Why would you ever go back to bar soap, with so many fancy bodywashes on the market? Even worse, who’d dare rub bar soap on their (gasp) face? Although our impression of bar soap in the west tends to be negative – loaded in drying agents that leave your skin parched and itchy - this couldn’t be less true for traditional bar soaps in Japan. Japanese soaps are prized for their unique formulations and century-old soap-making processes. Although liquid soaps have gained popularity in Japan in recent times, bar soaps remain widely respected and locals often carry their favorite soaps with them to hot springs and bathhouses. Let’s take a look at why traditional bar soaps are still going strong in Japan.
1. Can be used on face and body
If you’re the bare minimalist and you haven’t yet tried Japanese bar soaps, you’re in for a treat because Japanese bar soaps are multi-purpose. Many are designed to target specific concerns as facial skincare bars, while others are gentle enough to be used on the face and neck as well as body. Natural ingredients such as milk, seaweed, clay, charcoal, hinoki oil, horse oil, and persimmon, make Japanese soaps ultra-nourishing and suitable as an all-over cleanser.
2. Natural colorings
Although many bright-colored soaps on the market are pleasing to the eye, chances are their fun vivid colors are due to toxic artificial colorings. Many J-Beauty bar soaps have been colored the traditional Japanese way without chemicals. Ocean mud clay, kelp powder, rose clay, and bamboo charcoal are just a few natural ingredients that lend traditional J-Beauty soaps their beautiful colors.
Bar soap has been making a come-back, for reasons more than skin-deep. Bar soaps such as traditional Japanese facial bar soaps are often wrapped in just a simple paper or thin cardboard box, unlike their bodywash and liquid skincare counterparts, which are almost always packaged in plastic bottles.
4. Tend to be long-lasting
Studies also show that we’re likely to run through bodywash and liquid skincare products more quickly than solid soap bars. It could be due to the way liquid products are packaged, with pumps that churn out more product than we truly need. Either way, bar soap tends to have a long lifespan, especially if you store it on a well-drained soap dish in between uses and remember to lather with a handy Japanese foaming net.
5. Something for every skin type
Whatever your skin type or concern, there are Japanese bar soaps for everyone. Dry skin types should look for soaps with extra-moisturizing ingredients such as milk and squalene. If your main concern is anti-aging, you’ll want to try horse oil soaps that help to reverse hyperpigmentation, dark spots, winkles, and fine lines. Oily and acne-prone skin types may want to opt for traditional Japanese clay and charcoal bar soaps. These types of soaps draw out impurities from the skin, leaving your skin feeling clearer, softer, brighter and more toned. There are even special medicated soaps to treat bacne!
Japanese bar soaps are far more concentrated than liquid products since they don’t contain water. This gives them a more stable shelf-life as well. At the same time, they tend to come at an affordable price, with many high-quality options under $20.