Less wasteful than other options
Comes wrapped in plastic
Skin is a little dry after use
Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar
We put the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve used body and face wash that comes in a big plastic bottle. I love the idea of bar soap, mostly because it’s less wasteful, and in my opinion, you get more bang for your buck with it, but I’ve had a hard time committing to it because a plastic bottle just feels, well, easier.
Cetaphil has been recommended to me for years, both by friends and dermatologists. From what I've always been told, it’s a basic, affordable, no-frills drugstore brand. Their face and body wash bar effectively cleanses skin and helps retain moisture without clogging pores. So when I had the opportunity to try the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar, which retails around $4 a bar, I thought—why not give this a go?
Best for: Anyone looking for a non-irritating, affordable body or face wash
Uses: Body wash, handwash, face wash
Potential Allergens: None
Active Ingredients: Sodium cocoyl isethionate, stearic acid, sodium tallowate, water, sodium stearate, sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate, sodium cocoate, PEG-20
Byrdie Clean?: Yes
About the Brand: Cetaphil is a dermatologist-recommended skincare brand that promises to keep skin moisturized and refreshed without irritation.
About My Skin: Acne-prone and dries out easily when it’s cold outside
As I write this review, it’s summertime, and thanks to the (completely disgusting) humidity in New York City, my arms, legs, and hands are sufficiently moisturized. This isn’t true in the winter months, though: When it’s cold outside, my arms, legs, and hands get dry, flaky, and itchy.
I’ve also been dealing with hormonal acne since my daughter was born in 2019, meaning I get painful breakouts on my jawline at the same time every month. With a lot of help from my dermatologist (and perhaps hormones returning to their normal levels), it has gotten better, but it’s not cleared. She’s long recommended I use Cetaphil as a cleanser, so I was excited to try the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar.
The Feel: Light
I’ve been testing out a few bar soaps recently, and some have a heavy, thick feeling to them. The Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar didn’t: It bubbled up quickly and easily in my hands and rinsed off easily without leaving behind any residue.
The Smell: Like, well, a bar of soap
When I think of the definition of “what a bar of soap smells like”—think Dove, or those tiny bars of soap you get in a hotel—that’s exactly what the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar smells like. I noticed one of the ingredients is “masking fragrance,” and I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I assume it’s the scent soap-makers put in a bar of soap to make it smell like a bar of soap. In any case, it didn’t irritate my skin at all, and I don’t find it to be overpowering in any way.
The Ingredients: Won’t clog your pores
While the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar isn’t packed with all-natural oils (or anything fancy at all, for that matter), the most important thing to know about the ingredients in this bar of soap—at least for me—is that they won’t clog your pores. In dermatology speak, it’s non-comedogenic. Because I used the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar on my body and face (and I do get breakouts on my back every now and then!), it was important to me that this bar of soap wouldn’t cause more acne issues than I was already dealing with.
There’s no doubt about it: This is an inexpensive bar of soap. At around $4 for 4.5 ounces, the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar won’t break the bank.
The Results: Good, but they didn’t blow me out of the water
I didn’t get any new breakouts while using the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar, and there’s no question that it effectively cleansed my body, face, and hands. But after I used it, it left my skin—particularly the skin on my face—with that tight, dry feeling I tend to get when I wash my face too much. Maybe if I used a little less I wouldn’t have this issue, but it made me wary of using it in the winter months when the skin on my arms, legs, and hands tends to get so dry.
And one other very quick complaint: When I opened the box, the bar of soap was wrapped in plastic, which didn’t feel necessary to me. But maybe there’s a good reason for it!
The Value: Very affordable
There’s no doubt about it: This is an inexpensive bar of soap. At around $4 for 4.5 ounces, the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar won’t break the bank. So, if a cheap cleanser is high on your priority list, this is the soap for you.
After I used it, it left my skin—particularly the skin on my face—with that tight, dry feeling I tend to get when I wash my face too much.
Similar Products: I prefer a bar of soap with a little more moisture
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar: I recently tested out the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar ($8). While I like the scent of the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar bar better (and it’s less expensive!), CeraVe’s soap left my skin a lot softer after use. Because moisture is important to me, especially when I’m putting products like retinol on my skin in an effort to clear up my acne, I would choose CeraVe’s bar soap over Cetaphil’s. But hey, it all comes down to priorities.
The word “basic” often comes with a negative connotation in 2021, but when I call the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar basic, I don’t mean any disrespect—I mean that it will fill your very basic soap needs: It will cleanse, it will not clog your pores, and it doesn’t cost very much. If all of those are high on your priority list when it comes to a bar of soap, by all means: Go for it.
- Product Name Gentle Cleansing Bar
- Product Brand Cetaphil
- Price $4
- Weight 4.5 oz.
- Ingredients Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Tallowate, Water, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Dodecylbenzene Sulfonate, Sodium Cocoate, PEG-20, Sodium Chloride, Masking Fragrance, Sodium Isethionate, Petrolatum, Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylate, Sucrose Cocoate, Titanium Dioxide, Pentasodium Pentetate, Tetrasodium Etidronate.