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Raising The Bar

Raising The Bar

Bar Soap Is Getting More Luxe—And It’S Eco-Friendlier, Too

The beauty industry is raising the bar.

As consumers look to reduce plastic and use more eco-friendly products, they are turning to classic bar soaps, as well as not-so-traditional bars of shampoos, conditioners, or moisturizers. These solid products last longer and allow consumers to skip the excess packaging.

But going the zero-waste route doesn’t mean giving up luxury, says Brandi Halls, Lush’s North American brand director

“Our bar soaps offer the same beautiful ingredients as liquid versions,” she says. “And they don’t just smell beautiful, they are effective.”

At Lush, naked products, or those sold without packaging, make up 50% of its product range, including soaps, hair care products, serums, facial oils, and bath bombs. The Lush line is also handmade, cruelty-free, and, in most cases, vegan.

The company offers 23 regular bar soap varieties, including best sellers like Sultana of Soap and Honey I Washed the Kids. It also has 13 kinds of shampoo bars, with each bar lasting up to 80 washes, the equivalent of three eight-ounce bottles, Halls says.

Over the last year, Lush has sold 1.8 million solid shampoo bars, according to the company. That means about 5.4 million plastic bottles were never made nor thrown away after their last wash.

That’s meaningful to many consumers, as statistics about the world’s plastic consumption stack up. More than 300 million tons of plastic is produced every year, according to Plastic Oceans International, a California-based nonprofit. About 90% of all plastic is not recycled, and at least eight million tons of it ends up in the ocean each year.

And as consciousness changes, companies selling solid beauty products are seeing a spike in sales.

Take Christophe Robin. The celebrity hair colorist included a bar shampoo in his high-end line of hair products. The Hydrating Shampoo Bar is made with 100% natural-origin ingredients and packaged in recyclable cardboard.

Floris, a company dating back to 1730, has seen sales of bar soaps rise
Floris, a company dating back to 1730, has seen sales of bar soaps rise.

So far this year, sales volume of the Hydrating Shampoo Bar have spiked 20%, according to the company.

Classic brands like L’Occitane en Provence, based in France, and Floris, an English company dating back to 1730, are also seeing increased sales in bar soaps.

“We’ve made [bar soaps] since the start of the business and they have remained in the heart of the Floris collection for years,” Aurora Taipale, marketing executive at Floris, says. “Certainly in recent years, the soap bars have become ‘trendy’ and made a real comeback.”

The soaps not only save plastic packaging, they also last longer and are more cost-effective, she explains. And they appeal to clients’ aesthetic sensibilities as well, as they are created with shea butter and are embossed with a floral design dating back to the 1800s.

“With our soaps’ beautiful design, they simply look luxurious in the bathroom,” Taipale adds.

Luxury brands also offer bars with the best of ingredients, such as Tom Ford’s Oud Wood bar, part of a fragrance collection made from rare wood from aquilaria trees, and Hermès’ perfumed soaps.

To get the most from a bar, Halls recommends keeping soap and shampoo bars out of the direct line of the water and storing them in slotted dishes that drain. Facial oil and serum bars should be kept out of direct sunlight, she adds.

For those still wary of solids, Halls says to just dive in.

“Once they try them, people often don’t go back to bottles,” she says.

Facial bars from Lush
Facial bars from Lush

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