Cleansers are one of the fundamentals in a healthy skincare regime, whether your preference is a heavy-duty oil, gentle-on-the-skin cream or a blemish-busting clay number. While the latter forms have dominated our bathroom shelves for some time, a nostalgic product is currently taking centre stage: the soap bar.
Sure, you may cast your mind back to your youth, when soap bars were made up of drying alcohol, sulphates and overpowering fragrances but this year's cleansing bars are teeming with natural and skin-saving ingredients. Brands like Nuddy are ditching clogging oils and fats in favour of sustainably sourced, vegan derivatives like shea butter, while Instagrammable beauty brand Herbivore infuse their soaps with clay and charcoal to eradicate oil and grime. And it seems we're sold, as Mintel recently reported that usage of 'regular' or 'traditional' soap bars has increased in 2018.
"I think solid soap cleansers are back for a few reasons," says Annie Tevelin, founder of cult brand SkinOwl. "I’ve seen a huge upswing in minimalism skincare, and the ‘less is more’ mantra has never felt more present in skincare. Solid soap bars are easy to use and efficient in that way. And most importantly, people are finally seeing how well they work on the skin." According to Tevelin, the benefits they hold over their liquid counterparts include lasting far longer, containing only the necessary ingredients (rather than the preservatives used in balms and gels) and the fact that they require no plastic packaging, which is always a plus for the environment.
The way to avoid the scummy soap mess on the side of your bath or shower lies in how you store your product. Sisley's facial trainer Elsa van Twist explains that this mess comes from water, rather than the soap. "In fact, it’s the minerals (calcium and magnesium) in hard water forming these when combined with soaps. Using filters or spring water would be the only option to avoid this phenomenon," she says, so make sure to invest in a cute soap dish to keep your bathroom surfaces clean.
Disclaimer: as van Twist warns, cleansing bars don't actually remove makeup, but are perfect for your acne-tackling or hydrating second cleanse. Think of soap as a cool addition, rather than replacement, to your skincare arsenal.