes down to personal preference.

As of February 2014, I am editing down the list.  I have by now tried so many bar soap products, I am only going to list the ones I really, really like, or for one reason or other, think should be mentioned for problems (like dryness).  Fortunately, bar soaps is a category where there are literally hundreds of possibilities.

Because I tried so many soaps, I am going to sort the feedback on these soaps into broad categories only:

A) Bar soaps I liked the best: gentle, relatively non-drying, but still left the skin feeling clean, even soft and neutral.
B) Bar soaps I thought were pretty good and neutral, but didn’t make my A-list for one reason or another, such as leaving a lot of soap residue on sink surfaces, having an overwhelming perfume, etc.
C) Bar soaps I personally found too drying to use regularly.  Some of these improved with age to be very good (others did not).

Note that some of these “drying” ones are very popular soaps; individual experiences will vary. I hear good feedback about some of these soaps when it comes to eczema removal, too.  I list them here to provide as many choices as possible.

Please note that many “moisturizing” soaps backfire, causing the skin to feel soft or moisturized at first but increasing the permeability of the skin and causing it to lose water over time.  (Refer to “Lumsdaine’s Law” in previous blog posts.)

UPDATE:  Aging soap, by putting a bar away on a shelf for 6 months to a year, could turn a drying soap into a great one.  I have recently tried a bar of Tact, for example, that I put away for over a year, and it went from being unacceptably drying to absolutely luxurious and gentle to the skin.

CATEGORY A: Bar soaps I liked the best. Good cleansers while still relatively non-drying.
Sappo Hill Natural Fragrance-Free (vegan, good value)
Luxo Banho Creme
Luxo Banho Olive
-Tom’s of Maine Natural Deodorant Body Bar (only the deodorant body bar)
One With Nature’s Dead Sea Salt Soap (triple milled)
-Savon Extra Pur Orange bar soap (www.lcdpmarseille.com – best aged)
Tea Tree Therapy Vegetable Base Soap
Olivella unscented
Windrift Hill Moisturizing Goats Milk Soap (www.windrifthill.com, greatest scents ever, on the moisturizing side yet still good)
Dr. Bronner’s All-One Hemp Unscented Baby-Mild Pure-Castile Soap (only the baby-mild bar soap, plus let it age a month or two before using)
-Pure Soap Flake Company bar soap (might benefit from a little aging, but a very pure, simple soap – www.puresoapflakes.com)
-Ma Bella Goat Milk Soap (www.mabellaproducts.com, I tried for the first time after the bar was sitting out/aged a few months.)
-Niemela’s Market Gardens Soap (http://www.localharvest.org/niemelas-market-gardens-M60006 Made with rainwater infused comfrey. I have had uneven experience with very small-time handmade soap producers, but these are lovely. I only tried after aging, though.)
Villainess Soaps (Ennui – the fragrance-free – only  http://www.villainess.net/ennui.html  I have only used this after aging the soap 6 months.  Lovely, neutral soap, only drawback is cost.)

Almost as good, I give these an A-:
-pHisoderm pH skin cleansing bar unscented
-South of France French Milled Ultra Moisturizing Shea Butter Soap
-River Soap Company Rose Geranium (www.riversoap.com, almost put in A-list, has strong rose geranium scent)
-Deerhaven Herb and Flower Farm Handmade Soap, Vanilla Bean (www.deerhaven.biz)
-Apiana Alpine Milk Soap (triple milled, made in Switzerland)

CATEGORY B: Bar soaps I thought were pretty good, but didn’t make my A-list for one reason or another.
-Canus Goat’s Milk Soap, Naturally Rich Moisturizing
-Johnson’s Baby Soap Bar

CATEGORY C: Too drying in my experience (Note:  drying soaps may change entirely with aging and be great in 6 -36 months, depending):
-Whole Foods 365 unscented bar soap
-Burt’s Bees Wild Lettuce Complexion Soap
-Golden Moisture Bar Gentle Formula for Dry Skin
-TACT Pure Olive Oil Soap fragrance free (I’ve heard this one is great if aged, I tried an aged bar recently and liked it even better than Olivella on the A-list, absolutely luxurious when aged.)
-The Over-worked Mother’s moisturising herbal hand soap
-Whole Foods Milk French Milled Soap
-Cal Ben Complexion Beauty Pure Soap (Cal Ben liquid dish glow and shampoo in foaming dispensers make great hand wash, the bar is better IMO shaved for making laundry powder)
-Tom’s of Maine natural moisturizing body bar (almost too moisturizing to leave the skin feeling clean upon washing, yet drying later on)
-Trader Joe’s Trader Jacques French Liquid Orange Blossom Honey Hand and Body Soap (also very heavily scented – I let this one age a long time and finally gave up)

GOOD LIQUID SOAP PRODUCTS FOR HANDWASHING: Use in a foaming dispenser (most mixed 1 part soap to 6-10 parts filtered water, depending on the product).
Cal Ben Liquid Dishglow (very concentrated, must be diluted – www.calbenpuresoap.com)
Savon de Marseille Extra Pur Orange liquid soap (www.lcdpmarseille.com)
Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild liquid (Dr. Bronner’s benefits from aging)
Vermont Soap Company Unscented Foaming Hand Soap (comes in a foaming dispenser)
Vermont Soap Company Baby Wash & Shampoo (I like this better to wash hands than as a shampoo, like it even better than the foaming hand soap – but dilute more than 1:10 or it’s too thick for the foaming dispenser).
Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Non-Scents Shampoo & Body Wash (comes in a foaming dispenser – I love this as a shampoo, too).

Lastly, I have purchased and used all of the above products myself.  I do not endorse nor have I accepted any payment to mention or represent products.  For convenience, since people ask for it — and if I don’t, I am swamped with requests for specific product recommendations — I do have an Amazon astore where you can find most of the products (which earns a very small percentage when people buy using the links – on the order of $15/ month in ad revenue.)  Feb 2017 — I have decided to try adding direct product links from the Amazon store to this page.  The links will go to the specific product on Amazon, and I try to choose the cheapest one, but it’s probably a good idea to compare once at Amazon.

3 Responses to “Master list of bar soap recommendations”


  • Hi, I read your solveeczema website a hundred times in the past couple weeks, and am implementing a switch to pure soap. I hope I don’t scare you away with my questions, but I don’t know who else to ask (that would have any idea what I am talking about).

    I would love to know your thoughts on Dr.Bronner’s liquid castille soap: baby, unscented- for use as a dish soap. Fragrances and essential oils are a big trigger for me, so a lot of products are ruled out.

    Have you found a fragrance free dishsoap that foams or have any tips on dish washing with soap?

    Also, do you have any experience with Savon de Marsielle’s olive oil bar soap (no fragrance)for body washing? Do you have any tips on hair conditioning and hair washing (getting the soap out)?

    On bedding: any suggestions for non- chemical/ detergent pillows?

    On clothing- cottons made without chemicals? I have been steadily developing eczema over the years anywhere clothing touches, and am wondering, now that my clothes are washed in soap and the eczema is still there, whether it is the fabric itself or the rubbing or the sweat.. any ideas?

    Thank you so much. I am 24 and have had eczema since I was 10. I believe that detergents are a big trigger for me… I am trying to get this under control. I would appreciate any help you could offer and am so grateful to you for giving me the idea to switch to soap. I agree that a scientific approach needs to be taken to rule out the causes. I am wondering now.. if it isn’t soley detergent, what else could it be?
    I look forward to hearing from you,
    Amy

  • I noticed you haven’t reviewed the Cal-Ben bar soap. I’m very curious if you’ve tried it and what you thought? Thanks for this great resource!

    • Hi,
      Although I think some of Cal-Ben’s products are the best I’ve tried in some products categories, the bar soap is not one of them. I mention that on my web site. I have heard from moms who used their bar soap when they take the steps on my site, but I personally find the bar soap drying. I want to offer people who come to my site a way to have normal, healthy skin. I don’t want them to have to think they have to compromise in order to get rid of the eczema.

      I started that master list with one idea of what was out there, and in the process of trying out hundreds of bars of soap, I realized some things that made me think differently about what is out there and what causes dry skin. I also frankly came across so many more bar soaps that I wouldn’t recommend, I needed to just focus on writing up the ones I did (and maybe discussing a few of the most common ones that I don’t recommend).

      That said, we have used the Cal-Ben liquid dish soap and the shampoo for skin — frankly, they are less drying than the bar. The bar soap category is the one type of soap product where there actually are quite a few good options. Again, I don’t want people to think they have to settle.

      HIf tree nuts aren’t a concern, probably my very favorite soap is that Luxo Banho creme, it’s incredible. For everyday use, I think the best value is Sappo Hill unscented. I keep trying soaps, and I haven’t found anything I like better.

      Regards,
      A.J.

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