The demise of bar soap is greatly exaggerated.
True, the sales of bar soap of declined because of the emergence of liquid soap, but many men still prefer that good ol’ block of soap in their hand when they clean themselves – whether it’s in the shower or at the sink.
Bar soap remains an important component in the grooming kit of many men.
In this post, we’re going to examine the best bar soaps for men – led by Baxter of California Men’s Exfoliating Bar – and what makes them a cut above the rest.
We’ll also discuss things to consider before choosing a bar soap, as well as some facts and “myths” in the bar soap vs. liquid soap debate.
Let’s get rolling.
Table of Contents
Balding Beards is reader-supported. When you buy through external links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
|Baxter of California Men’s Exfoliating Body Bar||Check on Amazon →|
|Cetaphil Antibacterial Gentle Cleansing Bar||Check on Amazon →|
|Licorice Kid All Natural Vegan Artisan Soap||Check on Amazon →|
|Dr. Bronner’s Original Organic Castile Bar Soap||Check on Amazon →|
|Dr. Squatch Cedar Citrus Natural Bar Soap for Men||Check on Amazon →|
|Dead Sea Mud Soap Bar 100% Organic & Natural||Check on Amazon →|
|Duke Cannon Men’s Bar Soap||Check on Amazon →|
|Dove Men+Care Body & Face Bar, Clean Comfort||Check on Amazon →|
Before you buy: 5 Things to consider when purchasing a bar soap
If there’s one thing about bar soap, it’s that there are plenty of choices – just like there are plenty of choices for shave creams, razors, deodorants, etc. The soap shelf at your favorite supermarket has a variety of brands, while countless other brands are available online.
So, how do you choose?
1. There are three broad genres of soap:
Conventional soap is mass-produced soap (industrially mass-produced, that is) and often contains more detergent than soap – although that’s not always the case. They may contain preservatives, fragrances, etc.
Handmade, or milled, soaps usually are made from vegetable-based oil, have a higher glycerin content (which hydrates skin), and contain ingredients such as essential oils, herbs, or botanicals. Handmade soaps usually have a softer texture.
Not as easy to find as other types of soaps, artisanal is specifically crafted with food-grade and organic ingredients and made with extra oils and butter.
2. Look for glycerin
Glycerin is a great moisturizer for any skin, but especially skin that’s dry and delicate. Mass-produced soaps tend to contain less glycerin than other types.
3. Bar soaps aren’t “unsanitary”
Liquid soaps, such as body washes, have become exceedingly popular over the past few years with many people believing that they’re more sanitary than bar soap. Yes, there’s been a study which shows that there may be a bit more bacteria on a used bar of soap than a brand new one, but it all gets rinsed off when you’re using it, anyway. That said, don’t base your buying decision on the myth that bar soaps are unsanitary.
4. Consider Your Skin Type
Knowing what type of skin you have is of major importance when choosing a bar soap that’s right for you. Soap, after all, has a huge impact on your skin’s “behavior.” For example, an oily cleanser may be too harsh for dry skin, while soaps that contain significant amounts of fragrance may set off allergies if you’re susceptible.
If you have sensitive skin, you need to be especially diligent in choosing a bar soap. Look for soaps that contain moisturizers. Many dermatologists recommend Cetaphil, a moisturizing agent, while other soothing ingredients include aloe vera, vitamin E, and sweet almond oil.
If your skin is especially dry, try an exfoliating soap that scrubs away dead skin cells. Soaps with oatmeal, orange seed, and other natural ingredients are known for their exfoliating qualities.
5. Read the Label
Take a close look at the label before purchasing bar soap. If you’re not careful, you may buy soap that strips your skin of moisture, leaving it dry and itchy. Positive ingredients to look for include hypoallergenic, hydrating, moisturizing, creamy, gentle, and fragrance-free.
Furthermore, opt for products with as many natural ingredients as possible, such as almond oil, olive oil, oatmeal, etc. Meanwhile, tea tree oil and eucalyptus are great for cleaning and fighting bacteria.
You may even want to follow the old rule-of-thumb that says, “If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t buy the product.”
So, what is the best soap for men? Let’s dig into our reviews of soaps we think will serve you better than others.
The 7 best bar soaps for men 2020
Baxter Finley started Baxter of California in 1965 out of a simple need. Specifically, Finley noticed that there was a dearth of men’s grooming products, and he wanted to rectify the situation.
Finley founded his now-iconic company in Southern California and has made premium grooming products ever since – not the least of which is its Men’s Exfoliating Body Bar. The latter is the best bar soap available and a great addition to any man’s grooming kit.
Here’s why we like it:
- It exfoliates
First, the Baxter of California – as its name suggests – is only for your body. Don’t use it on your face. It’s good for your body’s skin because it exfoliates, which means that it helps remove dead cells from the outer layer of skin. Your skin is left cleaner and smoother, as well as noticeably softer.
- It hydrates
The Baxter of California body bar moisturizes the skin while exfoliating it. Its hydrating formula includes pumice, jojoba, and crushed olive seed. So, while you’re scrubbing away dirt and rough patches of skin, you’re not stripping your skin of moisture.
- It’s good for daily use
While the men’s Exfoliating Body Bar is tough enough to rid your body’s skin of dead cells, it’s also gentle (and nourishing) enough to use every day. Yes, it has a small amount of grit to it like the majority of exfoliating bars, but the grit is fine enough that you could even use the bar twice a day.
- It’s good for everyone
Some bar soaps are best suited for men of certain skin types. Not the Baxter of California bar, however – men of all skin types can use it.
- It lathers – a lot
As one reviewer put it, the Baxter of California Exfoliating Body Bar is a “lather monster.” Users love the fluffy clouds of later it produces, yet the bar doesn’t wear down any faster than other body bars.
- It smells good
This soap not only revitalizes but smells good, too. Its scent isn’t overpowering, mind you, but subtly masculine with hints of cedar wood and oak moss.
- It doesn’t contain parabens
We’ve talked about parabens in previous posts, but it’s a subject that’s worth approaching again. Parabens are synthetic compounds used as preservatives in a wide range of grooming products, including bar soaps and deodorants.
While most grooming products contain only a small amount of parabens, research has linked long-term paraben exposure with a variety of health problems. Your best bet is to avoid them altogether.
- Exfoliates and hydrates
- Great lather
- Perfect for everyday use
- Suitable for all skin types
- Few, if any
Baxter of California’s Exfoliating Body Bar does everything you ask: it cleans, it removes dead skin, it hydrates, and it leaves your skin feeling great. Moreover, its price tag won’t shock you, and it comes in a 7 oz. bar that will last a long time.
First, a word about Cetaphil.
Manufactured by the Galderma Foundation, which is a major benefactor of the Dermatology Foundation, Cetaphil is all about finding innovative solutions to treat skin care needs. They have five global research and development centers that are devoted to finding skincare products that clean and moisturizing without irritation.
All that said, it’s no surprise that Cetaphil’s Antibacterial Gentle Cleansing Bar is great for your skin. It gently removes dirt, sweat, excess oils, and bacteria without compromising the skin’s natural moisture barrier. While it’s designed for dry, sensitive skin – and is the best soap for sensitive skin available – it’s also good for all skin types (and good for use on your face and body).
You’ll also love this soap if you work in dirty environments that can clog up your pores with various grime, or if you have naturally oily skin. Again, you’ll wash off excess oil without disrupting the natural oils your skin needs. Instead, your skin is left smooth and soft – not dry and tight.
Remember, this soap is designed and used by dermatologists who make their living by finding ways to treat skin in the gentlest way possible. It’s also unscented, so you don’t have to worry about artificial fragrances that are bad for the skin.
- Designed by, and for, dermatologists
- Great for sensitive skin
- Moisturizing process promotes healthy skin
- Too gentle for some users
The Cetaphil name is synonymous with “skin-friendly”, and their Antibacterial Gentle Cleansing Bar provides a gentle but thorough cleaning that leaves your skin feeling smooth, soft, and refreshed.
Few soap-making companies have a history that matches Dr. Bronner’s. Company founder Emmanuel Bronner made a name for himself not only because of his terrific, versatile soaps but also for his religious and spiritual philosophizing that, back in the day, perhaps seemed a bit extreme in the U.S.
Let’s be clear, however: despite the company’s never-a-dull-moment past, Dr. Bronner’s produces pure, natural soaps and products that are a cut above the rest. They’re also certified organic and vegan, and the Original Organic Castile Bar Soap is the best natural soap available.
Just check Dr. Bronner’s list of ingredients: coconut oil, palm oil, hemp, and jojoba oil, plus scents that come in peppermint, lavender, almond, eucalyptus, tea tree, rose, and citrus orange. The oils produce a soft, smooth lather that won’t dry out your skin.
The Castile bar soaps are also biodegradable, vegetable-based, and ideal for washing your body, face, and even hair. Even the packaging on Dr. Bronner’s products is 100% biodegradable, while your soap comes wrapped in 100% recycled paper.
Indeed, Dr. Bronner was ahead of his time regarding environmental protection and even animal rights. The company is a huge supporter of animal advocacy organizations, and their products are certified cruelty-free. They’re also committed to creating Fair Trade products across the world that help ensure the well-being and fair treatments of farmers and workers.
Another cool thing about Dr. Bronner’s soaps that they have multiple uses. They work great as an all-purpose household cleaner, as a homemade laundry detergent, and as a shampoo (those essential oils make for a gentle, soothing lather).
Castile Bar Soaps work well on your face and body while providing a gentle cleaning that won’t irritate your skin. You’ll even find a Baby Mild version that’s perfect for your infant’s delicate skin.
- All-natural ingredients
- Great for multiple uses
- Gentle on your skin
- Perhaps not as moisturizing as other soaps
Dr. Bronner’s soaps have a well-earned reputation for being environmentally-friendly while providing products that get the job done where it matters: in the shower.
The Dr. Squatch brand started out of a need to find a soap that was strong enough to deal with everyday dirt, grime, and sweat but to also treat skin without the addition of harsh chemicals.
They’ve certainly succeeded so far.
Dr. Squatch’s Cedar Citrus Natural Bar Soap – made, as its name suggests, from all-natural products – is strong enough for any man but delicate enough for all types of skin, including sensitive skin. And it smells good. Really good.
Indeed, one of the first things you’ll notice about this soap is its excellent scent: it’s a mix of cedarwood and zesty orange oils that produce a decidedly masculine smell. There’s also a hint of soothing peppermint. It’s truly one of the best-smelling men’s bar soaps on the market.
But, then again, Dr. Squatch prides itself on the manly scents found in all of their products.
They also pride themselves on their strict use of natural ingredients. You won’t find chemicals or preservatives in any of their products, including sulfates that cause skin cancer or parabens.
What the Cedar Citrus Natural Bar Soap does include is natural oils (olive, coconut, hemp, and soybean), moisturizers (shea butter and peppermint leaves), as well as its natural masculine scents.
Here’s another thing: all of Dr. Squatch’s soaps are made by a handmade cold process and in small batches. Handmade soaps tend to have a higher glycerin content than mass-produced soaps and typically have a softer texture. The glycerin is retained within the bar and combines with coconut and olive oils to nourish the skin with nutrients, not chemicals.
What you’ll also notice about the Cedar Citrus Natural Bar Soap is that it leaves your skin hydrated throughout the day and is perhaps the best soap for dry skin. There’s no need to worry about using post-shower moisturizers.
Dr. Squatch’s products also come with a “Sudsifaction” guarantee. If you don’t like a specific product, Dr. Squatch will give you a full refund.
- Superb scent
- All-natural ingredients
- Great for hydrating skin
- Money-back guarantee
- Bar is thinner than some others
A lot of thought and care go into the making of Dr. Squatch’s soaps, and it shows in the quality of their products. The Cedar Citrus Natural Bar Soap smells great, is good for your skin, and is tough enough to deal with a man’s skin.
The Dead Sea Mud Soap is a great solution for people 1) who prefer organic products, 2) of all skin types, and 3) who have skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema.
In other words, it’s a multi-functional bar that isn’t chock full of chemicals, and that should be good enough for most people.
The Dead Sea Mud Bar Soap partly consists of 100% Dead Sea mineral mud from Israel. The mud is proven to draw out impurities, toxins, and dirt particles to leave your skin feeling clean and refreshed. People travel from all over the world to rub nutrient-rich Dead Sea mud over their bodies – no wonder this soap is perhaps the best body soap available.
But, again, the Dead Sea Mud Bar Soap is also 100% organic, making it the best organic soap around. Just check out its list of ingredients: organic unrefined shea butter, extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, and castor bean oil. Meanwhile, a blend of lemongrass, peppermint, and eucalyptus give it a light, pleasing scent that won’t overpower you.
Fine grains of Dead Sea mud also tighten the pores to provide an anti-aging effect while moisturizing and hydrating the skin to reduce wrinkles. It even increases blood circulation, which is important, because low blood pressure causes uneven skin tone, dark spots, and wrinkles.
The Dead Sea Mud Bar Soap is a favorite of folks who suffer from skin issues such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Many common soaps contain irritants that exacerbate skin disorders, but the minerals in Dead Sea mud treat and detoxify the skin. Users have even applied it to other parts of their body – like their hands – to treat eczema (with excellent results).
But people of all skin types will benefit from the Dead Sea Mud Bar’s many good qualities. The soap also rinses off easily and leaves no residue on your skin. Hell, some people use it as a shaving soap.
- Gets rid of impurities and toxins in the skin
- Organic ingredients
- Moisturizes and replenishes the skin
- Dissolves quickly
The Dead Sea Mud Bar Soap is all about treating your skin and not just cleaning it. You’ll love this bar if you suffer from acne or other skin disorders, but you’ll also love it no matter what your skin type.
Imagine a military drill instructor, his face only inches from yours, screaming at you about your choice of bath soaps.
“This,” he concludes while handing you a “brick” of Duke Cannon Men’s Bar Soap, “is what a man uses!”
OK, we’re men. Certain things naturally appeal to many of us – bad-ass things, big things, fast cars, hot women – so, when someone presents us with a bar of soap that’s three times larger than average, we pay attention.
The founders of Duke Cannon want you to pick up their big-ass brick of soap (it’s 10 oz.!) and take it with you to the shower. Then, they want you to scrub yourself like a man, not like your wife or girlfriend, because you’re using their favorite bar of soap.
How manly is this soap? Well, it’s modeled after the soap that GIs used in the Korean War. Like that soap, the current version has steel-cut grains that give it an easy, secure grip (as well as heavy texture). Furthermore, Duke Cannon puts a portion of its proceeds toward supporting U.S. Veterans, while current GIs field-test the soap.
Not that the folks at Duke Cannon are hard-ass about everything. After all, they test none of their products on animals – “just interns.”
At 10 ounces, Duke Cannon’s soap won’t wear out on you anytime soon, but it has more going for it than just its size. It’s triple-milled for the highest quality and comes in masculine scents such as “Accomplishment” and “Productivity”, geared for a hard-working man who doesn’t mind getting dirty.
You’ll get clean and smell good with this Stonehenge of a bath bar.
No, you won’t smell like perfume. You will smell – and feel – like a man, whether you’re a true bad-ass or not.
- Bigger and longer-lasting than other soap bars
- Masculine scent
- Easy to grip
- The scent isn’t for everyone
Sometimes, bigger is better. While Duke Cannon’s Men’s Bar Soap may seem like a novelty because of its size, it provides a good lather and a thorough cleaning while leaving you feeling refreshed. Just don’t drop it on your toes.
Dove’s Men+Care line is designed for men only and is making an impact on men’s grooming products. Their body and face bar line includes the Clean Comfort scent and has drawn rave reviews from many users.
Then again, Dove knows a thing or two about soaps, body washes, and the other beauty products it has manufactured since the 1950s. Today, you’ll find Dove products in over 80 countries, but our mission is to help you find the best grooming products available, and when it comes to bar soap, few do it better than Dove.
Dove’s Clean Comfort Bar includes 1/4 moisturizing cream that cleanses and hydrates the skin more thoroughly than regular bar soap. It’s also, at least according to Dove, dermatologist recommended, as well as designed specifically for men’s skin.
And, yes, there are structural differences between men’s and women’s skin: a man’s skin is about 25 percent thicker than a woman’s, and it’s also of a tougher texture. Men also tend to have oilier skin.
Dove’s formula for men fights dry skin while maintaining its moisture levels. Unlike with some soaps, the Dove Body & Face Bar for men doesn’t leave an oily film, and its lather rinses easily. The result is a refreshing, comfortable feeling that isn’t too tight or dry.
It’s also mild enough to use on your face and to use daily. Simply rub the bar between your hands to produce a light lather, and then apply it to your face.
The Clean Comfort bar has a refreshing scent that lasts throughout the day.
Besides Clean Comfort, Dove’s Body and Face bars also come in Oil Control, Deep Clean, Extra Fresh, Aqua Impact, and Elements Minerals + Sage.
- Designed for men’s skin
- Hydrates better than regular soap
- Good for face and body use
- Dermatologist recommended
- Some reviewers say the scent is too strong
This soap is for you, men. Dove’s formula recognizes the differences between men’s and women’s skin, and the Clean Comfort bar tames even the toughest skin with a gentle touch.
Best practice: How to use bars soap
There’s nothing complicated about using bar soap, right? It’s very intuitive, and the majority of people use it without giving it much thought.
But that doesn’t mean you’re doing it correctly.
While it’s true that using soap in any way is better than using no soap at all, there still are some things to consider before you hop into the shower (or get in front of the sink) and grab your favorite bar of soap.
Washing your body (while in the shower)
Rinse first – Give your body a good rinse before you wash it. The warm water loosens up dirt and excess oils while also making it easier to get a good lather.
Wash from top to bottom – Start from your neck and work your way down as you wash your shoulders, arms and elbows, chest and waist area, and then to your back (including buttocks and the backs of your legs).
Hands or no hands? – Whether you scrub yourself with your hands or with a washcloth or loofah is a matter of personal choice, but many folks argue that you’ll get a better lather by using the latter items.
Washing your face
Wash your hands first – Washing your face doesn’t mean your hands get clean, as well. Always wash your hands before starting on your face.
Wet your face – Use lukewarm water to wet your face before washing it.
Work up a lather – Rub your soap onto your hands before applying it to your face.
Give it some time – Gently massage the soap into your skin for 30 seconds while using small circular motions. Don’t rub too hard, because you may irritate your skin.
Washing your hands
Remember what your mother taught you – Perhaps nothing aggravates a mom more than a child who gives their hands a cursory 5-second wash in which little soap reaches the hand before a hurried rinse-off. Instead, take your time. After wetting your hands with running water (warm or cold will do), vigorously rub the soap lather between your hands for 20 seconds before rinsing it off.
Be thorough – Scrub all surfaces of your hands, including the wrists, fingertips, and under your fingernails. Be like that doctor who’s washing his hands before surgery.
If possible, use a towel or your elbow to turn off the faucet. You’ll avoid transferring germs to your newly-scrubbed hands.
Dry your hands with a clean towel or under an air dryer, and make sure to jump into nice bathrobe afterward.
Body cleansing – Bar soap vs. body wash
For the most part, bar soap was the only game in town when it came to cleansing your face and body, but then body washes rose in popularity to put a dent into bar soap’s hold on the grooming industry while giving voice to people worldwide who argued the merits of body wash compared to soap.
For one, detractors pointed to soap’s reputation for stripping the skin of natural oils. While it’s true that the soap-making process often creates a product that is a bit high in alkalinity, many soaps include moisturizing agents that hydrate the skin while cleaning it.
Valid arguments exist for both sides, of course, but let’s break the comparison down via different categories.
We talked previously about bar soap’s reputation of not being as sanitary as body washes. The truth is, however, that, because soap bars are rinsed off between uses, the likelihood of bacteria transfer to the skin is slim to none. On the flip side, many people use body washes with wash cloths of loofahs, which can become very bacteria-friendly if not cleaned frequently.
Body washes made their mark, in part, thanks to their reputation as having superior moisturizing qualities to bar soap. Bar soap was said to dry out the skin, but most higher-end bar soaps today include the same moisture-rich ingredients that you’ll find in a body wash.
3. Ease of use
While there’s nothing overly complicated about using a body wash, it doesn’t get much simpler than using a bar of soap. Regarding travel-friendliness, however, it’s hard to beat a travel-sized body wash, and not many people carry around their personal bar of soap.
Most shower units include a specialized space for bar soap. Body wash, on the other hand, tends to take up more than its fair share of ledge space.
Bar soaps tend to last longer than body washes, but that completely depends on the size of your body wash and how much you use each time. At the end of their lifespan, a bar soap’s usability diminishes. You always can turn your body wash bottle upside down to get every last drop.
Comparing the cost of bar soaps vs. body washes primarily depends on individual products. Bar soap is typically less expensive than body wash, but quality bar soaps with specific qualities (such as moisturizing agents) can cost more than a body wash.
Hand cleansing – Bar soap vs. liquid soap
We wash our hands to prevent the spread of germs and to eliminate bacteria that can lead to a host of illnesses and diseases. Period. True, you may wash your hands so they smell good, but the majority of us, taught during our toddler days, understand that washing them is a great way to avoid getting sick.
And when it comes to washing hands, bar soap was a primary go-to option until anti-bacterial liquid soap emerged a few decades ago to challenge the throne. Today, it seems as if every sink has a bottle of liquid soap on it, although you’ll certainly still find “old-fashioned” bars around, too.
The question is, which one is better? Bar or liquid? Here are some things to consider when deciding for yourself.
1. The Bacteria Question
Liquid soaps emerged on the market waving their anti-bacterial flag, and many people simply assumed that liquid would do a more thorough job of cleaning than bar soap. The thing is, it’s an assumption that doesn’t have solid footing.
- For one, bar soap has been used for centuries. Doctors still use it while scrubbing their hands before surgery. If they feared that bacteria would transfer from their hands to the patient, they wouldn’t do it.
- The primary argument against bar soap is that bacteria accumulate on soap while it’s not in use. Yet, scientific studies show that washing with bar soap eliminates bacteria from the soap, just as the soap is eliminating bacteria from our skin.
- Yes, antibacterial liquid soap does a great job of removing bacteria from our hands, but so does bar soap.
2. pH Levels
Bar soap has a higher pH level than liquid soap, which means it can dry the skin – not a great scenario if you have sensitive skin – but there’s not just one type of bar soap out there, as our reviews above attest. Many bar soaps come with lower pH levels, while many contain glycerin, which is therapeutic for dry skin.
3. The Mess
A couple of knocks against bar soap are A) it’s slippery and sometimes hard to handle, and B) it leaves a lathery residue on sinks and counters. Meanwhile, a liquid soap dispenser isn’t slippery and doesn’t leave a mess. There’s no soap scum to clean up in the end.
Bar soaps offer a variety of options when it comes to fragrance, including no fragrance at all, but it’s hard to find fragrance-free liquid soaps, which presents a dilemma if you have allergies to fragrances.
5. The Waste
While liquid soap dispensers present less of a mess when you’re washing your hands, you have better control over how much you use with a bar of soap. You rub the soap bar between your hands until you get the desired lather, then rinse off the residue after scrubbing.
The amount you need is harder to control on a liquid dispenser pump, because the pump, in most cases, squirts out a pre-determined amount. The amount is often more than you need to clean your hands sufficiently.
Choosing the best bar soaps for men
There’s a lot that goes into the making of a good bar soap, as our reviews above indicate. Choosing the best bar soaps requires a lot of research – especially when you consider the hundreds of soaps available today – but we took into account several factors:
- What others thought
While we make up our own mind in the end, we’re always conscious of the reviews of others. Soaps that keep showing up in various reviews must be doing something right. What customers say is equally, if not more, important, and we read online customer reviews carefully. Products that get a high rating on a site like Amazon and a large number of reviews are worth examining closely.
Nothing reveals how good soap is like actual use. How does it work in the shower? On your face? How does it make your skin feel? Does it leave your skin feeling moisturized and refreshed? Is it helpful if you have skin disorders such as acne and eczema?
We always aim to include a wide price range in the products we choose. Sometimes, we’re more successful than others, but it’s always best to provide options that touch on both ends of the price scale.
We’re always in favor of natural ingredients over ingredients that include a bunch of chemicals. Natural is better for you, your skin, and the environment.
- Other factors
We also took into account each soap’s scent. While it’s not a big determining factor for us, it is to a lot of customers. A pleasing scent is always best, of course, but it shouldn’t be too overpowering, either.
That wraps up our review of the best bar soaps for men 2020. We welcome your feedback, as always, and would love to hear from you. Do you have a favorite soap that you think belongs on this list? Do you have experience – good or bad – with any of the soaps listed here? Let us know.