My goal in life is to always be soft. That's emotionally (whether embracing the 'soft Black girl' aesthetic, for example) and physically, too. It's why expanding my enormous arsenal of lotions and body oils is a huge commitment of mine.
My search for the perfect body exfoliator has been a journey. I've tried everything from DIY coffee scrubs (which stain every surface of my bathroom) to sugar scrubs that become maple syrup in the shower. If I ever remembered to apply a chemical exfoliant like the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment Peel before I showered, well, that was a miracle. It wasn’t until this summer when I tried both the Soft Services Buffing Bar and Harper + Ali Sugar Cube Scrub that I realized something: exfoliating body bars are the future of great skin.
Experts predict that body care is going to be as big as skin-care in 2023, and the exfoliating body bar is certainly going to carry it. But first, a caveat: I am entirely against your typical 3-in-1 body wash that claims to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturise. And yet, here I am yelling about body bars that do everything. I'm fully aware I need to go to the leg store and find something to stand on. But really, they'll cut your shower time in half.
An exfoliating body bar gives you control and allows you to decide how hard on the exfoliation you want to go. But I love them most for the mess-free — and often plastic-free — ease of use. That, and the way I leave the shower with clean, glowing, moisturized and mega soft skin every time. So much so, I could even skip the lotion if I wanted to. (But I won’t.)
Another benefit is hair removal. Not literally, of course, but for those who take their time shaving, exfoliating body bars make a great pre-shave treatment. I’m currently using the Billie Body Buffer Pre-Shave Exfoliating Bar, which lifts away dead skin cells, unclogs pores and can help reduce ingrown hairs as a result. What's more, it's packed with some moisturizing ingredients you’ll also find in your typical shaving cream like shea butter, aloe vera and jojoba oil.
Sure, exfoliating body bars can feel a little rough thanks to the slightly gritty texture. I gifted a friend of mine a body bar recently, and they compared it to a cat tongue. I mean, okay! But think about how eco-friendly they are. We've talked about the benefits of plastic-free products many times before, but exfoliating body bars are solid and use a lot less water than your typical liquid body wash. They can include much as 95% water. Body bars make a great delivery system because the ingredients are so concentrated. Reducing water means that we’re also reducing waste.
Another benefit of using an exfoliating body bar is hygiene. It's no secret that loofahs and sponges are basically training camps for bacteria. No one throws away their loofahs in a timely manner — not even me! Exfoliating body bars (provided you don't share them with anyone else) have pretty much removed all the ick out of showering. If you're still unsure, let Dr Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC reassure you. Talking to R29 about bars which contain soap, she said, "Technically speaking, bars of soap can harbour bacteria and viruses but these organisms are washed away as soon as you combine the soap with water and lather."
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Talking of Humanrace, the word 'smooth' was invented for Pharrell — in more ways than one. The Humanrace Energy Channeling Charcoal Body Bar really excites me. Not only does it feature charcoal and rice powder as natural exfoliants, it boasts nourishing jojoba seed oil, too. But I love that it's entirely soap-free, so it isn't stripping at all. Instead, it uses sodium cocoyl-isethionate, a very gentle surfactant and emulsifier, which creates a great lather.
Hanahana Beauty's 2-in-1 Body Bar is another of my favorites because my body loves anything with highly moisturising shea butter (also found in tons of brilliant body moisturizers). Of course, this fragrance-free girl is also super into the concept behind Alder New York’s Cleansing Body Bar, which takes a two-pronged approach to exfoliation: chemically, in the form of 1% glycolic acid, and physically thanks to crushed jojoba seeds. Together, they create ultra soft and smooth skin.
Then there's Truly Beauty’s Unicorn Bath Bar, which is all over my TikTok feed currently, and Marlowe's No. 108 Polishing Soap Bar, with exfoliating bamboo powder and pumice alongside moisturizing glycerin and shea butter. Last but not least, you've got to try Good Juju’s Honey Oat Exfoliating Body Wash Bar, which smells good enough to eat, and MUTHA's Nudist Exfoliating Bath Bar, with 100% biodegradable and renewable wood pulp exfoliators, plus hydrating vitamins E and B3, AKA niacinamide.
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