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.
5 Tips When Buying a New Bar of Soap
1. Skin Type
Your skin type extends beyond just your face. Here’s a general categorization of each of the most common skin types that men have, along with a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Dry Skin: When buying a bar of soap for dry skin, you want to find one packed full of natural oils or moisturizers that will complement the natural sebum oil your skin produces. Try to steer clear of chemicals within bars of soaps that will cause unnecessary dryness or irritation.
- Oily Skin: 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. 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.
- Combination Skin: A mixture of oily and dry skin, combination skin is the most challenging type to manage. You may need to experiment a little here. For starters, we recommend that you try a few different natural or organic bars of soap 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 than BHA and shouldn’t cause dryness of the skin.
- Sensitive Skin: Go with a bar that has very few ingredients. You don’t want harsh surfactants, detergents, fragrances, or preservatives in your soap. pH-balanced or fragrant-free soaps are often the best here. While natural soaps seem like an obvious choice, they often can cause allergic reactions. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently touched on this very topic here.
- Normal Skin: First, there is no “normal” skin type. However, if you find that your skin isn’t oily, dry, nor sensitive, then feel free to try out various soaps and scents to your heart’s desire.
- Other Skin Ailments: 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. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the ingredient label:
- Carrier Oils: Several types exist, including jojoba, sweet almond, argan, and more. These natural oils are commonly made from trees and nuts and have nourishing and moisturizing effects on the skin.
- Essential Oils: These are added to soap primarily for fragrance. Some small companies may make medicinal claims regarding essential oils; however, these are hardly ever scientifically proven.
- Glycerin: With moisture-retaining properties, glycerin will work to keep your skin feeling and looking healthy. In addition, 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, chemicals contained within bars of soap are a fact of life. While some men 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 do or don’t want in your bar of soap.
Here are some of the more common chemicals found in soap:
Parabens: Parabens are a vital ingredient for large companies that distribute their products worldwide (i.e., Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, etc.). Parabens act as a preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria within the soap during shipping.
For their safety, the 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.https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/parabens-cosmetics
Hypoallergenic: Companies claim that hypoallergenic bars of soap will produce fewer allergic reactions than everyday products. However, the FDA states 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: This is an umbrella term for a collection of 3,000 chemicals, making it impossible for you to know what’s in the soap. Fragrance is considered a Trade Secret (source), and the ingredients contained within don’t need to be disclosed.
To prevent an allergic reaction, men with sensitive skin may want to consider a fragrance-free soap instead.
Pro Tip: Unscented soaps may still contain fragrance. Companies will add fragrances to unscented soap to neutralize the smell.
3. Specific Use or All-in-One Soaps?
Having a separate bar of soap for your body, face, hands, beard, etc., can become quite the hassle. However, all-in-one soaps tend to deliver subpar results compared to specific use soaps. So, if possible, avoid going with an all-in-one soap, especially between both face and body use.
Here are a few additional features that companies are adding to their soap bars:
- Moisturizing: No matter your skin type, adding moisturizers to your bar of soap will almost always be a good thing. Your skin is a natural and living organ and therefore should be treated as such. Moisturizing properties in a good bar of soap will help to make you look and feel better.
- Exfoliating: This added grit to the soap bar effectively removes the dead skin cells and helps smooth out the skin. However, don’t overdo it. Excessive use of a gritty exfoliating soap may lead to mild dryness.
- Toner: While not nearly as good as a dedicated toner, the inclusion of key ingredients, such as witch hazel, into the bar of soap can help even the appearance of splotches or dark spots on your skin.
- Antibacterial: While many companies claim that antibacterial soaps help destroy bacteria or prevent illness, according to the FDA, there has been no scientific evidence to support those claims (source).
From masculine notes of sandalwood or cedarwood to an invigorating peppermint or eucalyptus – the chances are that you can find a scent that you will love. If you wear a body spray or cologne regularly, consider selecting a complimentary scent. This will help prevent any clashing in your aroma.
Bar Soap FAQs
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
Are bar soaps unsanitary?
No. 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.
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.