After a long day, many people enjoy indulging in a decadent bath or shower experience. Luxe items such as soothing lotions, bath salts, and scented body washes can easily set the tone, transforming ordinary bath spaces into serenity zones.
The soap, bath, and shower category continues to grow. According to Euromonitor the bath and shower market is estimated to be worth U.S. $7.8 billion (May 2017). In recent years, there’s been an upswing in demand for natural and organic products that don’t contain unnecessary chemicals, parabens, additives or fillers.
Many companies are using fresh ingredients from the farm. “Farm-to-sink and -bath is the biggest trend in the category this year. Homegrown and produced in America is also critical,” said Pamela Danziger, speaker, author and market researcher of Unity Marketing.
Tapping into this movement is FarmHouse Fresh, an enticing collection of natural, certified organic bath and body items. Its collection includes salt and sugar scrubs, soothing lotions, body oils, mineral bath salts, balms, fun bath fizzers, body wash/bubble bath, and powdered milk bath.
Its food-inspired Gourmet Milk Soaps contain milk from locally raised cows and goats, and fresh organic farm ingredients such as lavender, honey, blueberries, and pistachios. The bars are 97 percent natural, and are hand-poured and hand-packaged. Most are gluten-free.
Packaged to resemble a block of cheese, eight soap “slices” are displayed on a wooden tray. They can be purchased by the “slice” or in a gift set of eight soaps that come in a Wisconsin-made Aspen wood gift box.
Delicious varieties include Oatmeal (goat’s milk from California and oats from Kansas); Pistachio Cream (California pistachios and goat’s milk); Lavender Honey (Texas honey, whole milk from the Midwest, lavender from Washington; and Blueberry Chia Seed (blueberries from Oregon, whole milk from the Midwest).
Black Mermaid’s Bath and Body offers all-natural face and body soaps and body whips (moisturizer) as well as men’s shaving soaps, beard balm, and alcohol-free aftershave. One of its strongest sellers is its Honey Spice Soap, made with herbs and raw honey. It is shea butter-based and contains essential oil blends. The company also uses other farm ingredients, which include figs, rose petals, and calendula.
Hypoallergenic has also been a buzzword in the industry. When asked to define the term, Heather Swanepoel, owner of Rinse Bath & Body referred to the FDA website. “There are no federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term ‘hypoallergenic.’ The term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean.”
Although Rinse doesn’t make “hypoallergenic” label claims, it uses quality ingredients — most of them are natural. “All ingredients are incorporated into the formulas for a reason and cost savings or fillers is not a reason,” explained Swanepoel.
The ingredients, which are easy to read and recognizable, appear on the labels. All products are phthalate-, paraben-, petroleum-, latex-, metal- and sulfate-free. The collection is ideal for people with sensitive skin.
When it comes to hypoallergenic, Duke Cannon’s Sam Swartz doesn’t think it’s critical that every product be hypoallergenic considering that there are hundreds of different allergies or aversions that consumers may have.
“If you tried to avoid all of them, your window of innovation would be very narrow,” said Sam Swartz, co-founder of the company, which sells a range of premium grooming essentials for men.
Like Rinse’s Swanepoel, Swartz believes that manufacturers should be transparent with their ingredient lists. Ingredients are included on the packaging at Duke Cannon, too.
The visionaries behind White Elephant’s specialty soaps and lotions are constantly scouring the globe for new ingredients. “This year we were obsessed with turmeric, orchid and willow,” revealed Kat Parker, president, White Elephant Soap Bar.
The company creates items for tweens, teens, women and men. Its bar soaps and lotions are crafted in smaller batches using top grade bases, unique additives, and fine essential oils and fragrances. All items are also offered in an organic version.
Natural milk proteins, oatmeal extract, and chamomile are also included in K. Hall’s US Apothecary Milk + Oatmeal Triple Milled Bar Soap, which also contains shea butter and olive oil.
Beyond farm-fresh ingredients and ingredient labeling, fragrance also drives many bath collections. “Consumers often shop with their noses. We carefully select fragrances that appeal to men (and the women who purchase for men). They must be masculine without being too powerful,” said Duke Cannon’s Swartz.
“Fragrance is much like art and is a personal preference,” said Scott Miller, president/CEO of K. Hall Studio. Unless people have extreme allergies, they generally prefer soap with a great scent,” agreed Rinse’s Swanepoel.
Scent also plays a significant role in product development at FarmHouse Fresh, which offers body wash/bubble bath in scrumptious scents such as Whoopie Cream, Fluffy Bunny, Rainbow Road, and Pink Moon.
Although Walton Wood Farm creates light, fresh fragrances, it also offers items that lack scent. “We live in an increasingly fragrance-sensitive world. Many work places have banned the use of products with scents as some people suffer from environmental allergies or sensitivities,” said Leslie Bradford-Scott, CEO/founder, Walton Wood Farm.
To address this need, Walton Wood Farm recently launched The Natural — a collection of scent-free grooming products, which includes a body wash/shampoo, shaving soap, and hand rescue. The fragrance-free collection is made of shea butter, radish root, essential oils and aloe.
Beyond ingredients and fragrance, consumers also have preferences in bar soap versus liquid versions. Many companies reported that bar soaps reign.
“People enjoy the luxury and longevity of bar soaps as opposed to the oversaturated market of liquids. We’ve seen a large increase in demand for our bar soap,” revealed White Elephant Soap Bar’s Parker.
In mass channels, liquid soaps compete head-to-head with solid, but in the gift channel, solid soaps are more giftable. A large bar offers more substance,” agreed Duke Cannon’s Swartz.
Personality also goes a long way. Duke Cannon’s Big Ass Brick of Soap is a continually strong seller. Within the last year, the Big Ass Beer Soap made with Old Milwaukee beer has been a top performer. The most reordered item is Bloody Knuckles Hand Repair Balm. “The fun name combined with the product’s quality have made it a huge hit.
The company also offers hair and face wash, shaving cream, and specialized products such as Solid Cologne and Best Damn Beard Oil.
The soaps are made from tallow and contain steel cut grains for exfoliation. “We believe tallow is more environmentally-friendly than vegetable-based soaps because it doesn’t lead to deforestation,” said Swartz.
In October 2017, Duke Cannon unveiled its Big American Bourbon Soap (with a unique oak barrel scent) via a partnership with Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Other innovative items include the Cannon Balm Tactical Lip Protectant, which is four times the size of “dainty chap sticks” and made with mostly organic ingredients.
For tween boys, Walton Wood Farm offers Boys Don’t Stink—an oversized bar of exfoliating oatmeal and shea soap. The item boasts an image of a pig, which is stamped into the bar with the message: “Don’t be a pig.”
The company also offers 100 percent natural aftershave balms for grooming personal areas. It includes B’ver Balm for her and Proud Cock for him. Both are paired with shave soaps.