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.

Today, the Mysore groves are overharvested and depleted, so the government of Karnataka has launched an extensive cultivation project and imposed strict quotas. Mysore Sandal soap is now made with imported sandalwood, and while I don’t know how much sandalwood oil it contains (it’s surely doctored up with some other perfume materials), it smells amazing. And it smells of sandalwood.

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There is a saying in India that sandalwood is so fragrant, it scents the ax that cuts it.  Mysore Sandal soap certainly does it justice with its powerful aroma. You don’t even need to tear the plastic wrap on the tan colored bar to notice a creamy scent that is somewhere between frilly wood shavings and dry rose petals. If you want your wardrobe to smell like a maharani’s treasure chest, a single pack of soap will suffice. It lasts well in the shower and foams easily, filling the whole bathroom with the heady, intoxicating scent.

In Ayurvedic medicine, sandalwood is considered cooling and purifying, and the soap is advertised as being able to calm prickly heat rashes and soften the skin. I can’t attest to the former, but my dry skin likes this soap and feels silky to touch after I use it.

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Ultimately, to wake up in the morning and step into the shower filled with the sensual aroma is luxury of the best kind.

Mysore Sandal soap is available in 17gms, 75gms, 125gms, 150gms and 150gms x 3 packed in a set. Look for it online (just google the name), Ebay and Indian grocery stores. My shop stocks it next to henna and jasmine scented hair oils. The smallest bar can be found for as little as .95 cents.

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133 Comments

  • The Blue Squid: Cool! I will keep my eye out for that brand at the Indian supermarket. I got another sandalwood soap there a while ago, can’t remember the brand name, that had an upsetting odour. PSA for any Australians reading.. Consider Nelum brand sandalwood soap, available at Coles. It has a great smell and texture and is cheap too! By the way, I am not affiliated with the soap, or the supermarket 🙂 November 26, 2014 at 7:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Hmm, just a warning then that you may not like this soap either. It’s a classical Indian sandalwood, which is not exactly subtle! I love it, because I love the sandalwood scents in general. It lingers really well on skin, so if you wear a sandalwood or a rose perfume afterward, it’s such a good match. November 26, 2014 at 8:11am Reply

      • The Blue Squid: Thanks for the tip! I’ll see how I go. It’s nice to have a cheap thrill like this; if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter too much financially. November 26, 2014 at 8:15am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, this one won’t break the bank! In the US, I used to buy this soap for even less, around $.50, but even at 1.95 euros, it’s still a bargain. November 26, 2014 at 9:21am Reply

          • mylena: Where in the USA did you use to buy it that cheap? And how many gramms for 50 cents please? January 6, 2015 at 9:01am Reply

            • Victoria: At the Indian grocery stores! January 6, 2015 at 10:01am Reply

  • Karen: Wonderful! Wish I had some on this rainy, cold day. November 26, 2014 at 8:06am Reply

    • Victoria: A cold, rainy day here too! So, all the bright, aromatic things come out. 🙂 November 26, 2014 at 8:11am Reply

      • Polly: This is the problem with living in San Diego (and most people starting hating me when I start a sentence that way), no cold rainy days for hunkering down with soup and homemade jam and other creature comforts. Luckily, I am brazen enough to wear such warm scents as Shalimar and Egoiste in the sunshine and this soap sounds like a special treat (and such fun that it is so reasonably priced!). November 26, 2014 at 10:34am Reply

        • Susan Minnicks: Let me know if you find it here, I’m in San Diego too! November 26, 2014 at 11:07am Reply

          • Polly: Oh, a fellow fragrance lover locally! I thought I was alone! If you are ever interested in exchanges or shared purchases, do let me know! November 27, 2014 at 11:20am Reply

            • Tara C: I’m in San Diego too, and I despair of cool fall weather… hate this Santa Ana heat. I work with a bunch ofIndian engineers, will find out where to get this soap! November 29, 2014 at 6:57pm Reply

              • Peggy: Self-Realization Books and India Gift Shop on Hwy 101 and K Street in Encinitas carries this soap, and so much more. November 29, 2014 at 10:50pm Reply

        • Victoria: When I asked friends who lived in Brussels what they liked the least about being here, they replied “the weather.” But I discovered that for me it’s not a problem at all. I love the rainy days here, especially since there are so many indoor activities around the city–covered galleries, museums, cafes, theaters, cinemas, etc. From the perspective of perfume, I completely understand what you mean, although some rich scents work well in hot weather too. Incense can be surprisingly refreshing. White florals worn in small doses bloom perfectly. It’s fun to experiment. November 26, 2014 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Anka: Wow, thank you for being the sleuth dog for wonderful gems (loved your Poirot reference and learened a new word coming with it…)!!!
    I am preparing an advent calendar for my husband at the moment and need 10 more little surprises to pack, and the 17gms Sandal Soap seems just perfect. November 26, 2014 at 8:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I love grocery stories catering to different communities. They are like a treasure trove of unusual and interesting things. And for fruits and vegetables, they’re also good places to shop, because the quality is very good and the prices are reasonable. In fact, I’m about to finish work early and go off sleuthing some more. November 26, 2014 at 9:22am Reply

  • Annunziata: The phrase ‘use up the excess sandalwood’ sets off such feelings of longing for that golden, prelapsarian time when there was such a thing. I will have to try to find some of this soap, thank you for telling us about it. November 26, 2014 at 9:09am Reply

    • Victoria: I hope that they get their act together and replant the groves. The illegal felling of sandalwood is a big problem still. But the shortages don’t apply to all of India, and some other states, sandalwood is much more available. November 26, 2014 at 9:25am Reply

  • Marsha: Got a box of 12 bars from Amazon because of your previous post about a Roger & Gallet soap. I knew I would love it cause sandalwood is my HG scent. Thank you for this post! (And welcome back from wherever you are!) November 26, 2014 at 9:19am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Marsha! 🙂 I’m so happy to hear that you’re liking it. Certainly, those large packages are affordable and go a long way. One of my husband’s aunts always stores a bar with her saris, and she just smells wonderful. We often think of sandalwood as a warm and heavy scent, but smell it on a hot day, and you notice how it feels really refreshing. November 26, 2014 at 9:27am Reply

  • OperaFan: Thank you for this post, dear V. I love the smell of natural sandalwood – and I do mean the wood itself as my earliest memory of the scent is from my mother’s sandalwood fan that she used to carry in her purse. For this kind of price, it’s worth seeking out.
    Hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving! November 26, 2014 at 10:44am Reply

    • Annette Reynolds: Operafan, that’s such a lovely image: that sandalwood fan in your mother’s purse! November 26, 2014 at 12:04pm Reply

      • Annie O: It is indeed a wonderful image . . . thank you!
        I shall carry that around for a good long while! November 26, 2014 at 1:42pm Reply

      • OperaFan: You know, I don’t think I’ve ever forgotten that smell. I believe she received it as a gift. I’ve always judged sandalwood scents on the basis of that memory and doesn’t matter how much of the composition is natural or synthetic. If it evokes the memory for me, I like it. November 26, 2014 at 1:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: A friend sent me a couple of natural sandalwood fans that she found in her mother’s treasure chest. They must be quite old, but the scent is so strong. Occasionally, I use them on a hot day, and it’s so uplifting. November 26, 2014 at 3:03pm Reply

    • Marsha: I vaguely remember my grandmother having a sandalwood fan. I bet it is still there at the house – somewhere! November 27, 2014 at 8:22am Reply

  • Claire: Another soap to look for in the same place would be “Chandrika”. It’s also an ayurvedic soap, made under strict standards, and of natural ingredients. It lathers luxuriously, and is non-drying. As to the fragrance, it is definitely an acquired taste, and without a bar on hand I would be hard pressed to describe it. It was recommended to my husband and I when we were traveling in India and had exhausted our supply of travel toiletries. We still purchase it on occasion, and find the fragrance addictive. November 26, 2014 at 10:47am Reply

    • allgirlmafia: I LOVE Chandrika Sandal soap. I have vowed never to be without it. The bars sell for $1.50 at my local grocery store. Auromere makes a sandal-turmeric that is equally as lovely. November 26, 2014 at 1:28pm Reply

      • Annie O: I believe it helps balance the chakras, besides being a generally invigorating soap. It is a must in our house, and guests go home with a new box of it for their own. November 26, 2014 at 1:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Claire! I’m definitely checking this one out. November 26, 2014 at 3:04pm Reply

      • Claire: It is really an acquired taste. I didn’t like it at all the first time I smelled it. But I think it is really an early form of “Aromatherapy”, and is great in a shower. I would love to hear what you think of it, and how you would describe it.

        I will have to try the sandalwood soap again, I’ve given up on the rich sandalwood scent I remember, rich and creamy. As a poor student in San Francisco, I bought all my Christmas gifts in Chinatown. When they were still exotic, beautifully crafted, and very affordable. I, too, loved those Sandalwood fans! November 27, 2014 at 3:23am Reply

        • Victoria: I usually like these kind of herbal-earthy scents, so I’m intrigued.

          Your comment about buying gifts in Chinatown made me smile, because when I was a student, that’s what I would do too. And I remember the smell so well! November 27, 2014 at 11:58am Reply

  • mridula: Victoria, I feel so much love for this soap and I am smiling from ear to ear as I read what you have to say. Five stars! Wow! It is drying as heck so its main task in my house is to scent clothes. November 26, 2014 at 10:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Perhaps, it’s our humid climate, but it doesn’t dry my skin out at all. Anyway, I adore the scent so much that I’d the same thing as you–stick it in the linen closet and smell sandalwood all around me. 🙂 November 26, 2014 at 3:05pm Reply

  • Sylvia: Thank you for the tip! We’re shopping for stocking stuffers here.. Inexpensive but enjoyable treats.. And this sounds perfect!
    I’m looking forward to your idea of putting some in our drawers, to scent the clothes. Comforting scent isnt it?
    You wrote one time about a sandalwood scented face powder. Do you have a name for one?
    Thank you, and I hope you all have a lovely holiday if you’re celebrating. And, welcome back! November 26, 2014 at 10:55am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s so comforting! I don’t even know why I have this association with sandalwood, but it never fails to make me feel cozy and calm.

      Do you mean the sandalwood paste used as a skin mask? I might have mentioned in my review of Serge Lutens’s Santal Blanc. It’s just a piece of sandalwood moistened and rubbed over a piece of stone. The paste is then mixed with yogurt and rosewater for a cooling, purifying mask.

      Have a lovely holiday weekend too! No celebrations around here, since I’m catching up on my work and my husband is busy at the office too. But we might have a little celebration on the weekend. November 26, 2014 at 3:07pm Reply

  • iodine: Next time I’ll pop in my local Indian grocery for a jar of “mixed pickles”- how I love those tiny, hot and sour…. lemons?!- I’ll give a look to the toileteries corner, which I’ve always overlooked! I love sandalwood scented soaps, I feel so clean and warm after. Following your precious tips I’ve used Marius Fabre Santal soap and love it 🙂 November 26, 2014 at 11:41am Reply

    • Victoria: I love those too. You mean, the little rounds, about the size of caper berries? All Indian pickles are addictive. And I betcha your store carries this soap. It’s a classic! November 26, 2014 at 3:09pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I love sleuthing for food, tea, fragrance, books…. and Bruxelles, because of it’s quirky lay out, almost invites one to sleuth. I’m assuming that this shop is in Bruxelles? I will have to seek this soap out as it sounds gorgeous and I love soaps! November 26, 2014 at 12:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it’s here in Brussels. The store also functions as a nursery for the owner’s children (the youngest one is often sleeping in a stroller in the vegetable aisle) and a playground. But it’s a neighborhood favorite, and I’ve seen coiffed Belgian grandmothers stop by to get mangoes.

      By the way, I went to Nong Cha today and they treated me to the osmanthus infusion. They now carry the flowers. The owner opened a huge vat to let me smell them, and I swooned. Another guy was there enjoying green tea, and he smelled them too. “This makes me think of summer, of happiness,” he said and prompted ordered a package. November 26, 2014 at 3:14pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I love those shops, and the idea of it being multifunctional 🙂

        Does Nong Cha just have the flowers? Or do they have a new Osmanthus flavoured tea? I’ve never smelled real Osmanthus but will just spray some TDC Osmanthus before going to sleep. November 26, 2014 at 3:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: They have the osmanthus flavored tea (not new, though; it’s the same one they’ve had for a year or so) as well as dried flowers on their own. I think that you’d enjoy smelling them. November 26, 2014 at 3:22pm Reply

          • Austenfan: I’ve been sort of avoiding going to Nong Cha as I seriously need to finish some tea before I buy any other tea. But this is very tempting! Osmanthus is a very uplifting scent and who doesn’t need uplifting with this grey weather?

            By the way is the Indian shop on Avenue Georges Henri? November 26, 2014 at 3:35pm Reply

            • Victoria: My husband started making a large pot of tea for his thermos, so it helps, but as it is, my tea selection is embarrassingly large. It’s easy enough to convince me to try something new, though.

              The shop is in Ixelles. There are a bunch of them in the area, and they all carry pretty much the same merchandise. November 27, 2014 at 11:18am Reply

              • Austenfan: I’m visiting another interesting tea shop specialising in Chinese tea this Sunday in the Hague and honestly don’t know when I’m going to drink all of it, but I love it so much. Which is why I haven’t visited Nong Cha in a while as I seem to be incapable of leaving the place without lots of new teas 🙂 November 27, 2014 at 11:56am Reply

                • Victoria: Oh, please let me know what you discover.

                  I found another tea place in Paris, this time specializing in Japanese teas. It’s called Jugetsudo. November 27, 2014 at 12:19pm Reply

                  • Austenfan: One can never discover enough tea places! I’ll tell you all about Thee van Sander! November 27, 2014 at 4:08pm Reply

                    • Victoria: I believe a new museum opened up in The Hague (or rather, an existing one reopened), so it means more reasons to plan a visit. November 30, 2014 at 9:38am

                    • Austenfan: Yep, Het Mauritshuis. You need to visit. It’s not huge, but in a lovely building and it has two great Vermeers ( “Girl with the Pearl Earring” and my favourite “View of Delft”) and one or 2 Rembrandts. I’m quite partial to The Hague. The other big museum called Het Haags Gemeentemuseum is so worth a visit as well. November 30, 2014 at 5:22pm

                    • Victoria: Thank you! It sounds like we need to make that trip soon. I really want to see Girl with a Pearl Earring. December 1, 2014 at 8:11am

                    • Austenfan: There are excellent train links between The Hague and Brussels. Parking in The Hague is not as prohibitively expensive as in some other cities.
                      It merits a visit I think. There is a really nice Betjeman and Barton store on the Dennenweg and Parfumérie Céleste is close to that as well. December 1, 2014 at 8:14am

                    • Victoria: We usually drive, unless it is to Amsterdam, but the few times I’ve taken train here, I was impressed with the good service. The US railway system is just so poor in comparison. December 1, 2014 at 8:17am

                    • Austenfan: Yes, we used to invest in public transport 🙂 December 1, 2014 at 12:29pm

  • Annette Reynolds: When I’m in just about any shop, I tend to gravitate toward any soaps that might be available, and if there’s a sandalwood soap it’s the first one that I sniff.
    I think there may be a shop somewhere in Tacoma that carries this soap! I can’t wait to find out.
    There are a couple of other sandalwood soaps that I love, but can’t attest to exactly how much real sandalwood is in them: one is by Caswell-Massey. The other is, I believe, Bee & Flower Sandalwood soap. Very inexpensive, but has a great, clean fragrance that throughout the use of the soap. November 26, 2014 at 12:10pm Reply

    • Annette Reynolds: Ummm… it has a great, clean fragrance that LASTS throughout the use of the soap.

      Sorry about that! November 26, 2014 at 12:11pm Reply

    • OperaFan: Annette – I’ve also used both. Do you find them to be very different? The C&M never smelled quite like Sandalwood to me, and the formula has changed since I first tried it in the ’90s. The Bee and flower smells more like the Sandalwood I know, and it’s an old, old brand. I believe the C&M is a better quality product, though B&F is much cheaper with best prices found at Asian grocery stores. November 26, 2014 at 2:08pm Reply

      • Annette Reynolds: I think you’re right: they smell quite different from each other. Caswell-Massey underwent a huge change in the last decade (basically, I’d say they sold out…) and so not much is the same in their line. I still like their Sandalwood soap: it’s fresh and clean. But it’s not the same as it was in the 90’s and before. (They even discontinued one of their best fragrances – “Tricorn” – which was a sandalwood-based cologne that I’d used since 1977!)
        I think the Bee & Flower sandalwood soap is much closer to the true sandalwood aroma; maybe a little softer smelling. Very beautiful. And, of course, it’s much, much less money! (And the package is gorgeous, I think.) November 26, 2014 at 4:41pm Reply

        • Julie F: What? They discontinued Tricorn? I wore that all during high school in the 70s. Their musk oil even smelled like Tricorn – I think it was their best scent, too. What a shame. November 26, 2014 at 11:51pm Reply

          • Annette Reynolds: Julie, it makes me tear up just thinking about it… 🙁

            Would you believe I wrote a letter asking them why there was no warning that Tricorn was going away (especially to someone who’s been on their mailing list and a customer since the mid-70’s) – I sent the letter to 4 different people in the upper-echelons of the company – and I never got a single response?!

            Nice to know there was someone else out there who loved it as much as I did. November 27, 2014 at 12:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Since I learned soapmaking in the perfumery school, I really began to appreciate a well-made bar. And I’m suspicious when I see something marked too high. It’s very easy to make a good bar on a budget.

      Bee and Flower soap is up next for a review. I spotted them at the Chinese grocery store, and I loved the scents and textures. November 26, 2014 at 3:17pm Reply

      • Annette Reynolds: You’re definitely correct about the cost having nothing to do with the quality of a soap. There is a soap made in Greece by the company Papoutsanis, and my two favorite fragrances are called “Tabac” and “Magnolia.” Both are stunning. The soap is very inexpensive – large bath-sized bars run about $2.00 – and every time I unwrap one I’m transported back to Greece and my grandmother’s house.

        Can’t wait to read what you have to say about Bee & Flowers soaps! Aren’t they lovely little packages? November 26, 2014 at 4:45pm Reply

        • Claire: Thank you Annette. I can’t wait to try these Greek soaps! My family enjoyed many Greek skin care products when we were there a number of years ago, and we continue to place overseas orders for more. The power of scent to transport! November 27, 2014 at 3:44am Reply

          • Annette Reynolds: Hi Claire… Yes, for me, fragrance IS memory!

            Here’s a link to an online Greek shop that sells the Papoutsanis soaps: http://www.greekinternetmarket.com/182.html

            Although you may be able to find it as a better deal somewhere else online (I haven’t had much time to look around this morning). I think these people charge quite a bit for shipping, which is crazy.

            Anyway, if you do buy some I’d love to hear what you think of it…

            I miss Greece and ache to go back for a long visit. November 27, 2014 at 12:19pm Reply

            • Annette Reynolds: Just one more bit of information on the Papoutsanis soaps: Try www. parthenonfoods.com

              I believe they have a small discount for first-time customers! (I’ve been shopping from them for quite a few years now and have always been pleased with everything I’ve gotten.) November 27, 2014 at 12:32pm Reply

            • ~Kat: After reading your description, I tried Tabac, Musk and their Marine scented soaps…wonderful! Thanks so much for the recommendation. 🙂 February 25, 2015 at 1:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: They really are! Look like little bijoux. November 27, 2014 at 11:53am Reply

          • Annette Reynolds: Perfect description of their packaging! It’s those little touches that make even the smallest item seem a luxury. November 27, 2014 at 12:24pm Reply

      • Erry: Oohhh, I Loovee Bee and Flowers sandalwood soap. Back when I was young, it was quite easy to find, and cheap too. Now, I have to go sleuthing to find it. I haven’t had any luck in finding it but I know few stores still sell it. November 27, 2014 at 3:35pm Reply

        • Victoria: I was passing by a Chinese grocery store, and I saw them in the window. Since we talked about them a few weeks ago, I thought that it was time to try them again. November 30, 2014 at 9:35am Reply

      • Joy: Victoria-

        I so agree with you on the price of soap. I have purchased Rance’ soap, which is nice, but not worth $70-$80 for a box of six bars. It is beautifully boxed, but do I want to pay a huge amount for a box?? I get much more fun from soap bar purchases that are reasonable and have great fragrance. My favorite is Magno, but I also have always loved Maja. I think Maja is made in Mexico now.
        Joy November 28, 2014 at 3:04pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes! Maybe, it matters when you give a gift, but when I buy for myself, I mostly want a nice scent and a good lather. November 30, 2014 at 10:05am Reply

  • solanace: This sounds wonderful, I love sandalwood and can just imagine how wonderful it must be to layer this with Santal Majuscule. Thank’s for sharing this little secret, I’ll keep my eyes wide open! 🙂 November 26, 2014 at 12:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, Santal Majuscule matches it really well. And anything with rose does too. Or jasmine, for a different effect. November 26, 2014 at 3:17pm Reply

  • Julie F: Oh my gosh, I have loved this soap since the 60s. This and Bee & Flower brand were always within my/my mother’s budget as little luxury drawer sachets. When the scent in the drawer fades (after a good long while, I might add), use it as a soap, and it will scent your skin and bathroom until you’ve used it all up. It’s also my go-to add-in product if I need just a few $$ more to make a minimum purchase deal. Also love that the packaging hasn’t changed after all these years. Thanks so much for reviewing inexpensive items like this. November 26, 2014 at 12:47pm Reply

    • Karen: I was also thinking about Bee and Flower while reading the article! Such pretty packaging. November 26, 2014 at 2:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s good to know that some things stay the same. 🙂 I was at the perfume boutique here in Brussels, and they have a selection of very expensive soaps, including the ones scented with sandalwood. Well, they barely smell of anything, unlike this little bar. November 26, 2014 at 3:19pm Reply

  • Joy: I believe that I have seen this soap in a store here in Tucson where I spend winters. The air is so dry, (and cold at night), that one’s fingers crack. It will be a great soap to try.
    I love unique and interesting soaps and buy many from The Soapbar.com. She carries everything from very expensive Rance’ to Magno, Maja, (my very favorite), and Lavande. I can actually purchase some of these brands from my neighborhood CVS store.
    Whenever I travel, I enjoy visiting small grocers to discover local soaps. I always leave room in my travel bag for soap, ( though often over exceed my capacity to get this bag into the overhead bin).

    You are so right; soap can be such an inexpensive way to enjoy fragrance! November 26, 2014 at 1:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a great site! And so many tempting offers. Thank you so much, Joy. I’m really such a soap addict, but only when it comes to inexpensive soap. This is one category where I don’t see that much difference between the low and high end versions. Even inexpensive soaps can smell great and feel good on skin. November 27, 2014 at 11:10am Reply

  • Nancy A.: Hi Victoria,

    I love these little treasures not unlike finding a charming trinket in a thrift store! For a moment I thought you were sharing your find from Roger & Gallet. Since I haven’t looked for R&G”s highly scented mini soaps in a variety of scents as my collectible not only for their variety but the packaging was equally beautiful and displaying them was equal fun. Since I have sensitive skin and many times must alternate between products like Cetaphil I still enjoy a beautiful scented soap and recall the oval-shaped and embossed Sweetheart Soap (uh-oh, now I’m dating myself). Reasonably priced and highly scented my Mother would unwrap many of the modestly price soaps and place them in the drawers. For some reason she believed it held them intact until we used them as well as scent the drawer.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all — gratitude comes in many ways. November 26, 2014 at 2:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: When I helped my grandmother to clean out my great-grandmother’s closet, we discovered lots of soap that she used for scenting clothes. Some of it looked like it was bought in the 1960s! November 27, 2014 at 11:11am Reply

  • Rafael: Hi Victoria- Apropos nothing to do with this post, I wanted to reach out and ask have you been following the new Le Galion launch? Have you smelled them yet? I have it on my list for this weekend to order some samples. Imagine, Sortilege anew! We’ll see… November 26, 2014 at 2:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: Not yet! So many perfumes, so little time… November 27, 2014 at 11:11am Reply

  • Sandra: My go to bath sandalwood is samsara bath salts from Guerlian. I have had them forever and I think you can still find them on eBay. Soaking in this bath is a real treat November 26, 2014 at 3:04pm Reply

    • Sandra: And to add to this I usually light a candle and put on a rose mask (my fav is the one from Sisley- ask for a sample it’s to expensive to buy)- roses and sandalwood =bliss November 26, 2014 at 3:07pm Reply

      • Victoria: Yikes! I know what you mean about that mask. A lovely SA at my local beauty store gave me a couple of samples, and I got hooked on it. When I read the ingredient list, I see that it’s nothing that should warrant that price, but I have yet to find a less expensive version that has the same effect. November 27, 2014 at 11:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Gosh, doesn’t that sound amazing! November 27, 2014 at 11:12am Reply

  • Andy: Ever since I first became acquainted with Bois de Jasmin, it seems, I’ve been hearing the praises for these inexpensive sandalwood soaps. As I’ve been craving sandalwood lately, this was the final push I needed to finally try this soap–I just ordered two inexpensive bars from eBay, one to use, and one to store in my sweater drawer. I love to store fragrant things with my sweaters, like incense sticks. In addition to scenting the sweaters, it performs the same function as mothballs, except that the scent of incense and sandalwood is far more alluring! November 26, 2014 at 3:06pm Reply

    • Michaela: Thank you for the incense sticks tip. Good to know. November 27, 2014 at 6:16am Reply

    • Victoria: A good point about mothballs! In India, that’s such a common way to ward off vermin that I’ve started liking the scent (well, kind of, because in small quantities it smells floral), but there is no way I’d use them myself. I’d rather use your method. November 27, 2014 at 11:14am Reply

  • Aurora: Absolutely agree luxury can come with a small price tag. I too enjoy the Mysore Sandal Soap, available in many Indian shops, here in London, near the scented hair oils exactly as you mention, although I only ever see the 75g variety. I must admit in my bathroom it’s in competition with soaps from Provence. Thank you so much for having researched the origins, I didn’t know these interesting facts.

    PS I find very funny the precision ‘Export Quality’ on the package. November 26, 2014 at 3:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: Aha! I missed that on the package. So, now I’m curious how the one for the domestic market is different from what we get here. November 27, 2014 at 11:15am Reply

  • Theresa: thanks for the tip about the sandalwood soap – I will have to look for it, which means looking for an Indian grocery (I don’t know of any in my neighborhood, but this is an invitation to explore farther afield!).

    Last week I found unwrapped birch bar soaps (Well, wrapped in cellophane wrap) at a Russian grocery store, and bought a bar. I’ve been trying to find the BdJ thread where you talked about it. So far, I like the bar I have – it had a 72 imprinted in it (worn off now that I’ve used the bar) which I think has to do with its concentration. What can you tell me about Russian birch bar soaps? It was cheap – only $2, and I am inclined to buy more bars of it. November 26, 2014 at 3:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: If you find an Indian grocery, then you can also stock up on spices, because no place has spices as fresh as what an average Indian store does. And snacks! I love the crunchy spirals made out of lentil flour and scented with thyme-like ajwain seeds. They are just so addictive.

      I’m not sure what one does with the birch tar soap. I have a bar that I just smell time to time, but I’m not tempted to use it. It’s just too strong. November 27, 2014 at 11:22am Reply

  • rainboweyes: I’ve been using salt soaps in my shower routine for a while now – mostly unscented ones. They have a great hydrating effect on the skin but I miss the perfume sometimes.
    But I love scented body lotions and – my new favourite – hydrolates! A spritz of floral water on my face makes me smile every morning. Yes, sometimes it doesn’t take much to indulge in luxury… November 26, 2014 at 4:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s really wonderful. I love the floral waters too. There is a nice variety of them at the organic stores here, from rose to cornflower. November 27, 2014 at 11:22am Reply

  • Adriana: Hmmm, I love to keep those soaps between my sarees and all clothes in the cupboard, I always make sure to bring a good amount with. And in summer that sandalwood mask mixed with rose water is all one can wish for after a tiring day. See on Vicco cream as well and yes, Ayuri too has a lovely body wash plus face cream with an amazing santalwood fragrance. But surely, hardly anything bits the chandan in this soaps, agree! November 26, 2014 at 4:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ll have to smell those too! November 27, 2014 at 11:23am Reply

  • Adriana: Not to forget the Dabour hair oil which has a stunning sandal wood scent. I keep it on over night and then wash using my regular shampoo, still the fragrance stays, is just too good. November 26, 2014 at 4:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: I will definitely smell those too. Thank you, Adriana. November 27, 2014 at 11:53am Reply

  • Kandice: I love the scent of sandalwood so I will keep my eyes open for this. It’s so nice when you can find something luxurious at a great price! Thanks for letting us know about this. November 26, 2014 at 6:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: Isn’t the price great! In the US, they cost even less, I find. November 27, 2014 at 11:54am Reply

  • Tourmaline: Hi Victoria,

    You have made this soap sound so tempting that I have just ordered three bars via Amazon. I have also done an Internet search for Indian shops in local suburbs and found that there are five stores just in the suburbs close to my home. I was surprised that there were so many. I look forward to exploring a couple of these. Of course it would be Murphy’s Law that I would find the Mysore sandal soap at a cheaper price in one of the stores, now that I have been so impatient as to order it on Amazon!

    I recall using a canister of the sandalwood talc from the Nelum brand that The Blue Squid mentioned. It was richly fragrant. They also make the same talc in lavender and a rose scent that is my favourite. I must see whether I can find the sandalwood and rose soaps as well. November 26, 2014 at 8:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you will like it! It’s such a comforting scent to me. In India I visited some museum palaces where the furniture was carved out of sandalwood. Imagine that! November 27, 2014 at 11:56am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Victoria,

        That sandalwood furniture sounds amazing!

        Don’t worry; I’m fairly sure that I’ll like the soap. Quite aside from the fact that I’ve rarely met a soap that I didn’t enjoy using, I liked the Nelum sandalwood talc. Also, I use Samsara from time to time. I have a bottle of the body lotion that leaves a fragrance that is not overpowering.

        By the way, I just checked my container of Nelum rose talc and found that it is made in Malaysia. Nelum also makes an unscented talc that I always have on hand. It is great for those occasions, particularly in warm weather, when I’m wearing a subtle fragrance that I don’t want spoiled by the scent of my talc. November 28, 2014 at 4:21am Reply

        • Victoria: I love the idea of body powders, and in India I’ve used them a lot. They really feel good on skin on a hot day. November 30, 2014 at 9:56am Reply

          • Tourmaline: Hi Victoria,

            Early in December I looked for the first Indian shop on the list that I had made, but I couldn’t find it in the shopping centre where I had assumed it would be. (I should have checked the street directory first, because the street in question is very long.) Then on 9th December, I received my three bars of Mysore soap from India, in a box wrapped in fabric. As I mentioned in my comment following your holiday gift soap article, I tried the soap and was impressed by the strength of the fragrance, which grew on me.

            Then, two days before Christmas, I was in the right suburb to look for the second Indian shop on my list – “Mili’s Masala Mart”. I was amused to discover that it was on the ground floor of a building that I had worked in for five years, from 1993 to 1998! The shop had not been there back then. Of course, as I had predicted, I found the Mysore sandalwood soap for $3.25 per 150g bar, about half of what I had paid on Amazon. It was fascinating browsing through all of the Indian products, including clothes and jewellery, and I came away with another bar of the soap and a bottle of rose water for cooking.

            As the scent of the Mysore soap is so unisex, I gave one of the bars to my younger brother for Christmas as a “stocking stuffer”, and forwarded him your review. He has just reported via email that, “The sandalwood soap is luscious. And the aroma fills the bathroom! It’s big, so it should last me a couple of months.” A very gratifying assessment! December 27, 2014 at 10:12pm Reply

            • Victoria: Thank you for letting me know! And I’m so pleased that your brother liked the soap. Based on your comments, it’s clear that he is quite a scent lover. 🙂 December 28, 2014 at 10:09am Reply

              • Tourmaline: He is indeed! December 28, 2014 at 11:48pm Reply

  • Julie Demelo: Hi Victoria-
    I love, love the scent of sandalwood in the shower! A lovely review and photo. I hope I have the chance to try some. It sounds amazing. I have noticed a lot of handmade soap is being made these days, especially with goat milk. I had to try it. I agree very comforting. Additionally, I tried the frankincense & myrrh scent this month and also loved it! Best wishes to you Victoria and to all who are enjoying sandalwood. 🙂 Julie November 26, 2014 at 10:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was just browsing Beautyhabit and noticed that they started carrying goat milk soap too. And very reasonably priced too, $5-10 a bar. November 27, 2014 at 11:57am Reply

  • Rose: I love all things sandalwood. In India, a sandalwood stick and flat stone are normally used to make sandalwood paste at home– just add a few drops of water to the stone and roll the stick over it till it produces paste. It is used for religious, health and cosmetic purposes. It’s wonderful! And the Mysore Sandal soap is lovely as well.

    I currently live in Bangalore so I am spoiled when it comes to sandalwood.

    Lovely blog, by the way. 🙂 November 27, 2014 at 7:02am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re right in the center of everything sandalwood, Rose! 🙂 I love the smell of sandalwood paste mixed with rosewater. No perfume even comes close. November 27, 2014 at 11:59am Reply

    • Vetiver: My mother still does this! January 8, 2016 at 8:25pm Reply

  • Sofie: You know, I’m actually not that familiar with sandalwood. I have a lovely picture in my head of the scent but I don’t know if it is a memory or something I made up. I’ve tried Samsara a couple of times an find it a bit, well, sharp. Not at all like the warm, enveloping scent I have in mind. I will search for some soap, it sounds like the perfect cheap discovery to make myself familiar with the scent. And I do like some nice scent in the shower. Pure self indulgence. November 27, 2014 at 7:39am Reply

    • Victoria: Samsara can be a little sharp, especially to start off. The drydown is much softer, but it takes a while to get there. If you can, try the parfum or the Eau de Parfum and wait for the long drydown. There you will find lots of sandalwood. November 27, 2014 at 12:03pm Reply

      • Sofie: Oh, thank you for the tip Victoria! I will keep an eye out for those versions. November 27, 2014 at 10:25pm Reply

  • OperaFan: I just wanted to post an update – I got my soap order in the mail and used it the same day. Funny how, unlike most scented soaps, these soaps don’t have a huge “throw” when just opened out of the box. But once you start using it, it’s as if the water activated it and subtly scents the whole bathroom.

    I had ordered the Monoii soap a month or so ago and my husband found it overwhelming. He has yet to complain about this one. December 2, 2014 at 9:54am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s possible that your batch wasn’t super fresh, so, the aroma from the top layer has evaporated. But with this soap, it doesn’t matter, because as it is, it’s so strong that too fresh can be a bit much. Glad that you’re enjoying it! December 2, 2014 at 10:03am Reply

  • Chloe: Victoria, your post made me want to get this soap! Living in Toronto, I knew it wouldn’t be hard to find — there is a large Indian diaspora here and the smell of pure sandalwood is simultaneously familiar and faraway. Such bliss in this cold, snowless winter weather! Come to think of it, my mum used to use this soap, so I think I’ll get her one for her birthday (talk about cheap, cheerful, and classy … I’m so sure she’ll appreciate the sensory pleasure of the good old days).

    Thank you for this post, Victoria! I never really appreciated sandalwood — or my mum’s apparent fondness for it — until now. December 8, 2014 at 2:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a little gem, and it’s amazing that you can get it so inexpensively. Enjoy it and thank you for letting me know. December 9, 2014 at 8:46am Reply

  • Rose: I’m a big Mysore Sandalwood soap lover myself, however I must confess that recently I’ve been very disappointed for the company producing it must have made some harsh “improvements” on the exquisite smell it used to contain. I have a sample of this little gem I brought directly from Mysore two years ago and a whole pack of 10 packaged in January 2015 that smell like aldehydes compressed in a bar of soap (in other words–soap used for domestic purposes). I wonder if the smell of a soap might develop with time or is it another sad end of simple everyday luxuries… March 6, 2015 at 1:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s just too bad! My bar was purchased last year, so I will try the most recent batches and compare. March 7, 2015 at 8:47am Reply

      • Kathy: I did not notice that the post was from last year, but wanted to report that I rushed out and found the Mysore soap at our town’s Sahara Mart. (A great name, but not quite as endearing as Mili’s Masala Mart). I loved it and could smell a richer, even Samsara-like fragrance in Mysore Sandal than in another brand. I also found an incense by the same company with the same package graphics, call Mysore Sandal Agarbathies. I am glad I learned the word “agarbathies.” Thank you for taking the time to report on this budget-friendly treat. I hope the company will work to get those sandal groves restored!

        Kathy
        Bloomington, IN December 5, 2015 at 10:28pm Reply

        • Victoria: Very happy to hear this! Agarbaties come in so many scents, and yes, Mysore Sandal ones smell like a smoky version of Samsara. Enjoy your new discoveries. December 7, 2015 at 2:19pm Reply

  • Princess Tonk: Kathy, your late post inspired me to look for the soap again. It seems readily available but most packages said “superior” or “enriched” last time I looked. Since Victoria’s said “Export Quality” I was hesitant but now I found a listing for that and I ordered. Since I love Sansara, I am now eager to get my soap! Thanks. December 6, 2015 at 3:03pm Reply

    • Princess Tonk: SaMsara, of course. December 6, 2015 at 3:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: It must still be the same thing. I did notice that the fresh batches have a sharp scent that becomes warmer and rounder with time. So, if that happens to you, just stick the soap in your linen closet and forget about it for a couple of months. The perfume will become even better. December 7, 2015 at 2:25pm Reply

  • Vetiver: I am South Indian and this is the only soap I buy. It does have the authentic Mysore Sandalwood scent and is a gentle lovely bath soap. You can get it at most Indian grocery stores or online. I get mine locally and occasionally mail order the bath size. The same company does lovely Rose and Champa soaps too. January 8, 2016 at 8:25pm Reply

    • Vetiver: I also use Vicco sandalwood cream on my face. It has turmeric in it too and is just wonderful on my skin. January 8, 2016 at 8:27pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, a Champa soap sounds wonderful. January 11, 2016 at 11:10am Reply

      • Vetiver: It is! I just saw this reply-very belatedly as you can see! And Mysore Sandalwood soap remains the soap I buy most, with the exception of the rose and champa soaps I mentioned. October 30, 2017 at 12:38pm Reply

  • N: considering the new Mysore Millenium super sandal soap is 3% sandalwood oil according to a statement by the company guy in an Indian press release article, and the indian news releases say it has 5 times the sandalwood oil as the original – this soap – that would mean that this soap has .6% pure sandalwood oil. The new millenium soap (which I might probably get) costs about $20 for a 150g bar of soap. yeah expensive but it probably lasts over a year with daily use considering the 75g one I had used lasted about 7 months. November 13, 2017 at 3:10pm Reply

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