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’re still not keen on soggy soap, we are more committed to sustainable beauty, reducing plastic pollution and avoiding forest-ravaging ingredients such as palm oil.
Sales of minimally packaged solid products — oil in the form of a solid slab, or a balm that comes as a tablet — increased by 29 per cent to £23 million from January to May this year.
And, tellingly, it’s not just haircare and soap that are being developed as solid products, but sophisticated midlife skincare staples such as wrinkle-busting serums and night creams.
Anna Maxted gives verdict on a selection of eco-friendly beauty bars – including Saving Face Serum (pictured)
As attitudes shift, more luxury brands are joining the solid beauty revolution — such as UK skincare company Sbtrct, which recently launched the first ever solid retinol product. ‘There’s an ever-growing awareness that we need to make significant changes in our lifestyle, says founder Benjamin Grace. ‘It used to be that there were two very clear groups of consumers — the environmentally conscious ones and then mainstream consumers. But now there’s no line between them. The two groups have merged.’
So if we wish to consolidate our eco-friendly beauty arsenal but stay stylish, what’s out there?
Saving Face Serum, £25 for 65g, by NZ brand Ethique. ethique.co.uk
What is it? Unscented, and launched in frustration at the cosmetic industry’s ‘abhorrent amount of waste’, this contains delightful ingredients (100 per cent palm-free) — shea butter, rosehip and pomegranate oils. Previously it arrived as bars in a box, but now it’s in a compostable push-up tube.
Verdict: Excellent quality and top marks for inventiveness. But good storage is essential as once it dries out, it’s like trying to rub candle wax into 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 mere moisturiser and takes effort to massage in
What is it? A groundbreaker, this is the first solid product containing a gentle form of retinol. It contains moisture-retaining squalane (an olive-derived skin- hydrating compound).
Verdict: It feels richer than mere moisturiser and takes effort to massage in. Hours later, my skin feels pleasingly plump. 5/5
Bloom Jelly Serum Bar by Dew Mighty, £34, dewmighty.com
Anna said Bloom Jelly Serum Bar by Dew Mighty (pictured) is water-free and 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 liquorice extract.
Verdict: It’s water-free 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) softens quickly and does a thorough job, feeling silky and protective
What is it? This face moisturiser for dry to mature skin contains butters, seed oils and wax. Strictly speaking it’s 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 and protective. Aesthetics aside, I heartily approve. 3/5
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? Perfume-free and soap-free for sensitive skin, it contains lactic acid and prebiotics to support the skin’s microbiome.
Verdict: My skin felt nicely hydrated after using it. 4/5
Black Gold Polishing Bar by Buttah Skin. £13 for two 109g bars, cultbeauty.co.uk
Anna said Black Gold Polishing Bar by Buttah Skin (pictured) feels like an affordable, everyday sort of luxury
What is it? Containing vitamin C and vitamin B3 to help protect skin from free radicals, this bar also boasts African cocoa butter, plus minerals such as activated charcoal powder.
Verdict: With an intoxicating musky scent, this feels like an affordable, everyday sort of luxury. 4/5
FLORAL FACE OIL
Full of 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 onto my skin, absorbs well and feels softening but non-greasy. 3/5
Anna said Full of Grace Facial Oil (pictured) melts onto skin, absorbs well and feels softening but non-greasy