Why We're Washing Our Faces With Bar Soap Again


Isabella Behravan

As I'm sure is the case for many others, bar soap has been a largely forgotten yet persistent constant in my life for as long as I can remember. Dove was a permanent fixture in my shower growing up, though I always passed over the smooth white block in favor of the colorful scented bodywashes that lined the tile walls. And thus began a beauty trajectory that would extend into adulthood: Though I know no-frills people who swear by their no-frills Cetaphil cleansing bars, I've spent years experimenting with 12-step skincare routines and $80 cult-fave cleansers. Sure, it's part of the gig—but it also makes the face-washing process just a little less banal.

Yet my bathroom vanity is currently littered with bars of soap—something that I could chalk up to my ongoing (and largely unrealized) effort to minimize my beauty routine, but in all honesty, it has more to do with the sheer variety that is suddenly available on the market. If soap has one job—to clean—then these bars are defined by nuances that take that task to the next level.

My introduction to the brave new world of soap began with Root Science's Cleanse bar ($20), a shea butter block that has the internet abuzz. Immediately smitten with its all-natural formulation, impossibly creamy lather, and moisturizing capabilities, I then remembered that Herbivore's Pink Clay cleansing bar ($12) had been lying in my medicine cabinet for months, untouched. This pretty specimen uses French clay to simultaneously deep-clean pores and soften skin. Next up, it was Korres's intoxicating Black Pine mineral bar ($28). It's fine—my skin is really into this new addiction. (My wallet actually isn't mad at it either.)

It's just as well, too, since these days, we hear about new launches in the luxe bar soap category on a near weekly basis. Fire up your own obsession by shopping some of our favorites below.