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Finding the best hand soap probably doesn’t cross your mind until you’re left staring at an empty bottle when you need it the most. It’s a not-so-friendly reminder to stop neglecting the important stuff in life—like stocking up on the suds that will leave your hands clean, silky smooth, and ready to touch a whole lot of stuff.
Sometimes you just want the stripped down basics, the $10 bottle that was good enough for your childhood and still continues to do the job. But some occasions require a little more pizzazz. You know: the type of liquid in a bottle that will transport you halfway across the world, for no better reason than you really deserve a little break.
Here are our top picks, from the high-end stuff you’ve probably seen at hot restaurants and on interior-design blogs to the simple, available-everywhere soaps that you can still usually pick up from the shelves of your local grocery store. Happy washing!
Best Hand Soaps, at a Glance
- The Status Symbol Pick: Aesop “Reverence Aromatique” hand wash, $39
- The Green(ery) Pick: Malin+Goetz cannabis hand+body wash, $26
- The Luxury Pick: Acqua di Parma “Colonia” hand soap, $60
- The Grocery Story Pick: Mrs. Meyer’s “Lemon Verbena” hand soap, $4
- The Indie Pick: Sangre de Fruta botanical hand wash, $60
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.
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).
The Luxury Pick
Acqua di Parma “Colonia” hand soap
Get transported to the Italian coast with a few pumps of Acqua di Parma’s hand soap in its signature “Colonia” scent. Blending together notes of bergamot, lavender, sandalwood, and patchouli, the intoxicating fragrance is as luxurious as they come. While frequent hand washing can lead to unsightly dry hands, this bougie soap is packed with moisturizing panthenol so you can wash away and get your olfactory senses buzzing in the process.
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 scent, are refreshing and pleasant rather than cloying potpourri. The consistency and foaming power is good. The packaging is simple and adult. All without costing more than a few bucks.
The Indie Pick
Sangre de Fruta botanical hand wash
Organic, plant-based and ocean-safe this botanical hand wash is holistic self-care at its finest. Many hand soaps aren’t worth having an extended conversation aboutm but Sangre de Fruta’s version is fused with super moisturizing cacao seed butter and purifying rosemary extract making it a real treat for your skin (and sink thanks to the sleek packaging).
More Hand Soaps We Like
Shabondama bubble guard hand soap
Washing your hands can leave your hands high and dry particularly during the winter. This hand soap is alcohol, fragrance and sulfate-free, meaning it won’t strip your digits dry while do the required freshening up.
Brillie hand wash variety set
Like a little variety when it comes to your hand wash? Brillie’s variety set comes with three packs of wash powder–vanilla, almond, and fresh–that activate into super suds with water. Reduce your plastic waste and say goodbye to getting handwash scent fatigue.
Culti “Aramara” hand & body soap
Give your hands a little me-time with this woodsy wash that features notes of sandalwood, bergamont and bitter orange.
Woods Copenhagen aromatique hydra hand wash
Spirulina is a great antioxidant, giving your body the detoxifying boost it needs post-holiday. Combine that with ultra-soothing aloe vera and you’ve got yourself a deep cleansing hand wash that will live you the opposite of dry.
Dr. Barbara Sturm hand wash
The brand that saved your face has a wash to keep your hands looking just as smooth and hydrated, thanks to a mix of moisturizing glycerin and soothing aloe vera extract.
Boy Smells fantôme hand wash
If you’re a fan of the brand’s punchy candles and signature scents, keep the party going with hand wash that’ll leave you refreshed and very grounded.
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.
Diptyque “Eau des Sens” hand and body gel
Bring the smell of your favorite Diptyque candle everywhere you go.
D.S. & Durga “Big Sur After Rain” hand soap
Bring the forest into your bathroom, whether or not it even has a window.
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.
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.