Here at Now Smell This we know it doesn't take long to spend LOTS of money on scented toiletries (I'm not talking perfume, either). I'm a big fan of fragranced bath products, and current pricing for "fine" soaps and bath gels is high. Who'd have ever thought Diptyque and Frédéric Malle would be on the bargain end of 'exclusive' bath lines? Diptyque shower gels are $44 and a bar of scented soap is $15 (reasonable!); Frédéric Malle body wash is $55.
Bath gels sell for what perfume used to cost — Hermès cleansing gel: $59; Tom Ford shower gel: $65; Bond no. 9 body wash: $75; Sisley shower gel: $85; Creed body wash: $95. Fancy soaps are less expensive to buy and go from the "low end" (Jo Malone and Atelier Cologne, $20 a bar; Hermès soap, $22; Chanel No. 5 soap, $26 per cake) to high and higher end — Bvlgari soap, $30 a bar; one Guerlain Shalimar soap, $31; Tom Ford soaps: $35 each, and, as with bath gels, Creed is most expensive at $45 per tablet (I'll pass).
Hey, Roja Dove and Clive Christian! Have you lost your nerve(s)? I was expecting over-priced bars of soap from each of you for at least $100 apiece and bath gels (with pulverized Swarovski crystals and gold leaf) for $400 in 8 oz. over-dreck-o-rated bottles!
Though I've enjoyed many of the soaps listed above (Diptyque, Hermès, Atelier Cologne and Guerlain), today I'm writing about less expensive options that deliver great lather and quality aromas.
Kappus Violet Lilac | Germany, $4: This is an old-fashioned-smelling violet and lilac glycerin soap (accent on lilac). The lilac fragrance in Violet Lilac smells just like my beloved Miss Kim lilac bush (in bloom right now).
Nesti Dante Cipresso | Italy, $10: I enjoy mellow wood scents in summer (what better time to wear sandalwood, cedar and cypress?) Cipresso is a big bar that lathers like crazy and has a lingering aroma of cypress; it smells great layered with Eaux de Cologne (I usually spray on some vintage Eau de Rochas or Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien after showering with Cipresso) or I augment the cypress with vintage English Leather cologne's sandalwood (thanks again, Angie!)
Mistral Bois de Teck | France, $11: Bois de Teck is another good option for wood-scent lovers; this bar is described as "Rich Asian teak...with warm amber, Italian bergamot, exotic patchouli, and subtlety sweet notes of tonka bean." Bois de Teck has a resinous/"resonant" quality I enjoy (and a hint of soft leather scent). And since everything 'teak" reminds me of Thailand where I saw the trees growing, I always feel in vacation-mode when I use Bois de Teck.
Saponificio Varesino Profumo Classico | Italy, $7: I've been to Italy more than any other place outside the US, and Profumo Classico replicates a vibrant/sparkling Italian Eau de Cologne...rare in a soap form. The soap smells of citrus fruit and blossoms with hints of jasmine and "tonic" (something liquor-y and sweet-herbal).
The English Soap Company Oriental Spice | England, $7: The English Soap Company makes a great variety of perfumed soaps (Acacia Honey and Midnight Bluebell are favorites). Oriental Spice is mildly spicy and well-blended: think of the scent of a chai tea mixture, with a touch of nougat-y muskiness.
Fresh Mangosteen Oval | U.S., $15: I've always loved Fresh soaps (is there a scent I've not tried?) My current Fresh favorites are Hesperides Grapefruit (a vibrant green grapefruit aroma) and Mangosteen. The rich lather of Mangosteen smells of bananas and peaches with a dollop of saucy pink guava. I've often wanted to lick this soap...or run out and buy some decadent tropical fruit ice cream after I'm finished showering with it.
Luxo Banho Nectar Oval | Portugal, $12.50: Whenever I handle fuzzy ripe peaches and apricots (please, no Freudian analysis!) I have a desire to squeeze the fruits between my fingers and render them into pulp before gobbling each soft, orange-tinted morsel. Luxo Banho's Nectar smells natural and juicy, and is not over-sweet. If you enjoy Guerlain Mitsouko, Rochas Femme or Dana Emir, Nectar would be a great accompaniment.
Floris London Edwardian Bouquet | U.K., three 100 g soaps for £23: Floris London has always been a favorite of mine for soaps (I miss their deep blue and gold packaging!) Each year they hold a big sale, and I buy so many boxes of soap I'm embarrassed to say HOW MANY. I enjoy all Floris soaps but their Rose Geranium, fabulous Stephanotis and Edwardian Bouquet are the ones I buy most. Edwardian Bouquet features notes of hyacinth, bergamot, mandarin, jasmine, rose, ylang ylang, patchouli, sandalwood, moss and musk; Edwardian Bouquet is an flower opulent arrangement and perfect for summer.
Please, share some of your favorite soap and bath gel finds! I'm always looking for a knock-your-socks off jasmine soap (indoles? YES!) and an intensely scented tuberose soap.
"Summer" started early in Seattle this year, so happy warm weather to you all!
Note: top image is Man at His Bath by Gustave Caillebotte [cropped] via Wikimedia Commons.