Beauty Forecast: Soap Bars

I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s lacking in nostalgia for a bar of soap. Whether it conjures fond memories of Dove at bathtime or not-so-fond memories of perfume-y Palmolive, soap is intrinsically linked to childhood and to simpler times. In the age of three-step skincare regimes and double cleansing, soap seems to have fallen out of a favour with a generation obsessed with performance and invention. Previous statistics by Mintel show a move away from traditional soap bars by millennials. Apparently this was based on a belief that soap bars were a less hygienic option than liquid soap and scrubs. Hmm.

However at Glasshouse, we believe that a change is in motion. An increased interest in natural and organic skincare, coupled with a desire for uncomplicated ingredients lists, means that the current beauty market is ripe for a soap bar comeback.

It may not be apparent in mainstream beauty halls, but soap is on the up. At the forefront of it are a handful of modern makers who are bringing back soap in a cool, natural and sustainable way - obviously, we are all ears.

The first brand to pique our attention was Binu Binu, a wonderfully understated soap brand inspired by Korean bath houses and based in the US. Founder of the brand Karen Kim has described soap as “Soothing, simple, methodical” and her botanical bars are formulated with an array of natural ingredients: think rose clay, black charcoal, rice milk and Boricha tea. Best of all, Binu Binu’s aesthetic is on point and pared-back. Their Instagram blurs the lines between lifestyle and beauty, making the humble soap bar seem less of a necessity and more of a shower-side design statement. Who wouldn’t lust after one of their concrete grey, cuboid-shaped Sea Woman soaps?

Image: Binu Binu
Image: Binu Binu

One side of the soap market we’re particularly on board with is its eco-credentials. Produced in the right way, you can’t get much more sustainable than a bar of soap. Most new formulations coming to the market are packaged in cotton, linen or good old-fashioned cardboard. They last forever and wastage is minimal - I remember using up even the smallest slither of a Dove soap bar as a child.

One of our Glasshouse-stocked brands know better than most about ethically-produced soap. Birmingham-based Honest Skincare specialise in sustainable skincare and lifestyle products, but it’s their simple soaps wrapped in black muslin that we love the most. Nourishing and ultra-lathering, their handmade formulas feature olive and shea, rosehip and eucalyptus and charcoal variations. Fairly-priced and aesthetically-pleasing, it’s brands like Binu Binu and Honest who remind us why soap became such a bathroom staple in the first place.

Honest soaps by Rosie Herdman for Glasshouse Journal
Honest soaps by Rosie Herdman for Glasshouse Journal

In fact, part of the appeal of soap can be traced back to its historical and cultural significance. African black soap, for example, has been used for decades to treat problem skin. Hackney-based Liha Beauty draw on their West African roots by utilising the rich, botanical ingredients of this region to make high-end organic skincare - and the range includes their very own Ose Gidi Black Soap.

“Black soap is a West African staple, but they tend to be quite harsh and drying on the skin, and often contain harsh chemical dyes” says Abi, co-founder of Liha “We were keen to rework a classic with our own spin and an English aromatherapy influence, which is why we added rose - the queen of essential oils.”

Along with rose, the Liha girls hand-roast plantain skins in the oven (“A great natural source of potassium hydroxide and AHA’s for gentle exfoliation”) and combine it with organic shea butter, coconut and hemp oils and Moringa powder. The result is a moisturising soap bar - packed full of skin-treating ingredients and true to its historical roots.

“It can take a while to get used to not using shower gels, but as with most natural things, once you make the switch you never miss it and wonder why you were using it in the first place” explains Abi, “There is also something mindful and a little nostalgic using a natural bar rather than something from a container.”

Every product has its place when it comes to beauty, but amongst the fussy cleansers and high-tech treatments, soap is sitting stronger than ever. 100% natural formulas and a design-focused aesthetic are propelling soap bars back onto our bathroom cabinet agenda. And when the range of brands is this good, lathering up has become that little bit more exciting.

Words: Lucy Vincent
Feature image: Rosie Herdman

Share this:

More From The Journal

  1. A Sustainable Christmas

    What does Christmas mean to you? As the festive season brings us joy once more, we’re asking whether excess and over-consumption could be done in a way that has a better impact on ourselves, the people around us and our planet. We rallied around some of our favourite figures in sustainability to tell us how they’re approaching Christmas in a more conscious way.

    More +
  2. Masterclass: Fine Hair

    Fine hair got you tearing your hair out? Don’t despair! Our senior stylist Mia is here to tackle all things fine hair - from the cuts that suit best, to maintaining condition and picking your styling products wisely, our Masterclass is all you need.

    More +
  3. Abel Odor: 100% Natural Fragrance

    Beautiful fragrance without the synthetic ingredients? Meet Abel - developed by a winemaker with a penchant for scent and a master perfumer, this unique 100% natural fragrance brand is crafted with care and consideration - and just happens to be the latest addition to our Glasshouse shelves and shop. Meet the founder Frances and find out more.

    More +
  4. Introducing: Bessie and Richard of Austin Austin

    Introducing our latest brand launch, Austin Austin: British-made, certified organic products for hair, hands and body. We sat down with the father-daughter duo behind the brand, Richard and Bessie Austin, to talk about sustainability, the organic industry and their idyllic Norfolk home.

    More +
  5. Local Loves: Sans Pere

    Parisian style concept bar, Sans Pere, is the first of its kind catering to dessert fiends and those looking for the perfect evening cocktail. Glasshouse got stuck in to see what’s on the menu.

    More +
  6. The Glasshouse Guide to Mascara

    ​Fluttery, feathery, thick or barely-there: how do you like your mascara? Whichever is your preference, we’ve got a natural and organic option for you and we’re here (with a little help from holistic makeup artist Sjaniel Turrell) to guide you through them.

    More +
  7. Glasshouse Goes Cashless

    Our latest decision has seen us move with the times and put our staff and the security of Glasshouse Salon first. We’ve gone cashless and here’s why.​

    More +
  8. Reads: These Islands

    The creative minds behind Cereal Magazine have joined forces to create a 200+ page hardback book, uncovering the urban and natural landscape that forms the British Isles. Take a trip to discover their powerful imagery, prose and poetry right here.

    More +
  9. Lonely Lingerie: Maternity

    Lonely Lingerie have done it again - this time for women going through pregnancy and motherhood who want style, comfort and functionality (but don’t want to compromise on feel-good-look-good underwear). We learn more about Lonely Maternity.

    More +
  10. Photography: Ronan McKenzie

    At just 22, London photographer Ronan Mckenzie has already made her stamp on the fashion and art scene. Glasshouse sat down with the rising star to discuss personal projects and what makes her tick.

    More +
  11. Bug Clothing x Suzie Howell

    ​One of our favourite local and sustainable designers, Amy Ward of Bug Clothing, has brought us another beautifully curated shoot featuring local makers and pared-back hair and makeup by us here at Glasshouse.

    More +
  12. Work with us at Glasshouse Salon

    Fancy being a part of our close-knit Glasshouse team? We have just the opportunity for you.

    More +
  13. The Glasshouse Guide to Eyeliner

    ​From bold and experimental, to the classic sixties cat-eye, we’ve got the low down on how to perfect your eye make up and elevate your look from day to day.

    More +
  14. Q&A: The Bodysuit of Barcelona

    ​We’re self-confessed devotees when it comes to a simple, sustainably-produced basic. Why is why new brand The Bodysuit of Barcelona caught our attention with their streamlined, neutral take on the ever-versatile bodysuit. We caught up with founder Susana Martin to find out more.

    More +
  15. Glasshouse Salon: How We Get Ready

    ​Whether you’re out the door in five minutes or spend the morning savouring some “you time”, we think your morning routine says a lot about you. Which is why we got the Glasshouse team together to share the hair, skin and beauty rituals that get them up and out the door everyday - featuring a bevy of natural and organic products that we can’t live without.

    More +
  16. Hair Musing: Frederikke Sofie

    Scandi style and a full head of natural curls? Our latest hair muse, Danish model Frederikke Sofie, has them both in spades. We unpick her off-duty appeal.

    More +
Load more posts