Thursday, 30 December 2010

Tis the season for peace, love, and suds...

December is a pretty busy month for me, even more so because I had an international visitor staying with me until the sixth, which was coincidentally the day of my pom squad's competition. Then it was my 21st birthday on the 17th (wooooo!), followed by not only the winter solstice but a lunar eclipse too, and then of course blah de blah, the birth of our saviour;  Nikolaos of Myra/Jesus.

Word seems to have gotten round the globe that I pretend to be a very serious and important soap aficionado who graces the internet with slightly unhinged prose about bubbles.

My international friend decided that 3 bars of soap was equivalent to 2 weeks lodging cost so I've got a bar each of Howling Pig's Sandalwood, Earthly Delights Black Amber & Lavender, and Mistral Pamplemousse and Cassis Rouge (that's grapefruit and red currant to those of you who can't be hypnotised by a little French on the packaging).

My brother got me a bar of Molton Brown Aloe & Karite shaving soap (not pictured). He wanted to get me their exfoliating soap, but they were out of stock and pfft WHO CARES? I OWN A BAR OF SOAP THE SAME PRICE AS A WEEKS WORTH OF GROCERIES.

My SASS Santa (yes, I have stairs in my house) got me a peppermint soap shaped like a sweet, a cupcake shaped vanilla soap, some ylang ylang and tangerine soap from Angel's Spa of Tuscany, and some frankly amazing smelling Placitas plum tree soap from the Sandia Soap Company. It's a little strong, so I think I'll have to store it away from my other soaps (on my bookshelf right now, it's doing a fine job as a room fragrancer). Thank you so much, secret Santa of West Virginia!

My mum got me a natural, unbleached body puff thing, for days when the shower's broken and I have to bucket wash, or just for when I want some more bubbles. 

And finally, the big guy himself left a box of Pears in my stocking. I think he read the line I wrote about soap, socks, and self defence, and wanted to see me try it out. Alas, there have been no Home Alone moments this winter break.

So to you, my handful of readers (who span 6 countries so far), I wish you the best in 2011; peace, love, continued access to bathing in a water-stressed world, and me shutting my mouth before I get all environmentally charged at the end of your new years greeting.

Here's to a new year, and new soap!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Faith In Nature- Chocolate

Yeah... I've run out of excuses for not being a regular blogger. But hey, new soap!

I've seen Faith In Nature soaps in various different independent shops, mini spas, and market stalls all over London, but I don't know how easy this brand is to find elsewhere. They do a wide range of soaps with various different extracts and touting their supposed properties- so the Aloe Vera one is labelled "Regenerating" and the Rosemary one is "stimulating" and so on.   I've never seen chocolate soap before and truth be told, one might describe me as a ~dirty Green & Blacks junkie~, so it seemed like the natural choice.

Price- £1.90 for 100gr off a bloke on Spittalfields Market. On their website they sell individual bars for £1.29 or you can go crazy and get a box with 1.8kg of soap in it for £17.77

First Look- BROWN. A sort of dusty brown. It reminded me of my parents' sofas. In chocolate terms, I'd say it was the colour of Milka.

Dry Feel- strong, but not too hard. It had a very slight melt when rubbed.

Smell- well... it wasn't quite chocolate. I have to say, it reminded me of these chocolate scented gel-pens I had when I was 11. Sort of like someone tried to make a chocolate smell from memory but it got wiped out by a soap bubble. In the shower it was noticeable but not overpowering. A good, balanced fragrance. 

As a body soap- On bare skin it produced a good lather without feeling like it was melting down the plug hole by the second. Left skin feeling lightly moisturised but not greasy.
As a hand soap- great if you're the kind of person who rests their hands near their face a lot, and want the smell of French patisserie/soap factory in your nostrils all day.
As a face soap- good! Didn't leave my cheeks feeling tight and left face refreshed.

Overall- gosh, this soap really can do no wrong. It had the right level of fragrance, left skin feeling moisturised, it made from responsibly sourced ingredients, didn't melt away too fast, has a reassuringly short ingredients list, and is available at a fantastic price. I'm still not too sure about the soapy chocolate smell, but it would be great to try some of the other extracts (the Tea Tree one might help me wake up in these miserable winter mornings). An A grade power bar. GO BUY IT.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Muji- Mandarin

So, I've failed miserably in my blog start promise of updating this weekly in a timely and professional manner. Life tends to get in the way of mad ramblings about soap. Apologies. That bar of Pears lasting 3 weeks didn't really help either.

I don't know if you have the shop Muji wherever you are. Muji sell Japanese designed homewares, which seem to mainly consist of white boxes for sorting your office junk into neat piles, loofahs, and plaid slippers. They've got a couple of shops in London and used to have a branch in Reading (I think it closed a while ago though). This soap is available in several fragrances including avocado and lemon.

Price- 99p for 100gr

First Look- slightly more transparent than Pears with a much more luminous orange glow. It's not particularly natural looking.

Dry Feel- Extremely hard, it's like holding a block of wood. I couldn't get it to melt on contact with fingers at all.

Smell- sort of like an orange flavoured gummy bear, flat fruit tones which feel a little artificial, and a soapy but somehow not fresh. It stuck to my skin unlike any of the other soaps I've reviewed.

As a body soap- again, this was hard to melt on bare damp skin. It will melt under a stream of water to produce a few bubbles, but somehow it just felt cheap. It left my skin feeling okay, but after a few days of use I noticed my skin was drier than usual and had some scaly pre-eczema flare ups.
As a hand soap- the strong scent would probably make it a good candidate for a kitchen soap. It feels pretty harsh too so might be good at shifting heavier stains from hands.
As a face soap- very drying. Not recommended.

Overall- I don't know what else I should really say about this soap. If you haven't worked out by now, I didn't like this soap and won't be buying it again. If you've got stronger skin than mine or work in a coal mine or tar pit, maybe this is the soap for you. Happily for me, but maybe not for you if you like it, the soap disappeared surprisingly quickly. Maybe that's the benefit of currently being crammed in my student room with another poor soul.