Bar Soap's Bad Rap. What MIllenials Got Wrong. - Island Thyme Soap Company

Bar Soap's Bad Rap. What MIllenials Got Wrong.

An in-depth analysis by market intelligence agency firm Mintel reported that bar-soap sales in the U.S. declined 2.2% from 2014 to 2015 against an overall sales increase of 2.7% in the broader bath-and-shower category. Further, according to the report, the percentage of households using bar soap dropped five percentage points between 2010 and 2015 from 89% to 84%.

What's causing the market for bar soap to continue to fall?  

A bad rap among millennials it doesn't deserve.

"Almost half (48%) of all U.S. consumers believe bar soaps are covered in germs after use, a feeling that is particularly strong among consumers aged 18-24 (60%), as opposed to just 31% of older consumers aged 65+.’"

But the science didn't bear that out. The researchers in one study actually contaminated bar soap with bacteria, only to find that the bacteria wasn’t transferred during hand washing.

Washing With Contaminated Bar Soap Is Unlikely To Transfer Bacteria.


"Recent reports of the isolation of microorganisms from used soap bars have raised the concern that bacteria may be transferred from contaminated soap bars during handwashing. Since only one study addressing this question has been published, we developed an additional procedure to test this concern. In our new method prewashed and softened commercial deodorant soap bars (0.8% triclocarban) not active against Gram-negative bacteria were inoculated with Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa to give mean total survival levels of 4.4 X 10(5) c.f.u. per bar which was 70-fold higher than those reported on used soap bars.
Sixteen panelists were instructed to wash with the inoculated bars using their normal handwashing procedure. After washing, none of the 16 panelists had detectable levels of either test bacterium on their hands. Thus, the results obtained using our new method were in complete agreement with those obtained with the previously published method even though the two methods differ in a number of procedural aspects. These findings, along with other published reports, show that little hazard exists in routine handwashing with previously used soap bars and support the frequent use of soap and water for handwashing to prevent the spread of disease." 
The same mechanisms in the chemistry of soap  that allows germs and dirt to be trapped in the lather to then be washed down the drain are what makes bar soap essentially "self-cleaning."  Bar soap is an effective cleanser and bacteria doesn't transfer from the soap's surface. In fact when it comes to anti-bacterial properties, true soap is ranked right up there with hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap in a recent study sponsored by ABC news.



The FDA has come out advising consumers not to use anti-bacterial soap because it assists in creating microbes that are increasingly immune to agents used to kill them.

Millennials also appeared to prefer the convenience of what they think of as liquid soaps. They're not messy, they don’t slip out of your hands, they don’t require a soap dish. But as we reported in this blog post, it may not be "soap" at all.  That "body wash" is likely to be a liquid detergent packed with drying chemicals, surfactants, and preservatives. 

We also know millennials are conscious consumers. 

A recent Nielsen global online study found that millennials continue to be most willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings. The carbon footprint in general is 25%  more for liquid cleansers than bar soap. Consumers use almost 7 times more liquid soap (2.3 grams) than bar soap (0.35 grams).

Science Advances reports that an estimaged 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste have been produced globally since 1995, but only 9% was recycled, as 12% was incinerated and the other 79% ending up in nature or landfills.The increasing awareness of plastic pollution moved consumer preference for more environment friendly packaging beyond a trend to a movement of the whole beauty industry. Mintel reported ethical packaging was the 6th top claim appearing among New Product Developments (NPD) in the personal care sector throughout 2018. 

A Comeback Story

After a decline in market share over a decade, 2018 showed bar soap making a comeback with sales increasing by 3%. Bar soap is now growing more quickly than the liquid or gel segment of the personal care market. Much of the increased demand for bar soap is coming from the higher end of the market, as luxury toiletry brands. There are so many reasons to love a good bar of handcrafted soap. Its luxury ingredients like avocado oil, mango butter and more. Its lighter carbon footprint. Our minimal packaging is about as green as any product packaging comes.

Artisan crafted soap is the best way to gently cleanse your skin of dirt, viruses and bacteria, and is a better choice for conscious consumers.

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