Soap. Bit boring isn’t it? One of those things you buy out of habit because no sink should be without a bar/squirty bottle for fear visitors might conclude your home is uninhabitably unhygienic.
Since we don’t seem to be ditching the necessity for soap any time soon, is there such thing as a soap that can be a genuinely lovely gift to give, as opposed to a ‘I have no clue what to get so I got you toiletries’ gift?
Don’t get me wrong, toiletries of any kind are gratefully received and if they past the ‘I’m particular about what I use on my skin’ test then they’ve saved me a few quid on my next shop. But I have to admit to using shampoo as body wash (for fear of drying out my very long, thick, unruly hair that only behaves with expensive products), face cream as foot lotion, and of course the school raffle is always very happy with my generous donations of unopened gift sets.
Plus I’m wary of using ‘nasty’ ingredients on delicate children’s skin, and my husband James has dryer, more sensitive skin than the rest of us put together, so just ‘any old’ soap/laundry detergent/topical medication is likely to cause more problems than keep him clean and fresh.
And so we arrive at Walk Mill Botanics soaps, a selection of which I was sent to review. And let me just point out (like I may have done before) that I don’t do reviews of things I don’t think I’ll like at a glance, because I’m busy and I can’t be bothered to keep trying and writing about things I hate, simple as that.
But Walk Mill Botanics soaps caught my eye with the ‘natural’ claim, which is an overused term at best, but on further inspection on their website (link is at the end of the review) you see that self-confessed garden lover, founder and creator Vicki actually grows may of the ingredients in her own garden! Essential oils, petals, herbs, seeds, fruits and other garden goodies play a feature role in all of her products, which also include balms, bath salts, bath bombs and melts, and room sprays.
I was sent a Marigold Petal Soap, Rose, Rose Geranium & Ylang Ylang Soap, and a Bare Base (unfragranced) Soap, as well as the seasonal Christmas Hanging Soap (which I was tempted to gift as it was so pretty but later changed my mind as I wanted to use it for myself!).
For simplicity let’s look at the ingredients of the unfragranced base soap:
Water (Aqua), Olive Oil (Sodium Olivate), Coconut Oil (Sodium Cocoate), responsibly sourced Palm Oil (Sodium Palmate), Castor Oil (Sodium Castorate), Rapeseed Oil (Sodium Rapeseedate)
But wait, where is the Sodium laurel sulphate? The Formaldehyde? Parabens?
None. No chemical, artificial, man-made and possibly (if you trust the research, which I do) even cancer and other disease causing nasty’s not to mention skin irritants. Just pure, natural, wholesome and nourishing ingredients just as Mother Nature perfected them.
If you choose a fragranced soap the only additions are essential oils (pure plant oils), and the odd extra totally natural ingredient depending on which you buy such as pink clay, fruit and its peel, ground nuts or seeds, spices, herbs, honey and of course dried flower petals for decoration. Writing it like this makes them sound almost good enough to eat! (and honestly if you did, for whatever reason, you probably wouldn’t come to much harm, though I wouldn’t recommend trying!).
Each soap is clearly labelled, and each comes with a tip to help calm, restore or refresh as needed, such as breathing exercises or mindfulness, or this one which is very sensible when you’ve got lots to do:
“When does your attention dip during the day? Plan your tasks according to your energy levels – do your most challenging jobs when your attention is high. Refresh yourself by taking mini breaks, a short walk or a breath of fresh air”.
You really need to abandon any preconceptions you have a bout being soaps being a clinically scented necessity that does the job of cleaning but dries your skin out, as Walk Mill Soaps are nothing of the sort, in fact the word soap doesn’t really do them justice. Yes they clean and make you smell lovely, but rather than strip skin they feel silky and moisturising and aren’t drying at all. Far from being irritated, sensitive skins should actually improve with regular use, and even though I’ve tried ‘natural’ soaps in the past, these are the best I’ve come across so far. There’s clearly something to be said for the handmade in small batches approach, as it really does seem to make a difference to product quality.
This is impressive; the soap and gift box packaging are made from recycled cotton clothes and then embedded with flower seeds. “When you have finished with these products, you can plant the packaging in your garden, plant pot or window box, and watch the flowers grow and bloom!” Eco friendly (made using ancient, natural production processes) and you get free flowers J).
The soaps (and I imagine other products too) are lovely on their own, but for presents there are some beautifully packaged gift boxes and hampers starting at under £10 so there’s something to suit all budgets. There’s even an angel hanging soap you could put on the tree, scented with all things festive.
No more excuses to just grab the multibuy offer of generic shower gels at your local retailer then – not when luxury, handmade, natural and very kind to skin alternatives are only a click away.
Visit www.walkmillbotanics.co.uk now to get your gift sets in time for Christmas, but hurry as Vicky is going to be busy with so many orders this Christmas – choose what you want before stocks run out.