eco-friendly bar soaps that don’t leave your skin feeling rubbery

Bar soap is way better for the environment, and these ones are good for your skin too.

by Shannon Peter
|
05 March 2019, 4:06pm

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Welcome to The Beauty Algorithm , i-D’s fortnightly column in which beauty editor, Shannon Peter, answers the internet’s nichest beauty queries. Want to know how to smell like the cola-scented gel pens of your pre-teen pencil case? Or where to find an eye shadow the perfect shade of EU blue? No request is too specific! This week, the algorithm delves into the saintly world of bar soap, but only the ones that don’t leave you with the skin of a rubber duck, mind!

Remember when you were younger and bar soap was just standard issue in any bathroom? A bathtub just wasn’t complete if there wasn’t a slab of Imperial Leather gathering gunk perched on its corner. Of course, that all changed when we all turned into germaphobes, and stockpiled liquid body wash like it was the only thing standing between us and a rerun of the plague.

Nowadays, bathtubs tend to be rimmed with near-empty bottles of shower gel that topple like bowling pins every time you climb in. Problem is, this preference for bottled shower gel has contributed to the gigantic glut of plastic pollution haunting the Earth right now. That’s why, as people attempt to lessen their eco-impact or even push towards a zero waste lifestyle, old-school bar soap is experiencing a resurgence. Packaged in, at most, a recyclable cardboard box, it’s a win for the ecosystem, but for your skin -- why is it that bar soap leaves your arms and legs feeling so shit? Reddit user u/RyJT explained it best in the title of this post: “Why does bar soap make my skin feel rubbery and waterproof?”

Riiiiight? There’s something about it that seems to leave your body all grippy and weird, like you’ve emerged from the shower dipped in a thin layer of wax. The reason for these odd sensations is that regular soap can contain pretty harsh surfactants -- the chemicals that get rid of excess oil and grime, but tend to strip skin of all its natural moisture in the process, making it feel dry or tight. Some soaps also affect the pH of the skin, which can make it freak out too.

That isn’t an excuse to stick to your plastic bottle of shower gel, though. Bar soap that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re living in a permanent wetsuit does exist. I’ve found some! Here’s the ones I’d recommend:

If you’re vegan, or at least your beauty routine is, Haeckels Exfoliating Seaweed Block is worth checking out. It’s made from vegetable oils mixed with seaweed and aloe vera to add moisture back into the skin, as well as crushed coriander seeds and peppercorns to scrub away at rough patches. It’s so satisfying.

BEco’s Triple Milled Organic Soap is hydrating, too, thanks to vegetable-derived glycerin that stops moisture leaving skin, but better still, it’s made in a not-for-profit factory with a workforce that is over 80% visually impaired, disabled or disadvantaged. Honest’s Vetiver and Honey Soap doesn’t just look super earthy and wholesome, but it smells like heaven too, thanks to the cocoa seed oil within, and Herbivore Botanicals’ charcoal soap is especially good at remedying back spots.

Whichever you go for, just keep it in a soap dish and let it dry fully after use so it doesn’t go grimy and gross, okay?