A few weeks back, market research agency Mintel published research saying that bar soap sales have been declining over the past few years and that millennials are largely to blame. I usually roll my eyes when people try to pin anything to us "millennials," but I will fully claim responsibility for the slow demise of bar soap. I read this research and the articles it spawned, and I have to admit, they resonated with me.
Why? Because bar soap is fucking gross, dude. There aren't many things that I'm totally, inexplicably repelled by, but bar soap has always been near the top of that short list.
Apparently, one of the big reasons that people are moving away from bar soap is that, according to Mintel's research, almost half of all U.S. consumers (48 percent) believe it to be a hotbed for germs, although CNN cites research that all but refutes these fears (not that cold, hard facts have ever done anything to quell my phobias). I'm not exactly a germaphobe myself, but I wash my hands a lot and keep my makeup brushes clean, so cleanliness is always pretty top of mind for me. I don't even know if the germ thing had even registered for me, though. UNTIL I READ THAT.
No, for me, it's just, after the first use, bar soap begins to feel really...nasty. I'm never totally awake when I wobble into my shower in the morning, and I rely on the morning shower to not only wake me the hell up, but also make me feel squeaky clean and ready for the day. You know what doesn't make me feel clean? Wrapping my fingers around a bar of soap that's been sitting there in its own filth since my last shower, getting gooey, slippery, and slimy.
Ugh, GOD. Even writing about it is making me nauseated.
I traveled a lot this summer, and that meant showering in a lot of my friends' showers. Every time I pulled the curtain back and stepped into the tub only to find a bar of soap waiting for me, I would recoil in shock and disgust that people are still using these tools of terror.
You want to know my big, irrational fear? The one that this probably all stems from? Standing water. I hate standing water.
I know that standing water will happen, it's just a part of life, but that doesn't mean I have to be OK with it. I hate it on my sink after I take my makeup off; I hate it on my kitchen counter after I wash dishes. I don't even like to go outside after it rains. I suppose that, in my deranged line of reasoning, I feel like the bar of soap has absorbed all of the standing water left in my shower (life) and is holding it there for me to then rub all over my body the next morning.
So for me, I'm not even averse to the bar because of whatever germs may or may not be lurking within it. I just don't want to touch it.
The research mentions a few reasons that consumers are moving away from bar soap. First, fewer than half use bar soap to wash their face with (I am racing through this sentence because the thought of touching a gooey bar of soap to my face is enough to make me keel over my balcony). Sixty percent of older Americans aged 65-plus are OK with cleansing their faces with a bar, but that number drops to almost half for those aged 25 to 34, at only 33 percent.
To me, if we're opting for cleansing gels for our faces, that would open the door for gel cleansers and body washes in the shower, no? Plus, with so many companies expanding their line of "men's" products to full grooming collections, men's body washes are just as accessible as women's, or products like Dove body wash that are technically not gendered but geared toward women. More options for everybody. Better options.
Body washes are just a better experience. Plus, they're more portable so you can throw them in your gym bag, luggage, or overnight bag without having to find an extra case for them, like you would a gooey bar of soap. You can get so many more benefits from a body wash, with options that are moisturizing, exfoliating, illuminating, you name it, than you can a nasty and untrustworthy bar of regular soap. I just don't see why that, in 2016, when virtually every product we encounter has been optimized to make our lives quick, easy, and clean, people are still using these archaic bars of soap.
Are YOU? What am I missing? If you prefer bars to body washes, tell me why in the comments because I am genuinely curious.