Solid beauty bars have had a serious evolution. No longer confined to drying bars of soap, the newest solid beauty bars make a great addition to your skin, hair and even your makeup routine.
Solid beauty bars have moved on exponentially over the last few years so if you’re pre-conceived thoughts of them are that they’re a bit hippy dippy and only for people that wear organic hemp, that cleansing bars or shampoo bars are your only option or that you’d be sacrificing well-honed skincare, body care, haircare and even makeup (yes, there’s solid makeup now too) regime, then it’s time to reconsider. Especially because these clever bars are not only great for the environment, ideal for travelling with but there is one for every element of your routine.
Why should I use a solid beauty bar?
The reasons to switch to, or at least incorporate, a solid beauty bar into your routine are endless but the most compelling are environmental and financial. Firstly, solid beauty bars require far less water - some require none - to manufacture, whereas products that come in plastic bottles or packaging require 700ml of water to create every 350ml of product. And anything we can do to use less water is crucial as research carried out by the United Nations discovered that by 2025 two thirds of the world’s population will face water shortages.
Then there’s the packaging. “Plastic pollution is a huge problem around the globe. Despite the best efforts of the public to rinse and recycle their empties, only 9% of plastic is recycled worldwide as global waste infrastructure is simply not equipped to handle the volume of plastic waste produced,” explains Brianne West, founder of solid beauty brand, Ethique. “We need to ditch single-use, disposable plastic, and one of the easiest changes you can make is to switch to solid bars in plastic-free packaging.”
Solid beauty bars are also much easier to transport, not only in mass when brands are shipping around the world but for our own trips too. Their sturdiness make solid beauty bars a great travelling companion - you will never get a solid beauty bar spilling or smashing over the contents of your suitcase.
When it comes to spending your hard-earned money solid beauty bars make financial sense because you literally use up every last scrap of them so there is zero wastage and as some of them don't contain any water and more hardworking actives, you may find you need to use less of your solid beauty bar, which means it will last longer.
Are solid beauty bars good for my skin?
Just as you would look at a liquid skincare product to check that it’s right for your skin or whatever beauty concerns you have, you need to do the same with solid beauty bars too. “The biggest concern with bar soaps is that they can be drying and alkaline,” says cosmetic doctor, Dr Ifeoma Ejikeme. “There is no skin type that should avoid them so it’s more important to look at the ingredients included. If the cleansing bar is full of hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerine and ceramides, then we know that this can be used on all skin types and particularly those who suffer from dry or sensitive skin.”
Are solid beauty bars hygienic?
In a survey carried out by a research company, Mintel, hygiene was found to be the key concern when it comes to using solid beauty bars. In fact, in the US half of bath and shower product users think solid soap and cleansers aren’t as hygienic as their liquid counterparts. There are a few ways to get around this. Firstly, we predict that soap dishes are going to start booming, but you can also take a few simple steps when using a solid beauty bar to ensure you’re using it as cleanly as possible. “Firstly, start by washing your hands before touching the bar. It’s so important to ensure you are not transferring any germs, debris or grime from your hands to your skin,” says Dr Ejikeme.
“If you are using a sponge or flannel, make sure you wash this really well too before you start the cleansing process. Then, lather the bar up in your hands to create a foam before dispersing to clean thoroughly. To finish, make sure you clean the bar by rinsing it and leaving it to air dry.”
Now you know everything you need to about solid beauty bars, here is a pick of our favourite.
The solid beauty bar for dry and sensitive skin: Beauty Kin Hydrate Bar, £7.50
If you have dry and sensitive skin then a bar of soap is not what you would expect us to recommend on your skin but this one is quite different. It contains all the ingredient you will find in your other dry and sensitive skin products - squalane, jojoba and glycerin - just in solid format. It can be used on your face and body and has the most gorgeous tomato leaf scent.
The vitamin C solid beauty bar serum: Sbtrct Vitamin C Booster, £38
The skincare solid beauty bar market is really coming on leaps and bounds, and this is a great example of that. While this is not a high strength vitamin C serum it does contain a stable form of vitamin C called Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate which means it can be exposed to light (as it would be in this solid form) without breaking down in efficacy. It’s paired with all-round skin nourishers sea buckthorn and rosehip oil making this a great daily serum in a very unique format.
The dry shampoo solid beauty bar: Foamie Dry Shampoo, £5.99
Available in two shades; blonde and brunette, this powder can either be shaken straight onto the hair or into your hands and then massaged through. Leave for a few seconds before brushing it out. It contains natural clays to absorb oil and grease as well as rice powder to refresh the hair.
The solid beauty bar for everywhere (and we mean everywhere): Gallinée Perfume-Free Cleansing Bar, £13
Formulated with lactic acid to feed the good bacteria on the skin and rebalance the microbiome where skin is sensitive and disrupted, it has an acidic pH level of 5.6 which also makes it ideal for washing intimate areas. Not all soaps and cleansing bars do so aren't always ideal for using everywhere - this is also fragrance-free and soap free. Because this has been formulated to be so gentle and helpful to the skin, it is also suitable for using on babies sensitive and delicate skin.
The solid beauty bar for sensitive scalps: Green People Scent Free Shampoo Bar, £16
If you’re looking for an everyday shampoo with non of the plastic then let us introduce you to this. This one is also brilliant for sensitive scalps as it’s unscented but there are scented versions if that’s not an issue for you. This contains lots of natural oils to add shine to the hair and nourish the scalp and none of the nasties that can make a dry, flaky and itchy scalp worse.
The solid beauty bar for really dry skin: The Body Shop Hemp Cleansing Face & Body Slab, £7
Again, we know if you have really dry skin then using a ‘soap’ might seem counter-intuiitive, but this really isn’t a soap. It contains hemp seed oil which is not only great at hydrating skin but excellent for calming it down too. There are also some rich butters in there too which will get much needed nourishment into the skin. It can be used on both the face and the body, simply wet the bar, work up a lather and get washing!
The solid beauty bar for exfoliating: Rituals The Ritual of Hammam Body Scrub Bar, £14
We all know we should be using a body scrub at least once a week but we’re all probably guilty of not paying the skin from the neck down the due diligence it deserves. That's where this exfoliating bar makes things easier because not only does it contain 100 per cent natural and biodegradable scrubbing particles to make skin smoother but Argan oil to then moisturise the skin and leave it feeling soft and smooth.
The solid beauty bar for cleansing: CeraVe Hydrating Cleansing Bar, £6.40
If cleansing bars make you shudder because you think they’re going to dry your skin out then this is the bar that will change your mind. As with all CeraVe products it contains 3 ceramides that help prevent moisture loss in the skin as well as hyaluronic acid which drenches the skin in hydration. Basically, this is giving your skin maximum moisture whilst cleaning it in the convenience of a bar.
The solid beauty bar to cleanse all over: Fenty Skin Cocoa Cleans’r Soothing All-Over Cleansing Bar, £15
Designed to be used from head-to-toe, this creamy bar has a slight oiliness to it - it contains coconut and baobab oil as well as shea and coconut butter - that stops skin from getting dried out but also doesn’t make oily skin greasier - clever stuff. As with all Fenty products it has been designed with everyone in mind so it’s suitable for all skin types. There is also a Fenty soap dish (which is sold separately at £11) which not only drains any water away, preventing it from going slimy but you simply slide to open and shut the lid so your soap remains clean in the shower.
The solid beauty bar for the man in your life: Balade En Provence Solid Face & Eye Cream Pour Homme, £12.53
Unlike many other solid beauty bars this one requires zero water to apply it - making it a really great option for travelling, festivals or any other situations where water may be in scarce supply. Instead, you either blow on the bar or rub it between your fingers to warm it up and allow it to melt slightly. Then you can massage it into the skin. This contains hemp seed oil that keeps skin supple and hydrated and vitamin C which is the skin brightening ingredient.
The solid beauty bar for kids: Child’s Farm Hair & Body Wash Bar, £6
If bath time is more of a stressful time than one of joy it might be worth giving this multi-purpose bar a go. It’s just the right size for little hands to hold and it means they are in control of rubbing it all over, which hopefully means they’re less likely to engage with the whole washing process rather than fighting against it. It laters up and makes bubbles as it is rubbed over hair and skin (when is that not fun?), it smells delicious and the whole product is completely usable and recyclable.
The solid beauty bar for hair colour: Bleach London Rosé Shampoo Bar, £7
If you're already a fan of the regular Bleach London Rosé shampoo, you will love this because it is identical just in more eco-friendly bar form. If you’re unfamiliar with the Rosé franchise then it is an amazing at-home hair colour that turns already bleached or very light blonde hair into the most gorgeous and flattering shade of pink. To use it, rub the bar into wet hands so that it laters up and then rub it into damp hair making sure you get even coverage all over, leave it to develop for five minutes and then rinse away.
The solid beauty body butter bar: Ethique Sweet Orange & Vanilla Solid Body Butter, £11.99
Housed in completely compostable packaging, this gorgeous solid body butter is a dream to use too. Simply rub it wherever your skin needs some hydration and then massage in and let the gogeous scent wash over you while the balmy buttery product gets to work. The only slight watch-out with this is that in heat or summer months you may find the butter starts to soften so at that point store it in the fridge, which will then feel even more refreshing on the skin when you use it.
The solid foundation beauty bar: Lush Slap Stick, £17 (40 shades)
Solid foundation isn’t a new concept, in fact some of the earliest foundations came in stick format and there are some amazing ones on the market, however a lot of them don’t come with the most eco of packaging options. So if you’re looking for a solid foundation that does a bit better, you can’t go wrong with this one. As with all Lush products the formulation is vegan and this comes in an impressive 40 shades. And it is very versatile, you can use a small amount to deliver a lot of pigment in a contained area or sheer it out all over the face.
The solid deodorant beauty bar: Wild Deodorant, £16 (£10 for the case and £6 for a pack of three refills)
Natural and eco deodorants haven’t always had the best reputation. Mainly for not actually doing the main job that people need them to do. Thankfully things have moved on and now we have products like this that not only look great but help the planet at the same time. The deodorant itself is made from tapioca starch (along with other ingredients) and comes in amazing scents - our favourite is Fresh Cotton & Sea Salt - and we can confirm it does actually keep sweat and BO at bay. And it’s all housed in an aluminium case that will last forever.