The Street Where I Live

British by birth, New Yorker by nature.

Pimp Your Shower: The Joys Of Bar Soap

Fashion & BeautyAlexandra kingComment
Photo by Peter Stackpole for LIFE Magazine.

Photo by Peter Stackpole for LIFE Magazine.

Hey, do you use bar soap? I didn't for years, having always found soap bars to be a little yucky. They just reminded me of Primary School, and the sad little soapy remnants that were always perched on the edge of those inexplicably low sinks. Those soap bars were always small and misshapen and dirty white, with thick mucky scratches of black and remnants of the last user's sud bubbles on top. For this (already) fully fledged germaphobe it felt pretty gross, like I was rolling my hands in someone else's faintly perfumed microbes. I still feel this way about bar soap in public bathrooms, but for years i've searched for a good soap bar for my shower, one that leaves a scent as long lasting and warming as shower gel does, and, most importantly, doesn't dry my sensitive skin out completely.

Annoyingly though, none of the regular drug store bar soap culprits seemed to work for me. I went gaga for those beautifully packaged Italian soaps that you can buy in Liberty which made me smell like an expensive Milanese old lady (I actually really liked this) but left my skin more reminiscent of an eczema-plagued Iguana. Brands that claimed to have added moisture also seemed to have no effect on me. And even once I'd worked out that natural products free from the parabens and sulphates that can be so drying worked best for my skin, I still couldn't find a soap that made my heart sing and my skin truly happy.

woodland soap, river soap company


I'd all but given up on bar soap, until by chance I found this brand, River Soap Company, at my local health store, and all was truly forgiven. River Soap, a company based out of West Sonoma California, use an old family recipe for their wares. All of their soaps are USA made, naturally scented with pure essential oils and triple milled, so they last for a super long time and magically keep their form, meaning that you don't get any of that gooey mess usually left behind in your soap dish. The scents seriously last on the skin, and each bar costs less than 5 dollars a piece (sings hallelujah). I've gone wild so far for the Vetiver and Sandalwood scents, but my absolute favourite is Woodland, which contains little tea leaves that give you a gentle exfoliation, and smells so good that it feels as if you're bathing, like some sort of urban Titania, in a forest grove. it's also unisex, comes in simple recyclable packaging and lasts twice as long as a bottle of shower gel. You can find stockists here. You can also find River Soap on Amazon and on the company's own website.

Do it. There's something so methodical and loving about a careful bar soap scrub from feet to thighs to face. When you move your soap in small round motions, you're also giving yourself a DIY lymphatic massage that wakes you up for the day. What are you waiting for? Ditch your yucky chemical shower gel and run to the bar (of soap).

Do you have any natural soap brands that you recommend? I'd love to hear....