We road tested the newest revival in natural beauty trends: the soap bar

Words by Hannah Cole.

Nature holds all the magic.

I’m no beauty expert (Internet friends, pls teach me how to use liquid eyeliner). But I do like to keep my finger on the pulse. Australia’s largest skincare store, K-Beauty, has us integrating ten-step routines, and an increasing number of celebrities are releasing beauty lines.

The trend that has me equally horrified and intrigued at the moment is, surprisingly, soap bars. I begrudgingly reminisce the firm, un-latherable soap bars of my childhood camping trips; scrubbing until it hurts just to get the dirt out. The scent of stiff cleaning products lingers in my memory.

But, never say never. With recent interest, I’ve jumped on the band-wagon and seen the light: soap bars can be a tolerable (even decadent) beauty addition.

We’re not talking soaps of yesteryear which are high in pH and lead to dry and dehydrated skin. The modern soap bar is part of a cleansing ritual; an act of self-care, if you will.

So why the revival? It comes down to two things: a more natural skincare regime, and a commitment to the environment.

Beauty cabinets these days are often an overwhelming stash of products promising various benefits. It’s almost too much. So, the pendulum is swinging back to “minimalist skincare,” incorporating easy and efficient products that are also great for the skin. These soap bars are rich in natural ingredients – from shea butter and coconut oil to essential oils and rose petals.

Are you looking for an all-over body massage? Try a moisturising bar with protruding massaging nubs, which also promote circulation like Lush’s ‘Hottie’ Massage Bar. There are bars dedicated to exfoliation and contain ingredients like white clay and coffee.

Many bars have even been hailed as saviours for reducing the effects of acne and rosacea, among other skin conditions. These natural ingredients could be the solution to many problems, all it requires is a little research and professional advice.

Take coconut oil, for example. As Dr Adam Sheridan of Phoenix Dermatology told me, “[coconut oil] is a time-honoured remedy for skin conditions that generate excessively adherent dead skin cell layers – such as scalp psoriasis.”

If you’re still sitting on the fence, let me tempt you to give these local makers a test:

The Australian Natural Soap Company

I’m obsessed with the Avocado & Macadamia bar. Two of my favourite foods in skincare form? Yes, please. The Australian Natural Soap Company has an answer for all your soap/skincare needs. Each bar is natural, vegan, palm oil-free and paraben-free, handmade in Melbourne. I can attest that the lathering factor is prime; suds ahoy. My skin is feeling fresh, perfectly oiled, and on its way to being ~summer ready~.

Viva La Body

I bought Viva La Body’s ‘Wake Up Bar’ recently – a deliciously-scented cinnamon, orange and patchouli combination. It lives up to its name, minimising that early morning brain fog (even without a coffee down the hatch). As with ASNC, all soap bars are vegan, as well as cruelty- and palm oil-free. Made on Larrakia country in the Darwin region, Viva La Body is passionate about caring for the surrounding environment as a way to positively impact the local Indigenous community it works closely beside.

Church Farm

Of course, my last recommendation has to come out of Byron Bay, the trailblazing minimalist-living community. I was gifted a Church Farm botanical soap earlier this year. It didn’t last long. The scent alone of the Rose, Australian Pink Clay and Almond Oil bar was a personal favourite.

Before you embark on a soap-buying rampage, heed some advice from Dr Sheridan: “Seek out simple, non-foaming, artificial colour and fragrance-free products, backed by proper science to achieve the best results.”

As he says, don’t be afraid to ask these companies to provide evidence behind their health claims. If a bar of soap is claiming to lessen the effects of rosacea, get hot and heavy into the research. Find the soap that nourishes your skin in the way it’s called for, invest in a handy soap pouch, and you are ready to roll.

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