Recently, I've been lucky enough to be involved in a couple of soap swaps with some other soap bloggers from around the world. The first one was with the lovely Emily from Shieh Desigh Studio who sent me two of her fabulous soaps - Lavender Milk and Arabian Nights along with a sample of her Dark Star.
I adore her packaging - the white paper she uses is lovely, it gives the soap a very natural look. The labels are elegant and the ribbon is just plain cute (and it reminded me of my ribbons too.. great minds think alike!). The soaps are a generous size (4.5 oz or approximately 130g) and are a great shape and size to use in the shower. Once they wear down, which takes some time because they're very well cured and nice and hard, they are perfect for handsoap.
With regard to how the soaps feels in use, they stay nice and hard unlike some handmade soaps I've used in the past which have melted into nothing in a short time. Emily sent these to me about 3 weeks ago and there's still tons left. The soaps all bubbled beautifully, lots of lather, big bubbles at first and then the thick creamy bubbles that I love love love. What I really liked the most about these soaps is that they left our skin feeling soft and beautiful - I have a thing about handcream, I used to use it a LOT, since I found good handmade soaps, that doesn't happen so often.. with this soap, there is no need for a handcream afterwards, my skin felt soft, scented and really lovely.
My husband loves using handmade soaps but is VERY particular about them.. he'll give a soap a chance for maybe one or two uses, but no more if he doesn't like them (a harsh reviewer to be honest). Suffice it to say, he's still using Emily's soaps every single day! He loves the feel of the his skin afterwards. The one thing he did note was that, due to the fragrance and it's lingering nature, he wouldn't use either in the kitchen in case it scented food as he was cooking (given he's the cook in the family). I would give the soap a 10/10 for performance and skin feel.. just lovely!
Lavender Milk is a beautiful swirled light purple and white soap, fragranced with a beautiful floral Lavender. I liked it a lot, the fragrance lingers after use which I loved. Hubs wasn't so crazy about it but lavender really isn't a guys fragrance is it?
Arabian Nights was a lighter scent for me, a slightly spicy, ambery fragrance that had a lot of powdery tones ... for me, it was too light and I'm not crazy about powdery notes in fragrances (just a personal thing for me) but my husband liked it a lot. This soap has some glycerine soap embedded in it and I liked the idea of that ... it works nicely with the colour of the cold process soap. Hubs thought it was a little more drying to his hands than the Lavender Milk and we guessed it could be down to the glycerine soap? I'm not sure, I know I didn't find it drying at all. Titch (honorary daughter) loves this one and chooses it over the Lavender Milk every time. She really likes the fragrance of this one - she tends to like more spicy, unisex fragrances in general so I can see why she'd prefer this one.
Dark Star, for me, was the winner .. I adored the fragrance, lots of Star Anise EO in it which I ADORE and a blend of Cedarwood, Vanilla, Patchouli, Clary Sage, Cassia & Clove - a very complex blend that I couldn't even begin to attempt so I'm very impressed with this. I loved it ... it's spicy, strong, dark, has a slight medicinal undertone which I loved too. Hubs said it reminded him of mouthwash in the dentist but I'm guessing this is the clove (thank God he's not a perfumer is all I can say!). I just loved loved loved it... I loved the muted dark colours and, again, it was a lovely soap to use (it's the first one in the image below). Actually, for me, scent wise, it was head and shoulders above the others... more complex, more unique. I just loved it.
Thanks Emily, for swapping your soaps with me.. I'm not the greatest at reviews and can only talk about my own impressions (and those of hubs and the Titch). But it's a great big thumbs up for us for the soap in use and different reviews on the fragrances which are enitrely bases on our own tastes. None of us could agree on what was the "best" fragrance - maybe this just proves the point that what one person chooses as the best, others don't. All I know is that Dark Star is a beauty, Titch and hubs would choose Arabian Nights and I loved the Lavender Milk in the shower.
If you would like to try out any of Emily's fab soaps, you can shop online on her Etsy store at http://www.etsy.com/shop/ShiehDesignStudio (it's closed at the moment, she's currently on holidays but she'll be back in the next couple of days); you can check out her Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shieh-Design-Studio/231445363549113?ref=ts and read her blog at http://soapandrestless.blogspot.com/. Emily, you are a sweetheart and thank you SO much for giving me an opportunity to use and enjoy your beautiful soap xx