I’ve never read a good thing about bar soap when it comes to face washing.

I cringe when people tell me they wash their face with a Dove Beauty Bar or worse, Irish Spring. Even bar soaps said to be meant for your face catch me off guard a bit. In high school, a friend turned me on to the Neutrogena Facial Bar to help with the single pimple I contracted every two months or so. Years later, I’m certain the bar did absolutely nothing and those pimples just cleared on their own.

Carbon Theory Bar Soap with pink background and yellow sparkles

It wasn’t until college when I experienced some ugly side effects of stress, leading to cystic acne. I’m talking stubborn, painful, and hot to the touch acne. I’ve iced, patched, doused myself in salicylic acid, and I’ve even snagged a tretinoin prescription from my dermatologist. But no single product or action ever worked and these cysts needed their time to be alone. I’ve learned to be patient with them. As they throw temper tantrums, I’ve given them space. And so, I’ve come to accept them as a part of me.

SEE ALSO: This $7 acne gel destroys your cystic bumps in a day

That is, until I heard about this brand called Carbon Theory.It’s a UK brand that’s been shaking things up when it comes to acne-prone skin. Their claim to fame? A miracle face wash that’s a bar. Yes, a soap bar. It’s one that’s made with tea tree and charcoal, not unusual in terms of acne-fighting ingredients. But it was being written about everywhere and in February, it hit shelves at Ulta and completely sold out online after one week in stock. Okay Carbon Theory, you have my attention.

Upon first glance, this brand is ~very~ cool. They believe in ‘clear, cleansed, and clean AF skin’, a motto I can get behind. They’re 100% vegan and cruelty-free as well as affordable (their bar is only $10), and they’re committed to sustainability within ingredients and packaging.  But still, could this product actually clear and ultimately heal my cystic acne? That’s a tough test to pass.


The science behind this bar is all thanks to activated charcoal, organic tea tree oil, and shea butter. The activated charcoal in the bar acts as a sponge to unblock your pores by drawing out dirt and excess oil. Tea tree oil cleanses the skin and kills the bad bacteria. It’s also a natural antiseptic that reduces inflammation (cystic acne’s specialty) and redness. Lastly, shea butter is able to nourish your skin with moisture without clogging your pores. And because shea butter is rich in fatty acids and Vitamin K, it helps pimples heal faster.

VGL’s take:

When I got the bar, I was immediately relieved it came with a resealable package. The biggest inconvenience of a soap bar is not having a soap dish to let it dry out after each use.

My best piece of advice is to get the bar wet and lather it in your hands, not put the bar on your face. This way, you can keep the bar free of all that acne-provoking bacteria on your face and it’s just easier to wash your face this way too.

The bar gives you a tingling clean feeling after washing. There’s actually a tiny bit of exfoliation from charcoal specs but, this bar is totally gentle enough to use as a daily wash. Cystic pimples almost never come to a head and if they do, it’s usually a process you see happen over many days. But after just one wash with the bar, I woke up seeing the 3 cystic pimples I had for weeks, had actually come to a head. A white, poppable head. And no, it wasn’t due to my acne medication. I actually stopped using it to really see if this bar was the real deal. It was.

But what about pimples that were in the early stages? The bar brought my cystic pimples stuck in purgatory to a head but could they send one’s that are sprouting to pimple hell? You bet. I felt a tiny bump forming on my chin one day and I hadn’t used the bar since it worked its last miracle. Knowing if I let the bump go its natural course, I would wake up with a full-blown cystic mess. I washed with the bar and went to bed eager to see what would happen. To my surprise, I woke up and the beginnings of my pimple had been banished. I haven’t skipped a day washing with the bar ever since.


  • Carbon Theory sells a magic face bar that sends cystic pimples running
  • You can snag one for yourself on ulta.com
  • 100% Vegan & Cruelty Free
  • It’s only $10

Bye or Buy?

Definitely BUY – and say bye to cystic acne for good.

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