a big huge post on soap

Yesterday I dragged K to the mall.
He isn't a shopper, but he put on his game face and we returned some stuff to Restoration Hardware. (There were other people making extensive returns to RH too. You've really got to watch what you're doing when they have a 20% off sale, I guess.)

So, there we were, having just finished some fabulous and messy cheeseburgers, when I spied this soap store.
K was good enough to indulge me, and believe me, it was an effort as the saleslady pulled us in...
Have you ever been here before? No? Then you will wash your hands at this incredible sink made from the stone of the ....
Before he could protest she was choosing fragrances for us to scrub our hands with.
We pushed foot pedals and warm water silently flowed from faucets set within the stone...
and then she gave us each a moisturizer that she chose based on our scent preferences.
(You need to understand - K may not be a rifle toting, tobacco chewing, truck driving farmer, but moisturizer and he are never in the same place at the same time. Got dry skin? GET OVER IT - this is his theory.)
When she was done, with her accent and her storytelling, she pointed out the products available to us in our special scents.
Little did she know that we weren't in the mood to spend $18 on soap -
(butter, yes, soap, no), but it occurred to me, as we were making a hasty retreat, that all of the
products in the store were bottled in glass.
Gorgeous to look at - but a pain in the ass in the shower.
I figure it will take them a few months to switch to plastic, and I know it's not as sexy, but there's no way I'm putting glass bottle of body wash in our shower.

On the way home I was thinking about how many liquid soaps we've used -
it's so much neater to have a bottle on the sink rather than a scummy looking bar of soap and it gives me the opportunity to surreptitiously give each of us a little dose of aromatherapy.
And I've really run the gamut price wise - and am sorry to disappoint everyone by saying that the more expensive liquid soaps are really nicer on our hands...

When I started to list the ones we've had, I was amazed -

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This is the one from the shop in the mall -
and, really, if you were out with a girlfriend I think it would be lovely to sniff and browse and even do the hand washing thing. They had a vanilla/lavender/patchouli scent that I'd really like to sniff again. But not in glass...

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L'Occitane makes beautiful liquid soap. Pricey but very rich, with very limited stock and scents. L'Occitane is a responsible company and it would appear that they don't over-produce. Did I mention pricey?

bath and body

Filed under not-so-pricey-AT-ALL is this stuff. Bath and Body Works has a score of fragrances available at any given time - and we've had them at our sinks, but I've changed my mind about the whole antibacterial thing. My kids are really good about washing their hands so I think we're covered germ-wise - I try not to over antibacterialize us.

This one is Youngest favorite at the moment...


I'm pretty meh about it - I don't think I should need hand cream after using something that advertises so much about moisturizing.

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The Williams-Sonoma lines are nice. Very nice. Heavily scented, though, so if you don't like that stay away. It used to be that Caldrea made the products for WS. I don't know if it's still true. I'm totally addicted to Winter Forest and it sells out way before Christmas.

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So. Caldrea. Lovely stuff - I've been buying it for years. I had read about the founder in a magazine and fell in love with one of their scents. Sometime later I read that they were making the soap for WS and was concerned as some of the WS scents give me a rash. So I called Caldrea and the owner herself answered the phone. She was so nice and smart and approachable that I swore loyalty to them. But you won't find their nutmeg scented soap in my kitchen. Ech.

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I haven't tried the Restoration Hardware stuff, but I adore their Shore scent and was surprised to see that it is cheaper than many other top shelf brands. I can't see me using the laundry or cleaning products - too big a splurge.
But there's no real point in rushing out since I have a little stockpile of this stuff...

good home

My all time favorite scent. One of my supermarkets had it stocked for a while at 50% off.
I think I'm set for two or three summers. (No, I can't wash with Beach Days in the winter.)

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This soap is from Whole Foods. It smells great, it's not expensive and the blue bottle is nice in my bathroom. But I have a complaint: the pumps on these bottles break very easily. What's up with that?


I want to like Method soap more than I do. I don't know what else to say. My everyday, boring supermarket carries their products now, so I can try them again. I think my problem is that they are under-scented.

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This is in my kitchen right now. I'm unimpressed as it doesn't really have a scent, and, strangely, has never 'revitalized' me.

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Also from Whole Foods, also in the mid-price range. Nicely scented and organic.
Does organic soap matter? I have no idea.

natural spa

This has been on special at one of my markets for a long time. I haven't bought it yet but the price is great and I like the bottle, which is kind of flat, like those bottles of gin you can fit in your pocket. Not that I'd know.

This is our groovy hippie soap.

kiss my face soap

I love it when the kids smell like patchouli.

Are you sick of this yet?
Because there are a few more - and if I uploaded them, you're gonna look at them...


From Whole Foods - boring...inexpensive...and, interestingly enough, doesn't fit on the edge of the sink as the bottom of the bottle is too wide. ANNOYING.

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I like Mrs. Meyer's hand soap and her dish soap - do you like the way I speak of her as though she is an actual person? Maybe she is...I'll have to read the bottle which looks like it's got plenty of reading material.

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I HAVE bought this one...at the supermarket even. I've bought the one with the little fish in it and I've bought the foamy version. It's okay, but it doesn't thrill me.
I'm sorry if I seem shallow because I get excited by liquid soap.
But I do...it pleases me to have this tiny luxury in my house.

I haven't bought any of this -

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Very expensive - I'll bet it's luscious, as Porto soaps are known for being...now that I look at it though, it looks like it won't fit on the edge of my sink, which, at this point in time, is convenient.


BabelBabe said…
I LOVE LOVE LOVE ADORE the beach soap (but you knew that) - I hoard mine : )

I am not thrilled with ANY of the WF soaps, and I expected to be.

I like the Softsoap Kitchen Hands soap, but only for the kitchen; I do like the Milk and Honey bodywash.

I think I need to explore my hand soap options - I too like them on the sink, they are clean and neat, but H think sthey are a waste and would rather have a grotty old br of soap. When I am at the grocery store today - where for once I don't need to do a huge shop - I think I will browse the soap aisle.

A giant post deserves a giant comment : )
Anonymous said…
Looks like I have some handsoap shopping to do. If I get the patchouli stuff, my kids will make me think of tiny grad students.
Sharon said…
I LOVE Mrs. Meyer's Geranium Ironing spray. Not a soap, but still... semi-on-topic.
Anonymous said…
I am working my way through some soaps that were Christmas gifts, the scents are vanilla, oatmeal, honey and milk. I find that I don't enjoy stepping out of the shower feeling like a cookie. I will be making my way back to Lavender chamoile shortly!
Badger said…
The Caldrea Green Tea Patchouli soap rocks my world. And it is very, very hard to find.
Paula said…
I use the EO in lavender. I buy it in the bulk department and put it in a nice white porcelain pump I got a Target.
Anonymous said…
I keep thinking of Lady Macbeth now!

I occasionally indulge in liquid soaps, but I like bar soaps, too---nothing to recycle.

I wonder how hard it would be to make your own liquid soap w/ essential oils?

Jennifer said…
I have the bath and body works soap. I like it, but we can't get it here in Canada.

My favourite soap is Imperial Leather which sadly you can't buy here in Canada either. It's sold in the UK and I'm lucky that each time my cousin comes to visit from Scotland he brings me the foam burst ( orange bottle) I see they now have body wash as well. Oh that would be lovely!
Jess said…
We've started using a really nice but under-scented one made locally - I bought some bergamot oil and put a couple of drops in - lovely! (It smells rather nicely of Earl Grey tea.)
Susie Sunshine said…
You made handsoap interesting, and how many people can say that?!
Anonymous said…
I used to have a soapmaking business, but I never made any money because I'm terrible at sales. I still make soap for fun. I put good stuff in it like shea butter and liquid silk. There are all kinds of scents available (do a web search on "fragrance oil" to see). I've never tried making liquid soaps.

I have to go wash my hands now.
Amy A. said…
We use the most inexpensive soap because my little ones use about five pumps each. When they grow out of that, I'll splurge for the good stuff.
blackbird said…
BB - I know. I thought I'd like the WF stuff much more than I do.

wendy - I didn't know GRAD students are patchouli people!

sharon - I make my own ironing spray with essential oils. cheap cheap cheap.

anonymous - I CAN'T STAND food smell soap. Vanilla is sometimes okay...

badger - go to Caldrea.com and buy direct!

oooh! Paula - that's such a good idea...

anonymous (b) - I think it could be easy to make our own...I have oils...ALSO, B? YOU AREN'T MY BROTHER B, ARE YOU?

Jennifer - if I could buy it and ship I would - none here either...

daysgoby! bergamot! one of my favorites! I need to get some oil...

susie - I can talk about anything at anytime...well, maybe not poop.

ssheers - I need to google liquid silk...

amy a. - see, your kids still smell cute, we are WAY past that here.
Anonymous said…
I'll just say that my cousin took me to the same soap boutique but in Manhattan on a shopping spree day. The fountain was amazing but I did not pay too much attention to the soap, considering I was just visiting.
I woudl have loved to see K's face in there though, men always have a strange approach to the moisturizing dept., don't they?
Re all your lovely soaps: we have Dove here. noen of the rest so I am appreciating or disliking the bottles.
Anonymous said…
I just googled "liquid silk." Hmmm. I didn't know there was a product ... I'm a little embarassed. Anyways, it's "silk amino acids" that I put in my soap.
blackbird said…
hmmm, yes, not that BOTH products aren't good to know about...
Anonymous said…
I have a couple bottles of the Kiss My Face lavender and shea butter lotion. The lavender scent is just like standing downwind from the real thing. I may need to check their website for more goodies...
Anonymous said…
is it normal that the fact that almost none of these are available in France makes me feel weepy?

great post bb, as usual. now could you write another one about toothbrushes and pajama pants please??? yes, I LOVE them.
Anonymous said…
I'm guessing there is not a scent free policy where you live. Here most businesses, stores, all schools and all hospitals have scent free policies.
I never consider buying or using any product with scent anymore.

As for the antibacterial soap you may want to watch this
kilowatthour said…
oh my. i love soap. we've been toying with the method soap lately; i, too, find it disappointing. mrs. meyers makes a damn fine dish liquid. i just bought a big ole thing of the lavender variety. and? you will never find softsoap in my house. never!
Jennifer said…
I just wanted to say that I just finished watching that link that Paula provided, and I must say.. I'm a little bit shocked!

Thanks Paula for that link!
Joke said…
What do you have against solids?

Velma said…
Wow. I got nothin' after all that soapy goodness. I obviously have to step up my cleansing game.
Suse said…
For my bathroom sink: I buy bulk milk and honey refill packs and decant them into a white china pump dispenser.

Kitchen sink: Pears liquid soap in the Pears own pump.

Shower: bar of Pears soap.

(I use the Avalon Organics hand cream. I didn't know they make liquid soap too.)
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Anonymous said…
I read this an hour before heading out to fru-fru shopping in a charming little FL town, Dunedin. When I found the Caldrea, I immediately tried the nutmeg -- pineapple nutmeg to be precise. Bleecchhhhh! I have washed my hands three times now. They still smell like the inexpensive incense we used in the dorm in the 60's. Horrendous! Who would believe one could screw up nutmeg????
Alice said…
Perfect timing too, as I am off to Whole Foods on Wednesday with soap on my list.. I'll let you know what I end up with.
Anonymous said…
My GOD, bb.

You are an obsessive-compulsive's dream. So many different opportunities to wash your hands over and over, and each experience is new!

You have far too many soaps. I shant support this, like your other blog flunkies. Too. Many. SOAPS.
--erica said…
I love mrsmeyers...
and true about that METHOD brand.
I WANT to like it. I've tried to like it.
it's all hype.
RW said…
Your post totally affected my behaviour. I spent yesterday running errands and inadvertently found myself in the soap section on more than one occasion. I was looking for the Kiss my Face product. I may have to take a trip into the city and look there.
Anonymous said…
Consider Organic Soap and Spa soap, (www.organicsoapandspa.com). I like the Ayruvedic mud, my hubby LOVES the Peppermint Patty and the Sport soap. Organic soaps 'melt' faster, so they overall cost a bit more, but very yummy on my 'winter skin.'
Anonymous said…
i've been wanting to try kiss my face products, i think i will start with soap. our local health food/vitamin shoppe stocks some of their products (and burt's bees, i love their stuff too). and i found there's a whole foods in the next county, whoo hoo!! :)

wv included the letters "wb beer", interesting!!
Anonymous said…

How long did this take to put together! Amazing list of soaps! I bet you are squeeky clean! Which one doesn't dry hands out? Must fit on sink counter that IS a good reference point! An strong spouts too!
I enjoyed this!
Anonymous said…
I have gotten hooked on Caldrea but think there must be a cheaper alternative out there. Also, I'm concerned about the the paraben compounds in some of them. I've read that there are some risks with that. I've noticed that it is not in the Caldrea sweet pea soap which is marketed for babies and nurseries. But again I need to find a cheaper alternative. And maybe use my empty Caldrea bottles. Any recommendations?

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