Today we want to feature a few outstanding soaps. Not only does everyone need a good bar of soap, but there is something indulgent about a specialty cleansing product. With the winter holiday season abutting New Years, we feel now is the ideal time to share with loved ones products to help symbolically wash away the difficulties of 2020 and start anew, clean as a whistle. Add any of these products to a basket with a candle, one of our drinkware picks and a brick of Ruk'u'x Ulew for a luxurious spa package or include a bar with the Guy Cotten Duffle for a travel pack that's perfect the avid adventurers in your life.
We begin with the ‘ĀINA soap from Indigenous Soap Company. This soap is beautifully scented, hand made, and comes from the Island of Oahu's Love Chance, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a soap making visionary. Incorporating botanical ingredients and promoting positive, connectivity, and healing, the Indigenous Soap Company shares incredible gifts that are capable of transforming your skin and your mindset.
HAWAIIANS HAVE BEEN USING NATIVE PLANTS, SEAWEEDS, MINERALS, CLAYS AND OILS FOR CENTURIES TO MAINTAIN HEALTH AND VITALITY. ‘ŌLENA (TURMERIC), LAUKAHI (PLANTAIN), KUKUI NUT OIL, COMFREY AND ‘ALOE HAVE ALL BEEN ADDED TO BRING YOUR SKIN BACK TO LIFE. SO, MALAMA KA ‘ĀINA (TAKE CARE OF THE LAND) AND NEXT TIME YOU'RE IN THE SHOWER LET THE ‘ĀINA MALAMA YOU! (1)
Also relying on the cleansing and healing properties of herbs and botanicals is Remedios del Bosque, or 'Forest Remedies'. While not advertised as such, their basic oil, Oleo Basico, is our go to oil for two step cleansing. We simply massage the oil into our skin to break down makeup and any residual dirt from the day, then we remove the oil with a gentle saponified cleanser. The combination of moringa butter with olive, argan, jajoba, caster, and cacoa oils leaves our skin feeling extraordinarily moisturized and prevents our harsher cleansers from stripping our skin. We've also heard it's excellent for beard care! Plus, fragranced with frankincense, lavender, geranium and white sage essential oils the aroma is intoxicating and certainly deserving of the extra skincare step required by a second wash.
Next we share the Face Stone from Nature of Things. With the tumbled cratered appearance of pumice, these Stones are made entirely of French white clay. While there are no traditional cleansing ingredients, the clay acts as a physical exfoliant, brushing away imperfections and dull tired skin. We love to leave a bit of the clay on our skin while we complete the rest of our bathing ritual, allowing it to draw out any impurities that can then be washed away leaving us feeling deeply cleansed and undeniably pampered. The stones themselves are stunning and the perfect natural accessory for any bathroomscape.
For an aesthetic powerhouse we turn to Ume Studio. Their sensationally carved 'Erode Soap' series is breathtaking. Smooth soap is transformed into sculptures with gouged ridges that undulate like waves. Some of the designs showcase speckles of distorted spots while others offer swirls of subtle marbling. Each soap is hand made and entirely unique. Frankly, they are almost too magnificent to use! However, the staggeringly beautiful scents will leave you reaching for these soaps whenever possible. We love the white grapefruit, the cardamom vetiver, and the daily detox juniper berry and lemongrass. Whichever you choose, the Erode soaps are magnificent pieces of artistry that happen to be functional. They just exude luxury!
For All Folks Face/Body Wash is also a masterpiece. A Calendula-based soap is the foundation onto which rose, neem, rosemary, basil, and Chinese peppermint are added to build a symphony of fragrance. Aside from their mesmerizing scent, each extract and essential oil offers a unique skincare benefit that will leave your skin feeling nourished and healthy. The luminous golden bottles are impeccably refined and will offer the perfect understated color to any vanity.
We turn now to Paris to find the La Sultane de Saba black soap. We were introduced to this soap during a spa treatment in Ibiza and we never looked back. Fortified with rich, natural, nourishing ingredients this soap is stunningly fragrant and astonishingly moisturizing. Added to water and the olive-derived surfactant are pure eucalyptus oil, olive oil, and Argan oil which form a thick paste with a consistency and color somewhere between the most decadent sticky caramel and a refreshing olive gel. The fruity earthy scent of olive tames the eucalyptus, resulting in a strong almost medicinal herbal fragrance without venturing to the dark side of Vic's vapor rub eucalyptus scents. Opening the gorgeous glass jar instantly transports us to a Moroccan Hammam, an experience that only intensifies when we massage the rich soap onto our skin and bathe in the scent of eucalyptus. It's sheer heaven and the ideal gift!
Yukon Soap Company, another proudly Indigenous owned brand, offers beautifully simplistic soaps that just feel therapeutic. Moving back to Mayo, Yukon to live on her traditional territory, Joella Hogan committed to not only creating magnificent soaps but also to supporting, engagement with, and connecting to her Norther Tutchone culture. It's a beautiful sentiment that is only empowered by the the quality of her products. Our favorite soap from the Yukon Soap Company is the Cornmeal & Honey. We love it as a biweekly gentle facial exfoliant as emollient antibacterial honey carries finely ground physically exfoliant cornmeal. While the exfoliation is excellent, the product feels delicate and leaves our skin feeling properly cared for. This is the ideal soap to gift to the no fuss people in your life who deserve some subtle pampering!
When she took on the company, Joella was looking for a way to connect people to culture and to land. And she has done just that—from getting elders and local kids out on the land to gather wild botanicals, to employing youth in her workshop, to offering crafting workshops, and participating in farmer’s markets across the Yukon (2)
Next is Officina Profumo - Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. With an extensive history dating back to 1221 when Domenican friars began experimenting with officinal herbs grown in their monastery in Florence, Santa Maria Novella is an institution in the the world of skincare and beauty with a well-deserved reputation for excellence. Their elegant products are to die for and make unrivaled gifts. We especially love the Vellutina Soap enriched with Idralia cream and lightly fragranced with sweet honey. As our dear friends at Aedes de Venustas describe, Vellutina is "enriched with elastin, collagen, jojoba oil, and coconut oil [making it] virtually a face cream in a bar"(x). It's a deliciously good product that your loved ones will adore.
Although Santa Maria Novella products are no longer made by Domenican friars, the aloe vera roll soap by Les Bénedictines de Chantelle has been made in a French abbey for more than 60 years. Much like the Nature of Things Face Stone, this simple tusk coloured soap is a softly irregular pebble shape making it unexpectedly decorative. It's absolutely lovely. Aesthetics aside, the composition of the soap is idyllic.
Its practical shape and aesthetic curves will make this soap essential in the heart of your bathroom. Its subtle fragrance will envelop you in a cocoon of softness and thanks to the softening and nourishing properties of aloe vera, it will become the natural ally of your skin (3).
We return now to the United States where we find Etta + Billie. The "unique scent pairings are 90% inspired by organic, farm-fresh ingredients and 10% inspired by...delicious artisanal cocktail[s]"(4). This Ventura, California brand expresses a desire "to bring nourishment and satisfaction into daily routines" and—speaking only for ourselves—we cannot put into words how successful they are! The original Cold Brew Mint Coffee Soap is our holy grail soap. Invigorating coffee and refreshing peppermint oil offer a vibrant and awakening experience to our mornings while also providing our skin with necessary antioxidants and a hint of revitalizing caffeine. In case this soap isn't incredible enough (which we assure you, it is!), Etta + Billie also donate a portion of sales to organizations that better the world and commit to shipping their beautiful products in recyclable packaging. So by gifting a bar of this epic soap you not only better the skincare routines of your loved ones but you also improve the world around you! Whats not to love?
Moving to the East Coast of the US, our next soap comes from Saipua (which means "soap" in Finnish) and The Farm at World's End. Founder Sarah Ryhanen has created a brand that is so stunningly aesthetic and effortlessly sophisticated that we don't have the words to describe it! All we can say is her Vetiver soap, carrying a cloud of French green clay, is skincare at its finest. As described, the soap has an unbelievably elegant fragrance that "focuses on vetiver, a smoky scent, rounded out by the addition of citrus"(5). It's remarkably good and always works wonders on our temperamental skin.
Out next stop is the amazing country of Greenland. Here, Theodora Høegh shares a line of skincare featuring hand-picked herbs from Greenland's pristine wilderness. Her brand, Ulu Care carries seven unbelievable soaps containing everything from mountain adler to labrador tea. Our favorites of the Ulu range are the Red Seaweed and the Yarrow soaps. The yarrow plant, cultivated in Greenland by the Norse for its medicinal properties, soothes our dry, wind-chapped skin and blankets us in the most stunning spicy herbal scent. The red seaweed, like all seaweeds, is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants making it ideal for reducing inflammation and minimizing the appearance of hyperpigmentation. The packaging is effortlessly simplistic and an elegant expression of Ulu's commitment to natural organic skincare. These soaps make magnificent gifts for the people in your life who value unique and quality skincare ingredients!
The last few products we're sharing come from Russia. The Russian members of our team were adamant that we feature these products as "any soap that can sooth icy Siberian skin is a must-share!" and it's hard to argue with that logic!
Berezka Lab offers a striking collection of eco-friendly skincare products in graphic minimalist black packaging that is viciously chic. While it doesn't come in black packaging, the Berezka Karelian Shungite soap bar is an incredibly product. Rich with shungite, a mineral that may contain free-radical-fighting fullerenes, the charcoal colored bars are scented with fir, sweet almond, pine, and sweet orange for a stunning unisex fragrance that we can't get enough of. We find this soap to be impressively moisturizing and gentle enough to be used on even the most sensitive skin as it contains an abundance of nourishing oils that feel utterly pampering. You can't go wrong gifting a bar of this luscious soap, especially given its androgynous fragrance!
Last, but certainly not least, we find our way to Babushka Agafia for another black soap (can you tell we really love black soap?). Agafia Yermakova, an herbalist who spent her life in the coniferous forests of Siberia, is the inspiration behind this black soap that is enriched with an impressive 37 Siberian plants selected from Siberian tradition. The soap smells wonderful and there is something magical about the herbs in this soap as even our toughest, driest, most irritated skin seems to softened to flawless toned perfection after we use the soap. Plus, we love that it feels like a folk remedy from our surrogate Babushka, Agafia!
You can't go wrong gifting any one of these incredible luxurious soaps. These soaps are sourced from around the world and offer a host of healing botanical ingredients and intoxicating fragrances so you would be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn't love a soap from this list! For an extra entry check out our feature on Nablus soap from the West Bank.