Wembé is a new company selling all-natural soaps crafted in Paraguay. Taking the rainforest as inspiration, Wembé has concocted more than a dozen blends of fruits, flowers, cocoa butters, and plant extracts, many of them native to South America. The handmade soaps are shipped to New York and distributed from the company’s Brooklyn offices, spreading a bit of “Amazonian soul” to bathrooms throughout the city and beyond.
The word “wembé” is a variation on “guembé,” a name for the “monster fruit” trees that grow throughout the Amazon rainforest region. None of Wembé’s soaps actually include guembé fruit or leaves, but they’re packed with plenty of other lush ingredients. Of the varieties I’ve tried so far, my favorites are the Snow Cleansing Blend and the White Rose Cleansing Blend (see image below). Snow is a pure white bar that smells like peppermint, until it’s lathered up and it releases a note of eucalyptus oil. It has a gently invigorating effect, but the scent is creamy rather than full-on tingly. White Rose naturally appealed to me, since I’m such a rose-lover, and it didn’t disappoint me. The top layer of the soap contains rose petals, and the bar has a fragrance of true rose mingled with something greener and delicately earthy — maybe palmarosa, maybe geranium.
I also enjoyed Wembé’s Loofah Exfoliating Blend, which is actually a circular slice of loofah embedded in a moisturizing soap. It has a light, herbaceous fragrance (from dill essential oil) and its scrubby fibers eliminated the dry skin on my elbows and heels within a week. The catalogue goes on and on: cleansing blends with avocado, mango, or cocoa, exfoliating blends with real coconut or yerba mate, and so on. Each bar is cut in a chunky little cube that’s easy to handle, and if the other blends are anything like the ones I’ve tested, they’ll lather easily and rinse cleanly.
Wembé’s website images reminded me immediately of The Dream, a painting by the Post-Impressionist artist Henri Rousseau. Just like Rousseau’s fantastic scene, Wembé’s story brings together two worlds and offers a journey for the senses and the imagination. Sure, it's just soap, but it's an easy way to bring a exotic touch of fragrance and well-being into your day.
Each bar of soap sells for $7 through the Wembé website.