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 at least 3 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.
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.
As of June 2020, I am seriously 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: bar soaps I really like, and liquid soap products I really like.
Please note that “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.) Too many soap makers make the mistake of adding oil to their products. I no longer recommend using bar soaps with added oils or glycerine. I no longer recommend glycerine soaps at all.
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.
If a soap feels oily when you pick it up, or your hands don’t feel clean after you wash, such a soap will probably never get better from aging. If a soap feels neutral when you pick it up, but your hands feel dryer after using it, that’s a soap that may be completely different if aged. Some soaps are completely different after six months, other take a year or two. One of my very favorite soaps I won’t use until I’ve aged it three years. (I’m not mentioning it below, because I don’t think the maker would like to be known for having to age their soap three years before using!)
BAR SOAPS I LIKE BEST. Good cleansers while still relatively non-drying.
–Sappo Hill Natural Fragrance-Free (vegan, good value)
–Windrift Hill Moisturizing Goats Milk Soap (www.windrifthill.com, greatest scents ever, they also make unscented and reasonably good shampoo bars)
–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)
–Luxo Banho Creme
–Luxo Banho Olive
–One With Nature’s Dead Sea Salt Soap (triple milled, the current product has more oils added than I remember, so I don’t know if it’s the same)
–Savon Extra Pur Orange bar soap (www.lcdpmarseille.com – this brand is a real luxury, very expensive, wonderful stuff, and best aged, but I have not used in a long time, check ingredients)
–Tea Tree Therapy Vegetable Base Soap
-Ma Bella Goat Milk Soap (www.mabellaproducts.com, I tried for the first time after the bar was sitting out/aged a few months.)
-Moonessence Pt. Reyes Whey Soap (www.moonessence.com, I tried the Lemongrass after the bar was aged over a year. Available at Whole Foods.)
-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.)
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, although I haven’t used all of them recently. Product makers change ingredients—check before buying to be sure they are consistent with SolveEczema.org strategies. 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 Amazon referral links for which earns a very small percentage when people buy using the links – on the order of $15/ month in ad revenue.