soap: 6 posts

Holiday Gifts for All Senses : Soaps and Creams

For this holiday gift guide, I decided to put together some of my favorite scented body products and some fun accessories. I also wanted for all selections to be under $50. Despite what beauty magazines tell you, you can really score some great, quality products on a budget. The second part of my holiday guide includes interesting finds like soap made with real sandalwood, luscious looking powder puffs and orange blossom scented skincare for men.

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Holiday Gifts for All Senses : Perfume Discovery Sets

Rosewater or Orange Blossom Water

As a scented gift for someone who also enjoys cooking, floral waters are unbeatable. They are available at gourmet food stores, Iranian, Indian and Middle Eastern shops and Whole Foods. $5-15, depending on the brand. If your gift recipient is new to floral waters, including a note with some of your favorite ways to use them would be a nice touch. You can find extra ideas here: 10 Ways to Use Rosewater and 10 Ways to Use Orange Blossom Water.

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Mysore Sandal Soap : Bath & Body Review

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Does luxury need to come with a big price tag? If you take a stroll around any department store, you might come away with that conclusion. But if your shopping strategy is more of the Poirot sleuthing variety, then you can turn up some affordable gems. My local India shop doesn’t fall under any definition of upscale. It’s a tiny, overcrowded space that smells pungently of cumin, wilting coriander greens and fried snacks. But it is here that I discovered my favorite soap of all, Mysore Sandal Soap. And it cost me 1.95 euros.

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Mysore Sandal soap is produced by Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited, a company owned by the Government of Karnataka, a southern Indian state famous for its sandalwood. Mysore sandalwood groves were plentiful at the turn of the century, but while Europe was engulfed in the First World War, the precious wood couldn’t be exported. In 1916, the Maharaja of Mysore established a company to use up the excess sandalwood, and Mysore Sandal soap still remains the company’s trademark. It bears a proprietary Geographical Indication seal and contains natural sandalwood oil.

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Roger & Gallet Oeillet Mignardise Soap

If I had a vintage vanity table with a large mirror, I would decorate it with perfume bottles, makeup brushes and neat rows of lipstick and nail polish. I would fill the candy dishes with face powder pearls and top them with colorful Caron powder puffs. And I would be sure to keep at least one package of Roger & Gallet Oeillet Mignardise soap in the drawer for that distinctive whiff of carnation scented retro glamour. Then nothing would stop me from feeling like a Hollywood starlet, the lack of other qualifications notwithstanding.

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A girl can dream, right? While I have no space or practical use for a vanity table–my makeup application is usually a distinctly unglamorous, rushed affair conducted in the bathroom, the carnation part of my fantasy is something I insist on keeping. Oeillet Mignardise is a simple way of having it, and I usually stuff these soap bars in my linen closet and lingerie drawer, in addition to using them in the shower. If I had to use a single type of soap for the foreseeable future, Oeillet Mignardise would be it.

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Hermes Le Bain : New Bath and Skincare Line

The house of Hermès is presenting its new bath & body line this month, Le Bain. A collection of shower gels, shampoos, lotions, and soaps is based on the existing fragrances developed by the in-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena and is richly scented.

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Collection Colognes

Shower gels for body and hair are available in Eau de Gentiane Blanche, Eau de Narcisse Bleu, Eau d’Orange Verte, and Eau de Mandarine Ambrée (200ml, 32€).

Liquid soap in Eau de Gentiane Blanche, Eau de Narcisse Bleu, Eau d’Orange Verte, and Eau de Mandarine Ambrée (300ml, 44€).

Moisturizing balm for face and body (200ml, 59€).
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Marius Fabre Soaps : Provence at Home

French guidebooks often highlight local specialties, be it an Orléanais crayfish flan or Alsatian elderflower wine. That’s how I discovered the Provencal soap maker Marius Fabre.  While fantasizing of a vacation, I leafed through a book on the South of France and spotted a mention of Savon de Marseille, Marseille soap, produced according to traditional methods. Duly noted, Marius Fabre went onto my list of things to try.

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Ever since I made my own scented soap as a first year perfumery trainee, I’ve been fascinated by the transformation that happens when fats, lye and perfume come together. One wrong ingredient, and a bar of snow white soap turns dirty yellow.  One more mistake–and the whole thing smells rancid, rather than delicious. So, when I stood with my nose pressed against a creamy bar of Marius Fabre’s jasmine soap, I knew that I had discovered something special.

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