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Feature

June 12, 2021
13 Fancy Hand Soaps That I Only Set Out For My Guests
Because you know the first thing they’ll do is wash their hands.
Written by

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.

Get Grown Alchemist Hand Wash: Sweet Orange, Cedarwood, Sage ($37) →

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.

Get Tangent GC Organic Hand Soap in Oud ($26) →

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.

Get Bastide Liquid Soap in Miel de Lavande ($35) →

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.

Get Aesop Citrus Melange Body Cleanser ($45) →

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.

Get Blueland Hand Soap Duo ($30) →

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.

Get Byredo Rose Hand Wash ($65) →

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.

Get Method Naturally Derived Foaming Hand Soap, Sweet Water Scent ($14) →

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.

Get Public Goods Hand Soap ($5) →

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.

Get The Laundress Hand Soap ($19) →

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.

Get Nest New York Bamboo Liquid Soap ($22) →

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.

Get Yield Poivre Organic Hand Soap ($20) →

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.

Get Maapilim Hand Wash ($12) →

The Unexpected One

Actual cannabis smells sorta funky but when it’s in a hand wash, it’s smoky and fresh.

Get Maline+Goetz Cannabis Hand & Body Wash ($24) →

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