No more facial soap bars, switching to liquid soap.
November 7, 2009 2:54 PM   Subscribe

What kind of liquid facial soap do you recommend?

I'd like to stop using facial soap bars to wash my face. I've used the Neutrogena "transparent facial bar" for several months, but I don't like how to bar melts away so quickly. What liquid facial soaps do you recommend?

I'm a guy, if that changes your suggestions at all.
posted by mtphoto to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (52 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a huge fan of Neutrogena's bar, but like you say it melts away and no matter how I hide it and tell my man it's for "face only" it'll be gone within a week. Thus, I sulk, because the liquid Neutrogena in a pump soap that you can get in the states does not exist here in Sweden. Gaah! No Fair! Go to the drugstore, ask for Neutrogena in a pump. It's just like the bar but won't melt away. I totally sounded like an ad there but I actually have pals 'import' it for me whenever they're in the states.
posted by dabitch at 2:57 PM on November 7, 2009

this is the box you're looking for. They sell another liquid Neutrogena here which isn't nearly as good.
posted by dabitch at 2:58 PM on November 7, 2009

I use Aveeno. I consistently read good things about Cetaphil.
posted by jgirl at 3:01 PM on November 7, 2009

Noxzema. I know it sounds strange, but take my word for it. I hate soap. Never use it. (Unless I've really been out in the ripe or stepped in chicken poop in the kitchen, but then I use dish soap.)
But back to your face. Wash it sparingly, and a coat of the Nox and a rinse is all you need. Not joking here. A pox on soap.
posted by emhutchinson at 3:04 PM on November 7, 2009

I LOVE Cetaphil. It gets my face clean without drying it, is extremely mild, and I feel like I've had less acne (which is an occasional, not constant, problem) since I've been using it.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:10 PM on November 7, 2009

2nding Cetaphil daily face wash.
posted by contessa at 3:12 PM on November 7, 2009

Cetaphil. I have dry-ish skin, but find that the 'Normal to Oily' is perfect for my skin and doesn't dry it out at all.
posted by essexjan at 3:17 PM on November 7, 2009

Cetaphil is great and non-drying, as mentioned above. I buy the cheaper house-brand equivalent from my drug store (Shoppers' Drug Mart in Canada) and it's just fine.

I used Noxzema ages ago, but now I'd find the camphor in it too irritating. YMMV.
posted by maudlin at 3:17 PM on November 7, 2009

I also use Cetaphil. I've found it lasts a long time, and it's especially good if you have sensitive skin.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:21 PM on November 7, 2009

I'm not a dermatologist, but bar soap is just terrible for your skin. I had typical teenager acne well into my adult years, and I wish someone had told me this sooner. I guess it's man thing to just use the crudest soap. "Soap" practically by definition has high pH.

You want a cleanser that has a more neutral pH. For many years I used the Noxzema soft soap in a dispenser, but then they discontinued it. No, actually I think I got disgusted with the animal testing process the big companies use, and sought out animal-testing-free solution. (look for the rabbit logo, or a statement, on the bottle)

Checking the shower, what I'm using now is made by Avalon Organics. Get whatever you want and can find, but make sure it's pH balanced. Go to your local Whole Foods or similar store that specializes in organics and similar products, you'll find a zillion of these.
posted by intermod at 3:23 PM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and Cetaphil is non-scented, in case that's important to you.
posted by maudlin at 3:23 PM on November 7, 2009

Spectro-gel. Cetaphil is also great. IIRC, they're pretty similar.
posted by sunshinesky at 3:26 PM on November 7, 2009

I love St. Ives Clear Pore Cleanser with tea tree oil. It's becoming harder to find, but I absolutely love it.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 3:30 PM on November 7, 2009

Being a guy doesn't mean you shouldn't have great skin, and be proud to take care of it. One thing some men don't allow themselves to ask is whether their skin is sensitive (gets red and irritated easily), dry (flakes), oily (pimples!), combination (pimples AND dry skin), or normal (none of the above).

If you have normal skin, please feel free to go scrub it with anything you like. But if you're like ninety-nine percent of us, you have some problem with your skin that you just ignore. The wrong face soap can contribute to the problem. If you have sensitive skin and use acne wash, you're going about it wrong. The list goes on, so it's impossible to make a good recommendation without knowing what, if any skin problems you may have.

Having said all that, I use Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser, which is fairly neutral.
posted by brina at 3:36 PM on November 7, 2009

posted by Pax at 3:42 PM on November 7, 2009

If you have normal skin, please feel free to go scrub it with anything you like. But if you're like ninety-nine percent of us, you have some problem with your skin that you just ignore.

This doesn't really make sense. If 99% of people have either oily or dry or a combination of the two types, then the remaining 1% cannot be said to have "normal" skin.

I've never understood this. Pet peeve of mine, sorry.

That said, it is a good idea to figure out if your skin is oily/dry/oily & dry and use an appropriate soap.
posted by dfriedman at 3:44 PM on November 7, 2009

I also use cetaphil - awesome stuff - and on occasion clinique's facial liquid.
posted by latch24 at 3:45 PM on November 7, 2009

If you prefer something that foams (Cetaphil does not), I like these:

-either Purpose Liquid/Clean & Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser (hard to find) <> or
-the cleanser sold on

These are all basic gentle cleansers that don't seem to over-dry or cause pimples, at least for me.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:47 PM on November 7, 2009

I've also used and like Cetaphil but if you don't mind spending a little more $ I'd also recommend anything from the Dermalogica line. I recently started using a couple of their products and my skin has never been better.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 3:48 PM on November 7, 2009

Also chiming in to recommend Cetaphil. I tend to switch between washing with Cetaphil (in warm weather) and using the oil cleansing method (in cold weather, when my skin is drier). You don't specify your skin type; mine is sensitive and combination dry-oily, and both Cetaphil and oil-cleansing feel good to my skin.

I've used the Neutrogena "transparent facial bar" for several months, but I don't like how to bar melts away so quickly.

When I used Neutrogena bars, I would unwrap a new bar and immediately slice it into many smaller slices. That way, only the tiny little mini-bars melted from shower runoff; I always had a stock of fresh mini-bars in a soapbox outside the shower. (This also meant I could take just one mini-bar when traveling.) That might be a useful tip for you.
posted by Elsa at 3:48 PM on November 7, 2009

(something ate part of my comment, which was: the Clean & Clear stuff is hard to find, and it and Purpose Liquid are the same formulation, both made by Procter & Gamble but packaged differently with different pricing. Johnson & Johnson Head to Toe Baby Wash is a very similar formulation, also Procter & Gamble. )
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:49 PM on November 7, 2009

I'm a girl, but I use the not-especially-girly Doctor Bronner's Magic Soap, which, despite coming in terrifying hippy packaging, is great stuff. My boyfriend also uses it and loves it. And even Target carries it these days.

P.S. that is an awesome mad scientist picture on that page.
posted by you're a kitty! at 3:49 PM on November 7, 2009 [5 favorites]

Cetaphil Daily Face Wash!

Gentle, cleans well, only contains what's necessary, and comes in big jugs for about $10!
posted by beingresourceful at 3:52 PM on November 7, 2009

I use the Neutrogena bar soap, but I store it on a special kind of plastic bed on top of a soap dish. The plastic bed is essentially an oval piece of clear/translucent plastic, with many tiny little plastic "fingers" sticking up on top and bottom. The soap rests on top of the fingers, well away from the soap dish, so it stays very dry. This helps the soap last a long time.

If it sits in water, or even if the bottom doesn't have a chance to dry out between uses, I agree -- it dissolves almost overnight. But this soap dish insert is awesome. I think I got my latest set of two from a "Dollar Store" of some kind, but they can also sometimes be found at drugstores.

This is what I'm talking about.
posted by amtho at 3:57 PM on November 7, 2009

If you want to try another bar I like the Purpose Gentle Cleansing Bar, which I prefer over the Neutrogena bar, if I can find it. It also lasts much longer than the Neutrogena bars.
posted by 6550 at 3:59 PM on November 7, 2009

Also, I keep the Neutrogena bars on a soap holder just like amtho linked to. I'll attest that they help keep the soap dry and will last significantly longer.
posted by 6550 at 4:00 PM on November 7, 2009

My fiancé and I use Desert Essence's Thoroughly Clean Face Wash with organic tea tree oil and awapuhi, available at Trader Joe's. It keeps acne pretty well in check, although you should know that because of the tea tree oil, it can be drying if you don't apply moisturizer (I use fragrance-free Lubriderm Daily Moisture) afterward.

Bonus: It's 100 percent vegan, with no animal testing, no alcohol, and no synthetic colors, fragrances, or other ingredients.
posted by limeonaire at 4:01 PM on November 7, 2009

Nthing Cetaphil. After several weeks, I'm noticing a huge difference in the texture and softness of my face.
posted by motsque at 4:04 PM on November 7, 2009

Cetaphil Daily Face Wash!

Gentle, cleans well, only contains what's necessary, and comes in big jugs for about $10!

It does seem more economical then Aveeno, so I'll probably switch someday.
posted by jgirl at 4:15 PM on November 7, 2009

Go to The Body Shop and have them diagnose your skin type. they have skincare lines for each type of skin and use natural ingredients that are glycerin based. all their facial cleansers are gel or cream. i have crazy sensitive dry skin and i use their aloe line, i LOVE it and its the only thing that's ever worked for me.
posted by assasinatdbeauty at 4:40 PM on November 7, 2009

My vote is for Aveeno liquid soap. I used to use Neutro but notice that Aveeno is even better for my swimmer's skin. Even my great doctor recommended it to me.
posted by effluvia at 4:42 PM on November 7, 2009

Yep, Cetaphil. I used to have a seasonal rotation of cleansers and moisturizers because I'd get too oily in the summer and too dry in the winter - now I just use Cetaphil year-round and don't even need to moisturize. It doesn't make my skin glow with supernatural light or anything, but it works as well as anything else I've tried, and other than occasional smallish pimples I haven't had any skin troubles in recent memory.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:48 PM on November 7, 2009

"Soap" is bad for your skin. PH, residue, additives = not happy!

The Dr. Bronner's mentioned above is actually Castile Liquid Soap, a vegetable oil based soap.

Cetaphil has Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in it. This is BAD. Among other things (harsh chemical?) it is a sudsing agent and surfactant. Your toothpaste and shampoo probably have it, too. It gets added to everything meant for "cleaning" for marketing purposes - we think everything with bubbles "works"! This is perception, not always the same as wise. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is probably ok for laundry, though;)

Castile liquid soap does NOT have Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. This is Good.

If you want to read about why you want to keep Sodium Lauryl Sulfate away from your skin, start here and start Googling.

To quote a different source, but no less relevant:

"Sodium Lauryl Sulphate started its career as an industrial degreasant and garage floor cleaner. When applied to human skin it has the effect of stripping off the oil layer and then irritating and eroding the skin, leaving it rough and pitted."

In other words, I try to stay away from anything that is "detergent" on my skin. It's kinda harsh and there are better options.

posted by jbenben at 5:07 PM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I alternate days between Cetaphil and an exfoliant such as St. Ives Apricot Scrub. Cetaphil is very, very gentle and wonderful for dry skin, but it will not help control blackheads or pimples. I'm 40 and constantly asked what I use on my face, so I guess it, along with Prescriptives Anti-Age cream with SPF 25 does a pretty good job.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 5:07 PM on November 7, 2009

I used to use cetaphil, then started using Philosophy Purity. It doesn't dry out my skin as much, but leaves my face extra clean. And it doesn't smell like girls. Not that it matters.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:09 PM on November 7, 2009

Dr Bronner's liquid soap ftw, but only if you don't want be a manky soap-dodging hippy like most of the rest of the respondents seem to be (I keed, I keed).

If you find your bar soap melting away, medical prep scrub brushes - place bristles up - are the best soap-drying dishes you can find. They also add much awesome as nailbrushes.
posted by scruss at 5:35 PM on November 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

After revisiting this thread I will buy this thing called Cetaphil for my son. And I hate products, advertising, sales, etc, but I still need to get stuff. Thanks again, MetaFilter.
posted by emhutchinson at 6:44 PM on November 7, 2009

Target, drug stores, etc usually have a store brand, too.
posted by Pax at 7:21 PM on November 7, 2009

I've found MenScience daily face wash to be awesome, if expensive. Once or twice a week I use MenScience Microfine Face Scrub.
posted by i love cheese at 7:28 PM on November 7, 2009

I like Clean & Clear Daily Pore Cleanser the best.
posted by smoothhickory at 7:30 PM on November 7, 2009

Cetaphil, as recommended to me by a dermatologist.

I prefer the Daily Facial Cleanser to the Gentle Skin Cleanser because to me it didn't feel like the Gentle Skin Cleanser got off the sun screen I put on my face. My sister says the same thing about makeup -- that the Gentle Skin Cleanser could not get her makeup off her face. Your mileage may vary. They have a product comparison also.
posted by mathlete at 8:08 PM on November 7, 2009

Aqueous cream is awesome - can be used as body soap, face cleanser and moisturiser - and it's cheap as chips.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:50 PM on November 7, 2009

My favorite facial cleanser is St. Ives Elements.. It's an olive-based cleanser in a little pump bottle. I have combination skin (prone to break-outs/oiliness in some spots, very dry in others), and I found this to be a nice mild cleanser that left both varieties of skin feeling good and clean. It smells nice, too, and its very subtle and unisex.
posted by Mael Oui at 9:04 PM on November 7, 2009

posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:20 PM on November 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

As a person who has always had trouble preventing my face from disintegrating I have had very good success with Earth Science's A-D-E Creamy Cleanser. I use this along with their Herbal Tonic Mist and Burt's Bee's Carrot Day and Night cream. I have extremely dry skin and this combo has worked well for me. Hope this helps.
posted by chosemerveilleux at 9:42 PM on November 7, 2009

I was not expecting so many responses. Thank you everyone! It looks like Catephil is pretty popular choice. I'll try out a few and see what works best for my skin.
posted by mtphoto at 10:27 PM on November 7, 2009

No soap!

I am a no soap convert (2 years) - just warm water in the shower, and then a good rub with a facecloth for exfoliation. If it's dry out (I have patches of dry skin in the winter) I will apply a bit of sweet almond oil (I buy in bulk from my natural products store) while still in the shower (to help seal in the moisture) let it sit while I dry myself off and then pat off the excess oil. Voila - awesome skin!

Your skin never really needs soap - you should really only be using soap for your arm pits and netheregions. Your body has natural oils that if you keep stripping them away every day will put you in a cycle of over production of oil, thereby making your skin addicted to the soap.

Seriously! Try not washing your face with soap for a week and see how it goes. Of course the best skin care comes from inside with lots of nutritious foods and plenty of water for hydration. Fish oil supplements don't hurt either.

If you must use soap the Dr Bonner's is great. Avoid SLS's! (Sodium Laurel Sulfates).

FWIW I'm female, in my 30's and used to have really awful oily skin that I put way too much stuff on, which only made it worse.
posted by smartypantz at 2:14 AM on November 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

I use Dr. Bronner's, as a bonus it works well as pretty much everything else. You can use it in a bath for some scent. Maybe use it on your hair, it works on mine (of course I tend towards oily hair).

I use it to mop floors and clean my bathroom because I'm not into fumes, so if it doesn't work on your face you can also use it elsewhere.
posted by kathrineg at 9:09 AM on November 8, 2009

I'm a guy too, and use the Liquid Face and Body Wash from Sebamed pH 5,5. It's a good choice for sensitive skin, 100% soap free and alkali free, and works exactly as advertised: "Gently deep-cleans pores without causing dryness". It's unscented, but has a clean, slightly medicinal fragrance. Sebamed may not yet be widely available in the USA, but the brand has been sold in European pharmacies since 1967.

(Btw, Neutrogena facial cleansing bar is not "soap" and does not have Sodium Laureth Sulfate in it.)
posted by iviken at 11:03 AM on November 8, 2009

I've come in to second jabberjaw's recommendation of Philosophy Purity cleanser! The best thing about it is that it's pH balanced (5-5.5 - it's slightly acidic, which is good for skin), takes off all makeup (perhaps you don't need it for this reason) and crazy sunscreens AND won't dry you out.

Also seconding what smartypantz said about SLS, and what jbenben said about bar soaps being too alkaline (alkalinity will harm your acid mantle, which will probably end in pimple city if you're prone). Dr Bronner's is sometimes touted as a mircle cleansing agent due to it's many uses, but it is an alkaline cleanser (the pH is around 9). Probably okay if used highly diluted and not too often but it isn't an ideal cleanser for your face.
posted by wiretap at 4:00 PM on November 8, 2009

I like this Basis face wash. Leaves my skin smooth and has a nice-but-not-overpowering herby, citrusy scent. My husband used cheap bar soap on his face before me and he's a convert to this stuff (if dude-approval is of interest.)
posted by desuetude at 6:46 PM on November 8, 2009

Dr. Bronner's! Plus, it's nice and tingly (at least the peppermint variety is).
posted by fantine at 10:15 PM on November 8, 2009

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