Is there any act more mood-boosting than the unwrapping of a fresh cake of soap? Despite liquid hand-wash and body gels in recent years cleaning out what was once a sturdy fixture in British bathrooms, the pleasure of installing a smooth, solid, sharply fragrant bar on the side of the sink cannot be underestimated.
Soap has always had an old-fashioned, decorous whiff. In Virginia Woolf’s novel The Years, the characters comment on cleanliness at least once every 10 pages, keen to establish their own respectability in reference to personal hygiene. Eleanor, just returned from Spain, observes: “The air seemed to smell of soap and chemicals. How thoroughly people wash in England, she thought, looking at the yellow soap, the green soap, and the pink soap in the chemist’s window. In Spain she had hardly washed at all; she had dried herself with a pocket handkerchief standing among the white dry stones of the Guadalquivir.”
The pandemic has only made us more assiduously hygienic – and prompted us to fall back in love with bars: sales of prestige hand soaps have boomed in recent months, according to research by the NPD Group. In the week beginning 8 March 2020, sales increased 102 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. It follows a general trend that took hold last year, when Kantar Worldpanel reported that sales of soap rose by 3 per cent nationally. The consumer research company attributed the rise to consumers’ growing awareness of plastic consumption. In an age of disposability and uncertainty, there’s something reassuringly steadfast about such a traditional route to sanitation. Here are Vogue’s favourite soaps to indulge in during lockdown.
No.5 bath soap, £23, available at Chanel.com.
Elite luxury soap in Green Woody, £23, available at Florislondon.com.
Vetyver fragranced soap, £27, available at Byredo.com.
Eco bar of soap, £9, available at Thesoapco.com.
Savon superfin, £31, available at Net-A-Porter.com.
3 soaps gift set, £48, available at Hermes.com.
Miss Dior blooming bouquet soap, £22.50, available at Johnlewis.com.
Lemon-scented soap, £6.95, available at Liberty.co.uk.
Eau Des Sens soap, £18, available at Diptyqueparis.com.
Deco soap set, £40, available at Net-A-Porter.com.
Rose 31 bar soap, £32, available at Johnlewis.com.
Santa Maria Novella
Vellutina soap, £27, available at Smnovella.eu.
Lime, basil and mandarin soap, £16, Jomalone.co.uk.
Argan oil soap, £4, available at Conranshop.co.uk.
Figue d’Été soap, £18, available at Libertylondon.co.uk.
Linden oval soap, £14, available at Johnlewis.com.