WHEN you want to get in a lather, there is nothing better to use than good old fashioned soap.
Soap has been on the go for at least 2,000 years in some form or another, initially for cleaning clothes and curing animal hides. The Romans then introduced soap on their bodies for bathing, and their soap making skills then throughout Europe.
Soap has come a long way since those days of boiling up animal fat, and there are a whole host of different kinds on the market, of all different shapes, sizes, colours, scents and for many uses.
It’s very important to select the right one to match your skin type, especially if you have sensitive skin.
With so many kinds to choose from, the HNG Tried and Tested team has sampled a few to see which ones scrub up.
Dr Bonner’s Magic Soap (18-in-1, Hemp Rose)
£5.49 for 237ml, available nationwide and via www.kinetic4health.co.uk
THERE’S certainly no lack of hype with this liquid soap from the USA which boasts Fair Trade credentials and and the manufacturer says has celebrity fans including Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman, Drew Barrymore, Sandra Bullock and Eminem. But does it live up to its claims that it has 18 different uses? These are said to range from washing, shaving and shampoo to body rub, toothpaste, mouth wash, washing up liquid and laundry wash.
Well, I’m afraid Dr Bonner really is a case of jack of all trades and master of none. I carefully followed the suggestions and instructions for several of the listed uses and was disappointed on each occasion.
As a simple soap this is passable although a little light on lather and the Hemp Rose aroma is a bit sickly
As a shaving foam it didn’t cut the mustard, with the lather quickly disappearing and drying.
In the shower, the lack of lather was again irritating unless large quantities were used.
My hair felt lifeless and not quite clean after using it as shampoo.
Again the soap suds rapidly disappeared when used as a washing up liquid leaving a heavy soapy mix – stick to your usual brand.
Finally, do not use this as a toothpaste. It tastes vile, stings your mouth and leaves a bitter aftertaste – so much so that I had to rush a find a mouthwash!
The toothpaste episode was one use too many for me and I gave up on Dr Bonner. The A-list celebs are welcome to it.
£3.86 from www.aubreyorganics.co.uk
THIS soap describes itself as being a sweet-smelling bar mild enough for the driest complexion.
Formulated with four herbal skin conditioners, it certainly did have a lovely scent, which was very refreshing.
I was impressed by how it did help moisturise my sometimes dry skin. I don’t often use soap, so I was pleasantly surprised how well it faired against a moisturiser which is what I would normally use.
With it’s pink-ness, this is aimed at ladies and I think it would make a nice gift too.
Green Tea Finest Triple-milled soap
£4.95 for 100g via www.scottishfinesoaps.com
THIS soap from the Falkirk based company is part of its Vintage Bird Collection which means it comes in a prettily decorated embossed tin bearing a picture of a bird.
There is no doubt that this a quality soap from the moment you unwrap it from its branded tissue paper inside the tin. It has a pleasant sweet, but not overpowering, smell – and one which you don’t really notice in the bathroom until you apply water to lather. Here the aroma is delicate but noticeable but not sickly and can be used by men and women.
The square soap block is durable – no mush here – and yet has a nice sheen to touch. It lathers extremely well and is very smooth and gentle on the skin yet quickly cleaned the dirtiest of hands after gardening. Despite its apparent delicacy, this is a very hard-wearing soap – I have used it to wash hands and face three times a day for a fortnight and the block has hardly shrunk at all.
Jade Beauty Bar
£20 from Nephria.com
THIS soap is marketed as "the world’s most expensive and luxurious beauty bar, made with pure Jade".
Apparently, Jade is associated in the Oriental cultures as one of the most exciting and modern of beauty ingredients.
Jade is also associated with healing powers, hence it claims it can help calm debilitating skin problems such an inflammation and acne. Personally, I haven’t used soap on my face for years, opting instead for facial scrubs or cleansers.
So I was slightly dubious and almost expecting the soap to dry out my face.
But it didn’t. In fact, it was very moisturising, whilst at the same time managed to remove all my make-up, including my mascara. It didn’t feel harsh on my skin either, and certainly didn’t dry it out. Don’t get me wrong, £20 is a lot of money for a bar of soap. But I would imagine if I limited to using it only on my face, it would last for months.
Which makes it no more expensive than my cleansers, which cost roughly £6 and last for a month at a time. I’ll keep using this for now as I am impressed with the results. However, the jury’s still out as to whether I’d fork out £20 for a soap when the time comes!
Radox Brazilian Fusion
BRAZILIAN Fusion brings to mind images of World Cup-winning football, exotic cocktails and fireworks on the beach.
Perfect, then, to sit all day and add some much needed spice to your Highland bathroom.
Although unlikely to make the user start samba dancing, or heading imaginary last-minute cup winning goals at the sink, this soap is decent enough to merit recommendation, if not its name.
Radox is a trusted soap brand, and this tub is cheap and should last a long time.
The smell doesn’t linger uncomfortably, but is fresh and funky enough to bring sparkle to your morning routine.
Forever Aloe Liquid Soap
£10.84 via www.forevershopnow.com
THIS lovely Forever range also includes an avocado cleansing soap, which has a lovely scent and is suitable for use on the face and body.
However, I prefer liquid soaps, and this was a great example of one.
Firstly what I liked about it is that it’s suitable for all the family, so it’s kind of multi-purpose.
It has a "no tears" formula which means it can be used as a shampoo for both children and adults, it can be used on the face for shaving, is kind to sensitive skin, and can also be used for your hands as it has a handy easy-to-use dispenser.
It’s obvious from the onset that it doesn’t contact any nasty chemicals or anything that would hurt your skin.
It has a mild but pleasant scent, and it pours out thick and pearlescent, so it really does feel soapy.
It also foams up a fair bit, which means you feel cleaner after using it.
My skin, and that of my five-year-old son, felt soft and cleansed after using this product.
The only downside is the cost, but considering it has multiple uses, it saves on buying several products.
Malki Dead Sea Black Mud Mask Soap
£3.49 from Boots
THIS soap just smells so good you could believe it was doing you good by smell alone.
And that’s before you read the list of ingredients, majoring on all the minerals you get from the Dead Sea black mud, cutting out detergent and animal fat. Supposedly good for skin elasticity, relieving inflammation, boosting circulation and rejuvenating cells, the soap contains mud salts that are also meant to be gentle on conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Once you’re over the feeling that the ebony, waxy bar looks suspiciously like the joke soap that leaves your face black, the creaminess of the lather is what you notice immediately after the scent.
On the skin and on the nose, this soap feels like expensive luxury. Only your purse knows better.
Ortigia Ambra Nera soap box
Set of four for £17 from www.brummellsoflondon.com
THESE soaps look like the kind of thing you would see adorning a fancy ceramic sink in a posh hotel. The box itself looks so luxurious, so it would also make a lovely gift for someone.
It’s obvious it’s purely a handsoap, as each soap itself is quite small, but just big enough to cleanse your mits with. Made from 100 per cent vegetable glycerine and organic colours, they are a burnt see through orange colour. What I loved about them best was the warm spicy scent. The blurb states it will transport your senses to the heart of Sicily. While I am not sure of that – as I have never been to Sicily – I can confirm I loved the fragrance which was so strong, and lingered on my hands for some time after washing them.
This is definitely high end in the soap market – so I am not sure many people would fork out £17 for this. However, it would make a lovely gift or would be ideal if you want to spice up a guest’s bathroom.
Hope’s Relief Cleansing Bar
£8.70 for 110g from 222.hopesrelief.com
THE box this bar comes in makes many promises as it says it’s a soap free cleansing bar for itchy, dry or sensitive skin, and that’s also suitable for eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, normal skin and that it restores the skin’s normal pH balance.
It adds that’s gentle enough to be used on the face and bodies of babies, children and adults. It has three aims: to moisturise and soften dry skin; it soothes irritated skin and regeneratesm, leaving skin soft and supple.
White it colour, it contains no perfume whatsoever and therefore is scent-less.
This is always comforting, when like me, you have hyper sensitive skin which can be easily irritated by cheap, perfumed products. Using the soap on my own body for cleansing, I noticed it didn’t lather in bubbles but instead left a milky film behind which is easily washed off.
I noticed it lived up to it’s moisturising blurb, as I even used this soap on my legs in place of shaving foam which I had run out of.
Normally I would have to finish off with moisturiser after drying my legs, but having used this soap, I didn’t even need to bother with that.
I also used this soap on my five year old son’s face and body.
It cleaned him brilliantly, and left his soft skin even softer than usual. A bit on the pricey side, but if you have problem skin it’s worth it.