Saturday, 29 January 2011

Earthly Delights- Black Amber & Lavender Soap

Okay, so here's the deal. If you notice any typos or grammatical errors in this post, I am sorry. I am beyond exhausted right now from making stupid stuff in that stupid studio, coming home and painting junk, trying to keep up some semblance of a social life and learning how to cartwheel properly. The bags under my eyes could probably hold a couple of chihuahuas each (but that would make me pretty ill because I'm allergic to dogs). So, before I hit the keyboard with my head and fall asleep, here is your soap review for the week.

This was one of the soaps my guest brought with him back in November, and I've been avoiding it ever since. See, I sort of have a prejudice against lavender. It makes me think of old ladies and horrible sachet things shaped like rag dolls that make your clothes smell like old ladies and next thing you know you've changed your name to Murial and you're running a church fĂȘte. But I like amber. I don't know about black amber (according to wikipedia, it's actually a type of jet), but amber is my favourite gemstone (despite being old tree and not really a stone).

Price- $6 for 5oz so about £3.80 for 140gr. It is available to buy somewhere in Seattle (most likely Pike Place market) and through the Earthly Delights Etsy Store.

First Look- all the packaging on this bar was paper. Me gusta. Underneath was an unassuming, unmarked cream bar. Modest soap indeed.

Dry Feel- strong and hard, it felt substantial and weighty. The surface wasn't oily but melted with some friction.

Apologies for the abominable snowman on a ski slope style pic.

Smell- the scent was rich a multi-layered, starting with a floral lavender sweep and then melting away into a sophisticated musk. There was no cheap soap smell, but instead a creamy base (I guess that was the goat milk) that bound the whole scent together and made it very soothing. The smell also clung to my skin pretty thick afterwards.

As a body soap- I have to say, this soap produced the best lather I have ever seen on bare skin. It was literally like a gentle coating of cappuccino foam. It didn't melt away too fast or feel greasy and left my skin feeling nourished and looked after. Gorgeous on sore muscles after a workout.
As a hand soap- would make a great bathroom hand soap, and the strong scent could help to remove onion odours in the kitchen (but this soap is waaay too nice to keep by the kitchen sink!)
As a face soap- very balanced. Even on my cheeks my skin felt fine. It did burn a little around my nose, but that's because it's sore because of the cold so everything's been making it burn anyway.

Overall- this soap was incredibly soothing for a tired, frazzled student. Not the soap to choose if you need to be up and out of the door. No, this is a soap for lazy romantic Sundays, for long bedtime baths, kids who need a little help calming down before bedtime, insomniacs, and those who just need some post workout bliss. Gorgeous.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Sometimes "natural" just means "nasty"

Was Christmas really almost a month ago? 2011 is nearly 1/12th of the way through. How terrifying. Anyway...

Back at Christmas time, I got a pouffle in my stocking. You know, a pouffle, a shower puff, one of those things they use in shower gel commercials that isn't a loofah or brush on a stick. The label attached to it proclaimed it was "simply natural" and made from "100% natural ramie" (just looked that up- ramie is apparently a plant in the nettle family that doesn't sting. The more you know!). Hooray, I thought, now I can make my shower time a million times more foamy and feel like I'm scrubbing my arse with a cloud!

That was not the case. The damn thing didn't foam up and instead just got wet and slimy and then clumped. I tried to wring it out and hung it up to dry, whereupon the edged darkened to a weird rusty shade that made it look like something found in an abandoned submarine.

I haven't used it again because every time I look at it I think how much mould could grow in those folds and decide to give it a miss. A good two weeks after I first used it, it still smells... iffy.

There is a reason pouffles (do you pronounce that poo-full or like soufflĂ©?) are synthetic. If you want to lather up with something "natural", grab some cotton yarn, learn to knit and go hack out one of the millions of washcloth patterns that are on Ravelry.

In the meantime, I'm tempted to dunk this in clay, fire it in the kiln and see what results. It's got to be better than keeping this bedraggled thing in my bathroom.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Sandia Soap Company- Placitas Plum Tree

The holidays are long gone and the misery of January is here. Bah. Who says January has to be horrible? So my housing is run by crooks and we haven't had proper running hot water in our kitchen since the start of November? My (single temperature) shower still works, there's no excuse! Let a new year of soapy ramblings begin.

Sandia Soap is a company that make 18 varieties of bar soap in a warehouse somewhere in New Mexico entirely run by one man who considers himself an artist. Reading his passionate description of his business on his website, I'm inclined to agree with his label. I've never had plum soap before and this was a present from a forums secret Santa. 

Price- $6 for 6 ounces. In English that's ~£3.70 for 170gr. Not a bad price at all for a handmade soap.

First look- it's a dusky pink colour, rather like a good berry smoothie, with darker purple flecks in it. The contrasting parts reminded me of Stilton cheese, but I don't mean that in a bad way. Stilton is delicious. Mouldy, but delicious.

Dry Feel- with warm fingers, it was possible to gently melt the surface of the soap. Not soft, but springy, the feel was a little like vinyl. I cut off a piece to use for the review and it wasn't as easy to cut as I thought it would be. The cross section looked promising, with no bubbles. 

Smell- Plum Tree positively glows with scent; the rich essential oils in it take off and stick to the inside of your nose with vigour. The smell is fruity, yet spiced (it makes your nose tingle!) and evokes mulled wine without the sickly sugar hit that often accompanies. It was a little overwhelming when I first unleashed it from the jiffy bag it had come in with other presents, but when stored normally, it just gives off a gentle scent. The scent is noticeable and uplifting in the shower, and doesn't cling to skin. Very rich and natural.

As a body soap- oh my god, this soap melts beautifully; even on bare skin and without feeling greasy. It produced a good lather and became very slippery. Left the skin on my body feeling soft and cared for.
As a hand soap- this would be an excellent choice if you suffer from dry hands but end up washing them a lot over the course of a day. The strong scent also helped removed garlic stink from my fingers, but the soap's non-abrasive nature means you'll need to bring out a nail brush to get rid of really gross hand dirt.
As a face soap- a little tighter than I'd have liked on my cheeks, but no flaking or burning, so it gets a thumbs up from me.

Overall- Dear Santa, thank you for my soap. I don't know what I did to get on your nice list, but you made the right decision.
Now you- yes, you, everyone out there reading this. Go sort yourself out with a bushel of Placitas Plum Tree, to bestow spiced cheer upon your kin next winter, because $6 for a masterpiece from a true artist sure aint bad.