Best Pick: Shabondama Face Wash Soap Powder

Best Pick Shabondama Face Wash Soap Powder

Cleansers are never the most thrilling beauty products to write about, but this little hidden gem (at least outside of Japan) deserves a proper mention. Shabondama (“Soap Bubbles”) Soap is known in Japan for producing naturally-derived (biodegradable), additive-free soaps. What it lacks in visual appeal and trends, it makes up for with reputation for gentleness and safety — in fact, its products are often used in hospitals, nurseries, and nursing homes.

Powder cleanser is rather good for travellers; it’s liquid-free, light, and compact (especially if you decant into little single use sachets). I’ve used Shabondama Face Wash Soap Powder on and off for ages and I think it’s very nice if you just want a functional cleanser that’s travel-friendly. It is as uncomplicated as it comes — just one ingredient: sodium tallowate and/or sodium palmitate. It is the same soap ingredient found in Dove Beauty Bars and many Japanese cleansing products.

I’m totally baffled by the inexplicably bad reputation that soap seems have developed in the West. Many articles and blog posts say it is one of the harshest ways to clean skin due to its inherent basic pH. What makes this so brilliantly ironic is that soap ingredient is the mainstay of Japanese skin-cleansing products, especially in lineups formulated for delicate skin! It is often prefered over synthetic surfactants as it is said to be safer overall longterm. But each to their own — whatever floats your boat. How your skin feels and reacts afterwards is what matters.

I use the Face Wash Soap Powder as a face and body wash when I’m travelling. Sabondama Soap advises to use a foaming net and I most certainly agree — you want to work it into a fluffy, foamy lather first, and it’s near impossible without one. Unlike most cleansing powders in the market, it doesn’t have any exfoliating properties. It rinses off well and the lather is completely scent-free. It is effective without leaving my normal skin (especially the face) taut and stripped, but not so gentle that it seems to be a little wishy-washy and useless for the body. Makeup-removing will need to be done beforehand.

I have to say that I use this almost exclusively when I’m away and want to pack very light. Cleansing powders are just too much faff and this one-ingredient version is a bit mundane when I’m at home with all my potions. But Sabondama Face Wash Soap Powder‘s is a truly suit-all formula — safe for adults, babies, and enviroment (it’s biodegradable) — that works nicely on the face and body.

Sabondama Face Wash Soap Powder is ¥678 at Amazon Japan HERE for the 70g bottle; 70g refill is HERE — international shipping is via AmazonGlobal. accepts press samples but does not participate in sponsored product placement posts. Outbound links to retailers are usually affiliate links, which means that I may receive a small commission if you click on one of these links and make a purchase. This does not cost you anything but you are welcome to search the products on a new page if you prefer.

6 Comments on Best Pick: Shabondama Face Wash Soap Powder

  1. Out of curiosity, if you use this product to shampoo your hair, is it good enough without using a conditioner? Or would you still use a conditioner after you rinse it out?

    • If you don’t usually use conditioner after you shampoo, I would guess that you probably not going to need one for this either. I’ve never tried it on my hair.

      Interestingly enough, Shabondama’s powder shampoo (called “Powder Soap Shampoo”) has the same one-ingredient formula as this face wash. The conditioner (called “Powder Rinse”) that goes with it contains just citric acid.

  2. I’m really enjoying all your product reviews. Please keep them up! Can you please find a link to an inexpensive foaming net on Amazon Japan that I can also purchase? Thanks!

  3. I couldn’t find this in Matsumoto kioshi, do you know if it’s readily available everywhere? Also, why do you suppose the west has eschewed traditional soap over synthetic cleansers? If I can get away with using a bar of soap to wash my face I’m definitely going to start because soap is so much cheaper than face wash.

    • It should be widely available in drugstores although it doesn’t seem to be listed in Matsukiyo’s website, so its physical stores might not stock it either . I personally usually buy it from Amazon.

      My guess is for similar reason why countless Western brands are abandoning parabens, which have actually been timed-tested to be perfectly safe, for newer alternatives that are often not as effective, potentially more irritating, and not proven to be safe longterm.

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