To some, it’s literally just soap – but to beauty editor Lucy Partington, it’s become something of an obsession.
I don’t know what it is. I can’t put my finger on why I just really love it. There’s just something so bloody satisfying about having a bottle of posh hand soap take pride of place in my bathroom.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in a mansion (far from it, actually) and I definitely don’t have more money than sense, but I think it’s more about the way I’m perceived by people who come round to my flat.
In some ways it’s akin to the way I judge a restaurant, a hair salon, a nail shop on its choice of hand wash. In fact, there’s a hairdressers in London I’ve been to a few times that has Aesop soap and hand cream, and to me, it’s a sign that that place takes pride in itself, that the owner cares about the image being projected.
It’s the same in my home: I might be stuck in a tiny middle floor London flat which means I can’t add little touches that make stark white walls feel more homely, nor can I change the colour of them, and technically I’m not allowed to burn candles or put pictures on the walls, but I can add a hint of personality in my choice of soap.
It’s an extravagant thing, I know that. To some it’s probably pointless. After all, what’s the real difference between a bottle of Molton Brown and a bottle of blue Carex that’s always on offer in Wilko? Both clean hands effectively, both get rid germs and – crucially – both end up being washed down the sink.
But I think it just makes me feel like I’ve got my shit together. Like I’m not blagging my way through life plagued with imposter syndrome, that instead I’m a Very Responsible Adult who, despite what’s on the exterior, does actually care about the little things that nobody else probably notices.
What’s better is that I know it’s not just me. My best friend treated herself to some Aesop soap when she bought her first house, my sister regularly invests in it, and when I pitched this feature it was met with nods of agreement from the rest of the beauty team. In fact, it sparked an entire conversation, and some members of the wider Stylist team were on my wavelength, too.
So since I’m officially not alone in my weird obsession, here are my favourite soaps that are 100% worth treating yourself to. I promise you won’t regret it and the compliments you’ll get from future house guests will make it so worth it.
Aesop Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash
The soap that started the obsession. Not only does this smell incredible, but it also packed with finely-milled pumice that exfoliate hands and gently sloughs away any dead skin with every wash. When you’ve tried it once you’ll never want to use anything else.
Aesop Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash, £27
Byredo Suede Hand Soap
Expensive, yes, but a bottle of this is a mark of true sophistication. Byredo’s Suede soap has notes of bergamot and pear and a base of amber and velvet plum. It actually smells so good that I wish the brand would make it as an actual fragrance. It looks so chic, too.
Byredo Suede Hand Soap, £37
Le Labo Hand Soap
There’s just something about having Le Labo in your bathroom that feels so extra. It’s such an effortlessly cool brand and I like to think that it makes me cool by association. Its warming scent is inspired by Japanese Buddhist temples.
Le Labo Hand Soap, £17
Molton Brown Orange & Bergamot Fine Liquid Hand Wash
Molton Brown is genuinely once of my favourite brands when it comes to shower gel and hand soap. There’s an impressive choice of scents and they all linger on skin, too. This one is super fresh and zesty with notes of orange, bergamot and neroli.
Molton Brown Orange & Bergamot Fine Liquid Hand Wash, £20
The Body Shop Spa of The World Tahitian Tiaré Hand WashOK, so while this may be cheapest of the bunch, it’s a relatively new discovery and one of my new favourites. It smells insane (and the scent really lasts on hands) thanks to the combination of sweet, tropical coconut oil and creamy tiaré blossom.
The Body Shop Spa of The World Tahitian Tiaré Hand Wash, £7
Images: courtesy of brands