If a post about bar soap isn’t the most thrilling thing that your Monday has to offer, then I can only imagine that you’re busy lounging on some terrace in Positano instead of sweating it out at home in your skivvies like the rest of us mortals. These days, a cool shower and a refreshing scrub down with a bar of peppermint soap is about as close to luxurious as I’m getting. And I’m not complaining.
I’ve written about my love for bar soap in this space a few times, but it’s fascinatingly something I get a fair number of questions about. In case you’re curious—or in case you have your own strong feelings about bar soap to add to the discussion, here’s the low-down.
For me, using bar soap makes sense because it’s easy to store, it uses significantly less packaging than body washes, it makes easy work of sudsing up the bits that need a little freshening after a long day, and it’s usually a sweet smelling little product made in small batches by people who care. I’m an indie bar soap marketer’s dream come true.
No surprise, I stay away from soaps with too many ingredients that I can’t pronounce and opt instead for cold-processed soaps made from a base of vegetal oils like olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil or for something extra rich, a soap made with creamy goat’s milk. Where some people (and definitely the folks in the bodywash industry) will tell you that bar soaps are drying, I find that lots of the handmade soaps out there are actually formulated with oils and herbs that are just the opposite. The bar soaps that I use are blended together with healing herbs like calendula, rose, and lavender and might even include gently natural exfoliants like cranberry seeds, oatmeal, lavender, oatbran, even tea leaves. Yes, they get me clean. But they also have me feeling good in the process.
I try to spread the word liberally that soap is a favorite gift of mine to receive, so I often have an extra bar or two in the bathroom queue and at this stage I’ve used dozens (tens of dozens?!) of different bars. One of my favorite spots to sleuth for soaps is summertime craft fairs and farmer’s markets. Being able to tell someone the story of where I found a soap feels like a nice little souvenir and remembering that I have a bagful of pretty soaps to give as gifts come the holiday season can take some gift giving pressure off. I don’t have one favorite bar, per se, but I do especially love soaps that are long lasting, sudsy but not gooey, and fresh smelling but not overpowering.
Here are a few that I have used and loved or have had my eyes on from afar. Please share your own favorites if you have them.
Do It Yourself:
Making your own soap at home is certainly possible, but it does require the use of lye—sodium hydroxide—which requires some special handling. You might decide to keep this out of your home kitchens. Or, you might decide to throw caution to the wind and pull on some rubber gloves and find yourself some extra thrift-store pans that you could dedicate to soap-making service. I’ve never made soap, so beyond a “good on ya,” I don’t have many tips in this realm.
Have Someone Else Do It For You:
This goat milk soap is scented with bergamot and teak, which sounds woodsy and bright and deserving of an outdoor shower with a view.
When I’ve found myself soapless and needed to make a quick decision, I’ve opted for the classic, no-nonsense Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap, many, many a time.
Lourdes, who’s been helping me out on some behind-the-scenes blog work this summer, swears by African Black Soap for its skin purifying properties. Nubian Heritage is her favorite.
Other soapy things:
For better or for worse, we use the soap dish that’s built into our 1950’s gem of a grimy shower to stash whatever bar we’re in the middle of using. I try not to let the shower water beat down on it, for fear that half of it will end up down the drain. If you’re looking for something special and have the space to keep your soap out of harm’s way, this Cypress Wood Soap Dish has a simple design and a sweet spa vibe. If you’re more into ceramic dishes, this Tourne Soap Dish has three ridges in the bottom to let the soap dry out. Our dish (which we actually keep in the kitchen and use to keep our coir brush for scrubbing cast iron), is the Izola Great Plains Soap Dish.
More natural beauty musings, HERE.