This Old-School Beauty Secret Is Back and Better Than Ever

Simple, eco-friendly, and a little sexy.

By Caitlin Clark
The Best Facial Soap Bars Available in 2022 bathroom getting ready cleansing megan oneill

Earlier this year, I polled the pros for the best spring beauty trends of 2022. There were a few surprises (fancy hair ribbons! vitamin c supplements for skin!) mixed in with more anticipated crazes like graphic eyeliner or eye-catching nail art (ah, the Euphoria of it all). But one tip truly took me aback: facial soap bars would be having a moment this year.

My mind immediately went to the Dove Beauty Bar, which seems like it’s been present on this Earth for centuries. Which, consequently, means the product is probably great (1957 is the Dove staple’s actual origin year)—but it’s not exactly sexy. And if Maddy Perez’s nails or this year’s feminist reclamation of the term “bimbo” have taught us anything, it’s that bold, sexy, and unabashedly feminine is in. Thankfully, celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas set me straight.

“The modern version of the traditional bar serves some great ingredients without the waste,” Vargas shared. “The trend of sustainability and mindful packaging will bring cleansing bars into the forefront.”

I’m certainly down to save the planet one beauty product at a time, so I polled a few beauty experts—Kasey Boone, Los Angeles-based esthetician and owner of Glow Skincare Studio; and Dallas esthetician and facialist Natalie Burt—to answer all my burning questions, including identifying the best facial soap bars available in 2022.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

Image by Michelle Nash

Are Facial Cleansing Bars Good For Your Face?

There’s a reason dermatologists and aestheticians have typically steered clients away from traditional bar soaps in the past. “Many times, they can be extremely drying and strip the skin barrier,” shares Boone, who believes thicker or oily skin may benefit most from cleansing soap bars.

“The idea behind a bar creates a buzz in and of itself,” adds Burt. “The idea is that they tend to be free of preservatives since they lack water in their formulations. They are also environmentally conscious, using less wasteful packaging and harmful plastics. The ease of a bar is also enticing.”

Given the renewed interest in soap bars, however, the category has evolved, making it easier to find high-quality soap bars that are gentler on the skin.

“One of the main reasons soap bars dry skin out is because they tend to have a higher pH (from 7.5-10) when our natural pH is around 5.5,” Burt explains. “Keeping our skin in an alkaline state will damage our moisture barrier, causing dehydration and irritation, to name a few. However, there are some newer bars that tout a lower pH level.

Boone adds that the best facial bar soaps are unscented, hypoallergenic, and have moisturizing ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid.   

Image by Michelle Nash

How Do You Use a Facial Soap Bar?

If you’re cleansing with a facial soap bar, Boone recommends adding warm water, creating a lather by rubbing the bar in your hands, then applying the suds to your face. Gently cleanse the skin for 60 seconds, then rinse. “Bar soap is really best for thicker, oily skin, or even someone new to using skincare on a regular basis,” Boone reiterates.

“This should go without saying, but properly wash your hands before you touch your bar,” Burt adds.

bathroom beauty products
Image by Michelle Nash

How Should You Store a Facial Soap Bar?

After lathering up, you’ll want to store your bar in a cool, dry place, but only after giving it a thorough rinse. (Soap, plus a moist environment, equals bacteria—and not the good kind.) Burt also notes that if a bar isn’t cleansed well, soap film can block products from penetrating properly.

“Be sure to store your bar in a container that drains or elevates the bar from any residual water,” Burt says. “Do not let it sit in water.”

For soap dish storage that keeps bars dry, consider an aesthetically-pleasing addition to your counter space.

West Elm Soap Dish

Keep things dry and cool on your countertop.

West Elm Soap Dish, $24

What Are the Best Facial Soap Bars Dermatologists and Aestheticians Recommend?

The resurgence of bar soaps has left a wealth of sustainable, eco-friendly options in its wake. Here, we narrow down the best options with the help of beauty experts.

My Friends Use This Gotu Kola | Moringa Soap

“This soap is all organic, handmade in small batches, and infused with honey to help moisturize. Gotu kola and moringa also nourish the skin.” — Boone

My Friends Use This Gotu Kola | Moringa Soap, $12

Joanna Vargas Miracle Bar

Celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas offers three facial cleansing bars (including the Cloud Bar for sensitive skin), but we’re partial to the charcoal option, which moisturizes with shea butter while detoxifying.

Joanna Vargas Miracle Bar, $22

Town28 Facial Soap S11 Ceramide:Squalene 85g

“I have personally used and liked Korean skincare brand Toun28. They make a few options for the face (they also make shampoo bars!)” — Burt

The Ceramide:Squalane formula is best for sensitive or dry skin, as well as anti-aging concerns.

Town28 Facial Soap S11 Ceramide:Squalene 85g, $10

Town28 Facial Soap S3 Calamine + Hyaluronic Acid 100g

Burt’s favorite bar also has an offering for those with oily or acne-prone skin, featuring a mild calamine powder to soothe inflammation.

Town28 Facial Soap S3 Calamine + Hyaluronic Acid 100g, $11

Payot Face & Body Massage Bar With Rosemary Essential Oil

A newer launch from Payot, the century-old Parisan beauty brand, is crafted with nourishing oils and butter for a melt-on-your skin cleanser that helps improve elasticity.

Payot Face & Body Massage Bar With Rosemary Essential Oil, $21

Peach Balancing Facial Cleansing Bar – For Oily & Combo Skin

Nobody does beauty bars quite like Peach. They even offer soap-shaped versions of shampoo and conditioner. There are two versions of their popular facial cleansing bars: one for dry or normal skin (featuring rosehip oil) and one for combo or oily skin types (made with blue tansy).

Peach Balancing Facial Cleansing Bar – For Oily & Combo Skin, $12.95

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar

You can always count on the dermatologist-favorite drugstore brand to deliver. CeraVe’s bar features moisturizing ceramides and hyaluronic acid, ensuring a solid cleanse that won’t compromise the skin’s moisture bar.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar, $6.29

Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar for Face and Body

The splurgiest bar on the list has the ingredients to justify the price—and its decades-long cult following. Mineral-rich Dead Sea mud and charcoal powder draw out and absorb impurities while glycerin protects your skin’s moisture barrier. It’s the perfect balancing act.

Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar for Face and Body, $40