We’ve all spent the past year washing our hands a lot more, and a luxury hand soap is a sure way to make singing “happy birthday” a more pleasant experience.
It’s also become more important to find a soap that doesn’t dry out or irritate your skin. There’s no avoiding that spending more than a few pounds on a bottle of hand soap is a big jump if that’s what you’re used to, never mind going above £30, but for a little bit of everyday luxury, we think it’s worth it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how long each bottle lasts.
Of course, you can also do the interiors trick of buying luxury once, and then refilling the bottle with something more basic to keep the look without the ongoing cost.
In testing, we looked not only for the bare essentials – how clean our hands felt afterwards – but also for experience: scent, lather, how skin felt afterwards and how long the fragrance lingered on the skin.
Our favourites had a long-lasting but not overpowering scent and left skin feeling nourished and soft as well as clean.
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Aesop reverence aromatique hand wash
Beloved by trendy restaurant bathrooms everywhere, the woody, herbal reverence aromatique has notes of vetiver, petitgrain and bergamot and is a very unisex smell, being not at all floral. It contains tiny beads of pumice to gently exfoliate and leaves skin feeling soft, supple, smooth and, most importantly, clean.
Austin Austin organic certified hand soap palmarosa & vetiver
This being at the more affordable end of the luxury handwash spectrum and its simple, minimalist branding makes it a favourite of interiors aficionados. The formula contains algae and seaweed so it’s moisturising and soothing; we’d particularly recommend it for those with dry, irritated hands. The scent has the sweet, floral and slightly spicy fragrance of marjoram, plus herbaceous rosemary and lavender, and earthy vetiver. We love the on-trend face decal on the packaging, too.
Jo Malone pomegranate noir body & hand wash
Pomegranate noir is an absolutely classic scent from the high-end fragrance brand: it’s both refreshing and rich, with notes of pink pepper, Casablanca lily, patchouli and, of course, pomegranate. The scent is potent, meaning it fills the bathroom while you’re washing and lingers on your hands for at least an hour afterwards. It lathers very well, too, so you only need a little.
Byredo suede hand wash
We love Byredo hand soaps and lotions for their incredibly long-lasting scents; it’s almost like wearing perfume. Suede is, as you’d expect from the name, a smooth, soft and warm scent, with bergamot, lily of the valley and violet complemented with a base of amber and musks. It’s elegant and slightly woody.
Molton Brown fiery pink pepper fine liquid hand wash
Molton Brown may have been relegated to stocking filler territory for many, but that association is unfair. Its fiery pink pepper scent has been a favourite of ours for more than a decade. It’s invigorating, sultry and lightly spicy, with pink pepper and citrus at the top and patchouli and cedarwood at the base.
Bamford geranium hand and body wash
Bamford, the luxury spa brand founded by the owner of Daylesford Farm, is all about letting natural ingredients do their thing. Its best-selling geranium hand and body wash has a fittingly calm, fresh, green scent with notes of eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender and, of course, geranium. It foams beautifully and leaves skin soft and not stripped of moisture.
Cowshed refresh hand wash
Cowshed’s refresh scent range is our absolute favourite of the spa brand’s offering for its classic enlivening citrus scent, with grapefruit and orange, plus lavender for a little sweetness. As well as essential oils for fragrance, it contains vitamin E, which moisturises and helps strengthen your skin’s natural barrier. As it’s on the lower end of our price range, too, why not combine it with the matching hand lotion (£20, Space NK).
Skandinavisk Hav Hand Wash
This, from the Danish home fragrance brand, has an unusual rugged, breezy, sea air sort of scent, with notes of hawthorn, coastal rose and salt, making it perfect for a bathroom. It is made with more than 90 per cent natural ingredients, including 43 per cent organic, and has a gentle lather, so hands are left refreshed but not dry.
Le Labo hand soap hinoki
A much more affordable way to inject some cult-chic Le Labo into your house than with the brand’s perfumes, this hand wash is creamy at first and then develops a light foam; using it feels like a real, luxury experience. There are two options – basil or hiinoki – and we love the latter for its exotic, alluring scent.
The verdict: Luxury hand soaps
Aesop hand soap is a long-loved classic for a reason, and there’s no better way to introduce a little luxury into a menial task like washing your hands. If you want the luxury look at a more affordable price, Austin Austin’s offering has a gorgeous scent and an interiors buff bottle to match.
For the latest discounts on toiletries and more skincare favourites try the links below:
Looking for even more luxury? Read our review of the best women’s perfumes
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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