A quality bar of soap that has been designed for a man’s naturally rugged skin should not only get you clean but also prevent any sort of irritation.
But it goes further than that.
The best bar soap should be made from quality ingredients, have a scent (or lack thereof) that you prefer, moisturize your skin, develop a nice lather, and of course give you the confidence you need when exiting the shower – like Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus bar of soap.
In this guide, you will quickly learn all the important considerations to take into account when buying a new bar of soap along with expert reviews of some of the most popular and emerging bar soaps currently available.
The Best Bars of Soap for Men Reviewed
Dr. Squatch, an up-and-coming company with a great logo, offers an ingredient-packed bar for deep cleaning and a wonderful scent. This bar is a cornucopia of powerful oils (olive, coconut, hemp, and soybean), moisturizers, and soothers (shea butter and peppermint leaves), neat manly scents (cedarwood, orange, and rosemary).
The Cedar Citrus bar will exfoliate and then moisturize with the best of them, but the unique woody-citrus scent will have you leaving the shower feeling awake and rejuvenated. The 5oz bar is at a great price, especially when you consider just how much is benefit is pack into each bar. Don’t like it, no problem – The doc has you backed with a ‘Sudisfaction Guarantee’ which is not only a great soap pun but a mighty good offer too.
- Deep exfoliation makes your skin softer
- Contains ingredients you can pronounce
- Invigorating scent
- A bit pricey
Duke Cannon is your man’s man bar soap – three times the size of most competitors at 10oz, Duke Cannon boasts a crisp, clean scent that will wash away the grime of a hard day’s work. This is a giant brick of soap, so you’ll get more bang for your buck on sheer size alone. What’s really cool is that Duke Cannon modeled this soap after soap that GIs used in the Korean War (they use Steel Cut Grains so it has an easy grip and hearty texture).
Beyond that, Duke Cannon puts a portion of proceeds toward supporting U.S. Veterans and has their soap field-tested by active-duty U.S. Soldiers… Manly enough for you?
- Value is unmatched
- American made
- Supports a great cause
- Muted scent
- Large size can be a bit too big for some
Jack Black’s soap is gaining a lot of notoriety for its versatility and effectiveness. For starters, the soap has a crisp and rugged pine scent. Where the bar really hits is in exfoliation; crafted with blue lotus and lava rock the bar is gritty in removing dead skin cells helping to clean and soften the fresh layer of skin.
The turbo bar follows a simple process – exfoliate with lava rock, smooth, soften and shine with the ever-beneficial Shea and Murumuru butter. This is another big bar at 6oz so it’ll naturally be long lasting which is especially important for a bar that is used on the whole body.
- Contains high quality and natural moisturizes
- Exfoliating bits get your skin both clean and smooth
- Lathers nicely
Conventional bar soaps are great for everyday use, but they can occasionally dry your skin out, or worse, leave residue behind on your skin. If you’re looking for a more natural approach to a clean and healthy body, Anthony’s Exfoliating & Cleansing bar soap is the way to go.
It features a shea butter and coconut oil base with hints of cucumber extract for a refreshing afterglow. The addition of Jojoba spheres makes this soap ideal for cleansing yourself of dead skin cells, which in turn makes your skin softer, smoother, and better looking with constant use.
This soap is great for all skin types, from oily to sensitive and everything in between. It is a 7oz. bar that has been tested by dermatologists, and is allergy-free.
- Works on all skin types
- Blend of natural ingredients that moisturize and nourish skin
- Exfoliant is mild
This bar of soap was made for invigorating your senses and leaving your skin smooth and soft to the touch.
It uses jojoba meal and crushed olive seed to give your skin a new lease on life. Ideal for men with tough, cracked, or dry skin, as this soap, will help to put moisture back where it belongs.
The lather is soft and silky, which in turn leaves your skin feeling the same. The exfoliating agents present in the soap help you to shed dead skin and lingering dirt and debris.
Cedarwood and oakmoss add in a very delightful scent that is subtle but distinctly masculine, and the scent does not linger too strongly about the body, so it is ideal for close quarters. This 7oz. bar is relatively inexpensive and lasts for a good while before needing to be replaced.
Nothing delivers a naturally clean feeling quite like activated charcoal, an ingredient used in almost everything from water purifiers, to toothpaste, to even body wash.
This dark-colored soap certainly leaves its mark as it goes on, but it definitely comes off clean, as though it was never there. The gritty sensation of the soap is ideal for exfoliation, as the rough texture has a tendency to scrape off old, dead skin cells present on the surface of your skin. This gives way to younger and fresher cells that give your skin a healthy glow.
Eucalyptus offers a much-needed boost, putting vitamins back into the skin. Peppermint oil leaves your skin fresh and tingly as well, lengthening the time that you feel the effects of the soap.
The Deep Sea Mud bar is a spa-quality, versatile soap for a professional and thorough cleaning. Use it all over – face, hands, body – and reap the benefits of natural cleaning with essential oils like Castor Bean Oil, Sunflower Oil, and Palm Oil. The scent is super fresh and rooted in other essential oils like peppermint and lemongrass with hints of eucalyptus.
The Dead Sea Mud Bar will assist with fighting dry skin like its counterparts but is also beneficial in fighting acne, eczema, and psoriasis. The sleek black bar also boasts anti-aging effects by tightening the pores, and the natural grains exfoliate to give the skin a healthy glow. 100% Organic, 100% Manly.
If you are looking for a refreshing, rejuvenating, and overall relaxing experience in the shower, look no further than Kiehl’s Ultimate Man Body Scrub.
This bar of soap packs a lot of punch for the ingredients it puts in, and is specially formulated to get deep into your pores and clean them out. This soap uses oatmeal and oat bran to leave your skin soft and smooth, while pumice is added to exfoliate and strip your body of dead cells and lingering residue.
When you use this soap, you won’t want to go back to your conventional store-bought brand.
This has everything you need to feel clean, without the aggressive and often harsh chemicals that other soaps contain. Use this soap to soften up tough spots on your skin, such as your palms, your elbows, or even knees and heels. This product is not recommended for facial use.
In terms of soap, nothing beats the antioxidant-rich Marlowe No. 102 bar soap.
This soap features extracts of green tea, willow bark, and deep-sea algae, which are all ingredients that contribute to overall skin health and reconstruction. This soap is rich in vital antioxidants, vitamins that empower your cells so that they remain elastic and youthful.
Marlowe No. 102 is ideal for all skin types and works well to remove lingering residue and dirt from your skin. It is so much better than conventional soap brands as it goes on foamy and comes off clean. The best thing about this soap is that it is exceptionally cheap to buy, and there is enough in a bar to last 2-3 weeks. When it comes to what’s best for your skin, Marlowe soap products are an ideal first choice to consider.
The Mistral Men’s bar is another big one at 8.8oz and has a classic scent built off calming sandalwood and cool eucalyptus like a fresh shave at an old-timey barbershop.
As expected in a men’s soap, essential oils like pumpkin oil are present to cleanse and enrich the skin, while shea butter finishes the clean with moisture to protect. A unique kick is added to Mistral’s bar as it is fortified with white coffee and ginseng for some added power.
Mistral makes their product from 100% pure vegetable soap (vegan friendly) and as a result, dry skin and residue are effectively eliminated.
All-natural soap like this one from The Yellow Bird can do more than just clean. In the case of this peppermint and tea tree soap, it can also help alleviate symptoms of athletes foot and other mild to moderate infections.
Tea tree oil is a proven anti-fungal agent that helps to relieve the symptoms of athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm.
Daily use can help maintain younger, healthier-looking skin after a few weeks of use. This soap doesn’t dry out your skin, and it doesn’t irritate even the most sensitive skin. So go ahead, use it on your body, your face, wherever you think needs a good scrub. This soap is incredibly inexpensive, and buyers of the product love the way they feel after a shower.
Sheep shearers have exceptionally soft hands due to the lanolin that is excreted by sheep and other wool-bearing animals. While this soap does not contain lanolin, the soap does still leave your hands softer than silk, ideal for men with weathered hands.
This soap contains poppy seeds, the main ingredient for optimal exfoliation. This ingredient, coupled with grains of salt, helps to shed dead skin and rejuvenate your hands, giving them a new lease on life.
Shearer’s soap also contains glycerin, sodium palmate, and sodium palm kernelate to help with the cleaning process.
While it isn’t an all-natural product, this soap is good for the environment and good for your skin as well. It is also ideal for many different skin types, as the bar is very gentle when it comes to cleaning and exfoliating.
7 Considerations When Buying Bar Soap
1. Skin Type
Your skin type extends beyond just your face.
When selecting a bar of soap that is to be used on your body, it’s important that you find one that is compatible with your skin type.
Here’s a general categorization of each of the most common skin types that men have:
- Dry Skin
- Oily Skin
- Combination Skin
- Sensitive Skin
- Normal Skin
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when buying for your skin type:
When buying a bar of soap for dry skin, you want to find one that is packed full of natural oils or moisturizers (more on this in a minute) that will complement the natural sebum oil your skin produces.
In addition, men with dry skin will want to steer clear of chemicals within bars of soaps that will cause unnecessary dryness.
The answer for those men with oily skin isn’t to buy a bar of soap that is loaded with chemicals that will “dry” out your skin – no, that will just damage it further and likely cause the opposite to occur – an increase in oil production, a natural reaction by the skin to protect itself.
Instead, those men with oily skin should buy a bar of soap that contains natural or compatible ingredients that aren’t so heavily focused on the moisturizing aspects.
In addition to lower moisturizer concentration, the addition of either an Alpha-Hydroxy Acid (AHA – normally glycolic acid) or Beta-Hydroxy Acid (BHA – normally salicylic acid) will help to break down the natural oils that your skin is overproducing.
Quite possibly the toughest skin type to manage, combination skin is a mixture of both oily and dry skin.
While most men don’t fall into this category, those that do require a bit of experimentation and a measured approach.
We recommend that you try a few different natural or organic bars of soap for men and see if the results are positive. If not, then you might want to experiment with a bar of soap that contains AHA.
AHA is a fair bit milder compared to BHA and shouldn’t cause any over dryness of the skin.
When it comes to buying a bar of soap for sensitive skin, it’s important that you find one that has very few ingredients.
You don’t want harsh surfactants, detergents, or preservatives in your soap.
Naturally, the ingredients one company might use can be drastically different from the next company.
Therefore, we recommend that you go with a pH-balanced or hypoallergenic bar of soap, or one designed specifically for sensitive skin.
Something to note when it comes to natural bars of soap:
While natural or organic soap is typically derived from plant-based products – you can still experience irritation with sensitive skin – don’t think that just because it came from the earth means it is good for your skin (poison ivy anyone).
So be sure to take a cautious approach here and don’t go trying natural soaps that haven’t been tested in the market yet (i.e. read product reviews).
While we are hesitant to say that someone has a “normal” skin type, there is really no such thing, given that your skin is a living organ (source). Men who don’t have to wrestle with any of the above skin types are lucky.
Here you can try out various soaps and scents to your heart’s desire.
Medicated bar soaps designed to treat skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, etc. should be selected with caution.
We strongly recommend that you seek medical advice from your family doctor or dermatologist before making a purchase.
A single bar of soap can contain a plethora of ingredients.
With the recent uptick in natural soaps available on the market, men, now more than ever, have a lot to try and wade through when flipping a bar of soap over and reading the ingredients.
Here are a few ingredients we just wanted to point out in a few of the major soap categories:
These types of soaps often rely on a mixture of natural carrier and essential oils.
By and large, carrier oils are relatively safe and can be found in a ton of naturally focused products these days.
Common carrier oils include:
- Jojoba oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Argan oil
- Coconut Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
…and countless others.
As well as carrier oils, you will also find essential oils.
Common essential oils include:
- Tea Tree
- Mandarin Orange
…and countless others as well.
Now you might be wondering what the difference is between these two naturally-derived oils and why you should care.
Here’s a quick comparison of carrier oils vs. essential oils
Carrier oils provide nourishment and moisture to your skin. They very closely mimic the natural sebum oil that your skin produces. This allows for natural results that will make your skin look and feel better without feeling oily, greasy, or slimy.
Seek out carrier oils when buying a bar of soap. They are proven to work well.
Essential oils are included in bars of soap largely for scent. While the science is still out on their effectiveness when it comes to homeopathic remedies along with the risks they carry (source), some men swear by them.
It’s important to know that essential oils are potent and can cause irritation if applied in too high of concentrations. Therefore, we recommend finding a bar of soap with only a little in it (as they do smell great).
Men with sensitive skin should probably avoid these types of oils though.
From sweeteners to a powerful humectant, glycerin is a common (and good) ingredient to search for on the soap’s ingredient label.
With its humectant (retaining or preserving moisture) properties, glycerin will work to keep your skin feeling and looking healthy.
Perfect for men with dry skin, glycerin bars of soap are often clear – making them easy to spot on the store shelf.
Whether it’s to deliver a manly scent or prevent the growth of harmful bacteria during shipping, chemicals contained within bars of soap are a fact of life.
While some folks may work hard to nix chemicals from all aspects of their grooming regimen, it’s always important to do your research and formulate your own decision on what you want or don’t want in your bar of soap.
But for those that want the quick and easy answers to some of the more common ingredients, here’s some great info:
Parabens – Parabens are an important ingredient for large companies that distribute their product around the world (i.e. Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, etc.). These ingredients act as a preservative in order to prevent the growth of bacteria within the soap during shipping.
But what about their safety?
Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states the following:
“FDA scientists continue to review published studies on the safety of parabens. At this time, we do not have information showing that parabens, as they are used in cosmetics, have an effect on human health.”
Hypoallergenic – Claimed by companies to produce fewer allergic reactions compared to normal products, this term is not regulated by the FDA. Their official stance is the following:
There are no Federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term “hypoallergenic.” The term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean. Manufacturers of cosmetics labeled as hypoallergenic are not required to submit substantiation of their hypoallergenicity claims to FDA.https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-labeling-claims/hypoallergenic-cosmetics
Fragrance/Perfume – While it may sound rather harmful, fragrance is an umbrella term for a collection of both chemical and synthetic fragrances – so you have no idea of what’s really in the product, making it really tough for those men with severely sensitive skin or allergies.
Here’s the kicker:
While the FDA regulates this as a cosmetic since it’s applied to your skin (source), fragrance is considered to be a Trade Secret (source) and the ingredients contained within don’t need to be disclosed.
So, how does this affect you?
Well, if you have sensitive skin or want to avoid certain chemicals for personal reasons, go with a natural bar of soap instead. It is less guesswork on the ingredient label and can hopefully lead to positive results.
A word of caution:
While buying a soap marketed as unscented may sound safe, double-check the ingredients. Companies may still add fragrance as a way to neutralize the scent that the other ingredients may be emitting.
3. How do you plan on using your soap (body, hand, face, etc.)?
While we fully unpack all the differences between these soap varieties later (stay tuned), you will quickly find that a visit to the soap aisle will yield a variety of results.
When looking at soap from a categorical standpoint, you will find five main varieties:
- Body soap
- Face soap
- Hand soap
- Beard soap
- All-in-one soap
To state the obvious here, get a soap that matches the intent for which you plan on using it.
Secondly, don’t go with an all-in-one soap.
While all-in-one soaps can work everywhere, the results will generally be lacking when compared to a bar of soap designed for a specific use.
Therefore, be sure to read the label and know what the soap was designed for. If it hasn’t been clearly marked, assume hand use.
While soaps have historically always been marketed as being full of moisturizers to soothe and nourish your skin, modern-day offerings have really ramped up what they can deliver.
During our research we found soaps that had these additional features:
Here’s our quick breakdown on each, and whether you should actually care about them or if you will just be wasting your money:
No matter your skin type, adding moisturizers to your bar of soap will almost always be a good thing. Remember that your skin is a natural and living organ, and therefore needs to be treated as such.
Moisturizing properties in a good bar of soap will help to make you look and feel better.
Over the past decade or so, exfoliating beads have been quickly becoming the standard in bars of soap.
With the inclusion of microparticles that can be sourced from quartz, sand, and other natural minerals, they are extremely effective at removing the dead skin cells that are sitting on the surface of your skin.
Able to be used daily, exfoliating bars of soap for men is a quick and easy win when it comes to improving the texture of your skin.
Over the past few years, people have become cautious about using exfoliating bars of soap due to their harm to the environment.
With the uptick in the sales of exfoliating soap bars, some companies started using microplastic beads instead (source). When rinsed down the drain, these plastic beads cause both pollution and environmental hazards.
However, since this discovery, the following countries have implemented laws banning the use of microbeads in cosmetics:
- United States
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
And several others.
Therefore, if you live in one of the above countries (which most of the readers of this site are from), then you shouldn’t need to worry about plastic microbeads acting as the exfoliator.
Toners in bar soap are a terrific way to even out the complexion of your skin. While not nearly as good as a top-rated toner for men, the inclusion of key ingredients, such as witch hazel, into the bar of soap can help to reduce any sort of splotches on your skin.
A quick word to note:
Bars of soap containing toners are often priced at a premium, making them a steep financial investment.
While many may tout the benefits of using antibacterial soap to destroy bacteria or prevent illness, according to the FDA there has been no scientific evidence to support those claims (source).
Furthermore, antibacterial soap often relies on triclosan (which prevents bacterial contamination), and it has been shown in animal studies that it alters the way some hormones work in the body.
Lastly, the wide prevalence of triclosan has been hypothesized as one of the leading ingredients that are reducing the effectiveness of anti-bacterial medications and creating superbugs.
Our recommendation here is, don’t get an antibacterial soap. It probably wouldn’t make a difference in your overall cleanliness or health.
Since we touched on both essential oils and chemical-based fragrances earlier, we will keep this section a bit shorter.
Bars of soaps come in a variety of differing scents.
From masculine notes of sandalwood or cedarwood to an invigorating peppermint or eucalyptus – chances are that you can find a scent that you will love.
One tip that we wanted to share is that you will want to make sure that the scent of the bar of soap matches that of your body spray or cologne.
While the scent largely dissipates once you have dried off with a towel, there of course is some lingering aroma for the next hour or so.
Therefore, in order to prevent any sort of clashing in style – try to get like scented products (i.e. a sandalwood bar of soap to match a sandalwood cologne that you intend to wear).
6. Soap Categories
While bars of soap are made for a variety of skin types, intents, etc. we found that generally soap can be broken down into three main categories:
Conventional or Mass Produced
Brands like Dove Men+Care, Old Spice, Ivory, Tone, etc. reign supreme here. These soaps oftentimes lack the premium or natural ingredients that grooming-minded men often seek out – but still, do a great job at getting you clean. These soaps often are loaded with preservatives (parabens) as they are mass-produced and shipped around the world.
Natural or Handmade
Whether it’s a small batch brand or one that markets itself as having a clean ingredient label, natural and handmade soaps often contain key carrier oils or glycerin and can really hydrate and nourish your skin.
These soaps tend to cost a bit more compared to the mass-produced soaps but don’t contain any suspect or harmful ingredients.
Premium or Designer
Brands like Baxter of California, Jack Black, Dr. Squatch, etc. reign supreme here. Carrying on both the above categories of being natural and widely available, these soaps are currently what many men are seeking in a good bar of soap.
Containing moisturizing ingredients coupled with exfoliating properties or other premium features, they also command a premium price tag.
So how much should you really be spending on a bar of soap? $2, $5, or $25?
Well, it depends.
As you will see in our bar soap reviews below, prices go across the board.
In our findings, if you want a bar of soap that will not only get you clean but make your skin feel significantly smoother and healthier, then you should expect to pay anywhere between $10 and $15 for a single bar.
While this price may seem quite high from the onset, after seeing marked improvements in your skin (be it oily, dry, combination, sensitive, etc.) coupled with a terrific smell, you will likely be satisfied with the results.
Common questions men had about bar soap
As we got into our research, we found some of the same questions popping up time and time again, therefore we wanted to take a quick moment to address a few should any of them currently be on your mind as well:
Can I use bar soap to wash my face?
You can, but you shouldn’t.
While a standard body bar of soap can work in a pinch, a good face cleanser will be much more effective at ridding dirt and pollutants in a more gentle manner.
Body bars of soap are designed for tougher and thicker parts of your skin and may cause dryness or irritation when used on your face, as facial skin is thinner.
What are some dermatologist recommended soaps?
As it stands at the time of publication, the currently recommended soaps based on the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD), particularly for dry skin, are the following brands:
- Cetaphil Skin Cleanser
- CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
- Aquanil Cleanser
Should I avoid parabens within soaps?
As mentioned earlier, there has been no conclusive scientific evidence supporting that parabens have an effect on human health. They are used to preserve the soap and to prevent the growth of bacteria or the product from being spoiled (source).
What are some good mild soaps?
As you will see in our reviews, mild soaps that contain a rich mixture of natural and organic ingredients along with glycerin have proven to be effective for many men.
Are bar soaps unsanitary?
According to a 1965 study, scientists put this theory to the test by having one contaminated subject wash their hands with a bar of soap and then have a clean secondary subject use that same bar of soap – the result:
No transfer of harmful bacterial.
Unscented vs. fragrance-free, which is better for sensitive skin?
“Unscented” is largely a misinterpreted term when it comes to labeling on many grooming products. Unscented doesn’t mean that it is absent of any chemically-based fragrances or perfumes.
Instead, it simply means that the company has neutralized the scent of the other chemicals that are doing the washing.
Should you have sensitive skin – you will want to seek out bars of soap that are marked “fragrance-free.”
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.