Canstar Blue’s inaugural bar soaps review has compared Cussons Imperial Leather, Dove, Palmolive, Lux and Coles on effectiveness, feel on skin, scent, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Picking the best 20-second tune to hum along to when washing your hands can be pretty simple, whether it’s the chorus to Stayin’ Alive by The Bee Gees or ‘Happy Birthday’ sung twice. But choosing which product to clean your mitts with, can be a whole different ballgame.
Do you prefer scented or non-scented soap? Is it better to use soap made from natural ingredients? To clear things up, we’ve asked more than 700 Australian consumers to give us the dirt on the bar soap(s) they bought from a supermarket or pharmacy (and used) in the last three months. Brands were rated on effectiveness, feel on skin, scent, packaging design, value for money and overall satisfaction. Those that received the minimum survey sample size (30 responses) are compared in our report.
In 2021, Canstar Blue’s inaugural bar soaps ratings reveal Cussons Imperial Leather as hands down the best in the business. It lathered up five-star reviews across most of the board, including effectiveness and overall satisfaction.
Here are the best bar soaps in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s review:
Cussons Imperial Leather has taken the crown in Canstar Blue’s first-ever bar soaps ratings, receiving the only five-star review for overall satisfaction. Dove and Palmolive followed behind on four stars overall, while Lux and Coles sat on three stars.
When it came to other categories, this year’s champion was also the sole brand to achieve full marks for effectiveness and scent. Supermarket Coles similarly landed the only five-star review for value for money. Dove, Palmolive and Cussons Imperial Leather additionally placed as the top brands for packaging design, each securing five stars. Dove and Cussons Imperial Leather also scored the same result for feel on skin.
Inspired by the name of a perfume created at the request of Russian nobleman Count Olaf in the late 1700s, Cussons Imperial Leather is all about creating products that help ‘wash away’ stress, with bright fragrances. Its Australian range only features two bar soaps, including its No. 1 Original Bar Soap and the No. 2 Gentle Care Bar Soap.
If you’re not keen on strong aromas, Cussons Imperial Leather’s Gentle Care bar is said to contain Vitamin E for sensitive skin and a gentle fragrance. Both the Original and Gentle Care bar soaps are available in packs of four or six, with the Original bar also sold in two-packs.
Dove doesn’t exactly sell ‘soap’, according to the brand, but instead, it whips up a small range of beauty bars designed for hands, as well as the face and body. Each bar apparently includes moisturising cream and mild cleansers to seal in the skin’s moisture, supposedly preventing it from drying out.
Dove’s bar soap line-up currently includes the Original Beauty Cream Bar, plus the Gentle Exfoliating Beauty Cream Bar, Sensitive Beauty Cream Bar, Shea Butter Cream Bar and the Go Fresh Touch Beauty Cream Bar. These are typically available in four-packs of 100g bars and can cost between $1.49 and $8.19, depending on the item. Although most are just under the $4.50 mark.
If you consider yourself pretty picky with fragrances, Palmolive offers a bit more variety than some other brands featured in our list. It has several ranges, including Palmolive Gold, Palmolive Naturals and Cashmere Bouquet. The brand also sells two types of body moisturiser bars from its Palmolive Oil Infusions line.
For soft-feeling skin, the Palmolive Naturals collection features key ingredients such as shea butter, Vitamin E, honey extracts, aloe extracts and olive extracts. There’s also the Palmolive Gold bar soap, which is said to include different deodorising ingredients to suit people with active lifestyles.
Lux is just one of many popular brands under Unilever, with Dove being one of its siblings. It offers a variety of cleansing products, including bar soaps in fragrances such as ‘Magical Spell’, ‘Soft Caress’ and ‘Petal Touch’. These usually come in packs of eight. Lux claims its fragrant bar soaps leave your skin feeling smooth and soft, partly thanks to ingredients like almond oil and jasmine. Lux’s bar soaps can be used daily on hands and body.
Supermarket giant Coles keeps the choice simple with just one option, the Coles Aloe Vera Bar Soap. Described as Australian-made, this bar soap is available in packs of eight and usually for $2.30. This makes it one of the cheapest hand soaps on the shelves. Most of Coles’ hand-washing products come in liquid varieties, typically costing $1.50 for a 250ml bottle or $3 for 1L.
Bad hand-washing habits can lead to the spread of gastrointestinal infections, such as Salmonella, and respiratory infections like Influenza. According to various health authorities like the Victorian Government, the best way to wash your hands is with water and soap, and to scrub for at least 20 seconds (or more if there’s still dirt, under your fingernails, for example). Don’t forget to lather the soap on the back of your hands, between your fingers, under your fingers and on your wrists!
The Victorian Government has given a list of when you should wash your hands thoroughly, including:
The global impact of the COVID-19 outbreak has shown how easily germs can spread in daily life. Two in five (40%) respondents said their hand-washing habits have changed since the onset of the pandemic, and almost half of the Australians we surveyed believe they will continue to wash their hands more regularly to avoid getting sick (45%). A similar number of people additionally use hand sanitiser (47%) to keep germs at bay, while some switched to antibacterial soap as a result of COVID-19 (12%).
Check out our graph to see what else our survey respondents said.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Our bar soap customer ratings saw the following results:
Canstar Blue surveyed 3,090 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased and used hand soap from a supermarket or pharmacy in the last three months – in this case, 733 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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