Written by Grove Collaborative

The 10 best natural & organic soaps & body washes.

Last Updated: October 28, 2020

These top natural and organic soaps and body washes are not only effective, but also free from unhealthy ingredients that might harm you or the environment.

Here at Grove Collaborative, we’re big believers in the power of natural products — both for ourselves and for the planet. But we know making the switch can be daunting, especially if you’re accustomed to conventional products and are new to the world of natural, eco-friendly alternatives. That’s why we’ve created Beginner’s Guides to Natural. Each week, we’ll give you a primer on the ins and outs of transitioning to a natural version of a common household item, plus a few of our favorite brands for making the switch. Let’s get to swapping!

Washing your hands often is necessary for killing germs, staying healthy, and helping to keep those around you healthy as well. But you wash your body pretty often, too, and you wouldn’t even entertain the thought of using hand soap in the shower. (Right?) So let’s talk about soap and your body — is natural and organic the best way to go when it comes to body wash? Learn the answer to this and other gritty questions as we explore ingredients, effectiveness, and our top 10 natural soaps and body washes for 2020.


What is soap?

Ah, the question of many a grubby little kid. The basic components of conventional soaps start with fatty acids from fats and oils, such as animal-derived tallow or plant-derived oils like coconut or palm. This is mixed with alkali — often listed as sodium hydroxide — combined with a liquid like aloe or water or, in the case of liquid soap, potassium hydroxide. Once the water evaporates, just glycerin and soap remain: the result of a chemical reaction known as saponification.

Grove Tip

Would we lye to you?

While lye sounds like a harsh chemical — because technically, it is — it’s actually the most common alkali used in soapmaking and is required in order for a product to be called soap, whether natural or conventional. The soap’s label might not list lye per se, because lye becomes something else in the end, but this substance is part of the saponification process in bar soaps. All other cleansers for hand and body, such as liquid cleansers, moisturizing bars, and body washes, are technically detergents — not actual soap.

Questionable ingredients in conventional body wash & bar soaps

Throughout history, the process of mass-producing soap and body washes has become more and more laden with synthetic ingredients and, unfortunately, many of those ingredients are linked to health and environmental harm. Things to avoid:

  • Artificial fragrances: Contain numerous toxins, including phthalates—known to be associated with reproductive and thyroid harm—along with derivatives of petroleum
  • Diethanolamine or DEA: Associated with kidney and liver problems and considered a carcinogen
  • Parabens: Associated with estrogen issues and harmful to both the body and environment
  • Sodium Lauryl and Laureth Sulfate: Add foaming action, but can irritate skin and lungs and is harmful to marine life
  • Triclosan: Banned by the FDA in hand sanitizers due to its link to organ damage and buildup in the body, but it still can be found in cleaning products

What are natural soaps?

Natural soaps are those that don’t contain the artificial, super-harsh ingredients that are wholly unnecessary for a good clean. We’re happy to assure you that natural soaps are just as effective as conventional soaps—and they usually smell better, too.

Is natural soap chemical-free?

Great question — but one that’s often misunderstood. Here’s the thing: Chemicals are found all over the place in nature, and not all chemicals are harmful. But certain artificial or synthetic chemicals can do harm to our bodies and the environment. Natural soaps and body washes are free of the unhealthy chemicals that many conventional products contain.

What is African black soap?

African soap contains as, which provides the required alkali for the saponification process, from African plants and peels. This is how African black soap gets its rich, dark color. It’s known to have antimicrobial properties and is beneficial to oilier and acne-prone skin. Plus, it just looks cool.

What are the ingredients in natural soap and body washes?

Base oils

The sky’s the limit — base oils in natural soaps and body washes include coconut oil, almond oil, avocado oil, hazelnut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter ... the list goes on.

Essential oils

A wide range of essential oils — from tea tree to peppermint — provide safe fragrances and specific benefits to your skin.

Plants

Plant extracts, oils, and even parts — like fruits and leaves — provide antioxidants, color, exfoliation, necessary fats and emollients, and/or nutrients.

Is natural soap better for your skin?

The trouble with bubbles

The same ingredients in conventional soap that make it “sudsy” often include known harmful chemicals like sulfates — commonly known as SLS. Artificial fragrances in conventional soaps contain many harmful substances and are often made from petroleum (as in petrol — you know, like what makes engines run).

How do you make your own organic soap?

Impressive that you want to, but soap requires the saponification (a.k.a. complicated) process, which involves the delicate combination of lye with water. This — along with the cost of equipment, safety measures, and ingredients — makes us recommend purchasing natural soaps that are already mindfully made and often more affordable. Find your perfect fit below!

Grove Tip

Avoid the "squeak"

Skin doesn’t have to be stripped and squeaky in order to be clean. In fact, dry, cracked skin as a result of harsh soap and detergents actually allows more bacteria to get into those little cuts. Definitely a case for going au naturale when it comes to soaps and arguably even more so regarding body washes, as those are usually the most moisturizing and gentlest on skin.

Our top 10 picks for natural body washes and soaps

At Grove, our mission is to make it easy to choose natural and organic body washes and soaps — all of our products meet high standards for safe ingredients that are good for us, our planet, and future generations. Among our many awesome natural organic soaps and natural body washes, we’ve narrowed down our top 10 favorites, according to customers and staff accolades.

Best organic bar soaps

Peach Moisturizing Hand & Body Bar

Why we love it: This moisturizing body and hand soap bar is crafted with a combination of passionfruit seed and other antioxidants and produces a juicy, sudsy lather thanks to coconut-derived sulfates — no SLS or SLES that strip skin of natural oils. The best part? The plastic-free bar lasts as long as three 22-ounce bottles of body wash, which prevents those bottles from entering our ecosystem once they’re tossed.

Yes to Coconut Ultra Hydrating Milk Bar Soap

Why we love it: The brand Yes To is amazing, first of all. It’s absolutely cruelty-free, vegan, and a great value. This Coconut Milk Bar Soap features key organic ingredients, gets skin nice and clean, but also is hydrating and exfoliating, thanks to pure coconut and other gentle plant-based extracts.

The Seaweed Bath Co. Detox Exfoliating Body Soap

Why we love it: The Seaweed Bath Co. focuses on the incredibly nourishing vitamins and antioxidants of seaweed in its products, and this exfoliating body soap doesn’t disappoint. A simple array of seaweed, coconut oil, coffee bean, glycerin, and other natural components provides a refreshing, gentle treatment for your skin.

Grove Co. Hydrating Bar Soap

Why we love it: More than 1,700 customer reviews speak for themselves: The Grove Co. Hydrating Bar Soap checks all of our boxes for body- and earth-friendliness, and soothing oatmeal, olive oil, lavender and other pure ingredients deliver on both cleanliness and hydration.


Healthiest body washes

Rooted Beauty Rejuvenating Body Wash

Why we love it: Rooted Beauty gets it right, with the brand’s signature R7 recipe of seven root extracts full of antioxidants and nutrients. Customers love the natural scent of this body wash— and they rave over softening, soothing ingredients like calendula extract plus jojoba and argan oils.

Method Body Wash

Why we love it: There’s a reason Method is so widely loved — the company understands simple, quality ingredients. This body wash features cruelty-free, plant-derived components and comes in a variety of scents to invigorate, calm, or detoxify, whichever you prefer. Method’s packaging is 65% recycled, which also scores eco-friendly points.

Mrs. Meyer’s Body Wash

Why we love it: Oh, Mrs. Meyer’s, you’re so beloved. Like the brand’s other best-sellers, this Mrs. Meyer’s Body Wash comes in amazing scents, and all of them are paraben-free and derived from more than 90% natural ingredients. Fresh and clean, soft and hydrated skin at a great value.


Best natural soap for sensitive skin

Tree to Tub Gentle Body Wash for Very Sensitive Skin

Why we love it: Tree to Tub is super-focused on exactly what your skin type needs, so even though this is a body wash and not technically soap, it makes the list for being excellent for sensitive skin. Customers love Tree to Tub’s all-natural, pH-balancing ingredients, and they swear by the hydrating, sudsy effect of soapberry.

Babo Botanicals Sensitive Skin Hydra Therapy Wash

Why we love it: Babo Botanicals is all about helping the entire family enjoy clean, healthy skin. This sensitive skin body wash is fragrance-free and dermatologist tested. Along with its colloidal oatmeal to soothe dryness—plus sunflower and other oils and nutrients, this body wash will treat your skin with TLC.


Best African black soap

SheaMoisture African Black Soap Bar

Why we love it: SheaMoisture’s story alone will make you a believer. Founder Richelieu Dennis’s grandmother, Sofi Tucker, began selling shea nuts and shea butter in her home country of Sierra Leone. The brand is a beacon not only for empowering women globally, but also for pure, clean products. This traditional African black soap both calms and clears skin with traditional ingredients and rich shea butter.

Best natural body wash (or soap) for men

Oars + Alps Exfoliating Bar Soap

Why we love it: We don’t really go in for calling them “men’s” or “women’s” products, and that’s why we love Oars & Alps. Men and women both love this exfoliating bar soap. Its blue charcoal and blue-green algae extract cleanse and exfoliate the skin, while shea butter helps moisturize.

Shop natural soaps and body washes


Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered with our buying and cleaning guides. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on your natural skin care, shop Grove Collaborative's body care essentials for the natural products that make the job easy.

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