By Lisa Link
While I almost always used to prefer shower gels over bar soaps,
natural handmade soaps from independent companies, like those I
tried for this article, have really changed my mind. Unlike most
mainstream bars, these natural soaps are very gentle and
I love how soft my skin feels after I've used
them, and my skin does not get flakey in a few hours, which is
so (pleasantly) unexpected when using a bar soap. I have found,
however, that I tend to prefer the "Cold Process" soaps to the
"Milled" varieties, but that preference certainly isn't worth
quibbling over, because either type is vastly superior to most
Bar soaps also have another advantage over other types of body
cleansers: they tend to be less pricey than gels or foams, so
trying them won't strain recession-tense budgets.
Wildhaven Soap Company
Unlike even some "natural" soap makers, Wildhaven
Soap Company vows to never use artificial fragrance or dyes
in their soaps. Since there is no such thing as chocolate
essential oil, many companies use artificial fragrance oil to
scent their chocolate products.
Not so with
Wildhaven's subtle Fudge Swirl bar.
Since Wildhaven wanted a truly "all natural" product, they chose
to use only ground cocoa to scent this soap. This is a very
nice bar of soap, but I have to say that the scent is just a
little too subtle for my taste.
I could barely smell it after I had used the bar a couple of
times. However, if you are looking for a nice, all-natural
choice that will leave your skin soft, this is a good one to
I also really enjoyed two rich creations from
Yummy Chocolate Vanilla and Mocha (which has
coffee added for exfoliation). These bars sell for $4.00
Fairies Kiss has a fabulous selection of handmade
soaps, along with some creative lotions and other personal care
products. The site contains a comprehensive Buying Guide that
describes what sets Fairies Kiss products apart. Fairies Kiss
will also accept special orders for scents.
The Village Soap Shop
Village Soap Shop is located in Slavic Village, an historic
community in Cleveland, Ohio.
They are obviously proud of
their heritage and community.
Their chocolate-scented soap
is called Milkshake (and yes, it smells fabulous;) other
soaps include Joy, Praise and Faith. All soaps sell for $3.50 a
bar at VillageSoapShop.com.
Another soap maker who uses strictly natural ingredients,
including color and fragrance, is
The Soapmeister. As a result, her Cocoloco bar
($6.95) has a subtle chocolate scent. The Soapmeister
(whose real name is Cheri Marsh) is located in a small community
in Washington state.
The Soapmeister web site contains a
wealth of information about natural soap making and the benefits
of essential oils, herbs and spices. The commitment to
quality and customer service is obvious. If you're new to
the world of handmade soaps, this is a great starting place.
These soaps were all very gentle, lathered nicely, and possessed
a rich, delicious scent. If you don't mind some brown streaks in
the shower (since most of these natural varieties use natural
cocoa, in addition to or instead of chocolate fragrance oil) you
will love these soaps.
Again, these varieties are so superior to
mainstream brands, you'll be amazed at the difference in your