AS LONG I CAN REMEMBER, I WASHED MY FACE WITH CLEANSER. You know, that gel-y, foam-y elixir that is pumped from a sleek bottle claiming to rid skin of impurities without stripping my natural moisture barrier. But a bar? The last time I washed my face with a bar was when my teen derm recommended a translucent, golden brick of glycerine. Or when Rebecca Gayheart was hawking Neutrogena bars back in the Nineties, but that was then. This is now. In the new post-millenium era, facial soap bars have come a long way. From ombre charcoal versions that naturally rid skin of toxins to clay-based iterations that calm redness and refine pores, these bars may just have us all channeling our inner 90s clean skin goddess.

Photo by Kerri Brewer

Meow Meow Tweet Juniper Green Clay Facial Soap

This facial bar not only detoxifies and cleanses with sea kelp and French green clay but boosts lymphatic circulation thanks to essential oils of lemon, juniper and basil. I used it post Tracy Anderson and was left with tightly toned skin that didn’t feel dry.

Verdict: Perfect for post sweat sessions or when your skin is feeling a bit oily or congested.

Dr. Bronner’s All-One Hemp Tea Tree Bar

It’s no secret that I have a brand crush on Dr. Bronner’s. I’m literally addicted to the peppermint body wash, which my husband and I buy in bulk. This soap may just be our new addiction. Made with only organic oils with pure tea tree oil and certified fair-trade hemp oil, this is the perfect everyday cleanser that’s purifying and moisturizing.

Verdict: An ideal everyday cleanser that won’t dry out your skin with enough tea tree oil to be antiseptic as well.

Morihata Charcoal Soap

This bar stands apart from the rest because it uses Binchotan charcoal, which has been utilized for beauty properties since the Wakayama Prefecture thanks to its ability to naturally moisturize, detoxify and absorb impurities. Plus the chic black orb design is the perfect addition to any minimalist bathroom.

Verdict: For someone looking for a pared-down contemporary chic bar of soap–and because anything made and sourced from Japan is amazing, right?

Fresh Umbrian Clay Treatment Bar

Dubbed as a “treatment bar,” this offering from Fresh acts like a triple threat–one part cleanser, one part mask and one part spot treatment. Using Umbrian clay–an ingredient derived naturally from the Italian town of Nocera Umbra, it’s inspired by therapeutic treatments dating back to 6th century B.C.

Verdict: I can’t help but channel my inner Italian siren when using this luscious bar of soap. The best part? It nixes oils while moisturizing as well.

Meow Meow Tweet Tea Tree Charcoal Facial Soap

Everyone is talking about activated charcoal. From your insides to your outsides, it isn’t a hot ingredient for nothing. I love the combination of the detoxifying charcoal with ground oat particles that act as a mildly exfoliant. And the eucalyptus oil makes me smell like I just came from a spa.

Verdict: This one may be my favorite, not only for the pretty tie-dye look but I love the subtle exfoliation effect of the oat bits. I’ve even taken to rubbing the bar directly onto my face for an extra lymphatic boost, making it the perfect at-home microderm facial.