Buff City Soap Review: Is "Plant-Based" Soap Overrated?

Buff City Soap Review: Is "Plant-Based" Soap Overrated?

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Buff City Soap is a popular brand that sells online and at local “Makeries” where consumers can see the soap being made in front of them. The brand’s founders claim to have started the company because they were “frustrated by commercial soaps’ harsh chemicals.”

But is Buff City Soap really a healthier option than cheaper commercial soap? Does it contain any questionable ingredients? How do real users rate its scent and the overall product experience? And are Buff City Soap's non-soap products (laundry detergent, face wash, etc) well-formulated?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in Buff City Soap based on clinical studies to give our take on whether or not the brand is a healthy and effective option.

We'll feature unsponsored customer reviews including our experience purchasing and trying the soap for months, and share our thoughts on the formulation of other Buff City Soap products such as laundry detergent and face wash.

Ingredient Analysis

Buff City Soap ingredients

The ingredient label above is from Buff City Island Nectar Soap.

While some of the ingredients in Buff City Soap are cleansing agents derived from natural compounds like coconut oil and palm oil, this soap contains several inactive ingredients that we recommend avoiding.

Fragrance is a broad categorical descriptor that fails to identify the specific chemical compounds used in the fragrance.

A medical review of fragranced consumer products published in the Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health journal concluded the following: “Results of this study provide compelling evidence that everyday fragranced products can impose serious risks to human health, environmental quality, businesses, and society.”

Chromium oxide is an ingredient in some Buff City soaps that we recommend avoiding, because topical chromium is shown in clinical research to cause skin ulcers, severe redness and swelling of the skin in some patients.

D&C Red No. 7 and D&C Yellow No. 5 are synthetic dyes, and synthetic dyes can have toxic effects in the human body as we documented in our Native Body Wash reviews article.

Overall, we’re disappointed in Buff City Soap’s formulations, especially since the company brands itself as a healthier alternative to regular soap (which we do not agree with).

Not all Buff City Soaps contain the above-listed ingredients, but every Buff City Soap we came across while researching this article contained fragrance. We recommend that health-conscious consumers avoid this brand until they offer fragrance-free versions of their products.

We Tried Buff City Soap Ourselves

Buff City Soap UGC

As the author of this article, I wanted to try Buff City Soap myself to share my thoughts on its scent and the overall product experience.

I purchased the Good Morning Sunshine and Narcissist soaps from the brand's online store, because these were best-sellers at the time I visited their site.

Both soaps smell overpowering and come off like "children's soap" to me. The scent profiles are not as subtle as I prefer my soap to be. 

Of the two, I preferred Narcissist, but I'd still only rate it a 4/10 in terms of scent.

The texture and size of the bars is great. Both lasted nearly a month with daily showers, and the ridges allow for convenient and easy lathering, which can be an issue with textureless bar soaps.

After using this soap regularly, I develop itching and irritation in my throat and sinuses. I thought I had actually come down with a sickness which is rare for me, but as soon as making the connection and throwing out the soaps, it resolved within a few days.

It's also worth noting that we were charged over $10 for standard shipping for these two items.

I would not purchase these products again because I don't consider them to be healthy options and they're more expensive than the (fragrance-free) soap I usually purchase.

Overall, I'd rate Buff City Soap 1/10.

Are Other Buff City Soap Products Better?

Here’s our take on other Buff City Soap products.

Buff City Soap Laundry Detergent – Regular version contains fragrance and we recommend avoiding it.

There is an unscented version available for sale with clean, non-toxic ingredients that we would recommend from a formulation perspective

Buff City Soap Bath Bomb – Contains fragrance and/or coloring agents. Avoid.

Buff City Soap Face Bars – The Rhassoul Clay face bar is the only one we’d recommend, as it has research-backed ingredients and is free of questionable additives.

Buff City Soap Shower Fizzy – We strongly recommend avoiding this product if hot water is used in the shower. It contains ingredients like chromium compounds and fragrance that we do not recommend inhaling via steam.

Real People Try Buff City Soap

One of the most popular YouTube reviews of Buff City Soap comes from a creator named “beautiessentials" who walks through a Buff City Soap store and shares her thoughts on the experience and product scents:

A YouTube creator named Natasha McDaniel shared her experience using a wide range of Buff City Soap products, including shower oils and body butter:

Our Clean Soap Pick

Truly Free Aloe Soap is our top clean soap pick.

Use code LABS30 for 30% off your first order.

This soap is made with safe, botanically-derived ingredients like aloe vera and coconut-based cleansers.

Truly Free's soap is fragrance-free and contains no additive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

Pros and Cons of Buff City Soap

Here are the pros and cons of Buff City Soap in our opinion:


  • Great texture
  • Good value due to the large bar size
  • Contains plant-based cleansing ingredients
  • Mostly positive online creator reviews
  • In-person store experience seems fun


  • Contains fragrance
  • Smells overpoweringly artificial (in our opinion)
  • Some soaps contain synthetic dye
  • Some soaps contain chromium oxide
  • We were charged over $10 for standard shipping
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


We disagree with Buff City Soap’s claims that their soap is healthier than regular soap, given that many of their soaps contain fragrance and synthetic dye ingredients.

We do not currently recommend any Buff City soaps from a formulation perspective.

The only Buff City products we recommend based on their ingredients are Buff City Soap Rhassoul Clay face bar and Buff City Soap laundry soap.

For the most part, we don't consider this brand to be worth the price. It’s priced as a luxury brand but doesn’t provide luxury formulations in our opinion.

We tried Buff City Soap ourselves and were underwhelmed with the scents, although the product texture was great.

At the time of updating this article, the Buff City Soap website (accessible here) appears to be the only official online retailer of this brand.