Soap This Helps

A soap review blog

Caring For Your Handmade Soap Part 1: In the Shower

Hello again! While I’ve been crocheting away, I’ve also been pondering my next update. Lots of my friends ask me how they should store the handmade soaps they’ve bought (often after reading one of my reviews or posts about them), so I decided that a post or two about how to care for your soap would be a good idea!

Proper care for your handmade soap is very important because it helps your soap last as long as possible. This is necessary because handmade soaps don’t contain preservatives like commercial store-bought soaps do. These preservatives are included to make the soap last longer on the shelf and in your shower, but can often be irritating to sensitive skin (hi, that’s me). So you (and I) want to keep handmade soap around as long as possible.

Water is the enemy of soap. This is relatively logical, due to the nature of soap itself. But how do you protect your soap from water in the shower, where water is everywhere? Most importantly, you don’t want your soap to sit in water. This makes soap melt, and melt fast. There’s a few options, but I’ll share my favorites.

Soap Dishes

First, I bought one of these fabulous soap dishes. I got mine from Basin, but they’re readily available from many sellers on Etsy or around the Internet.


(Pardon my not-terribly-clean shower. My hair gets everywhere, even when it’s short!)

If you’re going to look into a soap dish, you want one main thing: draining holes/slots. This helps water drain away from your soap, which keeps it from melting. Also this particular dish has a nice curved shape, which helps the water run down towards those holes, and also functions to keep only the edges of large bars in contact with the dish.

For a long time, I had two of these bad boys in my shower with two bars in each (what, I like variety. Don’t look at me like that).

And there are LOTS of cute dishes out there. Just hop on Etsy and search for “soap dish.”

There are a few down sides. One is that, no matter how well designed a soap dish is, it is never going to drain away ALL of the water. I still found myself flipping bars a few hours after my shower, to let the opposite side dry. Also, the water drains out underneath the dish, but then it doesn’t really have anywhere to go. I would constantly be cleaning up drained soap that had pooled on the tub edge under the dish, and also on the underside of the dish. Lots of maintenance with this dish, I find.

Soap Rack

I just recently grabbed one of these after a friend mentioned hers a few times. I stood in Target for, like, fifteen minutes trying to decide on the perfect one. Most of them don’t fit a whole lot of soap, and tend to be made to hold 1 bar and also bottles. But the one I bought wound up being pretty perfect.

It has suction cups to attach to the wall(s) of your shower. This is great, as it helps keep the rack out of the line of water. I put mine at about chest height in the far corner of the shower.

I really like the soap rack. It fits lots of soap, which is great (as stated, I like variety), and it is unsurpassed for draining away soap. I never have to flip the bars, and they are lasting SO long.

Down side is that now all my bars have lines along the bottom, from where they rest on the bars of the rack. These are areas that have melted, but it’s so minute that it’s not a huge deal.

Currently in my soap rack, btw: Basin’s Calamine (small pink) and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (small green), Anderson Soap Co’s Activated Charcoal (black, check out the review!), E. Barrett Co’s Sandalwood (large in the back) and Rocky Top Soap Shop’s Rosehip soap (far left).

The last and most important factor for caring for your soaps in the shower:

Placement

I cannot reiterate this enough. You NEED to keep your soap out of the line of water. Keep soap dishes on the far outside corner, and BEHIND the shower curtain liner. Keep racks high on the shower wall. If you’ve got a mirror outside of your shower, you could even suction your rack to the mirror (though the water would have to drain onto whatever is below, so maybe not the best option).

You know that built-in soap dish that most showers have? It’s a disaster. Water doesn’t drain away (those ridges do NOT cut it), and it is right in the water line. Don’t use it. Ever.

You can really extend the life of your soaps by using a good dish or rack and keeping your soap away from running water. I might do an experiment on this some time, though I doubt you could get me to waste a bar just for science. I like my soap too much!

I’m still here!

Sorry I’ve been absent so long! I’ve been working day and night on my other obsessive hobby, crocheting! If you want to see what I’ve been up to, hop on over to Crochet It Ain’t So!

And keep an eye on this space this afternoon, I’ll be posting about proper soap care later today!

Soap Review: good. clean. soap.

I am super excited to review this soap, because I’ve been using it in my shower for about 2 weeks now. Shawn of good. clean. soap. kindly sent me a bar of their Plane Jane soap to review, but don’t let the name put you off! Plane Jane is exactly what it sounds like: plain soap. Good, old-fashioned soap. This particular bar (they have a number of varieties!) has no scent, no color, no extra nothin’. It’s quite a unique idea these days, and I appreciate the simplicity of this bar. 

Let’s start with the packaging, which is how any consumer would start anyway! I love this packaging. I think the simplicity of the box really fits well with the simple idea of good. clean. soap. Good labeling, good design, all around great!

And the soap itself is just as simple. No color means a nice, off-white bar. It’s round, which is unusual for a bar that isn’t a shaving soap, but it handles quite nicely and fits great in one hand.

I should also mention that I’ve used it so much that it’s now a mere round sliver. I suspect the boy may be using it too, which I’m okay with. 

Like I said, the soap is unscented, and it doesn’t have that usual “olive oil scent.” It literally smells like nothing!

But the lather on this soap, oh man. It’s big and fluffy and EVERYWHERE. First time I used it, I started turning it over in my hands and looked away. When I looked back, there was a giant pile of suds in my hands! This lather gets an A+. It also makes you just FEEL clean. 

It may not be the most moisturizing soap I’ve ever used, but it’s still pretty good. When my eczema started flaring up, I reached right for this bar to help soothe my skin. The lack of scent and other additives was great to help control the flare up. 

It’s got olive, coconut and soy oils in it, good to add some moisture and great for sensitive skin. Also, there’s pretty much nothing ELSE in it!

It’s also a great all-over bar. A few weeks ago I mentioned on Twitter that I wanted to try a shampoo bar, and the good. clean. soap. Twitter account (@goodcleansoap) let me know that they like to use their soaps also as shampoo bars! I gave it a shot a few times, and it works great! The lather may not be creamy enough to shave with, but I’m okay with that. 

So! Here’s the run-down. Again, no scent, so no scent score. 

Scoring

Scent: N/A
Scent strength N/A
Moisturizing: 3.5
Cleansing: 4
Lather: 5
Appearance: 3
Packaging: 5
Total: 4.1

Overall? A simple soap for when you don’t want any fuss. Great for sensitive skin or anyone with allergies to regular soapy ingredients. 

Soap Review: Anderson Soap Co. Black Activated Charcoal

I want to share something quite new to me: Activated Charcoal! This is my first bar of activated charcoal and I must say, it will not be my last! I purchased mine (along with SEVERAL other bars, it was a sale!) from Anderson Soap Company (though I got mine from their Etsy shop). Dennis was great, this bar actually wasn’t listed when I made my big purchase but he kindly combined my shipping when I sent him a message through Etsy. I love great customer service!

First let’s talk about what Activated Charcoal is. It’s a specially processed form of carbon, and has many uses! It’s what’s in your water filter, which draws out the impurities - which is just what it does in soap! It draws out the impurities in your skin, and is said to be very helpful in the treatment of acne! Lots of soapers add extra oils or butters to help balance out any drying factors of charcoal. The end result is a nicely balanced bar that does an excellent job cleaning your skin without drying it out. Best with normal/oily skin, I use this bar exclusively on my face as the rest of my skin leans dry and sensitive (but not my face. Weird?). For more info, check out the the Wikipedia page.

So back to the Anderson Soap Company! I think the logo/wrapper design is great. Simple but pretty, and does a great job letting you know which soap you’re trying (and, of course, who made it). And while I’m not a huge fan of hiding your lovely soap creation behind tissue, it does function to protect the soap a bit.

Activated Charcoal soaps just LOOK cool. I mean, it’s black soap! And it looks so smooth, like a well-tumbled river stone. Love it. Anderson soaps have a super-cool wood grain texture on top, which I find quite interesting.

I was surprised by how perfect the shape of this soap is. The wave on top actually lends itself perfectly to being hand held. I find myself picking up this soap, and before I realize it I’ve been turning it over and over in one hand. And this bar is big! But the shape is just so perfect, it works even one-handed. I hope my other bars all have this same wave to them.

Speaking of other bars, this Activated Charcoal soap has no scent to speak of. However when I pulled it out of the envelope, it smelled distinctly like spearmint - because, of course, it draws out and absorbs what it comes in contact with, and it spent the entire trip next to a bar of spearmint soap!

Let me tell you about how this bar lathers. It is so cool to see an all-black bar bubble up with white suds! And boy, does this bar bubble. The lather that this bar produces is big, foamy bubbles that just keep coming! There’s also some nice olive oil creamy lather going on, but I am just entranced with the big foam coming from this soap.

A side note, this bar DID stain my light-colored washcloth, but it rinsed out easily after a few showers. This is just something to deal with when using charcoal soaps. I really only use this bar with my hands anyway.

My face feels so clean after I use this soap. It isn’t terribly moisturizing, but I didn’t expect it to be. But it isn’t terribly drying, either, which I worried about before using it.

Since this bar doesn’t really have a scent, it won’t be factored in to the total. Also, I think I’ll add a “Cleansing” category, to try to quantify how clean I feel after using soaps. We’ll see how it works out.

Scoring

Scent: N/A
Scent strength N/A
Moisturizing: 3
Cleansing: 4
Lather: 5
Appearance: 5
Packaging: 4
Total: 4.2

Anderson Soap Company’s Activated Charcoal is definitely a well-balanced bar of soap, fantastic for facial use, and absolutely gorgeous to look at!

Photo Fun: Rocky Top Soap Shop

I received my order from Rocky Top Soap Shop yesterday and I took some photos this morning. I thought I’d share a fun teaser photo (also I liked it).

Can’t wait to use them! I think I’ll start with Rosehip, as unfortunately my eczema has been acting up lately. I also got Oats and Honey, Cambrian Blue and French Yellow.

Okay, I like this one too.

Soap Review: KBShimmer Southern Belle

I had the pleasure of getting a full-size bar of KBShimmer Southern Belle and a sampler set of six other soaps. I’ve been eyeing her soap for quite a while, attracted first by her incredible color and swirls and later by the wonderful descriptions associated with each bar. Christy manages to put the most incredible color palate into her soaps, and I’ve always been obsessed with color.

The hardest part of shopping online for soap is that you have no clue what the soap smells like. After all, you can’t tell how well a soap will condition your skin just by holding it in your hand, but at least if you’re buying a bar in a shop or market, you can judge the smell right on the spot. But online you can’t actually smell anything (trust me, I’ve tried, and now my monitor is a little smudgy), and you’re forced to trust the descriptions given by the seller. KBShimmer does a great job of describing her scents just enough to make you want to buy every bar!


(Please forgive the iPhone photos, future reviews should have much better images)

Here’s what Christy had to say about Southern Belle: “Sweet peaches ripe from the vine, hives dripping with golden honey, white picked fences and green grass, ahh, summer in the south.” Lovely!

I found the actual scent quite pleasant once once I got the bar. She describes fragrances of orange blossom, rose and jasmine, along with musk and woods. I wouldn’t say I smell all of these things, but I do smell a good bit of peach and mango, though not overly so, and definitely the musky undertones that make this a well-rounded scent. For me, the only downside to the scent was that it just wasn’t terribly strong, but that is a personal preference. It also lasted quite long after hand washing, I could smell it more than an hour later, through a finger-food lunch!

The bar is just beautiful, with gorgeous swirls of white throughout the peachy bar. Christy’s description says there’s also mica to give it an in-shower shimmer, but I can’t say I saw that.

The bar is a hefty 4.5 oz, and just slightly too large for my hand to maneuver on its own. I made the mistake of cutting it in half, and was surprised by just how small two halves of a lage bar can look! Lesson learned, I suppose.

Southern Belle moisturizes nicely, though I feel that it could use ever more conditioning for dry skin. On the flip soide, it feels SO luxurious with its blend of Shea and cocoa butters. It lathers well enough, in a muted, smooth kind of way. It does start with a big, bubbly lather but relaxes into a slightly creamy foam and gives small bubbles, much like other olive oil soaps. It did feel a little draggy after a while, but throwing a little more water on my hand fixed that well enough.

Lastly, the packaging for this soap was just perfect. I mean, look at this!

One small hiccup, I did notice a slight itch or tingle on my sides while using the bar, for multiple uses. Not sure what that was about.

I may not recommend this soap for particularly dry or trouble skin, but for normal skin or hand soap, it’s a dream.

Scoring

Scent: 4
Scent Strength (does not factor into score): 2
Moisturizing: 3
Lather: 3
Appearance: 5
Packaging: 5
Total: 4

Overall, a good bar of soap! From smelling the fabulous samples I got as well, I can say that the faint scent of Southern Belle is not true of, say, Paradise or Lemongrass or Kaleidosoap (omg puns!). I can’t wait to try all my samples, then grab some full bars as well.

good. clean. soap.

Look what I got in the mail today from good. clean. soap. !

Review coming after I give it a few test runs. Until then, check out good. clean. soap.

P. S. I imported this photo from my CF card and edited it on my iPad! I love technology.

No review today (this weekend, though, be prepared!) but I wanted to share the incredible haul of soap I wound up with on Monday. Love it, want to try all of it RIGHT NOW.

Soapers, don’t forget, I’d love to give your soap a whirl! If you’d like me to review your soap, just click the link above that says “Submit Soap.” Can’t wait to enjoy all this skin-loving goodness!

No review today (this weekend, though, be prepared!) but I wanted to share the incredible haul of soap I wound up with on Monday. Love it, want to try all of it RIGHT NOW.

Soapers, don’t forget, I’d love to give your soap a whirl! If you’d like me to review your soap, just click the link above that says “Submit Soap.” Can’t wait to enjoy all this skin-loving goodness!

A Standard Review Format?

Survey time!

What do you think, should I start using a standard review format? Since I’m just getting started, I figure it’s a good time to figure it out.

I’ve posted so far by just stating my thoughts about the soap I’m reviewing, but I’m wondering if I should start using a score of sorts (1-10, for example) for different categories. I’m thinking Scent (the actual scent itself, how appealing it is), Scent Strength (just a scale, not implying if it’s good or bad), Appearance, Lather, Moisturizing, Texture, Packaging (one of my favorite parts), and an overall score. Any suggestions/changes?

I would of course elaborate, pontificate, and provide photos as well!

Would you be more interested in reading a review with this format, or would you prefer to read it as I had been posting (just rambling on, as I am wont to do)?

My lovely soap haul from this weekend! Kiss My Face olive and aloe (sampler size), two-for-one Sunfeather bars (Chai Tea and African Black), and sea salt Zum Bar! Can’t wait to give them all a shot!

My lovely soap haul from this weekend! Kiss My Face olive and aloe (sampler size), two-for-one Sunfeather bars (Chai Tea and African Black), and sea salt Zum Bar! Can’t wait to give them all a shot!