It’s a common shower dilemma: to use bar soap or body wash. While some are devout bar soap-ers, others prefer to lather up their loofah with just a few pumps of body wash. So which do you choose?
For me, using bar soap just makes sense. It’s easy to store, it uses significantly less packaging than body washes, it makes easy work of sudsing up the bits that need a little freshening after a long day, and it’s usually a sweet smelling little product made in small batches by people who care. I’m an indie bar soap marketer’s dream come true.
No surprise, I stay away from soaps with too many ingredients that I can’t pronounce and opt instead for cold-processed soaps made from a base of vegetable oils like olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil. Where some people (and definitely the folks in the body wash industry) will tell you that bar soaps are drying, I find that lots of the handmade soaps out there are actually formulated with oils and herbs that are just the opposite. The bar soaps that I use are blended together with healing herbs like calendula, eucalyptus, chamomile, rose, and lavender and might even include gently natural exfoliants like poppy seeds, seaweed, oatmeal, lavender, oatmeal, even tea leaves. Yes, they get me clean. But they also have me feeling good in the process. Did I mention they’re beautiful too? Yes, you hardly want to use it when you first open it because it looks like a work of art. These make great gifts too. I’ve given several away and people are always amazed at how great they feel.
At this stage I’ve used dozens (tens of dozens?!) of different bars. I don’t have one favourite bar, per se, but I do especially love soaps that are long lasting, sudsy but not gooey, and fresh smelling but not overpowering..
Here are a few that I have used and loved or have had my eyes on from afar. Please share your own favourites if you have them.
Woodlot soaps are a minimalist's dream come true. Clean, simple, and substantial in weight, I absolutely fell in love with their soaps upon first sight.
I’ve really enjoyed Bulles et Molécules's cold-processed soaps—best of all, they sell soap samples in case you’re having trouble deciding on just one. My favourite is the Peppermint and Eucalyptus but I am itching to try the Lemongrass and Turmeric next! This bar is scented with organic essential oils of rosemary and lemongrass and it's quite nice to use for morning showers.
The Osmia Organics Black Clay Facial Soap has a seriously devoted cult following. It has a beautiful light, clean natural scent and works fast on problem areas. Another beautiful bar by Osmia is the Dirty Chai, which was a special release this past winter. Sadly I don’t see it on the website anymore, but there are plenty of others to lure you. (Coffee mint anyone??)
An update to the classic bar soap, Binu Binu’s gorgeous jet black obelisk is the latest addition to my bathing routine. Inspired by Korean healers and infused with Activated Charcoal this gentle and purifying bar cleanses my skin without drying it out.
When I’ve found myself soapless and needed to make a quick decision, I’ve opted for the classic, no-nonsense Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap, many, many a time.
Things to note:
Unlike artificial store-bought soaps, natural soaps (if they’re completely natural) are free from preservatives and synthetic hardening agents, which means they can deplete more quickly if left in water too long, or exposed to moisture for long periods of time. That’s why you may notice natural soap brands instruct you to keep your soap bars in a dry place or in a tray with perforations in the base which prevents water (and bacteria) from accumulating on them.
For better or for worse, we use the soap dish that’s built into our shower to stash whatever bar we’re in the middle of using. I try not to let the shower water beat down on it, for fear that half of it will end up down the drain. If you’re looking for something special and have the space to keep your soap out of harm’s way, this Wooden Soap Dish has a simple design and a sweet spa vibe. If you’re more into ceramic dishes, this Bath by Bettijo White Ceramic Soap Dish features a removable wood insert for keeping soap dry. Also loving this Flatiron Stoneware Soap Dish - so chic!