When the news came out about how lots of our ‘recycled’ plastic actually ends up in dumps on the other side of the world, I realised I had to start cutting down on unnecessary bottles. I’ve always been low-key worried about plastic consumption, and never really saw recycling as the answer, but I’d kind of repressed that worry for years because I didn’t know what to do about it. But after seeing those news reports, and learning about microplastic pollution, I decided that I was going to make changes. At the time, my bathroom was completely covered in tubes and bottles of shower gel (a byproduct of working in the beauty industry and being addicted to long hot showers) and so I decided that once they were all used up, I would try out bar soap in the shower instead. I was worried that bar soaps might dry my skin out – but if that happened, I decided I’d just apply body oil afterwards to counteract the effects.
What it did for my skin
It’s been almost a year since we started using bar soap full time again, and you’ll be amazed to lean that the skin on my body has barely needed moisturising at all in that time. Maybe once or twice a month, rather than after every shower. It turns out that apparently, soap and body skin (still not sure about the face) are perfectly suited, and I actually have SOFTER skin than before! There are lots of ways to use soap – if you rub it on a body puff you’ll be virtually drowning in bubbles before you know it (very fun), but obviously they aren’t ideal because they’re made out of plastic. Otherwise, you can just rub the soap directly all over your body, or rub it in your hands until it lathers, and then massage that all over. You can also buy a natural sponge, but they’re expensive as hell (and not vegan), or a loofah, but they’re pretty harsh and I can’t seem to get them to soften up.
How to shave with soap and a safety razor
Given the hundreds of shaving products lining up alongside all those plastic razors in the shops, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d need something from all those shelves to successfully shave your unwanted body hair. But as it turns out, that’s just not true. Bar soap is perfectly adequate for shaving your skin, and safety razors are brilliant! To get a thick lather for shaving, wet the soap ever so slightly, rub it between your palms to get them well covered, and then rub your hands fairly vigorously over your leg (or wherever) until you get a good layer of white over your skin. Then shave away! It is slightly different to shaving with a disposable, but this blog post is getting long so I’ll revisit that later. My safety razor is by Bambaw, and I like it because it has a bamboo handle, which lessens the amount of metal that went into making it.
What about guests?
I don’t know about you buy I’m not going to make my guests use the same bar of soap as me, or even make them use bar soap at all if they don’t want to. Instead, I keep a glass bottle of Bloomtown Botanicals’ divine Hedgerow Body Wash in the shower for guests to use.
Zero waste exfoliators
I exfoliate with this Body Shop hemp bag – you just put a bar of soap in it and rub all over yourself. But when I remember, I also like to use leftover coffee grounds – I just stir in a bit of coconut oil or tea tree to make sure they don’t go mouldy.
Which soap to choose?
There are sooooo many bars of soap out there that it can be hard to pick (and very easy to go totally wild and fill your bathroom up with them…) so I thought I’d share a list of the ones I’ve tried so far, to give you an idea of what to look for, and what to avoid!
These were the first we tried, and I hated them. They don’t lather up at all when you rub them on your skin, and don’t leave you feeling particularly clean. I also got a UTI while using them, I don’t know if the two things were related, but I’ve only ever had one UTI in my life before, and haven’t had one since. Do not recommend. 3/10 (only for the scents)
I’ve tried the honey blossom and spring meadow scents and I think they’re both delicate and lovely. The soap itself cleans really well, and fits into my small hands perfectly. But the most amazing things about this soap are its eco and socially conscious credentials. They employ people with visual impairments, disabilities and financial disadvantages, and go the extra mile to accommodate their employees’ needs. That is tragically unusual, and absolutely brilliant in my opinion. In addition to that, their bar soaps are totally plastic free (including unlaminated boxes, which very few brands actually offer) and their ingredients are sustainably sourced. AND AND AND!!! You can get them in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and the Co-op. Effortless, eco friendly and the most socially conscious company I’ve come across. 11/10
Aesop Cleansing Slab
I’m so frustrated that Aesop wrap this in shrinkwrap plastic! If they didn’t do that, this would be one of my favourite soaps. The scent is divine, it leaves my skin perfectly clean, and it creates a super rich lather. It’s certainly the most expensive soap I’ve tried, but at £17 it’s less than I would have expected from Aesop. If it didn’t have that plastic on it, it’d be a solid ten, but as it is, 8/10
Faith in Nature Lavender Soap
For some reason I expected this to be rubbish, I’m not sure why, but all I can say is I was completely wrong! This is a great soap, really lovely lavender scent, and the best part is, this is one that can be bought completely packaging free in some health food shops! Plastic wrapped in others though. 8/10
I like the simplicity and affordability of this soap, but it doesn’t smell good, and it isn’t the most ‘lather-ey’. My skin didn’t feel very clean when I was using it, so I did a second cleanse with the Aesop afterwards. I ended up throwing it away because I couldn’t stand the smell, but it is a very tightly packed soap so it’s good value for money. 2/10
Dr Bronner’s Rose Geranium Soap
Love love love this soap. It’s a great shape, perfect for rubbing all over yourself, and it cleans just as well as their liquid soap. It’s a great option, not too expensive, and very solid so it lasts really well. Oh and, like with BECO, this comes in unlaminated card packaging. 9/10
Suma Rose Geranium Glycerin Soap
I LOVE this soap! I find the way it goes clear when it’s wet to be really satisfying, and the circular shape is really easy to hold. It lathers really well and it also leaves my skin feeling very soft too. This is also another one that you can buy packaging free in health food shops, or in an unlaminated box. 10/10
MOR Cyclamen Tuberose Soap
This is without a doubt the most heavily scented soap I’ve ever had in my possession. Luckily, the fragrance is absolutely divine, it’s like a Diptyque candle! It’s heady and floral but not at all sweet, I really love it. And you can get it from Waitrose. When I bought it I thought I was onto a winner – wrapped in brown card with a beautiful design, held together with a rubber band… but then I opened it and discovered it was wrapped in plastic. Eyeroll. 7/10
Well, I hope you found that useful! I’m on a mission to zero-waste my entire bathroom, so keep an eye out for a follow-up blog post when/if I ever manage it…