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This “exfoliating brick’ not only promises your softest skin, it’s also an absolute pleasure to use.
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As a Gen-Z “cusper,” I am, perhaps surprisingly, an Instagram shopping skeptic. I tend to avoid the app’s “shop” tab at all costs, fiercely defending my algorithm from the e-commerce powers that be. But recently, I surrendered quite easily—all thanks to the promise of softer skin. While the beauty market has become so saturated it gives even the best hyaluronic acid a run for its money (do skincare jokes land these days?), body care just feels…uncared for. Yes, there are products out there designed for the body, but rarely do you find something that targets specific skin problems that exist only from the neck down.
A few months back, that changed, when a photo of a bright, sudsy, ocean blue bar of soap by a brand called Soft Services popped up on my feed. It was described in the caption as a “physical exfoliating brick” (how utilitarian!) that, based on the 2 minutes of research I had the patience to conduct, promised soft skin for anyone. I, in an impulsive state, was compelled to buy it on the spot, directly through the app. (For the record, my algorithm is doing just fine.)
Now, at first this decision was merely a dignified-ish act of retail therapy—it was pretty! And self-care-y! And that name, so cute! But allow me to explain how I went from there to here, with my baby-soft hands and silky smooth arms, rhapsodizing about a humble bar of soap.
Soft Services’s “Buffing Bar” is a physical microcrystal exfoliant that’s designed to slough away dead skin, unclog pores, and release trapped hairs that normally cause irritation. It conjures a mental picture satisfying enough to classify as ASMR; a process that’s too gross to depitct but so satisfying to think about. According to the brand’s co-founder, Annie Kreighbaum, the secret ingredient is the magnesium oxide crystals, which are evenly ground to create perfectly sized particles, which combine with the formula base to create the ideal ratio for even exfoliation.
“Physical body exfoliants usually have too large or uneven particles (like salt and nut-shell scrubs),” Kreighbaum says, “or very small particles that are at too low of a concentration in the formula to have an even, smoothing effect on skin.” It makes sense, and the product’s beauty lies in its simplicity. The solid “brick” soap bar makes it easy to control just how hard or soft you exfoliate your skin, unlike traditional body gels which tend to slip right through your fingers, or are too rough no matter how delicately you scrub.
There’s also, for hedonists like myself, an immediate incentive for scrub-a-dub-dubbing: how it feels. “Like a happy bear rubbing its back against a tree,” as the Soft Services website describes it, the bar spares you the delayed gratification of serums or gels that require time to take effect. And while you will notice a difference after one use, the more time that passes, the smoother your skin will become.
While the bar promises to buff your troubles away, it won’t leave you high and dry(ed out), despite its exfoliating power. As Kreighbaum tells me, the “smoothing solution”—a.k.a. the pretty blue formula holding all the microcrystals together—is made with aloe and centella, both of which are calming agents. Even on days when I skip out on post-shower lotion, my skin has not once felt arid or brittle. The bar targets everything from Keratosis Pilaris to ingrown hair, bumps, blemishes, et. al., but perhaps its biggest appeal is that you don’t need a specific problem to enjoy it. I, for one, find that skin can always be softer, and like a bear scratching its back, I’ll never get enough.