Zooey Deschanel & Viral TikToks Obsess Over Bar Soap, But Is It Actually Good For Skin? — Shop Now
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As evidently seen through her vintage-inspired flair and timeless approach to hair and makeup, Zooey Deschanel is a fan of the classics — including opting for good ‘ol bar soap rather than fancy body washes. In a recent interview with CNN, the star shared that she likes to keep it simple when it comes to her shower routine, dubbing Dove’s Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty Bar Soap as one of her beauty must-haves.
“I use bar soap because it’s a lot better for the environment,” Deschanel explained in a recent interview with the news outlet. “I haven’t gotten into bar shampoo yet — I would love to find a bar shampoo because that’s also better. We just use Dove Sensitive. I have sensitive skin and it’s just a regular bar of soap.”
Deschanel isn’t alone. Last year, bar soap experienced a digital-age renaissance after several TikTok videos claimed its simplistic ingredients were the secret to banishing acne for good, with the hashtag #barsoap even garnering north of 8 million views.
“When I got my nose pierced, they said clean your face with a bar of dove soap and my skin cleared up so much,” TikTok user @zootedzena said in a now-deleted viral video often cited as one of the catalysts for this trend.
But even amid these bold claims of life-changing results — ones that some seemingly swear by and others detest — does the secret to soft, shining skin really lie in a good ‘ol bar of soap? The answer, it seems, is much more complex than meets the eye, even calling the very definition of soap into question.
Despite the promises of viral videos, bar soap alone — specifically Dove bar soap — will not cure your acne, a fact that dermatologist/TikTok star Angelo Landriscina plainly told Vice.
“I don’t think the Dove bar itself is a reliable agent for treating acne,” he explained amid the height of the soap’s viral popularity back in December 2020.
And he’s not alone. "If someone says it made their acne go away, I would guess that’s either coincidence or whatever cleanser they were using before was even worse for their skin for some reason," chemist Michelle Wong recently explained to Refinery 29.
So, why exactly does it work for some people? As it turns out, not all soap is created equal — or is even soap at all — at least in the eyes of the FDA.
“Today there are very few true soaps on the market,” read a resource posted to the agency’s website. “Most body cleansers, both liquid and solid, are actually synthetic detergent products. Detergent cleansers are popular because they make suds easily in water and don't form gummy deposits. Some of these detergent products are actually marketed as 'soap' but are not true soap according to the regulatory definition of the word."
In other, non-government-agency words, this means that while some soaps — or products that appear to be soaps — can be incredibly drying, others can be nourishing to the skin. It seemingly all comes down to their composition, whether they contain multiple surfactants, which can dry out the skin, or conversely, whether they’re created with moisturizing compounds that can help keep skin feeling soft.
"I look for oils (sunflower, soybean), ceramides, cholesterol, fats (like caprylic/capric triglycerides), shea butter, vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate), glycerin, and oatmeal. I also like vitamin C, aloe, and jojoba oil—they're all useful and hydrating,” dermatologist Jason Emer told Allure back in 2013, noting that he also opted to avoid “fragrances and preservatives” when selecting a good bar soap or solid cleansing product.
His picks for items that check all of the above boxes? “Neutrogena Facial Cleansing Bar and Dove White Beauty Bar are good options,” he advised.
But Emer and Deschanel aren't the only ones who have recommended Dove’s Beauty Bar. Last year, Dr. Mona Gohara, who serves as Dove’s Head Dermatologist, also recommended the product to Bustle but pointed out it falls under the category of not being soap — which, according to her, is actually better for you.
"I truly wish people would stop using soap! The harsh surfactants in soaps strip the skin barrier leaving behind a tight, itchy irritated feeling,” she explained, advising that skincare aficionados “stick with gentle cleansers that nourish and moisturize to ensure skin health.”
As such, she suggested the Beauty Bar noting it "won’t strip away skin’s moisture like soap can."
A two-pack of Dove’s Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Unscented Beauty Bar Soap retails for $3.49 at target.com.
A three-pack Neutrogena’s Facial Cleansing Bar Fragrance retails for $4.99 at target.com.