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Hand soap has become a surprising new frontier in the world of personal care (and self-worth). We probably have the cosmos singing “Happy Birthday” twice for three years to thank for it — that and the countless hours spent in our bathroom with nothing but our thoughts to comfort us over those same three years. In any case, it seems we’ve all taken a second thought about what we were washing our hands with.
For some people, bougie hand soap is the closest thing they’ll get to a proper skin-care routine; for others, it’s just another blip in late-stage capitalism. Ahead, peruse the best hand soaps that’ll impress both you and your guests.
The Crème de la Target
The best kind of soap is one that smells good, leaves your hands clean but not stripped, and is easy to refill from a wallet and convenience perspective. Insert: Many options from Target, but particularly this one. From the sophisticated (and reusable) aluminum packaging to the not not Le Labo Santal 33–inspired fragrance of vetiver and amber, Method’s Aluminum Gel Hand Soap is doing a lot more than its price tag would suggest. The Cut Shop’s senior editor Bianca Nieves and writer Chinea Rodriguez are fans, and both are eczema-prone, making this a dry- and sensitive-skin-friendly option.
The “It” Soap
Honey with Savannah and LeBron James, limited-edition holiday sets with the Dalai Lama, seasonal pop-ups with Mytheresa: Flamingo Estate’s next collaboration ought to be with your counter. The Los Angeles–based brand has long made sumptuous bars of soap, but we’re prone to this ribbony gel formula. Essential oils from around the world are bottled up in a durable aluminum bottle, and every wash feels like you’re stuffing your face in your grandma’s garden — if your grandma were a baroness.
The One to Gift
Know some new homeowners in your life? Looking to impress the in-laws with a pinkies-out gift? Hanna Flanagan, the Cut Shop’s editor, recommends this set from L’AVANT. She loves how the bottles match on the kitchen sink (one is for dishes, the other for hands), that neither dries out the skin, and that a little goes a long way: “This set has lasted me over a year somehow!” For reference, the hand soap is 16 fluid ounces, 4 more than the Method soap and just under Flamingo Estate’s weight. The soap also has a sophisticated (plant-based) scent of ylang-ylang, bamboo, and crisp linen.
The Gold Standard
For those handwashing connoisseurs who’ve been at this game for a while, Aesop may feel like an obvious choice. But there’s a reason the brand’s Resurrection Aromatique sits at the top of so many wish lists. The brand only uses natural fragrances that are simultaneously subtle and intricate, so much so that Resurrection’s fragrance (a citrus and herbaceous concoction) is universally loved. This soap builds to a luscious lather that isn’t too sudsy and isn’t too velvety, and it enrobes your hands in a hydrated lotionlike finish. It is ubiquitous, so you may not win points for inventiveness — but does it matter when the stuff is so good you want to wash your hands twice?
The Dark Horse
Consider this option from Grown Alchemist as money well spent. While the Australia-based brand does make a soap that’s on par with Aesop’s Resurrection Aromatique (see: the orange oil and cedarwood wash), the true surprise and delight hand wash from the line is this one, which is loaded with Tasmanian pepper-leaf extract, offset by chamomile and tinged with frankincense. From the packaging to the fragrance to the utilitarian branding, this is the Goldilocks wash for couples, roommates, and anyone who shares a bathroom. It pumps up to a nice lather, is creamy but not occlusive, and will slowly emerge as everyone’s bathroom mainstay.
The Clean(er) One
If you look for the words “clean” and “nontoxic” in your household essentials, allow us to introduce you to your new favorite line. Attitude is a Canada-based brand founded by a man who sought to create safer household-cleaning products after his wife got pregnant. All of Attitude’s products check the right boxes for a certain kind of consumer: They’re EWG verified and have PETA certification and California Proposition 65 clearance. The products, like this hand soap, don’t sacrifice environmental friendliness for performance or experience, either. The soaps are effective crowd-pleasers that smell good enough and feel nice enough that no one would bat an eyelash if you bought the formulas in bulk and used them to refill fancy bottles. (And you absolutely can, since more scents are available in giganto-packs up to 135 fluid ounces.)
The One for Extra-Sensitive Skin
You can’t go wrong with any of Dr. Bronner’s fair-trade and organic products, which, in liquid form, can be stretched to a million uses. But if you or anyone in the family has sensitive skin, you’ll want to keep a few of these humble bar soaps handy. This unscented soap uses hemp grown in the United States and a lot of olive oil to give you a smooth, high-lather wash that won’t dehydrate already dry hands and skin.
The Celebrity-Endorsed One
“These all smell really good and don’t dry out my hands, which are prone to eczema flare-ups,” says Rodriguez. With Homecourt, there really is a winning fragrance for everyone, whether you’re into roses, mint, fir, or founder Courteney Cox’s signature scent, Cece. It smells of smoky cedarwood, warming cardamom, cinnamon spices, and leather. Not only is anything from Homecourt bound to spark small talk, but the hand soap is made to nourish skin as much as it is to clean. You have the soap’s moisturizing argan oil, hydrating hibiscus flower, and debris-lifting coconut extract to thank for that.
The One to Play Off Your Cassiopeia Marble
The amber glow, the cream paper, the made-in-Italy tout — this soap may as well have had a supporting role in the second season of The White Lotus. It’s not all looks; Rodriguez says this soap doesn’t dry out hands and has a unique fragrance you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. The Retreat notes include matcha, clary sage, and palo santo. If that weren’t enough, imagine a hint of mint and ginger to add some zip. Like Homecourt, this formula is heavy on the hydration and is spiked with both olive and argan oil.