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Different bars of soap on a marble countertop


All soaps can irritate the skin, but some contain ingredients that make them more likely to cause irritation than others, especially among people with sensitive skin.

Here are five important tips to help you select a soap that is less likely to cause skin irritation:

  1. Look for a fragrance-free product
  2. Be wary of products containing certain surfactants (including sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB), or diethanolamine (DEA))
  3. Avoid certain preservatives (including methylisothiazolinone and other related isothiazolinones)
  4. Skip "antibacterial" soaps and be cautious with alpha hydroxy acids
  5. Don't consider "natural" or "organic" cleansers to be safer or more effective

Sign in for details, as well as to see our Top Picks for the best body washes and bar soaps to avoid irritation and examples of other soaps that meet some of these requirements and those that don't, including tallow soap, goat's milk soap, and soap containing olive oil or activated charcoal. Also, see our tips for managing dry skin, including information about alpha hydroxy acids, including lactic acid. Brands reviewed are AttitudeAveeno, Basis, CeraVeCetaphil, Dial, Dove (including Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar), Dr. Bronner's, Honest, Irish Spring, Ivory, Lava, Lever 2000, Method, Native, Olay, pHactPurpose, Seventh Generation, Sunny Sunday, Tom's of Maine, Vanicream, and Zest.

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