With so much extra time (and not to mention, less scheduled activities) on my hands, I’ve developed some good habits in the past few months. But one I never imagined? Making the switch over from plastic bottles to solid-based skincare and haircare.
And that’s partly because today’s beauty bars are a far cry from the harsh, overly-perfumed versions I grew up with. In fact, many offerings on the market now are incredibly gentle, help maintain your skin’s natural pH balance, and even target specific concerns.
Also, it’s a win for the environment, because over 552 million plastic bottles – and that’s just from shampoo alone – reportedly wind up getting discarded every year. And though it’s tough to fathom, especially in this day and age, half of Americans still don’t recycle.
There’s the convenience factor, too, which is why Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care, launched a trio of bar soaps back in 2018. “I think they make having a great ritual with the skin so much easier and affordable,” explains Vargas. “I try to be thoughtful about how busy the average client is, and what can I do to make taking care of oneself a no-brainer.”
Below, ten solid bars (listed alphabetically) you should consider incorporating into your daily routine to help you be kinder to your body, wallet, and planet.
Cannuka Cleansing Body Bar, $18
Generously sized and pleasantly soft to the touch, this bar soap from Cannuka (a portmanteau of cannabis and manuka honey) is generously infused with the star ingredients and oils (think coconut, olive, and hemp) to leave even the driest skin super-hydrated, calm, and supple.
Ethique Jasmine & Ylang Ylang Butter Block, $13
This chunky block by the visionary New Zealand company is packed with ethically-sourced organic cocoa butter and coconut oil to help moisturize in a snap. Just glide over the body after the shower or bath, and pay attention to parts needing extra TLC (like your elbows and feet).
Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar, $38
Beauty trends may come and go, but Erno Laszlo, the cult beauty brand adored by luminaries from Audrey Hepburn to Jacqueline Onassis, has been around since 1927. And if your complexion is especially stressed out these days, try this detoxifying soap, which gets its eye-catching black hue from Dead Sea mud.
by Humankind Hand Soap, $15
Devoted to reducing our use of single-use plastic, by Humankind lets you order starter kits – which have product and a reusable container or holder – and schedule refills according to your usage. While everything is chicly packaged, I can’t get enough of this hand soap block. Its chunky, tactile shape makes the otherwise mundane task of hand-washing nearly a pleasure.
Joanna Vargas Ritual Bar, $22
“Using something like the Ritual Bar in the shower is stepping up your body care. because it contains green tea which soothes and improves sun damaged skin,” says Vargas. “The coffee extract increases circulation, and serves as an anti-inflammatory. The avocado oil nourishes skin as well.”
LØRE Originals The Bar, $20
Founded by the team behind London’s hip Taylor Taylor salons, LØRE Originals aims to take the guesswork out of haircare. With that in mind, there are just seven products in the collection – including this innovative bar, which replaces shampoo and body wash. It’s intended for all hair and skin types, and the compact size makes it a snap to travel with.
Meow Meow Tweet Tangerine Basil Body Soap, $10
Just try not to fall for Meow Meow Tweet, the small-batch wellness brand by Jeff Kurosaki and Tara Pelletier. The eco-friendly packaging couldn’t be any more adorable, thanks for Kurosaki’s charming illustrations. The vegan formulas are blended with clean, plant-based ingredients, and the company regularly donates to progressive causes. And if you’ve got rough-feeling bits and parts, give them a gentle scrub down with this exfoliating bar brimming with poppy seeds.
Odacite 552M Shampoo Bar, $29
The product name rings the message loud and clear. So stop using plastic bottles, and reach for this concentrated solid shampoo instead. It smells clean and crisp – making it terrific for all genders – lathers up generously, and leaves hair feeling so soft and manageable you might not even need conditioner.
Oribe Cote d’Azur Bar Soap, $28
Unlike other products on this list, Oribe’s bar soap squarely places fragrance front and center. And the scent for this – imagine notes of white jasmine, Calabrian bergamot, and sandalwood mingling together – is so seductive, washing up with this is nothing short of a little luxury. The elegant packaging makes it terrific for gift-giving, too.
Public Goods Bar Soap, $3
Don’t be fooled by this bar soap’s understated packaging and humble price, because it’s formulated with high-end ingredients (like fragrant orange oil and sustainably-sourced palm oil) that rival its pricier counterparts. On top of that, it rinses cleanly, and leaves skin hydrated and subtly scented.
SCRUBD Charcoal & Black Pepper Organic Soap Block, $22
This British-made bar soap might be marketed to men, but trust me – everyone will be impressed by the striking color, bracing scent, and purifying properties. (Activated charcoal is one of the key ingredients.) Even better? The bar is loaded with organic ingredients, and because it’s triple-milled – it’ll easily last you for weeks.