Bar soaps are more popular than ever before. Our beauty editor Anna presents her four favorites for your face, hands, and hair
Bar soap, the oldest form of cleansing product out there, is celebrating its return to the bathroom and it doesn’t surprise me at all: Solid, time-tested beauty products with no frills and uncomplicated ingredients have a calming effect in today’s overstimulated world. The more natural and reduced your own care routine is, the better.
A bit of nostalgia always resonates, of course. I still remember well, for example, how my mother used to lay especially nice smelling bar soaps that we had bought at markets in the South of France in my sister and my closets. A clean bar of soap usually looks nicer on your sink than a functional pump dispenser. It’s a matter of taste, of course, but in the drugstore at least you’ll hardly find a liquid soap without brightly colored writing on it. (What I personally dread: A plastic dispenser with a picture of an underwater world, Nemo the fish included.)
But the most important thing here in the environmental aspect. Solid soaps are much more economical than liquid soaps and they don’t produce any unnecessary plastic waste. Moreover, they manage without any synthetic preservatives because they basically don’t contain any water – which is also good for saving resources. But it’s not just a question of washing your hands here: My selection of favorites also contains special bar soaps for your face as well as your hair, which now easily replaces shampoo.
Julia was quicker than I was, but I’ve been washing my face for the last few weeks with a soap by Berlin-based natural cosmetics company Binu for the last few weeks, which was founded last year by Katharina Bürger and Nami Fündling. Binu is the Korean word for “soap,” and that’s where these face soaps come from, too: Nami’s parents, who live in the Damyang region of South Korea, make them at their own family factory. Nice.
What I also like about Binu is that the soaps are 100% natural and, thanks to the plant oils, don’t dry out your skin. You don’t feel any tension or pulling after you pat dry, which honestly is what I had feared for my first soap test. In addition, the soaps have a slightly alkaline pH-value, which stimulates the skin’s own moisturizing process and detoxifies the skin.
My favorite is the Red Ginseng Facial Soap (available starting in November), which is well suited for stressed-out winter skin. It’s main active ingredient is Korean ginseng, a centuries-old medicinal plant that is is rich in vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. This red power root not only activates your skin’s natural protective barrier, it also protects it from premature aging.
When talking about facial soaps, you can’t leave out the pioneer: Erno Laszlo, a Hungarian dermatologist who founded his eponymous cosmetic institute at the end of the 1930s in New York. The “Laszlo Club” – which included names like Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, and Ava Gardner – was extremely exclusive back then. “I owe 50 percent of my beauty to my mother and 50 percent to Erno Laszlo,” Audrey Hepburn is rumored to have once said. His renowned care ritual is as follows: First fill the sink with steaming hot water, then soap up your face and splash it 20 times with the contents of the sink. Follow by rinsing 10 times with clear water. That’s some tough soap business!
Erno Laszlo has a special soap for every skin type. Especially popular is his deep black Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar, which is enriched with 26 minerals from the Dead Sea and has a slight exfoliating effect. That stimulates circulation effectively, which is why the soap also has the effect of being a natural radiance booster.
2. Soap for Your Hands
I’ve rarely seen such great beauty packaging as with Claus Porto, the oldest soap and perfume manufacturer in Portugal, which was founded in 1887 by two German chemists who emigrated to Porto. How pretty are those art deco drawings? The soaps have long since become cult, and not just because of their looks – it’s also because of their ingredients. The heritage brand uses almost exclusively natural ingredients like essential oils and nourishing shea, pistachio, and mango butters.
Another plus: These fine bar soaps are still made like they always were, in seven complex milling processes and finally cured in the air for two weeks. I can hardly ever decide between the different scents and prints, and therefore order several. The colorful little packages are a great gift for guests at dinner parties.
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3. Soap for Your Hair
Wash my hair with a bar of soap? Absolutely. Special hair soaps are especially mild when it comes to cleansing, and that comes in handy during the colder months when your hair is stressed from all of the dry, heated air and constantly wearing a hat. The Hydrating Shampoo Bar by French hair guru Christophe Robin works like a good moisturizing shampoo, just in a solid form, including the Aloe Vera and glycerin. The latter is created naturally in soap manufacturing and therefore doesn’t need to be added artificially. What’s more, it also includes castor oil, which is slowly advancing to a beauty jack of all trades.
And bar soaps are pretty practical when it comes to traveling – at last, no annoying discussion about liquids at the security check right before your flight!
Translation: Melissa Frost
Anna Bok was born and raised in Berlin. After stops in Freiburg and Florence, she made her way to Hamburg in 2007 to study journalism and art history – where she stayed and worked as a freelance journalist with various publications including Harper’s Bazaar, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and Blonde. She’s now returned to Berlin after nearly 10 years in the Hanseatic City. When Anna isn’t writing about beauty, fashion, or traveling, you’ll often find her on her yoga mat (recommendations for studios in Berlin welcome!).