The first thing anyone does when I open my apartment door isn’t to reach out and give me a hug. After a long 15 months of being told to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds, every friend has pushed past me, slipped off their shoes, and headed straight to the bathroom. And because I’m so thrilled to finally see people in person, I might be overcompensating slightly by making my apartment seem extra nice, down to the bathroom. So if you’re calling me for a wine and cheese night hang, you’ll see a fancy hand soap and fluffy hand towels next to the sink. Yes, those are literally for company only.
For the longest time I’ve resisted any of those status hand soaps, because well, you’re washing it down the drain. Like most people I panic bought whatever I could find during the start of the pandemic, and now my cabinet is filled with assorted inexpensive brands. And while at one point a bottle of Softsoap was harder to come by than a streetwear drop, it’s not exactly something I want to show off now. So, I gave in and sprung for Aesop, the preferred aesthetic option of influencers and restauranteurs alike but should you want something different, there are other fancy hand washes out there that are just good looking in your bathroom. Read on for my favorites.
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The Sensitive Skin Option
I’m a huge fan of Grown Alchemist’s skincare line and their hand wash is just as good. The scent is a faint mix of orange and cedar that’s not too cloying and the formula, much like its face cleanser, will leave your skin feeling clean without being stripped.
If You Like Smoky Scents
Much like how I love a candle that smells like my home is burning down, I also tend to gravitate towards those scents when it comes perfumes and hand washes. This one hits all of those smoky, woodsy, and spicy notes and leaves a lingering hint of them on your hands.
The One That Smells Like A French Vacation
Made in the South of France, this hand wash smells like a hot summer day in Provence but if you want to be more particular, it’s honey and lavender. It comes in a hefty glass bottle, so it feels more substantial than your average hand soap.
The Status Hand Wash
While technically Aesop’s Reverence Aromatique hand wash is the one you’ll find in most bathrooms, might I suggest an alternative? Their Citrus Melange is also quite nice and has fresh, orange-y scent. It lacks the pumice bits however, so if you want a good scour go for the Reverence Aromatique.
The Eco-Friendly Option
A friend gave me this set as a housewarming gift and I was instantly converted. It comes with a glass jar and two tabs. Each dissolves in hot water to become a full size cleanser. Unlike the others, this already comes out foamy but it feels just as effective. I actually leave this in the kitchen since we tend to wash our hands more there and I’m planning on buying more tab refills, which has a gentler environmental impact.
If You Like Rose Scents
Another favorite candle of mine is Byredo’s Burning Rose (yes, yet again a smoky scent) and while their Rose hand wash doesn’t have that extra woodsy layer to it, it smells really, really nice. I’d imagine what it’d be like if I was trapped like Kenny G in a room full of flowers, waiting for Kim Kardashian to walk in for a serenade.
A Plesant Floral Hand Wash
During that first week of the pandemic, I ran out of hand soap and discovered that fight for the anti-bacterial ones at Target was like being in Mad Max: Fury Road. Instead of ploughing through the crowd, I saw these Method soaps sitting forlornly on the shelf. They turned out to be a pleasant surprise with their light floral scent, that my friend said reminded her of Byredo’s Gypsy Water.
The Very Affordable, Expensive-Looking Option
With its citrus scent, minimal packaging, and $5 price tag, this hand wash is not just nice looking but also affordable enough to use daily.
The One That Smells Like A Fancy French Boutique
The Laundress makes a great gentle detergent that I use to wash my face masks and I like their hand soap as well. With its lavender, musk, and sandalwood scent, it's what I imagine the interior of an elegant boutique in Saint Germain to smell like.
If You Like Crisp, Green Scents
What does bamboo like? Well, in this case it’s like a crisp green forest with a hint of sweet pea flower. If that means nothing to you, just get it if you’re into hands that smell clean and refreshing.
For Spicy Fans
Not into things that smell like flowers or like you left a candle burning? Try this hand wash instead. It has black pepper, ginger, and cardamon for a warm scent that’s reminiscent of the innards of your spice cabinet. Added bonus: it comes in larger refills, to reduce waste.
If You're Into Aesthetics, On A Budget
Want to curate that Instagram-friendly bathroom without shelling out for a $45 hand wash? This one, by Maapilim, costs a fraction of that and has the same look. With citrus and jasmine oils, it’s also pleasant smelling without coming off overly chemical or artificial.
The Unexpected One
Actual cannabis smells sorta funky but when it’s in a hand wash, it’s smoky and fresh.