Still on the quest for the perfect soap? Explore our list of organic and natural soaps, from body washes to bar soaps, that are healthy for you and for the planet.
Natural soap has been around since ancient Babylon, way back in 2800 BC. As civilizations grew and industrialized goods became more common, companies began adding in synthetic fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and other chemicals.
It’s no surprise that many people are looking to take soap back to its roots, before the days of petrochemicals and microbeads. In this article, we’ll look at some of the best natural soaps currently on the market, focusing primarily on bar soaps and body washes. All the soaps on our list will help you refresh, cleanse, and rejuvenate your skin with plant-powered soaps while reducing environmental harm!
As each person is different, look for the soap that’s right for your particular needs and preferences, whether that’s an unscented, mild castile soap or something deeply exfoliating and more exotic.
What Is Natural Soap?
Natural soaps are those that are made primarily with plant-derived ingredients and without any synthetic fragrances, artificial dyes, parabens, foaming agents, or ingredients like triclosan. (You can read more about how unnecessary triclosan and other environmentally harmful additives are in this Harvard study of antibacterial soap.)
It should be noted that soaps made with organic and natural ingredients work just as well as their more traditional counterparts, contrary to some all-too-common misconceptions. Plus, they smell better, feel cleaner, and won’t irritate or dry out your skin.
Ingredients in Natural Soap
The specific ingredients of natural soaps vary depending on the brand and type. Generally, natural soaps are made of saponified plant oils (like coconut oil), essential oils for fragrance, and other parts of the plant such as extracts, seeds, and crushed leaves.
For example, instead of using plastic microbeads to exfoliate, natural soaps include ingredients like sea salt or volcanic sand. Instead of lab-mixed fragrances, essential oils. Fancy, right?
And let’s be honest, not all natural soaps out there will be the real deal. Just because they feature labels with nature scenes and enticing taglines doesn’t mean their ingredients lists are free of chemicals.
This is because there’s no strict qualification for what makes a natural soap natural, meaning that some companies will create products with some natural ingredients, but still leave in additives, parabens, or artificial fragrances.
An Eco-Conscious Way to Clean
Besides prioritizing plant-based, organic cleansers and fragrances over those created synthetically, high-quality natural soaps often feature sustainable sourcing and eco-conscious packaging. This means less plastic waste, no animal testing, fewer environmental toxicants, and products that you can feel good about using.
Our Picks: The 12 Best Natural Soaps
There are a lot of soaps out there on the market, overwhelming buyers and making it hard to pick the right one. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite natural soaps and body washes, from classic multi-purpose castile soaps to those targeting specific needs, such as deep exfoliation or skin hydration.
All of the soaps on this list are made with clean, plant-based ingredients, use minimal or eco-friendly packaging, and will deliver an optimal clean while being good for you and the planet in the process.
1. Public Goods: Castile Soap
Starting off our list is our very own, highly versatile liquid castile soap. Use it as a body wash, to clean your hands, for your face, or even on household surfaces. We designed it with sensitive skin in mind, using ingredients like organic coconut and jojoba oils, rosemary extract, and organic aloe vera. There’s no palm oil, synthetic fragrance, SLS, or any other harsh chemicals. This lightly scented soap is never tested on animals and comes in a biodegradable sugarcane bottle.
2. Tom’s of Maine: Natural Beauty Bar Soap – Fresh Eucalyptus
Tom’s Fresh Eucalyptus Beauty Bar is a triple-milled natural bar soap that invigorates and moisturizes skin with each use. With no artificial colors, fragrances, or preservatives, it’s made with organic botanicals like raw shea butter, eucalyptus oil, and chamomile flowers. These Tom’s general-purpose body bar soaps also come in scents such as lavender, orange blossom, and fragrance-free for sensitive skin.
3. Tree to Tub: Ultra Gentle Body Wash for Very Sensitive Skin
Formulated for people with especially sensitive skin, this Ultra Gentle Body Wash cleanses using clean botanical ingredients that won’t cause irritation or leave behind residues. It’s made from wild soapberries, a fruit that grows on trees and foams up into a pH-balanced lather rich in antioxidants that help soothe and fortify skin.
4. Ursa Major: Morning Mojo Bar Soap
Ursa Major’s Mojo Bar Soap brings an invigorating twist to your daily scrub, made with cooling peppermint oil and bits of volcanic rock. Reviewers praise this natural soap for its exfoliating and energizing qualities. Note that it may not be the best choice for those with particularly sensitive skin.
5. Dr. Bronner’s: Pure-Castile Liquid Soap
The original 18-in-1 liquid peppermint castile soap from Dr. Bronner’s! This biodegradable, versatile castile soap is famous for its use of organic hemp oil alongside other certified fair trade ingredients, such as coconut and jojoba oil. It’s also available in a number of other natural scents, such as almond, tea tree, and rose.
6. The Seaweed Bath Co.: Hydrating Cleansing Body Wash
This Hydrating Body Wash, per its name, hydrates and revitalizes skin with a uniquely formulated citrus and vanilla lather. It’s made with The Seaweed Bath Co.’s signature, sustainably harvested bladderwrack seaweed containing over 65 vitamins and minerals. Neem oil works as an antimicrobial, while aloe vera and coconut oil deeply moisturize skin.
7. Oars and Alps: Blue Charcoal Oars Bar Soap
Another exfoliating bar soap, leveraging the power of volcanic sand to buff away dead skin cells and keep skin clean and clear. This Blue Charcoal Bar Soap also incorporates blue-green algae, witch hazel extract, and activated charcoal, making it a great choice for managing breakouts and body acne.
Note that this isn’t meant to be used on the face, and works best every other day because of its intense exfoliating properties.
8. Public Goods: Body Wash
Simple, clean, effective, and with the refreshing scent of citrus, our sulfate-free Body Wash offers a reliable daily cleanser. It’s made with a blend of essential oils and plants, such as celery seed and coconut, for a nourishing clean that won’t dry out your skin. No parabens, no synthetic fragrances, no SLS, no phthalates, and no animal testing.
9. Rocky Mountain Soap Co.: Lemongrass Bar Soap
This lemongrass bar soap is simply delightful. It’s made entirely from plants and plant oils, such as rosemary and lemongrass leaf, which work together to open up and unclog pores. Best for oily skin, this cruelty-free bar soap is perfect for rejuvenating showers before or after a long day.
10. Method: Body Wash – Stay Hydrated
This Method Body Wash is another great plant-based natural soap, packaged in a bottle made of 50% recycled plastic. It’s cruelty-free and best for gently hydrating skin, featuring ingredients such as coconut milk, aloe vera, and an essential oil blend.
11. 100% Pure: Mango Butter Soap
100% Pure’s triple-milled Mango Butter Soap provides reliable daily cleaning power while deeply moisturizing and leaving skin revitalized. The avocado butter softens and moisturizes, while rosehip seed oil helps reduce dark spots and scars. This natural soap works into a gentle, creamy lather and won’t strip or dry out your skin.
12. Juara Skincare: Candlenut Hydrating Shower Gel
Rounding out our list of the 12 best natural and organic soaps is a sulfate-free Candlenut Hydrating Shower Gel. It’s crafted with Juara’s signature candlenut oil rich in fatty acids along with white jasmine, bergamot, and coconut. This natural soap provides a deep clean that’s gentle and effective on sensitive, dry skin.
Sustainable Soaps at Public Goods
Looking for more ways to get clean around the house? Explore other natural soaps and products at Public Goods, such as our hair and body essentials and household cleaners designed without parabens, artificial colors, dyes, or harsh chemicals such as ammonia. We emphasize natural ingredients, sustainable sourcing, eco-friendly packaging (like bottles made of sugarcane), and carbon offsetting for all of our products. We plant a tree for each order.
Download Our Free Guide to Sustainable Living.
From reducing waste to recycling and upcycling, our e-book shows simple ways to make choices you can feel good about.