Beauty, Home, Lifestyle, Motherhood, Review

My Soap Box: How a bar of soap can add a bit of luxury to your life

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‘Roll up your sleeves, give your hands a wash with slippy, dippy soap…’ (Damn you CBeebies). Some of the soaps in the mix at our house. (Not Justin’s).

How many times did you wash your hands today? I was almost at half a dozen before Breakfast. I’m going to preach a bit now on prioritising satisfaction over simple sanitation. Yep, soap. Humble stuff & often overlooked. Whether liquid or solid, it’s something we all use & can just see as an essential purchase; perhaps chucked in your basket/trolley/online order without much thought or opting for whichever brand is on offer.

You know when you visit a decent cafe/restaurant/fancy hotel* there’s always a treat awaiting with a trip to the bathroom in finding an array of well-chosen products? It just feels a little bit luxurious. Well, I believe you need this luxury every single day (see, preachy!)

Our hands take a real bashing & especially so during the long winter months. This is a round-up of the good stuff & such an easy way to elevate an everyday item. Whether it’s as a treat for your own hands or as a gift for someone else’s palms; we all know the Festive season is upon us & the doorbell’s likely to ring more often so you can keep your guests clean in scented style, too.

*I’m also guilty of doing a ‘Ross’ if I’m in a hotel by nicking all the toiletries – it’s what they’re for, right?

Classic Bars

These guys have been around for years with good reason & classics are always in style. I stopped using soap on my face many moons ago (didn’t we all) but I still find the fresh smell of Dove’s Beauty Cream Bar (1) comforting.

Traditional Provencal ‘Savon de Marseilles’ (French) soaps (2) are like a pick ‘n’ mix of pastel prettiness, ranging from miniatures to sturdy giants (particularly good at the kitchen sink) & are cheap-as-chips. I always find it hard to choose just one; luckily they look great stacked & are good for scenting laundry, so pop it in your drawers.

I’d avoided entering a branch of Lush for a long time because of the overwhelming aroma & teenage throng but I’d been missing a trick with their natural, handmade offerings – have you? The soap pictured (3) is amusingly coined Honey I washed the kids. Thank you #CamMama for showing me the error of my ways!

The golden oldies of Pears (4) & Wright’s (5) have such distinctive scents & their amber & orange hues add a bit of nostalgia to modern bathrooms. Incidentally, there seems to be a big return to Victorian/Edwardian & ‘rustic’ interior styling so they’re an apt addition to your metro tiles et all.

Luxury Bars

I think my love of a luxury soap stems back to childhood. I vividly remember receiving a coffret of soaps adorned with seals of images of horses at Christmas from my Grandma. I used to open the box just to look at & sniff them. (Horses & ponies were my earliest obsession & were the reason I started subscribing to magazines – so uncool, I know).

Anyway, there aren’t many people who wouldn’t appreciate a fancy slab of something to get slathered in. Handwashing is such an endless, routine process & these sexy suds will ensure a bit of ritual is restored. They’re also a very affordable touch of glamour for any bathroom.

I became so aware of how often I washed my hands when I became a new Mum & was particularly fastidious with it (‘don’t put germs on the baby!’). NB: A luxe bar or liquid is a great & thoughtful gift for any new Mum.

If you know your/their favourite scent, then it’s a nice touch to indulge in the corresponding fragrance. Failing that, reach for any of the eternally chic Chanel (1), Diptyque (2), Jo Malone (5) & Tom Ford (4) ranges (for both men & women). Beautifully packaged or boxed, the counter staff are always happy to offer Gift Wrapping to make it that extra bit special. Anything from The White Company (3) is always a welcome home addition & always a good idea!

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Currently on sink duty at home: Aesop Reverence (£27) / Antipodes Nirvana (£10) / NEOM (£16)

Liquid Hand Washes

I particularly plump for a pump dispenser & my 4 favourites are all repeat purchases. Australian brand Aesop are well-known for their high quality apothecary approach to plant & lab based products. Their Resurrection & Reverence hand washes are both superb, smelling nothing short of incredible. I like to switch between them – currently opting for the grainy, gently exfoliating Reverence (1) which contains pumice. Yes, they are pricier than many brands but a 500ml bottle lasts a long time & would be a much appreciated purchase.

Similarly, if you prefer something with a bit of a scrub effect, then Cowshed Mucky Cow (2) (using amber crystals) is fantastic value & smells divine – inspired by the kitchen gardens at Babington House; a lovely, lingering herbal blend.

Neal’s Yard Remedies just do ‘good’ so well; I have longterm trust in their natural product credentials. Thinking back, it was more than likely the very first ethical Beauty brand that I really got on board with in my bathroom (other than The Body Shop in its heyday under Anita Roddick, of course). Their hand wash scents are refreshing & uplifting, usually with citrus notes. My personal preference is the Garden Mint & Bergamot Hand Wash (5).

See my earlier comments about The White Company; I think I’ve tried them all – they’re often in my Mum’s bathrooms too. A newer favourite is the Spa Restore Hand & Body Wash (4) made with natural ingredients & essential oils, & I adore eucalyptus.

The next brand I’m keen to try is Fig + Yarrow, in particular the Rosewood + Vetiver Wash. Again, it’s a combination of fragrance notes & organic ingredients that appeal to me. It’s going to be quite a while before my soap stocks run low again  – that’s the thing when you buy well: you buy less! – but I thought I’d include it in my mix just in case Santa reads Indie & Pop 😉

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Getting to know Noble Isle in style during  a (rare, adults only) night away at Poet’s House

Unisex & Men’s

Strictly speaking, many of the aforementioned picks would make a good gift for the men in your life, however, the following are more firmly in the Gentleman’s realm & trust me that even the most grizzly of  guys will soon be enjoying cleanliness next to smelling like a God(liness). Mr O says a good hand wash ‘makes me feel like I’ve got a posh man’s gloves on’ & after 10 years of living with me no longer calls my spending on soap ‘silly’.

A few favourites of his include Nirvana (1) by Antipodes (I confess I bought it based entirely on its name; Mr O is a fan of the band. So am I. I first spotted it over on one of my ultimate favourite blogs: The Frugality). It smells great, comes in a big bottle & does double duty as a Body Wash.

Original Source is a real bargain & because it’s now so familiar on supermarket shelves, it’s easy to forget that it’s certified Vegan. The tingle-tastic Mint & Tea Tree is a winner. You can usually find it for £1.

We discovered the gorgeousness of Noble Isle in local hotels: The Old Bridge, Huntingdon & I did a Ross* during our stay at Poet’s House, Ely. *Spoiler Alert* I’ll be getting Mr O this tipple inspired Whisky & Water (3) blend for his stocking .

Compagnie de Provence (4) is readily available & the simple typography branded bottles are the liquid form of Savon de Marseille; I’m thrilled they stock it at local homewares boutique Catesbys, Cambridge.

 

Rinse-Free

Not just for Christmas (aka Flu Season), a Hand Sanitising gel is a Handbag or Changing Bag essential.  Might as well make it a pretty one then while we’re at it & say boo to germs in the nicest way possible.

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Give the gift of good hand health *coughs*

Novelty

I was reminded of my old affection for a novelty soap by my sister, so have included a few ideas for a bit of added fun. I was going to put a lump of coal in a couple of Grinch (read: my Dad & Mr O’s) stockings & think the Herbivore Botanicals Bamboo Charcoal Soap will be a good dose of humour. Anthropologie also have a lovely range of festive soaps for around £8 but you could easily recreate the wrapping effect yourself with craft paper if you’re feeling creative.

Needless to say, a matching Hand Cream or little dish would make the perfect pairing as a gift. I figured I’d covered a lot just on the soapy side of things here & it’s taken years of usage to compile this in-depth edit.

I’d love to hear if you’ll be switching up your sanitising style or cleaning up your act. I think our hands deserve it. 

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