As far as beauty products go, the humble bar of soap is nearly as old as time. But until recently, the old standby wasn’t exactly en vogue, with most consumers favoring liquid soaps. According to a number of current reports, however, bar soap is back and experiencing a noticeable resurgence amongst a new generation of users. The latest research suggests that solid bar sales were up 23% in a soap industry that’s worth .1 billion total. Another report by Mintel—a market research company that provides cross-analysis of consumer metrics in real-time—points to a continued rise in sales in 2017.
The driving force behind the spike is a number of skin type-specific, high quality, modern formulas made by millennial-savvy brands that seek to simplify beauty routines and cut out chemical-laden fillers. Companies like Drunk Elephant, an entirely non-toxic line of mid to high-priced products sold online and throughout the U.S., are revolutionizing the marketplace with a more transparent approach to skincare. The brand’s best-seller is the Juju Bar, a unique blend of thermal mud and bamboo powder that dissolves impurities and gently exfoliates the skin without drying it out.
Drunk Elephant founder Tiffany Masterson remembers going up against the stigma of traditional soap when she first launched the product back in 2014. “There was the challenge of teaching consumers that not all bars are bad bars,” she says. “Whereas in the past, bars had high pH levels and gave skin that squeaky clean feeling that eventually became undesirable, bars now can be non-stripping and skin compatible. Attitudes naturally shifted when people realized that we make bars that don’t disrupt the protective acid mantle our skin needs to function properly. The only difference from a liquid cleaner is form.”
Bar soap’s nostalgic aura is a valuable component in its comeback too. Sarah Akkari, one half of luxury brand Senteurs d’Orient, works alongside her mother to ensure that their products are made using traditional methods. The time-honored rituals and therapeutic benefits of bathing are at the center of their Lebanon-based company, which works in partnership with the United Nations to promote female education and employees predominantly women. The ingredients for each Senteurs d’Orient bar are hand-mixed by artisans before being left to air-dry and etched with a lace-like filigree. It took Akkari and her mother two full years to develop the brand’s signature base soap. “We treat our soap like a skincare product and a fine fragrance,” she explains. “Master perfume-makers aka ‘noses’ in Grasse developed the scent and the highest-grade Vitamin E, glycerin, and Shea butter were sourced to ensure dewy, hydrated skin.”
Another reason to buy bar soap is its minimal packaging—a boon for conscientious shoppers all too aware of the tons of waste associated with household products. Akkari cites “wholesomeness” and “greener aspects” as two factors that keep customers coming back to buy her bars repeatedly. “Handcrafted solid soap is unique in the way it’s made,” she says. “There’s no plastic involved in bottling or adding a pump function like there can be with a liquid counterpart.” Similarly, Masterson says she’s received overwhelmingly positive customer feedback related to the long-lasting, travel-friendly nature of Drunk Elephant soap.
The toughest guard in shifting attitudes toward solid soap is likely to be tethered to concerns of hygiene. The communal nature of a shared bar isn’t altogether appealing when you imagine it being passed through the hands of an entire office or a crowd big enough to fill a baseball field. However, the notion that solid soap spreads germs seems to be scientifically unfounded. Research conducted by The New York Times in 2007 proved that bars are unlikely to transfer bacteria, with odds even lower if a rinse is carried out in-between uses. “Little hazard exists in routine hand washing with previously used soap bars,” the report stated.
Although Masterson has big plans for Drunk Elephant’s expansion, she does acknowledge that bar soap users represent a niche community, which is why she’s planning to launch a liquid soap counterpart in her brand’s not so distant future. “Customers love bars once they try them and they have their own little cult-like following with really high ratings, but for many, the stigma around solid soap does still remain.” Her aim is to listen to consumer feedback, while providing all the relevant data and information along the way; “Sales of bar soap have steadily increased over the years along with brand awareness,” she says. “The problem remains that there are still a lot of soaps on the market made with irritating, high pH ingredients. Now it’s about educating the consumer which is which.” After that, she says, it’s up to the wallet-holder to decide which formula they like better.END
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createdAt:Thu, 06 Jul 2017 12:23:51 +0000