Face soaps are not for everyone, but a pure natural bar can serve a purpose without stripping the skin
In France, women recoil in horror at the idea of washing their faces with soap. Even water is considered too harsh, which is why many French women prefer cleansing oils or tissue-off cleansers.
“Soap should only ever touch your skin from the neck down,” a French cosmetics executive once told me, and I never forgot it. I used to agree, and I still believe that gentle care and handling is the best way to keep the bloom on your skin. But now that I have seen so many beautiful natural soaps come onto the market, I believe there are certain types of soap that can be really good options for certain types of skin. Here they are.
Milk A source of lactic acid, a form of alpha-hydroxy acid, milk soap helps exfoliate and soften the skin as well as soothe itchy, dry or sensitive skin. Try: Alaffia Shea & Rooibos Antioxidant Goat Milk Soap, wholefoods.com; Vineyard Hill Naturals Milk & Honey Natural Bar Soap, vineyardhill.com
Glycerin Mild and translucent, glycerin soaps are made with oil and the emollient glycerin, good for sensitive or dry skin. Because it is so gentle, glycerin soap is also good for babies, and, in France, it is traditional to present newborns with a honey-colored bar. Try: Ila Glycerin Soap, spiritbeautylounge.com; Whole Foods 365 Brand Glycerin Soap, wholefoods.com
Black Soap Indigenous to Africa, black soap is loaded with antioxidant vitamins A, E and F, and it works wonders on acne and blemished skin, for everyone, from 14-year-old boys to 40-year-old women. Try: Shea Moisture Black Soap, sheamoisture.com; Out of Africa African Black Soap, outofafricashea.com
Clay & Charcoal Clay draws out and absorbs oils from the skin, which is why it is best for oily skin. Because charcoal is deep-cleansing, it is especially good for combination and blemish-prone skin. Try: Soapwalla Activated Charcoal & Petitgrain Soap Bar, soapwallakitchen.com; Soap Revolt Naturals French Pink Clay + Peppermint, srnaturals.com
Tip: Never let your soap sit in a puddle on the side of the sink, you will be literally throwing money down the drain. Always keep it on a draining rack, and it will last a lot longer.
New Tools for Cleaner Skin
If you feel like your soap and water regimen needs a little extra oomph—especially if you wear makeup—try supplementing with organic cleansing cloths or plant sponges.
Konjac Sponges Made from the root of the konjac plant, also known as elephant yam or Konnyaku in Japanese, where these originated. They are extremely soft and gently exfoliate the skin while balancing surface pH. When you’re done, simply hang it up to dry.
Organic Cleansing Cloths Natracare just launched the first COSMOS-certified Organic Cleansing Makeup Removal Wipes, and we are in love. Formulated even for sensitive skin, they are made from GOTS-certified organic cotton and remove every last bit of residue from face, eyes and lips, with no irritation. natracare.com