My dad is a simple man with but one indulgence: a beautiful bar of soap. I never fully understood why this was his luxury of choice and the only thing he ever asked for when my family was stuck on what to gift him. At least not until these times of social distancing, when my daily shower took on a new significance, transformed into a serene act of self-care that I came to cherish at the end of the day. When, for no particular reason, I traded in my body wash for a humble bar of soap—that had, no exaggeration, been gathering dust on the shelf—my perspective shifted. As I savored each sudsy stroke of the weighty bar, it gave me a more palpable and tactile relationship to cleansing. Since then, I’ve kept returning to it as a vehicle for a cathartic ritual of sorts. I’ve also Kondo-ed my shower shelf to let my new Etsy-procured vintage soap dish shine.
“A good bar soap is the minimalist’s dream,” says Andrew Goetz, cofounder of Malin+Goetz, who has always been partial to soap in solid form. “Not only do I like the act of picking up a bar of soap to wash, it always feels so nice and thorough between my hands, and I like that the bar literally washes itself clean when you rinse it under water.” He also appreciates that you know exactly where you stand with a bar of soap, whereas with a bottle of body wash or gel, you’re often left pumping it, trying to squeeze out every last drop to no avail. “Did I mention that a bar soap practically lasts forever?” poses Goetz, emphasizing that typically a bar of soap needs to be replaced less often than its alternatives. And it’s a more environmentally friendly option in more ways than one. “Bar soap wins hands down when it comes to sustainability,” says Alexander Kummerow, who cofounded Herbivore Botanicals with his wife, Julia Wills. “They eliminate the need for plastic bottles and pumps and need only a box to keep it safe on shelves. For every bar soap used, consider it one less bottle in the landfill.”
What’s more: If a bar of soap is infused with fragrance, it will permeate its surroundings to a lovely olfactory effect. “When you enter your bathroom, the scent of the soap puts you in a good mood—it can take you somewhere else,” explains Ben Krigler, the fifth-generation owner of French parfumerie Krigler. Each of its intoxicating soaps is molded into a gallet shape (to resemble the pebbles on Provence beaches) for an objet d’art effect. Taking up minimal space, producing less waste, and supplying a more tangible cleanse, a bar of soap is utilitarian luxury at its finest. “It’s all about the little things that spark joy to help us stay calm during these anxious times,” muses Kummerow. “A bar of soap gives you a moment to indulge and let your stress melt away.”
Malin + Goetz Peppermint Bar Soap
This foamy, triple-milled cleansing bar is laced with a refreshing peppermint scent and imparts a cool, tingly sensation that lasts even after you step out of the shower.
$16MALIN + GOETZ
Dove Beauty Bar (Pack of 3)
It doesn’t get more tried-and-true than Dove's legendary Beauty Bar, which has proven less is more since 1957. Casting mild cleansers in moisturizing cream, it serves up a milky lather that locks in moisture and keeps skin silky-smooth.
Herbivore Pink Clay Gentle Soap Bar
With a light bouquet of rose, germanium, and citrus, this pink clay bar draws out impurities and harnesses dried botanicals and balancing geranium oil to impart a full-body glow.
Chateau Krigler 12 Soap
Based on a 200-year-old recipe from Provence, this decadent bar is packed with hydrating Vitamin E and steeps almond, Lily of the Valley, mimosa, and musk together for an exuberant burst of floral.
Ursa Major Morning Mojo Bar Soap
For ample morning motivation, reach for Ursa Major's cult-favorite beige bar for a rich and energizing blend of peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary.
Fresh Citron de Vigne Oval Soap
With a sparkling citrus scent inspired by Reims, France's Champagne region, this stunningly-wrapped bar provides deep, sinks-right-in hydration with sumptuous shea butter.
Drunk Elephant Juju Exfoliating Bar
In this grainy, squared-shaped bar, purifying thermal mud, moisturizing marula, and soothing bamboo work together to buff away dead skin and unclog pores to smooth and soft effect.