The first line of a 2018 promo video sums up the Dr. Squatch ethos pretty succinctly: “Listen up. The soap you shower with? It’s shit.”
At first glance, admittedly, Dr. Squatch’s shtick feels like a direct-to-consumer reboot of Old Spice’s time-honored, manly-man hygiene pitch. There’s much discussion about building things with one’s hands, chopping down trees in the forest, and smelling “like a champion” once the day is done.
But the cheeky, California-based brand, which was founded in 2013, doesn’t take itself quite that seriously. It’s actually poking fun at its space. The Instagram page appears to be run by a Gen-Z meme lord, the brand routinely tosses around words like “sudisfaction” and, well, this happened.
Comic-writing prowess aside, there’s a far more important difference between Dr. Squatch and all those conglomerate-owned body washes. The brand uses real ingredients from natural sources — the sort of stuff special chemical manufacturers neglected after World War II.
Wild-sounding scents like Grapefruit IPA, Wood Barrel Bourbon, Bay Rum, and Deep Sea Goat’s Milk aren’t “guy’s guy” gimmicks. Grapefruit IPA, for instance, contains actual beer (the yeast helps dissolve dead skin cells), shea butter (the fatty acids and vitamins nourish the skin), and hops extract powder (the source of the scent).
Aside from clays, oils (coconut, olive, palm) and sea salt, that’s it. Even the more vaguely-named bars aren’t hiding any upsetting, fourteen-letter binding agents. They’re made from stuff you’d actually want to start rubbing all over your naked form — Fresh Falls contains Alaskan glacier mineral clay, lichen moss and indigo powder.
Why aren’t more brands operating like this? It’s expensive. It takes work. It often requires domestic manufacturers. (All of Dr. Squatch’s factories and distribution centers are based in America.) Similar to food or fashion, it’s just become easier for bigger brands to sell crap to unsuspecting masses. In the case of bar soap and body wash, that means products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, dioxane, or polyethylene glycol — substances that will at the very least irritate your skin, and at the most dangerous end, have displayed carcinogenic effects.
Big Soap, like Big Sunscreen, traditionally hasn’t thought much of men. It relies on you to make those last-minute, “if I must” purchases, which inevitably involve minimal research. It doesn’t care that the country already over-showers, or that over-soaping (along with over-shampooing) is essentially “killing a butterfly with a hammer.” If anything, the more body wash you dump on your body, the more wash they’ll be able to sell you.
That’s not to mention: too many of today’s bar soaps and body washes actually dry out the skin, instead of nourishing it. This only catalyzes sebum production, which can create an acne outbreak, which will have you freaking out and headed back to the shower … you get it. We recommend making a switch. Dr. Squatch is good for the industry, smells fantastic, and best of all, doesn’t leave that sticky, hotel-soap sensation on the skin. You could also try out Stirling Soap Company or Duke Cannon. Brands like Baxter of California and Native (though no longer independently-owned) are also great options.
Take Dr. Squatch’s quiz before ordering. It’ll spit out three bars of soap at the end (after asking questions about your alcohol of choice, your ideal vacation and what level of exfoliation you prefer), which you can then bundle for a 25% discount. They’re $7 a pop. Our stance? Around $15 for a month of smelling like a “cocktail of clove, cinnamon, pine and citrus” (Bay Rum) seems like a pretty fair shake.