Bars of hand soap are having a massive revival right now – firstly because many of us are trying to find plastic free ways to live, and secondly, because of worldwide concerns over hand hygiene following the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.
It’s also a great time to take a look back at the fascinating history of Colognes – and why we refer to fragrances as eau de toilette – scroll down for more…
We think bars of soap were well due a revival, anyway – they are an economical (they last way longer) and far more environmentally friendly way to wash, still recommended by the NHS as the best way to thoroughly clean your hands, and there are so many fabulously fragranced ones out there to choose from! Did you know many of your beloved perfumes have matching fragranced soaps, too?
Making handwashing a call to arms (well, hands), we love the retro style of this newly produced, limited edition soap. Available in twelve emblematic scents – you’re in for an olfactory surprise, as they’ll choose for you. Knowing Buly, each will be equally wonderful. The soda-free, pH-neutral soap is beautifully softening, and all profits are being donated to charity, which softened our hearts…
Buly 1803 Socially Conscious Savon Superfin, €15
The stunning Floris soap design dates back to the 1800s, and we love using this for guest bathrooms or simply for enjoying ourselves, and the scent is an absolute classic, too. Lily of the valley with soft accents of jasmine, rose and tuberose atop base notes of powdery musk, triple-milled with shea butter for a satisfyingly creamy, long-lasting lather.
Floris Lily of the Valley Luxury Soaps £23 for 3
Beautifully boxed (they make a great gift) these Penhaligon’s soaps are fragranced in honour of their matching fragrance – both dedicated to the Moon Goddess they are named for. Moonlit cool wafts of orange blossom, jasmine petals, fir balsam and soft rose make this a dreamy encounter every time you wash your hands.
Penhaligon’s Lunar Soaps £30 for 3
We absolutely love the Kukui perfume, and were thrilled when Connock London added a matching fragranced soap to their line. The signature Kukui scent – waxy gardenia, fresh bergamot, Moroccan rose, white jasmine and calla lily atop woody amber, deliciously chocolate-y vanilla absolute and tonka bean – is infused with the highly moisturising blend of Kukui oil and Shea Butter.
Connock London Kukui Oil Soap
Yardley London‘s soap-purveying heritage goes all the way back to the reign of King Charles I, and a number of their heritage fragrances are available in perfectly formed hand soaps to scent your every day with. A perennial favourite is their lavender soap, also fragranced with neroli and clary sage, geranium, sandalwood and tonka bean.
Yardley London English Lavender Soap £5.33 for 3
With all of us washing our hands more frequently than ever, these wonderful soaps are a way to keep your hands beautifully moisturised and smelling fabulous – and more than that, to turn a hum-drum exercise into a fabulously fragrant ritual to enjoy.
Indeed, the very term Eau de Toilette stems from the historic practice of washing in one’s bedroom or boudoir (before the onset of en-suites and running water). The act of of draping a cloth signified the transformation of a humble table to a dressing table. The cloth was known as the toile, then toilette and, eventually, Eau de Toilette: the very scent of a boudoir’s ablutions. Home-made soaps would have been used, but the use of Colognes were extremely popular – used for centuries as another way to keep clean and sweet-smelling (true Colognes tend to be over 70% alcohol in volume, so more beneficial to wash yourself with than un-purified water, back then).
Traditionally made with a spirit infused with a variety of herbs, usually including rosemary, Colognes are named for the hometown of perfumer Giovanni Maria Farina and date back to 1709, and were originally drunk as medicinal health-giving tonics as well as being splashed all over the body. We have a whole section of the website dedicated to delving into such fascinating historical fragrant stories, with a page revealling why Napolean ordered 162 bottles of Cologne at a time – why not saunter there now and have a scented meander?
By Suzy Nightingale