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Why the Bar of Soap is Making a Comeback

By Carly Cochrane - 2 years ago | Updated
bars of soap

The humble bar of soap: slippery, crumbly and oh-so ancient – who would have thought that it would ever make a comeback?

Me being the 90s kid that I am, I have mixed emotions about the barred soap. It brings back memories from my younger years, where I would have to wrench the cemented slab of Dove from my nan’s super 60s-esque soap dish and remove a cold layer of slime before washing.

Luckily, the nation swiftly moved on to the innovative liquid shower gel, and the majority of us (except my nan) never looked back.

Or so we thought. As of September 2018, it was recorded that British supermarket shoppers had spent a whopping £68.3 million on soap bars, which is up nearly 3% from the previous year.

So, it seems like the nostalgic beauty buy is creeping its way back into our bathrooms. Why we hear you ask? Well, if our guide to soap hasn't taught you everything you need to know, here are eight reasons beauty buffs are reconsidering the solid bar of soap (and I might be slightly persuaded).

1. It cuts down on plastic waste

After the backlash against single-use plastic, swapping bottled hand and body wash for a traditional bar of soap has been one way to get a little more eco-friendly.

Liquid soaps take five times more energy to produce and use 20 times more packaging, plus last half as long as a bar – so you’ll be saving your money and the environment: it’s a win-win.

2. It’s not as dirty as you think

We’re all guilty of snubbing soap. The perception that it has a slight ‘communal’ feel and is harbouring tonnes of germs and dirt is normal, yet also totally misinformed.

In fact, scientists have often found that there is no reason to believe that bars of soap are unhygienic as their high levels of pH make it harder for germs to survive.

3. It contains more of the good stuff

Unlike liquid soaps, which are bulked up with water and preservatives, natural bars are packed full of essential oils that are nourishing and provide skin with all the valuable nutrients it needs.

Cold-pressed soaps keep ingredients intact, meaning you can reap the moisturising benefits and all the antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

4. Liquid soaps are detergents in disguise…

Shower gels and liquid hand soaps probably aren’t cleaning your skin as well as you think they are. While they might froth up into a luscious lather, they tend to mask odour better than they actually clean.

5. …Which means your pH levels are under attack

As liquid soaps are often infused with surfactants (chemical petroleum by-products that make foam and bubbles), they can dry out and irritate the skin. As a result, using them daily can disrupt and throw your skin’s natural pH barrier off balance.

6. The bog-standard bar has come a long way

A long, long way. While the Dove Beauty Bar will always remain a cult classic, the choice of barred soap is now endless.

On the market, you can find formulas that tackle every skin concern, from acne to ageing, eczema and excess oil.

7. Soaps are part of the minimalist trend

In a time where our mantra is ‘less is more’, the minimal, simplistic bar of soap becomes our beauty best friend.

Unleash your inner Marie Kondo by decluttering and organising your bathroom, and we can guarantee that evening soak will be all the more relaxing.

8. It feels more luxurious

There’s just something a little more luxurious about unwrapping a fresh bar of soap than squeezing a dollop of gel from a plastic tube. With much of the demand coming from the higher end of the market, you can expect luxury soap to be the next big trend.

Best for body

L'Occitane Shea Butter Verbena Soap

L'Occitane Shea Butter Verbena Soap

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A 100% vegetable base is infused with shea butter and Corsican verbena to create this super soothing body bar. From head to toe, you can indulge in smooth, soft and cleansed skin that's not only balanced but smells delicious.

Best for face

Gallinée Prebiotic Cleansing Bar

Gallinée Prebiotic Cleansing Bar

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Great for cleansing your face and body, this gentle soap-free formula uses a complex of prebiotics and lactic acid to soften and refine skin, without interfering with your natural pH levels.

Best for acne-prone skin

Clinique Anti Blemish Solutions Cleansing Bar For Face & Body

Clinique Anti Blemish Solutions Cleansing Bar For Face & Body

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This cleansing bar belongs to Clinique’s renowned 3-Step System, and is perfect for those who suffer with breakouts and stubborn spots. The fragrance-free formula doesn’t irritate skin and instead clarifies your complexion.

Best for oily skin

AHAVA Purifying Mud Soap

AHAVA Purifying Mud Soap

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AHAVA provides a cleansing bar that's worth all the hype. The Mud Soap draws out pore-clogging debris and impurities, all whilst washing away excess oils. As a result, your skin is left smooth, toned and ready to face the day ahead.

Best for dry skin

Burt's Bees Baby Bee Buttermilk Soap

Burt's Bees Baby Bee Buttermilk Soap

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It might be for babies, but that doesn’t mean that adults can’t use it too. Boasting a rich infusion of buttermilk, this super gentle soap cleanses delicate and dry skin and leaves it soft, silky smooth and free from irritation.

Best for sensitive skin

Avène Eau Thermale Avene Cold Cream Ultra Rich Soap-Free Cleansing Bar

Avène Eau Thermale Avene Cold Cream Ultra Rich Soap-Free Cleansing Bar

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Specially formulated to care for the sensitive skin of adults, children and babies, this soap-free cleansing bar utilises a mild washing formula and adapts to your pH level so that you can indulge in soft skin.

Best natural soap

Dr Bronner's All-One Hemp Pure-Castile Bar Soap

Dr Bronner's All-One Hemp Pure-Castile Bar Soap

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Boasting a fresh and floral scent, this soap is filled to the brim with certified fair trade ingredients, so you can expect the ultimate pamper. The gentle formula is 100% biodegradable and the packaging is made from 100% post-consumer recycled wrappers – you couldn’t get any more eco-friendly.

Best for luxury

MOR Emporium Classics Snow Gardenia Triple-Milled Soap

MOR Emporium Classics Snow Gardenia Triple-Milled Soap

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From the packaging to the scent, we adore the MOR soap collection. They’ll leave your skin soft and your bathroom laced with an indulgent aroma. They even make an impressive gift.

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Carly Cochrane

Written by Carly Cochrane

Carly is a beauty editor at Cosmetify and has been a part of our family for three years. She has over five years of experience in health, beauty and wellness writing.