/The Best Hand Soap for Washing Your Hands Non-Stop

The Best Hand Soap for Washing Your Hands Non-Stop

The best hand soap is probably something you’ve been thinking about a lot lately, as the coronavirus continues to spread. To prevent its transmission, the CDC recommends washing your hands with soap (bar or liquid) and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible. (If you’re on a grocery run and want to quickly clean your hands after check out, it’s cool to use hand sanitizer.) But what kind of soap should you use? Well, according to the U. S. Food and Drug Administration plainly there’s no science to show that antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than just plain soap and water.

So, during this time where washing hands can actually save lives, any soap is good soap. But think about it: if you’re going to be washing your hands more frequently than you might otherwise, what better time to invest the best hand soap available? The kind of soap you might find in a rich and stylish friend’s apartment, or a nice cocktail bar. The kind of soap that looks beautiful, smells great, and leave your hands feeling actually hydrated instead of all dried out. In a world where everyone is wearing masks and social distancing, the act of washing your hands can be something more than a chore.

Here are our top picks, from the high-end stuff you’ve probably seen at hip restaurants and on interior-design blogs to the simple, available-everywhere soaps that you can still usually pick up from the ransacked shelves of your local grocery store.

The Status Symbol Pick

Aesop “Reverence Aromatique” hand wash

When you think of high-end soap, you probably think of this one. Aesop has got the game locked down thanks to their Instagram-friendly design and chic, minimal stores, and you’ve probably seen bottles of this stuff at trendy cafés and the bathroom of that restaurant that everyone won’t stop talking about. It’s ubiquitous, it turns out, for a reason: The fragrance is woody with a touch of citrus (vetiver root and bergamot rind), and very fine pieces of pumice add a great, gentle exfoliation. It foams up just enough, washes off without any residue, and leaves your hands scrubbed, smooth, soft, and subtly fragrant, like you just left a spa. 

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The Green(ery) Pick

Malin+Goetz Cannabis Hand+Body Wash

All of Malin+Goetz’s cannabis-scented products share a warm, spicy fragrance that inches toward a kind of dank earthiness without actually smelling like a dorm room—more like a cozy, grown-up cabin in the woods with a barely perceptible haze from last night’s smoke still lingering. The cannabis hand wash, obviously, is no exception, and its smooth and lightly foaming texture opens up into that same rich fragrance that’s noticeable but not overwhelming. It left our hands feeling soft and residue-free. Bonus: Having a bottle on your bathroom counter feels a bit fun and irreverent, like you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously (whether or not that’s actually true).

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The Luxury Pick

Fredric Malle soap coffret

This is roughly one hundred million times nicer—more hydrating, more delicately fragranced, and packaged with greater care—than whatever piece of overly perfumed, skin-drying supermarket soap you may associate with the words ”
bar soap.” Frederic Malle makes some of the most impressive colognes in the industry, and their soaps take those same scents and distill them into beautiful small pucks, each delicately wrapped in folded paper. The six small pucks are very expensive, but the packaging makes them feel like tiny uncut gems (they make for a terrific housewarming gift). And the scents—especially their take on vetiver, which puts a darker and more earthy spin on the fresh, grassy fragrance—are as unique and impressive as you’d expect from Frederic Malle.

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The Grocery Store Pick

Mrs. Meyer’s “Lemon Verbena” hand soap

Most cheap supermarket soaps tend to dry out your hands and/or don’t smell all that nice and/or are just plain ugly, with bottles that look like they belong more in a kid’s bathroom than a grown man’s. Thankfully, Mrs. Meyer’s is different. The fragrances, especially the Lemon Verbena, are refreshing and pleasant rather than potpourri-esque. The consistency and foaming power is good. The packaging is simple and adult. All without costing more than a few bucks.

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The Indie Pick

Apotheke Charcoal Liquid Soap

Charcoal has been touted for
its cleansing properties for ages, since it naturally extracts microscopic dirt, oil, bacteria, and the like from your skin like a vacuum. And it’s gotten especially buzzy in the past few years as brands realized you can put it in toothpaste, face masks, skin wipes, deodorant, and, yes, hand soap—like this one from Apotheke. It’s made by a small team in Brooklyn, and in addition to the inky black color looking unique and making it kind of fun to use, it has a subtle fragrance that’s equal parts fresh and earthy, with notes of cedar, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, sage, and lemongrass. Apotheke makes a line of complementary charcoal products—shampoo, conditioner, lotion, a candle, a bar soap—as well, so if you like this, you could get the whole suite and have a nice black tar consistency among your bathroom supplies.

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Seven More Hand Soaps We Like

byHumankind hand soap

byHumankind makes products that employ as little packaging as possible (its bar shampoo—something you’d usually have to get in a bottle—comes in bar form, for example). The brand’s hand soap comes in three gentle, luxurious scents.

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Diptyque “Eau des Sens” hand and body gel

Bring the smell of your favorite Diptyque candle everywhere you go (even if right now that might only be a roughly 4-block radius around your apartment).

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D.S. & Durga “Big Sur After Rain” hand soap

A safe social-distancing routine does not include a trip to a national park. But it should certainly include a soap that smells like one.

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Public Goods hand soap

New Jersey-based Public Goods makes soaps with all the olfactory notes of a delicious spice cake like orange, cinnamon, and nutmeg, plus a few other traditional scents you’d actually expect from a fancy soap, like vetiver.

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Le Labo hand soap

The fragrance is as layered and captivating as you’d expect from Le Labo. The warm, rich aroma of hinoki wood hits you in the face as soon as you start washing and lingers on your hands for hours.

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Byredo “Suede” hand wash

Like the other fragrance makers on this list, Byredo has made a name for themselves with their incredible colognes, and that special aptitude for fragrance is what makes this stuff worth the money. The Suede has a delicate floral scent (the sweet and grassy notes of lily of the valley and violet) at its heart, with some fresh citrus in the top notes and soft musk at the base.

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Dr. Bronner’s “Peppermint” sugar soap

Another good option you can find at the supermarket with a price tag that won’t raise your eyebrows. It’s as invigorating and cleansing as their well-loved castile soap, and a tiny bit goes a long way.

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