Bioderma and Embryollise may be staples in the French skin care canon, though they’re not actually the most classic products. That distinction would probably go to the simple, hardworking bar soap — specifically, Marseille soaps — which date back to the 17th century. Only a handful of authentic Marseille soapmakers remain, though French companies in other regions, like Provence, uphold the country’s legacy as premium soapmakers. These days, the best French soaps come in both liquid and bar forms, and are infused with delightful, floral or herbal scents. Bar soaps from France in particular are triple-milled, so they last basically forever and lather up beautifully (without the addition of stripping sulfates).
Traditional Marseille soap is made of just four ingredients: vegetable oil, salt, soda, and water. Contemporary French soaps, like those featured here, tend to be a little more complex. They may contain added fragrances, the occasional dye, and a preservative or two, though any additives in the soaps included here score low on the EWG scale, so most of them should be safe for use on sensitive skin.
Luckily for shoppers who don’t live in France, a few of the best French soaps can be bought on Amazon. Scroll on to shop them now.