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A favorite of our grandparents, bar soaps are back to rid bathrooms of single-use plastic. But today they are adopting new formulas, more natural and more effective, and are available in a host of products, from deodorant to shampoo, including make-up remover and toothpaste. Doctissimo takes stock.
The success of bars of soap is there, with a turnover estimated at more than 85 million euros for France alone, and new players entirely specialized in solid cosmetics. This is the case of Unbottled, which has already saved more than 3 million plastic bottles. Interview with Sarah Pouchet, co-founder of the brand with our colleagues from ETX Studio.
Born in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Unbottled brand has made it its mission to remove plastic from our bathrooms. What is the genesis of this project?
After more than six years in the cosmetics industry, I decided to resign with the ambition to set up an impact project. While I was traveling in America to meet French entrepreneurs established on this continent, I became aware of my own consumption of single-use plastic, and I therefore decided to transform from the inside this sector that I know so good.
Before 2019, the supply of solid cosmetics was scarce. How to explain such a craze for these products in just a few years?
The boom in solid cosmetics comes from the post-Covid meeting between two factors. First, the ecological awareness of consumers, and a desire to consume better products, for health and for the environment. And then a renewed range of solid cosmetics with products that are more effective and more pleasant to use than those of the older generation.
Precisely, solid cosmetics are not an innovation… It suffices to recall the bathrooms of our grandparents and great-grandparents to realize that this is a step back in time. Can we finally say that in terms of lasting beauty, it was better before?
The solid products that we offer are quite different in their composition and the experience they provide from the soaps of our grandmothers. First, they do not contain soap, they have a so-called physiological pH, which is very close to that of the skin, and therefore do not cause any feeling of dryness or tightness. Then they foam a lot more and the flavors are also much more worked – and 100% natural as far as we are concerned.
What are consumers looking for today when they turn to solid cosmetics?
In a survey we carried out with nearly 5,000 customers, the absence of plastic packaging is the main criterion for purchasing solid products. But there are many other reasons, including the composition, which is more natural and healthier, as well as the practical aspect, especially when travelling.
What categories of solid cosmetics are popular with the public?
Our bestsellers are solid shampoos, and we are proud to have managed to reconcile thousands of people with this type of product. Solid ‘shower gels’ are also very popular. We called them that in particular because they do not contain soap and provide the same effect on the skin, without the plastic.
Do you have an idea of the plastic saved since the creation of the brand?
Since the launch of Unbottled, more than 3 million plastic bottles have been saved.
Unbottled opened its first store in Paris at the end of 2022. Why did you choose a physical location, perhaps less eco-responsible than online sales?
This is a request from our customers who very much want to feel and test the products before buying them. For the construction of the store, we used mostly recycled materials – wood and plastic in particular – and chose a green energy supplier.