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Which cruelty-free hand soap is best?

Ever since frequent hand washing became a widely discussed issue, more consumers have looked for ways to shop ethically and support cruelty-free soap companies. However, since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says there’s no legal definition of the term, it’s up to consumers to research cruelty-free brands and identify whether the company does animal testing. 

What is cruelty-free hand soap?

The term “cruelty-free” typically designates products not tested on animals. In 2013, all animal testing for cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients was banned in the European Union, with many other nations following suit shortly after. Countries including the United States and Canada, though, still allow cosmetics brands to conduct animal testing.

Companies that identify as cruelty-free will often say so on the packaging of their products. 

Vegan vs. plant-based vs. cruelty-free

While a “cruelty-free” label means that a product was not tested on animals, the product might still contain animal-derived ingredients.

Vegan products often designate when they include no animal byproducts whatsoever (including honey and beeswax). Vegan products also have no legal definition set by the FDA. Still, some organizations certify when a product is both cruelty-free and contains no animal byproducts.

“Plant-based” is a term commonly used for soaps and cosmetics that have plant-derived ingredients. Depending on the brand, this designation could be for a product a product entirely made from plants or apply to one with as little as one plant-derived element. 

Are cruelty-free hand soaps more expensive?

Cruelty-free soaps typically cost about the same as other high-quality hand soaps. The ingredients in soap  sometimes increase the price, however, so because cruelty-free hand soaps often contain natural, organic ingredients, they might be more expensive than what you’re accustomed to seeing.

Individual bars, or bottles of liquid cruelty-free hand soap, typically cost $4-$8, while multi packs can cost $10-$30. 

Best cruelty-free hand soaps

Best liquid cruelty-free hand soap

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Hemp & Lavender Liquid Soap

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Hemp and Lavender Liquid Soap 

Fully biodegradable, this vegan soap contains no synthetic preservatives or thickeners. It’s highly concentrated, making it suitable for multiple tasks when diluted. It also comes packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled-plastic bottles. 

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Best bar cruelty-free hand soap

Tom’s of Maine Natural Beauty Bar Soap 

Tom’s of Maine Natural Beauty Bar Soap 

Containing no harsh parabens or artificial fragrances, Tom’s Beauty Bar is fragrance-free and contains soothing aloe vera. 

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Best cruelty-free hand soaps for sensitive skin

Best Mrs Meyer Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap Limited Edition Orange Clove

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap Limited Edition Orange Clove

This cruelty-free hand soap uses plant-derived ingredients and essential oils including bergamot and cedarwood. It’s also paraben-free and made without phthalates or artificial colors. 

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Best Everyone Hand Soap Meyer Lemon and Mandarin

Everyone Hand Soap: Meyer Lemon and Mandarin

Free of gluten, dyes and harsh chemicals such as triclosan, this gentle soap has a mild, fresh scent and comes in 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. 

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Best cruelty-free hand soap for dry skin

Live Clean Argan Oil Liquid Hand Soap

Live Clean Argan Oil Liquid Hand Soap

This nourishing vegan hand soap contains Moroccan argan oil, grapeseed oil and olive oil to moisturize hands. It’s free of parabens and sulfates, so you can wash your hands frequently without experiencing dryness. 

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Best cruelty-free hand soap for oily skin

Seventh Generation Free & Clean Unscented Hand Soap 

Seventh Generation Free and Clean Unscented Hand Soap 

Free of harsh chemicals and fragrances, this soap is gentle on the hands without leaving an oily residue. Its packaging uses 90% post-consumer recycled plastics.

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Best vegan cruelty-free hand soaps 

Best Saavy Naturals Body Soap Bar

Saavy Naturals Body Soap Bar

All personal care products sold by Saavy are 100% vegan, soy-free and cruelty-free. This soap has a pleasant Bulgarian rose scent and is free of harsh chemicals that dry out your skin. 

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Ginger Lily Farms Botanicals All-Purpose Hand Soap

Ginger Lily Farms Botanicals All-Purpose Hand Soap 

This vitamin-enriched non-toxic hand soap is certified vegan by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. It comes in apple and pear scents and uses natural extracts such as aloe vera and flaxseed to leave your skin feeling smooth. 

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Best environmentally friendly cruelty-free hand soaps

Best Blueland Hand Soap Starter Set

Blueland Hand Soap Starter Set 

Known for its minimal-waste policy, Blueland’s hand soap is vegan, cruelty-free and comes in pleasant scents including bergamot rose, lily mint and satsuma mandarin. This starter set comes with a reusable glass bottle and three refill tablets. Simply fill the bottle with water, drop in a tablet, and you’ll have foaming hand soap in minutes. 

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Method Foaming Hand Soap 

Method Foaming Hand Soap 

Method provides a high-quality biodegradable soap that leaves hands feeling soft and clean. Each bottle is 100% recycled plastic (except for the pump) and comes with six refill pouches of soap, reducing plastic waste. 

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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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