Japanese Soap: 12 Best Bar Soaps
What is Japanese soap?
Japanese soap is loved around the world. During my years spent living in Tokyo (and traveling the country) I got to experiment with the wide range of Japanese soap available. They range from everyday brands, which can be found at convenience stores and pharmacies, to boutique brands found in independent shops and department stores.
What kinds of Japanese soap are there?
Japanese soap often makes use of unique ingredients such as milk, charcoal, hinoki oil, persimmon, horse oil and baking soda. Many are revered for their moisturizing properties, ability to create a beautiful foamy lather and suitability for sensitive skin. Some of the companies included below have been refining the craft of soap making for over a century!
Japanese Soap: Liquid vs. Bar
While there is a general global trend towards liquid soap, bar soap is still incredibly popular in Japan and is a much better environmental choice too. When visiting onsen (hot springs) in Japan, it is common to find liquid body soap available in pump bottles, as it is shared amongst bathers. However, visit a local sento (bath house) and you’ll see most visitors bring their own soap bar instead. Bar soap is commonly used in households too.
What is the most popular Japanese soap?
The following list looks at some of the most popular Japanese soap available. This includes products that have been favorites for generations, through to modern products that have developed a cult following.
Japanese Soap: Best Bar Soaps
1. Cow Brand Beauty Soap
With its iconic packaging, Cow Brand Beauty Soap stands out on the shelf in stores. It is one of the most beloved Japanese soap products in the country. Over one million bars are manufactured each year and it is commonly found in Japanese homes. Incredibly, these soap bars are all still made by hand! The primary ingredient is milk, which nourishes and brightens skin. Unlike many bar soaps, it doesn’t dry out or tighten skin and it creates quite a foamy lather. It comes in two different scents; the original in the red box, contains rose fragranced soap, while the blue box is jasmine fragranced.
2. Kao White Soap
A creamy soap that gently washes the skin, Kao White Soap is made with 100% raw plant material (including natural palm milk) and has a gentle white floral scent. It foams well into a thick lather with creamy bubbles and is much loved by many Japanese families. The product was launched in 1970.
3. Miyoshi Additive Free Soap
Another cult favorite is this additive free white soap by Miyoshi. It contains no preservatives and no fragrance or color additives. Miyoshi have been producing soap in Tokyo since 1919. It is a gentle formula, with moisturizing ingredients. Like most of the soaps listed here, it produces a beautiful lather!
4. Hinoki Deitanseki Face Wash Soap (Clean Type)
Check out the reviews, people love this product. This Japanese charcoal soap is the most popular item by Hinoki Deitanseki, a company based in Shizuoka. The soap contains natural ingredients such as medicinal charcoal, bentonite (clay), kaolin (clay mineral), papain (a moisturizing ingredient extracted from papaya) and pure hinoki oil (for its antibacterial and relaxing effects). It gently washes the skin, removing makeup, dead skin and sebum. It is ideal for sensitive skin, and hinoki smells incredible too!
5. Max Kishu Binchotan Charcoal Soap
This charcoal soap is possibly the bestselling Japanese soap on Amazon and has pretty staggering ratings to match. Many customers using this product report improvements with acne, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions. Charcoal helps to extract skin impurities and treat oily skin, by exfoliating and moisturizing the body. The soap has a relaxing scent of hinoki, Japanese cypress. Produced by Max Corporation.
6. Pelican Persimmon Soap
Pelican have been producing soaps in Saitama for over half a decade and one of their most well loved items is this Persimmon Soap. It has a refreshing citrus fragrance blended with rosemary oil, designed to naturally fight body odors. It also contains tea extracts, creates a rich lather and refreshes the whole body. Ideal for daily use.
7. Pelican Horse Oil Soap
Also produced by Pelican is this cult product, Horse Oil Soap. While horse oil may sound like an unusual ingredient, it is incredibly popular in Asian beauty products thanks to its moisturizing properties. This soap creates a bubbling foam and is suitable for daily use.
8. Pelican Hips Soap
Soap especially formulated for your bottom! Pelican Hips Soap has the scent of peach and comes in a cheeky shape. It is designed to treat underwear friction and the build up of keratin from sitting long hours. It contains extracts from peach, loquat and honey and has both scrub and moisturizing properties. I’m honestly surprised by just how popular this niche product is!
9. Keana Nadishiko Baking Soda Soap
Who knew baking soda was the ideal soap ingredient? Produced by Ishizawa Laboratories, Keana Nadishiko Baking Soda Soap is designed to loosen dead skin and cleanse pores. It is 100% vegetable oil-based and can be used on the face and body.
10. Muse Medicated Solid Soap
Manufactured by Reckitt Benckiser, Muse Medicated Solid Soap has been in production for over 50 years. It is one of the top-rated soaps on Cosme in Japan (the holy-grail of beauty sites). Muse produces a thick lather and is well known for preventing body odor and fighting bacteria.
11. DHC Mild Facial Soap
Designed for sensitive skin, this DHC Mild Facial Soap is a gentle facial cleansing bar. Enriched with honey and olive oil, this plant-derived soap develops a silky lather. Praised for keeping skin moisturized, many customers report using this product for years, thanks to silky smooth results. Made using traditional soap making methods, it takes one month to make a bar of soap!
12. Tamanohada Welcome Soap Pomegranate
And finally, if there’s an award for most beautiful looking soap, it goes to Tamanohada. They’ve been making soap in Tokyo for over a century, making them the oldest soap company in Japan. This particular range is produced in carved wooden molds (similar to Japanese sweets, known as wagashi) to create these unique shapes. The fish shaped ‘welcome’ soaps come in 3 scents; black is muscovado (a type of sugar), red is pomegranate and white is lily. They are perfect for sensitive skin and will also perfume your bathroom.
Tamanohada also produce a sphere shaped soap range that comes in fig, lavender, gardenia, musk, orange and rose.