Editor's Note: After we reviewed Portland-based Schmidt's Naturals wonderful deodorant a couple months ago, they sent us some of their bar soaps to test. Below, you'll find Lauren's experience with her soaps, followed by mine.
I typically buy liquid body wash. And based on the dozens of options for body wash brands and scents across from the shampoo racks in the grocery store, so does the rest of America. If you want an alternative, it takes a few minutes to find the tiny portion of a single shelf dedicated to old-fashioned bars of soap. But after trying Schmidt's Naturals bar soaps, I was reminded that quantity doesn't always mean quality.
Personally, I use one of those scratchy washcloths from an asian food store (Fubonn if I'm name-droppin). They exfoliate and make skin feel squeaky clean, but don't always hold liquid soap very well. An enormous bottle of body wash isn't much better value than a bar if you need a couple handfuls to get clean per shower. Just a couple swipes of Schmidt's soap bar in my washcloth and the rich lather lasted through the time it took to scrub down/mentally review Christmas shopping to-do's. The ylang-ylang chamomile scent is floral without being sticky-sweet, and they carry soap in other familiar scents like the crisp, outdoorsy cedarwood-juniper and bergamot-lime from their deodorant collections. Like their deodorants, there aren't any detergents, artificial fragrance or dyes present, and unlike body wash, there's no plastic packaging or added preservatives for commercial-friendly, syrupy consistency.
I think we all keep buying body wash because it's what is most available, in the largest selection, and there's always something new to try. But when it comes to basics like soap, there's a lot to be said in favor of returning to the effectiveness of the classic bar style. LAUREN TERRY.
Lauren took her bars to the shower, but I happened to be running out of handwash as I got my bar of Schmidt's Cedarwood and Juniper, and I've been using it for the last few weeks since.
First thing's first: These are some very pretty bars of soap. The Cedarwood and Juniper is a dark, almost black purple, and it looks very stately as it sits in the glass soap dish next to the sink. The scent is gently masculine—certainly more cedar than juniper—and the soap thankfully doesn't develop the gross soap slime that many "artisanal" brands and small batch bars do after sitting damp for a couple of days. As far as all of that is concerned, I'm a fan.
But there is one downside, which is that following a vigorous washing of the hands, my sink gets speckled with tiny purple flecks of soap detrius. It's not a big downside: I'm not fancy, and a rinse usually gets rid of most of them. Yet, if you're fastidious about keeping your sink clean, you'll likely be more than a little annoyed at having your sink end up messier than your hands after the wash.
Luckily, the solution is easy: Buy one of the bars that doesn't look like an enormous hulk of amethyst. WALKER MACMURDO.
(Cool Stuff is a new feature at Willamette Week where we feature product reviews, roundups, sales and other commerce and shopping-oriented content. All Cool Stuff reviews are editorially independent, meaning we provide honest reviews and aren't paid by the brands we write about. If you do choose to purchase something after following one of our links, Willamette Week may receive a commission, which helps fund our journalism.)