I love soap. I really love handmade soap. In my research for making my own soap recipes, I stumbled on Great Cakes Soap Works. I'm not sure what drew me back to Amy's blog and website over and over again. Maybe it was her tagline: A great cake of soap can cleanse your body, but only a great God can cleanse your soul. - See I John 1:9 or maybe it was just the simplicity of her soap.
Reading Amy's blog was interesting to see her transition from a palm based soap to tallow and from fragrance oils to essential oils - tallow and EO's are what I love about handmade soap. I finally decided to stop lusting after her bars online and ordered four bars. Two shower bars and two shampoo bars. I will eventually be reviewing each of the bars, plus the two sample bars that Amy sent me.
Before I start the review for the first of the four bars, just let me say this about Amy's customer service: awe.some and ah.may.zing. I ordered my bars on a Wednesday and they were in my mailbox on Saturday. I opened my box to this:
And under the handwritten note was this:
She threw in two samples of her spa bar and stress relief bar - it looks like she's reformulating a recipe! Or maybe she's just trying to sucker me into buying more soap ;)
I fell in love with the scent of sandalwood while I was in India. When I came home, I wanted sandalwood soap. I struggled with choosing this soap because the sandalwood fragrance in this soap bar is from a fragrance [read: synthetic] oil. I did some research and discovered that sandalwood essential oil is expensive - Like $60-100 per half ounce expensive (and about a half ounce is what you use per pound of soap) - so I stopped being such a snob and put the bar in my shopping cart.
This was the first soap that I used from what I ordered. In fact, I'm still using it. I had wanted to review it after one week, but... well, weird things were going on, so the review is happening at the three week mark.
Ingredients: saponified tallow, olive and coconut oils, shea butter, castor oil and kokum butter; also fresh goat’s milk, fragrance, pulverized elderberries, cocoa powder, sandalwood
Yes, it does bother me that this picture is upside down...
First Glance: This bar comes in a professional looking box, with a see-through smell-through window. I was a bit disappointed with the bar size at first (in my head, 4.5 oz is bigger). There's also some discrepancy between the box (it says 4.25oz) and the website which says 4.5 oz. I never did weigh it to see what I actually got.
Oh, my, it's a beautiful soap though! Three layers, one with just a bit of exfoliation material in one of the layers - possibly the pulverized elderberries or some sandalwood powder? I'm not sure, the bits dissolve so nicely while using it I couldn't snag one of them for a closer look. I dream of making a bar of soap this pretty. My pictures don't do it justice.
First Use: I was really happy with the lather on this bar. The bubbles are small but plentiful. The bar stayed very firm in the shower with no mushy spots or slimey stuff developing. [Note: I keep all of my bar soaps on a wire rack in the shower so that they air dry completely between uses and do not sit in water.] The bar has nice slip and worked well for shaving. It rinsed a little too clean for my liking, and I was worried about my skin being too dry afterwards.
Thoughts Overall: I almost stopped using this bar one week in - I started to break out across the top of my chest, my arms, and my back. At first I thought it was from the soap bar and a reaction to the artificial fragrance as I haven't used store bought soap or handmade soap with artificial fragrances in two years, then I discovered I had a major sinus infection [that I'm still fighting off] that likely contributed to the breakout. I said I had weird stuff going on, yeah? Anyways, after 3 weeks and no new outbreaks [getting the old outbreaks to heal is another story as my immune system right now sucks worse than a Hoover], I'm 90% certain that it was from my general health and not so much from the soap itself (although I'm not ruling out the reaction to a fragrance oil completely).
I'm super happy with the hardness of this bar, I've used up probably half the bar so I know I'll still get another few weeks out of it yet. That's a pretty good life span for a daily shower bar! I'm also still super happy with the lather in this bar, it's really nice for shaving [I also ditched shaving cream two years ago]. I'm still not digging the squeaky clean rinse that this soap leaves, but I haven't had to use moisturizer when I get out of the shower either. This soap leaves a light scent on the skin, but it doesn't linger.
Will I buy this soap again? Absolutely! Right now I'm not into making soap with goat's milk, I'm pretty happy to leave that to people who do it right. Of course, I said that about soapmaking in general about three years ago and see how that panned out for me...