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Bars Expand Beyond Body Care With Solid, Eco-Friendly Options for Facial Cleansers and Moisturizers

A woman moisturizing her skin with a facial bar.

Photo: Courtesy of Kate McLeod

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Solid skin care has had quite the glow-up, complete with gorgeous bar soaps that are exciting to use and shaving cream bars and sticks so you can shave without standing in a slippery pile of foam. Right now, facial bars are having their moment with gentle cleansing bars and moisturizing face stones.

“Skin-care bars use significantly less water to manufacture than liquids and creams,” says Jenn Stryker, body and hair care expert at Good Time, which launched a facial cleansing bar ($17) in February. “Less water also means the formula is more concentrated; the ingredients aren’t diluted in a 90 percent-plus base of water. Plus, you get far more uses out of a bar than a liquid formula—one of our facial cleansing bars is equal to about three 8oz bottles of liquid facial cleanser.”

Plus, facial bars are often plastic-free, either housed in cardboard or reusable glass jars.

“Bars are less wasteful,” says Giselle Go, co-founder of DamDam, which launched its face wash bar ($47) in February. “They don’t need primary packaging components, and the formulation can be kept at its simplest and most minimal.”

Cleansing bars

Traditional bar soaps are made with drying and stripping ingredients, but this newer generation is designed with skin health in mind and is much more gentle. “Cleansing bars require a specific pH balance,” says Stryker. Because these bars are designed to work with your skin’s pH, they won’t have the same complexion-harming effects as their predecessors.

On the innovation front, these formulas are much better than the bar soaps of Yore. For example, the Good Time facial cleansing bar is made with moisturizing ingredients that can still do their job even when rinsed.

“It was important to me to incorporate beneficial ingredients that specifically enhanced the performance of a rinse-off formula, because most of it goes down the drain,” says Stryker. “That’s why we added squalane and glycerin to help moisturize skin, oat kernel extract to calm skin, and willow bark extract to help balance the skin. These ingredients can be effective even if they only interact with skin for a short amount of time.”



DamDam, Snow Mushroom Pore Cleanser with Exfoliating Glove — $47.00

Designed for oily and combination skin, this bar draws out oil from pores and balances pH levels. Drop it in the included compostable plant-based Cloud Glove to lather the bar and gently exfoliate. It uses salt and snow mushroom. “The salt content lifts all impurities from the pores, clearing up blemishes while snow mushroom comes in to hydrate and nourish to strengthen the skin’s barrier function,” says DamDam co-founder Philippe Terrien.



Edobio, Matsu Soap — $32.00

Made in Japan, this bar uses culturing lactic acid bacteria and yeast to create an alkaline soap that’s suitable for both the face and body. Although mild, it has a concentrated “soufflé” foam that’s filled with natural, moisturizing elements.

 



Good Time, Gentle Cleansing Face Bar — $17.00

Moisturize your skin while protecting your natural barrier with this soap that leaves your skin smooth and clean. It uses squalane and willow bark to hydrate skin and balance pH.



Dove, Beauty Bar — $6.00

The OG facial cleansing bar, this soap-free option from Dove is beloved by dermatologists thanks to its moisturizing and gentle formula. It’s made with 1/4 moisturizing cream to leave your face and body skin feeling papered and looking radiant.



Peach & Lily, Binchotan Facial Soap — $31.00

If you’re dealing with acne and excess oil, this facial bar is for you. It uses ultra-fine Binchotan charcoal powder along with antibacterial rosemary and moisturizing squalane to exfoliate, moisturize, and absorb impurities.



Lapcos, Chaga Rest Facial Cleansing Bar

Chaga Mushroom, a soothing, anti-inflammatory adaptogen blends, with Siberian heart leaf, an antibacterial antioxidant, to restore hydration, elasticity, and firmness while smoothing and soothing skin. It leaves your skin calm, refreshed, and prepped.



Joanna Vargas, Cloud Bar — $22.00

Designed especially with dry and sensitive skin in mind, this gentle and soothing cleansing soap uses coconut and chamomile.



Drunk Elephant, Baby Pekee Bar + Juju Bar Travel Duo — $16.00

This set includes two bars, the JuJu bar and the Pekee bar. The JuJu bar is a multitasking exfoliating bar made with thermal mud and bamboo powder to dissolve excess oils and remove pore-clogging surface debris. The Pekee Bar gently cleanses while moisturizing, clarifying, and balancing skin. It’s made from a blend of blueberry extract, marula oil, and honey.

Moisturizing bars

Moisturizing facial bars are still pretty new to the game. Kate McLeod, the brand that really put solid moisturizers on the map with its Body Stone, launched a facial version ($68) in February. It remains one of very few moisturizing facial bars out there.

What makes lotion bars so wonderful for some makes them a nightmare for others—they leave behind a thick and heavy sheen. As someone with dry skin who wants to look like a baby seal before bed, I love these bars as the final step in my nighttime routine. But if you prefer lighter-weight moisture, these may not be for you.

Although skin care comes in so many different forms—serum, cream, gel, and lotion, to name a few—facial bars are untrodden territory for many. Whether you’re looking to cut down on waste, build your arsenal of TSA-friendly beauty, or just want to try something new, facial bars are the perfect addition to your routine.



Kate McLeod, Face Stone — $68.00

Each facial stone has a base of Kokum butter, which is packed with essential fatty acids and vitamin E to smooth and soften skin while locking in hydration. It comes in three options: Glow (anti-aging focused and features bakuchiol, rosehip oil, and hibiscus oil), Soothe (simple and unscented, features squalane, evening primrose oil, and peony oil), and Balance (antioxidant-rich and made with brightening blue tansy and tamanu oil).



Payot, Organic Nourishing Massage Bar — $23.00

The star of this face and body massage bar is organic rosemary essential oil, grown in Corsica Island, France. Its supported by eight other natural ingredients like cocoa seed butter, oat kernel oil, vitamin E, and sunflower seed oil to nourish skin, leaving it soft and silky.



Ethique, The Perfector, Hydrating Solid Face Cream — $9.00

Designed for dry skin, this creamy bar uses kokum butter, jojoba oil, and hyaluronic acid to soften skin and protect it from transepidermal water loss. Use it morning or night, just be sure to let it soak in for a few minutes before make-up or SPF application.

 

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