Cleansing Bars Are Back, and These New-Gen Soaps Are Selling Out

When a beauty product sells out in less than a month and is totting up a waiting list of 250 plus, we want in. Especially when that product is a back-to-basics soap. Except actually, this isn't any old soap, as it's a cleansing bar. And it's from probiotic beauty brand Gallinée. A relative newcomer in the beauty world, in just 18 months, the brand's foaming cleanser is already considered “cult” in skincare circles. This solid face wash is set to be the same.



Well for starters, it isn't actually a soap. So you can forget all those drying, skin-stripping horror stories. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the precious bars and have tried it (a lot). After washing, I could scrunch my nose, yawn and squint all without that horrid taut feeling soap gives you, especially around the hairline.

The secret is that it contains no SLS-the sulphates that leach any moisture out of your precious complexion. Then there's the fact that it's formulated at pH 5.8 so there's no disrupting your skin's natural barrier (which could leave it wide open to pollution and UV damage). It's also made using probiotics, prebiotics and lactic acid, which have been formulated at exactly the right ratios to keep your good and bad bacteria in balance. That means even super-sensitive skin types can use it and so can people with spots.

But this successful formula has also been its downfall. The skin-friendly pH of the product combined with zero synthetics meant that it was so delicate that it was breaking almost every time it was prized out of the mould. Back to the lab and the next batch (which hopefully won't sell out) will be round and easier to pop out so production doesn't slow. True story.


It does-and it's where these whizzy, new bars are sweeping in and stealing chunks of the cleansing market. Made using more traditional methods with cold-pressed and fermented ingredients, they're void of harsh preservatives and detergents (the stuff that makes soaps sud). “Most mass soaps are antibacterial and use chemical foamers, but we make cold-process soaps through the saponification process,” explains Chrissy Fichtl, founder of Brooklyn-based soap brand Apotheke. “Saponification is a natural process using lye, water, and vegetable fats like coconut oil. We add in natural botanicals for added benefits to your skin and then wait for the curing process, which takes a few weeks (rather than minutes).” It means you're still getting all those A* actives that you'd find in your regular cleanser (lactic acid, vitamin C, antioxidants) without any preservatives or water watering them down.


Aside from a few drops of water needed to create the slip that helps distribute the bar over skin, these blocks are better for the environment too-another reason they're trending. In the past year, Liberty has seen soap sales double online, and with our anti-plastic pledges rife, they eliminate any unnecessary waste. Apotheke's soaps come wrapped in 100% recycled translucent paper, GalinГ©e's are housed in a recyclable cardboard box and Lush has just developed cork tins to hold its bars in. When you're done, chuck it in your back garden/window box/nearby field and it will naturally degrade, nourishing the soil and leaving no toxic residue.


Okay, so leaving a soggy bar by the sink isn't the dream, which is where soap dishes come in handy. But don't keep them by a tap or window. “It needs to be protected from water to avoid erosion, so make sure it's above your showerhead or taps,” advises Bianca Estelle, a medical esthetician. “Ideally you should store it away from direct sunlight too, especially if it contains ingredients like vitamin C, as the light will reduce its efficacy.” Gallinée founder Marie Drago is even working on a soap net so you don't get any excess goo gathering in a dish. Clearly onto something, we're putting our names down already.

Ready for your own block party? In these bars we trust…

Le Labo 33 Bar Soap $30Shop

Suave, sexily scented and a best seller at Liberty, this is infused with vitamin E, olive oil and shea butter to maintain skin's baby-soft sponginess from top to toe. Handmade and wrapped in waxed kraft paper, it's a good gifting option too.

Acqua di Carthusia Aloe Soap $8Shop

Handmade in Capri, ignore the fluro tinge, as this green block is made from glycerine rather than sticky synthetics and aloe leaf extract so your skin stays nourished and moisturised once it's dry.

Apotheke Binchotan Charcoal Bar Soap $7Shop

It's going to make a mess of your sink a little bit, but the charcoal in this sticks to dirt and toxins like glue so when you sweep it over your skin, all that grime disappears. And no, you won't be left with a grey tinge.

Bea Master Antioxidant Bar $38Shop

Seems pretty spendy, but this contains glutathione and 10% vitamin C, which is around the RDA for your skin. When fused together, they fight pigmentation so your skin really does look glowier.

Gallinee Cleansing Bar $10Shop

The sell-out sensation that leaves skin not just cleaner but clearer, poke your face afterwards and you'll be genuinely surprised at how soft and spongy your face feels. The lactic acid works to rebuild the skin barrier and null inflammation.