(Beauty)

5 Fancy French Soaps That Belong In Every Chic Bathroom

Amazon

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 handful of the best French soaps can be bought on Amazon. Scroll on to shop them now.

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1

The One With All The Scents

These Pré de Provence Soap Bars resemble pastries, which is a legitimate reason to prefer bar soaps over liquid. Each pastel-hued cake is lightly scented with something botanical- or patisserie-leaning — like Spiced Rum, fresh Milk, Juicy Pomegranate, or flecked Mint Leaf, which looks exactly like a scoop of mint chip ice cream. These are quad-milled for a denser body and richer lather, so they'll feel delightfully foamy as you wash your hands.

2

The One With Matching Hand Creams

If you’re the kind of person who matches their lipstick to their nail polish, you’ll experience a similar, completist satisfaction with these Panier des Sens soaps and their accompanying hand creams. Scents run classic, like rose, orange blossom, verbena, and the iconic lavender featured here. Complete the tableau with a bar soap, body lotion, candle, or eau de toilette (or all of that) in your fragrance of choice.

3

The One Oprah Loves

Oprah included these La Chatelaine soaps on her infamous Favorite Things list in 2019, which is really the only endorsement necessary to buy one and/or many. More reason, other than Her word: Each shea butter base is mixed with argan oil, sunflower oil, and soothing calendula, infused with a timeless fragrance formulated by perfumers in Grasse, and swaddled in a colorful, vintage-inspired wrapper, so these soaps make particularly lovely gifts.

4

The Exfoliating One

Another bar soap that’s delightfully pastry-like: This little bar of Almond Delicious Soap (yes, that’s its actual name) from L’Occitane. It’s studded with crushed almond shells that work as a physical exfoliant, while sweet almond oil and glycerin soften and nourish your skin. Works best in tandem with the brand’s cult-favorite almond shower oil, which shares its delicious almond fragrance.

5

The Modern Classic

Despite the name, Compagnie de Provence was actually founded in Marseille by two friends who wanted to revive the region's centuries-old soapmaking tradition. So in addition to bar soaps that hew to the original, four-ingredient formula, the brand also makes liquid soaps in a range of chic, modern scents. Think: Mimosa Flower; Mediterranean; Olive Wood; and Black Tea, featured here. (Alternatively, opt for the unscented version if you’re sensitive to added fragrances.) As another modern touch, you can purchase refills on Amazon.