Anjolie Ayurveda's fragranced soaps are some of the prettiest-looking body products I've seen in a while. They're circular and generously sized, and they're wrapped in vibrantly colored handmade papers that are neatly pleated and sealed in the back. Anjolie's lotus motif is a reference to the company's practice of ayurveda (through formulations of beneficial herbs and natural oils) and to its manufacturing location (India, in the foothills of the Himalayas). Anjolie also hits the right notes by mentioning its commitment to fair trade practices, sustainable farming, collaboration with women-owned enterprises, and the use of facilities that provide education for their workers' children.
However, all this visual appeal and these statements of ethics wouldn't motivate me to review Anjolie Ayurveda unless the soaps themselves were enjoyable and effective products, which they definitely are. Anjolie's basic soap recipe includes glycerin, olive oil, and aloe vera, plus other cold-pressed oils; it is available in ten different scents composed from natural essences. I started with Indian Lotus, since I'm usually a floral-lover, and this soap made me realize that I'd never smelled a true lotus scent before. I expected something watery and delicate, but I was completely wrong. This soap, fragranced with Indian Lotus essential oil, gives off a sensual — even slightly narcotic — aroma. It has a floral note somewhere between jasmine and tuberose, with an animalic element behind its surface creaminess.
I also enjoyed Seven Spice, which lived up to its promise of smelling like a spice market. It has a warm, mellow scent that never turns too food-like. Its seven notes are clove, turmeric, nutmeg, star anise, fennel, cardamom, and cinnamon; this fragrance is blended so that no one particular ingredient dominates, but I did notice the cardamom and nutmeg more than some of the other notes, and I didn't detect much fennel. Lastly, I was enamored of Anjolie's Royal Saffron, Almond Milk & Honey soap. It's an opaque off-white bar, whereas the other two I tried were translucent; this one must be colored by its almond milk. Its fragrance is an ideal balance of sweetness and subtle spice (from real Kashmir saffron), and it would delight any fan of L'Artisan Parfumeur's Safran Troublant.
Lastly, do these soaps work as well as they look and smell? Indeed they do. All three soaps that I tried were exceptionally foamy, with a soft, dense lather, but they didn't feel drying to the skin. They're equally useful in the shower as body soap and at the sink as hand soap; they even work as shave creams, due to their lavish amounts of glycerin and soothing oils. It may be true that you can't always judge a book by its cover, or a soap by its packaging. In this case, however, the contents are just as pleasant to use (and inhale) as they are to behold.
Each 5.3 oz bar of Anjolie Ayurveda soap sells for $8.95 at the Anjolie Ayurveda website. A decorative gift box ($3) is available with a purchase of three soaps.
Note: image at upper right is Vishnu, Seated in the Lotus Position on a Lotus, via Wikipedia Commons.