in praise of bar soap

On May 4, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

I like the sense of artistry behind fine bar soaps and enjoy the tactile process of using all but the most poorly formulated exemplars. I’ve mentioned this before in the context of the soap dish, and perhaps it is not a coincidence that I prefer the kind of soap that requires its own accessories. Mentioned again in the discovery of Saipua’s excellent packaging and figured I’d share a few more favorites. There is no common ingredient here that determines my preference, I like all sorts; glycerin, vegetable, triple-milled, whatever smells and feels good.

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I like picking them up and putting them down, sudsing them up, feeling them slip between my hands. The washing of hands with bar soap is one of those small rituals during the day that requires a slower pace and a certain attention, and something about it always brings me back to consciousness or awareness.

The chemistry of soap is also interesting, and a mastery of that chemistry is something I can appreciate.

L’Occitane Magnolia & Mûre Soap – L’Occitane’s soaps are solid across the board, I’ve found. Those from the Grasse collection are distinctly perfumed in a way that lingers nicely on the skin, and produce a satisfying lather. ‘Mûre’ means musk, which combines beautifully with heady florals like magnolia. I think this is my favorite scent from the collection but they are all pleasant. 

Swedish Dream Sea Salt Soap  – a barely-there-yet-still-somehow-extremely-appealing scent with salt crystals, randomly available through Anthropologie. Their seaweed soap smells incredible, too.

L’Occitane Shea Butter Soap, Milk – smells the way you hope babies will smell (the more obliging babies do smell this way), that is: virtually of nothing, yet with a hint of something creamy and healthy about them. Shea butter is a nice ingredient to watch for.

La Lavande Jardin des Senteurs Soap, Milk – more French shea butter soap, can’t go wrong.

Bee & Flower Ginseng Soap – a nostalgic nod to this soap, which I used growing up and which smells unmistakably, quintessentially, of soap. Nothing artificial, which I like in a soap. A basic, no frills bar.

Pacifica Persian Rose Soap – I’ve been through a few bars of this, and keep extras in my bureau where they gently perfume my clothes. Pacifica is a great natural company, and these soaps have a strong and lasting scent. They feel so nice in the hands, and are more oily than creamy (they are translucent rather than opaque, for example). The Persian Rose has to be my favorite but I’ve also liked the Tuscan Blood Orange, the Tibetan Mountain something something, and the Brazilian Mango Grapefruit. Often turn to this line in the warmer months.

Yardley London English Lavender Soap – a classic, and one that, like the Ginseng soap, smells of soap. The other scents don’t tempt me but I go back to the Lavender again and again.

I’ve liked a number of indie soaps, too (try typing ‘handmade soap’ into Etsy and just see the legion of soap makers), and am always browsing the aisle in Wholefoods, looking for something new. I’ve also liked the vetiver and linden soaps from the Pre de Provence line, Japanese charcoal soap, goat’s milk soaps… Let me know if you have any suggestions.

into: lip balm

On February 25, 2013 by theseventhsphinx
the stash

the stash

 

Ah. Lip balm. I have a thing for lip balm.

I love all formulas; waxes, ointments, creams, butters, oils…

I clearly don’t need any more lip balm, but I like to have options (options, options, everywhere) and I always want to try something new (and lip balms are a great way to reach the free shipping threshold…).

Some standouts:

Dior Crème de rose – the latest and most luxurious addition to the stash. Expensive but loving it. After all, nothing is too good for my lips, is how it goes in my mind.

Boots No. 7 Protect and Perfect lip cream – creamy and entirely non-oily, this feels like putting moisturizer on your lips, a lot like the much more expensive Clinique All About Lips, but I think better (and cheaper). In this same vein, many eye creams make great lip conditioners, and some inexpensive eye creams are cheaper than expensive lip conditioners…

L’Occitane shea butter – great multi-purpose skin conditioner. Especially long-lasting effects. This is one I keep by the bed.

Kiss My Face ginger and mango – this flavor is a favorite. I have a powerful affinity toward ginger. This is an especially buttery/soft and smooth stick formula that is great for winter, when a tiny bit of tugging can mean a cracked lip. The Yes to Carrots balm has a similar consistency, and neither is as waxy or firm as the standard Burt’s Bees.

Smith’s Rosebud Salve – it’s basically petroleum jelly with a nice fragrance (I also like the minted rose but do not like the Brambleberry), but I love petroleum jelly, and these ointment-like balms. I forgot to put Vaseline in the picture, but I use it all the time. These products don’t condition but sometimes protection is all that is needed. Aquaphor also good for this. I don’t find the Kiehl’s balm to be much different. I would also put the Murad lip care and  Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream in this category, though they are more nourishing and long-lasting than a plain petroleum jelly. They can all also be used to add shine to eyebrows, lashes, eyelids, cheekbones… versatility.

Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm – thick, entirely unique texture that requires a lot of working in, but conditions wonderfully. Expensive but…if you are obsessed with lip balm you will understand how one comes to own these things.

Dr. Lipp nipple balm – basically medical grade lanolin (which I also got some of, not pictured, and which, aside from smelling medicinal, works great), which is protecting and healing. Great for cracked, chapped situations. Note that it is extremely thick. The Molton Brown and Laura Mercier lip treatments (both nice if you can find them on sale…too expensive if not) are somewhere between Carmex and this in consistency.

Carmex – I am virtually never without Carmex. Smells medicinal, I know, and is possibly causing my addiction to lip balm…but I don’t care.

Nivea Olive Oil & Lemon lip care – this is a great stick formula. The texture is a lot like the pai bergamot lip balm, a hard oil that melts on contact and leaves a very thin slick on the lips. No tugging on the lips like with waxy formulas (the Mario Badescu lip balm is the same texture, but the scent is an awful species of herbal). I also like this kind of packaging a lot, and find it much cleaner than the standard chapstick tube. Sidenote that I don’t like the new Nivea lip butters at all, and find the flavors cheap and synthetic.

Korres lip butters – if you can find them on sale and choose a flavor you like (I don’t like a lot of them), the texture is gorgeous, and the tints are high quality (not patchy, surprising color payoff). This is the only product called a lip butter that I actually think is similar in texture to butter. These are superior, though, because they are less oily than butter (which I suppose you could use, but it would be a little Handmaiden’s Tale). I like the guava and wild rose flavors.

I’m really liking the cheapo Wet ‘n Wild juicy lip balm I just got, too. Actually one of the better tinted options I’ve used, though the pricier MAC lip conditioner is also excellent (Oh, they seem to have discontinued the tinted ones…fools).