Old-fashioned soap bars come back in vogue

8th of February 2019
Old-fashioned soap bars come back in vogue

Soap bars are coming back into fashion in the UK after decades in decline.

Environmentally-conscious customers appear to be turning their backs on today's plastic soap dispensers in a bid to avoid creating excess waste.

Soap bar sales have risen by nearly three per cent over the past 12 months, claim consumer experts Kantar Worldpanel. UK shoppers spent €77.8 million on soap bars in the year to September 2018 - up from €75.6 million the previous year. And soap bar sales grew faster than liquid soaps and shower gel products over the same period.

Strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel Tim Nancholas believes the trend is being driven by environmentally-conscious customers keen to avoid creating plastic packaging waste. And he claims luxury soap bars proving particularly popular.

"Bar soaps are now slightly more indulgent than they have been in the past and there is a bigger opportunity for a premium offering," he said.

Soap bars have fallen out of fashion in recent years for fear that they may spread germs. However, studies carried out decades ago discounted this theory.

Scientists in 1965 conducted an experiment in which they intentionally contaminated their hands with bacteria such as Staph and E. coli. They then washed their hands with a bar of soap and asked a second person to use the same bar to wash their own hands. They found the quantity of bacteria transferred to the second user to be insignificant.

In a second test carried out by a soap manufacturer in 1988, a team of scientists inoculated bars of soap with E. coli and Pseudomonas. They then asked 16 subjects to wash their hands with the inoculated bars. After washing, none of the subjects had detectable levels of bacteria on their hands.



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