For decades, solid beauty wasn’t cool. Who wanted a miserable, soggy shampoo bar as part of their beauty routine?
But priorities change. While we still don’t love soggy soap, we are more committed to sustainable beauty, reducing plastic pollution and avoiding forest-destroying ingredients like palm oil.
Sales of minimally packaged solid products – oil in the form of a solid slab, or a balm that comes as a tablet – rose 29 percent to £23 million from January to May this year.
And it’s telling that not only hair care and soap are being developed as solid products, but also advanced basic products for midlife skin care, such as anti-wrinkle serums and night creams.
Anna Maxted reviews a selection of eco-friendly beauty bars – including Saving Face Serum (pictured)
As attitudes change, more luxury brands are joining the solid beauty revolution — like British skincare company Sbtrct, which recently launched the first-ever solid retinol product. “There is an ever-growing awareness that we need to make significant changes in our lifestyles,” said founder Benjamin Grace. ‘There used to be two very clear groups of consumers: the environmentally conscious and then the regular consumers. But now there is no line between them. The two groups have merged.”
So if we’re looking to consolidate our eco-friendly beauty arsenal but stay stylish, what’s out there?
Saving Face Serum, £25 for 65g, from the NZ brand Ethique. ethique.co.uk
What is it? Unscented and launched out of frustration at the ‘horrible amount of waste’ of the cosmetic industry, this contains delicious ingredients (100 percent palm free) – shea butter, rosehip and pomegranate oil. Previously it came as bars in a box, but now it comes in a compostable push-up tube.
verdict: Excellent quality and top marks for inventiveness. But proper storage is essential because once it dries out, it’s like trying to rub candle wax on your face. 3/5
Sbtrct’s Rejuvenating Night Balm, £25.60 for 24g, sbtrct.co.uk
Anna said Sbtrct’s Rejuvenating Night Balm (pictured) feels richer than just a moisturizer and takes effort to massage into.
What is it? A groundbreaking, this is the first solid product to contain a gentle form of retinol. It contains moisturizing squalane (an olive-derived skin moisturizing compound).
verdict: It feels richer than just a moisturizer and takes effort to massage into. Hours later, my skin feels pleasantly plump. 5/5
Bloom Jelly Serum Bar by Dew Mighty, £34, dewmighty.com
Anna said Bloom Jelly Serum Bar by Dew Mighty (pictured) is anhydrous and is impressive in both style and substance
What is it? A skincare superhero, it apparently does the job of up to eight products (calming redness, adding moisture, smoothing roughness, for example) and certainly contains hard-working ingredients — vitamin C, squalane, blue chamomile oil, magnolia bark extract, jojoba seed oil, and licorice extract.
verdict: It is anhydrous and impressive in both style and substance. 4/5
BALM IN A BOX
The Perfector by Ethique, £26.99 for 65g, feelunique.com
Anna said The Perfector by Ethique (pictured) quickly soothes and does a thorough job, feeling silky smooth and protective
What is it? This facial moisturizer for dry to mature skin contains butter, seed oils and wax. Strictly speaking, it is a balm, not a cream, and ideally needs an airtight container to protect it.
verdict: It softens quickly and does a thorough job, feeling silky smooth and protective. Aesthetics aside, I wholeheartedly approve. 3/5
ODOR FREE SOLID
Gallinée’s Prebiotic Cleansing Bar, £13 for 100g from gallinee.com
Anna said Gallinée’s Prebiotic Cleansing Bar (pictured) left her skin feeling nicely hydrated
What is it? Fragrance-free and soap-free for sensitive skin, contains lactic acid and prebiotics to support the skin’s microbiome.
verdict: My skin felt well hydrated after using it. 4/5
Black Gold Polishing Bar from Buttah Skin. £13 for two 109g bars, cultbeauty.co.uk
Anna said Buttah Skin’s Black Gold Polishing Bar (pictured) feels like an affordable everyday luxury
What is it? This bar contains vitamin C and vitamin B3 to help protect the skin against free radicals, and also contains African cocoa butter, plus minerals such as activated charcoal powder.
verdict: With an intoxicating musk scent, this feels like an affordable, everyday form of luxury. 4/5
FLORAL FACIAL OIL
Vol Grace Facial Oil, £10 for 20g, lush.com
What is it? This oil bar contains Murumuru butter (made from fruit fat found in murumuru nuts), organic almond oil and rose oil.
verdict: It melts on my skin, absorbs well and feels soft but not greasy. 3/5
Anna said Full of Grace Facial Oil (photo) melts on the skin, absorbs well and feels soft but not greasy