News that, in a bid to cut down on plastic, consumers are turning back to barred soap for personal hygiene, has the market analysts who notice such things all aglow. “For the first time this century,” Kantar Worldpanel’s strategic insight director, Tim Nancholas, recently said, “barred soap is making a return.”

Right up there on the list of easy ways to reduce your plastic use is switching from shower gel to solid soap. Bea Johnson, the French-Californian whose annual familial waste fits into a small Kilner jar, says she buys bars of Good Soap at Whole Foods to serve as shampoo, facial cleanser, handwash, body wash and shaving agent.

Of course, anyone who has recently washed their hands with a bar of off-white Imperial Leather might be wondering how their face, armpits or indeed their inner thighs might feel if that’s what’s in store for them this evening.

So how does barred soap stack up against gels and liquid creams? Will our belated efforts to look after the environment see us, literallly, leaving skin in the game? And altruistic concerns aside, a re we washing ourselves as we ought to? Skincare expert Jennifer Rock, founder of the Skin Nerd online consultancy, is inclined to think we’re not. “People spend a lot of time and money researching cleansers and moisturisers for the face, but then jump into the shower and use anything.” As a result, our body skin is woefully neglected. She says one of the most common pictures they’re sent on Instagram is of acne on bums. “It’s such a common problem.”

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Vijay Nanda

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