Solid Moisturizers Are the Next Big Thing in Clean Beauty

Imagine a lip balm you apply to your whole face or even your entire body. That’s the basic concept of solid moisturizers, the latest darling of the clean beauty space. Sometimes called lotion bars, this type of moisturizer is gaining traction due to its portability, waterless formula, and ability to perform the same skincare as traditional moisturizers. 

With a growing cult following, Kate McLeod is arguably the most prominent maker of solid moisturizers right now. The former pastry chef used her knowledge of cocoa butter as a cooking ingredient to transform it into something she wanted to put on her body every day. That product became her signature Body Stones, a range of moisturizers made with just five core ingredients. “I took the cocoa butter into the kitchen and started with what I knew: a ganache recipe,” McLeod tells Who What Wear of creating her first product. From there, she recalls, “I blended in oils that I loved on my skin, and eventually, the Body Stone was born.” Next, McLeod moved upward: In September, she launched her highly anticipated Face Stone. 

Because of the popularity of McLeod’s products (word is Naomi Watts is a fan) as well as the category as a whole, I wanted to do a deep dive on why these products are the next frontier in skincare and bodycare. Read on to find out how to use them, why they’re so beneficial, plus the best products to try for every skin type.


PHOTO: COURTESY OF KATE McLEOD

The Face Stone is made with low-comedogenic ingredients like kokum butter, so it won’t clog pores. “It’s packed with antioxidants and essential fatty acids to seal in moisture, increase collagen production, soothe, and balance skin tone,” says McLeod.

How Do You Use a Solid Moisturizer?

For both face and body moisturizers, the general idea is the same: You massage the bar over your skin and it slowly melts, releasing a concentrated amount of moisturizing ingredients. Less is more here. Start with a little bit, and then increase as needed. Even better, It will start to mold to your body the more you use it.

Body bars are fairly self-explanatory, especially if you’ve used a bar of soap at least once in your life. Using mine (I like the Kate McLeod Sleep Stone, which has lavender and chamomile) has become somewhat of a ritual each night before bed.

PHOTO: LINDY SEGAL

My skin after applying the Face Stone in the morning.

The Face Stone is a little bit less intuitive but just as simple. “It is a morning and night moisturizer and massage stone in one,” explains McLeod. “I put it on a little thicker at night, like a mask, and use it for a healthy, dewy glow in the daytime.” It may even simplify your need for other products. “For me, it replaces any creams, serums, or oils,” says McLeod. “I wash my face, spritz with rosewater, allow my skin to dry, then apply the Face Stone.”

PHOTO: COURTESY OF KATE McLEOD

How Do Solid Moisturizers Benefit Skin?

They have nourishing ingredients. Plant-based and made in McLeod’s workshop in New York’s Hudson Valley, the ingredient list is short, so each one is there for a reason. And while cocoa butter is the base of the Body Stone, a low-comedogenic base was needed for the face, which McLeod found in the similar-sounding kokum butter. “Native to India, kokum butter is silky, super light, and non-greasy,” she explains. 

The Face Stone also contains plum kernel, borage, meadowfoam, rose hip, grape seed, and camellia oils, as well as tamanu oil and a drop of blue tansy to give it that seafoam color and help neutralize redness. McLeod calls the oils in the Face Stone her go-to’s, saying they’re “rich in vitamin E and antioxidants to brighten, balance, soothe and nourish.”

The formulas are concentrated. Because they don’t contain water or other fillers, you can use less for similar results. For instance, the Face Stone (roughly the size of a BeautyBlender) is designed to last four to six months with daily use. 

They promote self-massage. They’re a treat to use. “The solid form factor turns the very act of applying into a stimulating massage—wonderful to prompt lymphatic drainage and get the blood moving,” explains McLeod.

Why Are Solid Moisturizers Good for the Environment?

The Body Stone that started it all is made with cocoa butter and a blend of sweet almond, apricot kernel, avocado, and fractionated coconut oils.

 

They’re waterless. Not only do these products save resources, but they may also last longer and are safe to travel with. When you buy a lotion or a cream, around 75–80% of what you are buying is water,” says McLeod. “Our solid form makes us waterless and necessitates a new approach to packaging.” 

They’re plastic-free. That new approach? Reusable, multipurpose bamboo containers. “Bamboo repels water. Our canisters keep the stones dry in damp moist bathrooms and they are completely reusable, which led to our innovative refill system, which is completely plastic-free.” The Face Stones have different but still plastic-free containers. “Most bamboo topped jars have plastic inserts hiding underneath,” says McLeod. “We grooved the bamboo so there is no plastic. The bottom piece is recyclable green glass. You can either buy a refill stone or recycle the glass and compost the top.” 

They’re waste-free. What do you do when you reach that last nub of product? Take a bath. “Drop any leftover bits of Body of Face Stones into a hot bath. They’ll melt, you’ll soak. It’s glorious,” says McLeod. And pro tip: The cloth that each stone is wrapped in can also be reused in your kitchen as cheesecloth.

More Solid Moisturizers to Try for the Face and Body

Ethique has also made a name for itself producing beauty bars, including a new face moisturizer. Also made with kokum butter, jojoba oil, and hyaluronic acid, it’s great for dry skin. Plus, the (compostable!) tube packaging makes it super convenient to apply.

At just $10, this organic body lotion bar is a bargain. For vegans, note that it does contain beeswax.

This blend of cocoa and shea butters, argan oil, and other natural ingredients is technically made for the face, but you can use it all over the body.

It may look like deodorant, but this stick is actually a moisturizer spiked with goat milk (which has the same pH as our skin) and can be used anywhere that needs a little hydration. Plus, it’s safe for sensitive skin types.

Hands need love too! This little coin lasts just as long as a tube of hand cream and actually helps prevent blue-light damage as it moisturizes.

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