I used to have a serious soap problem. I love luxury soaps. Back in the fall of 2010, I went on a soap no-buy because I had so much soap, that I was sure I could go at least six months without buying any more. Well, after six months, I extended the no-buy because my stash was larger than I thought it was. I finally used up my last bar of soap this summer -- almost two years after starting my no-buy! (And during that time, I only broke my no-buy one time, and bought one bar of a soap that I couldn't resist getting.)
I was so excited to be able to buy luxury soaps again, and so the first soap-stop I made was at Paintbox Soapworks. I hadn't ordered from Haley's shop since January 2010, and I loved what I ordered and have been desperately working my way through my soap stash, anxiously waiting to get to a point where I had reduced my soap stash to nil and had to buy more.
Previously, I'd used her glycerine soaps in Man In The Moon, Lavender Truffle, Orange Crush, Gingermilk, Gold, Frankincense, & Myrrh, and a couple of others that I can't recall now. I also positively adored her Beet It soap, because 1) I have a bit of an obsession with beets (enough so that yes, I do have a beet tattooed on my body), and 2) the inspiration for that particular scent came from a silly beets vs. no beets debate I accidentally started in a forum conversation as a result of my passion for all things beety. I loved Hayley's glycerine soaps -- I have never encountered a simple glycerine soap before that was so highly fragrant, had a beautiful smooth surface, and with such a luxurious lather.
And so, as soon as my two-year-long soap no-buy was over, I hightailed it right for Paintbox Soapworks. I was extremely bummed to see that Beet It is no longer being sold, because to me, it's a perfect fall scent and I love its deep, shiny red color. But!!! I was super jazzed to see that Hayley had expanded her soap product line to include hot process soaps. As much as I wanted to buy all of them, I tried to limit my purchase to only two. (I'm trying to not get into a situation again where my bathroom linen closet holds a veritable Great Wall of soap.)
I placed my Paintbox Soapworks order on September 2. It shipped on September 4, and I had my order in my grubby little hands on September 6 -- seriously the fastest turnaround time ever!
This is what I found in my package:
I ordered two hot process soaps, Mandinka and Whiskers. Hayley generously included two samples of her glycerine soaps, The Queen Is Dead and Blackbird.
Mandinka - "I'm dancing the Seven Veils...a heady & exotic blend of spiced honey, carnation, sandalwood & rich saffron. Deep burgundy shot with veins of gold, Mandinka is a deep, sexy blend reminiscent of sticky incense & shifting sands. Spicy & almost edible, it lingers on the skin as a rich honeyed floral, cut through with dry sandalwood and saffron. It's heady, languid & decidedly feminine."
I had to get Mandinka not only because of how beautiful and exotic the scent description sounds, but because Mandinka is one of my favorite songs from the '80s. I've been singing it at the top of my voice in my car for ... hmm... 25 years now. Wow. Now I feel old.
Whiskers - "Dry, soft sandalwood, soothing vanilla & a trace of fresh air clinging to warm fur. Velvety soft ears. Warms paws in your lap. A small, pink nose. or a big wet one. Whiskers is dedicated to that wonderful weight of a four-legged friend curled up on the couch beside you. Bury your hands in their fur, scritch under their chins, tell them everything that's roiling around in your mind and they will sigh & purr in sympathy, contentment & adoration. Very quiet, soft & warm, Whiskers is a deeply comforting unisex scent in honor of our furry companions."
The whole idea of a soap made in honor of our four-legged friends does kind of make me think of wet dog, but I promise you -- this soap does not in any way resemble the scent of wet dog! I used it in my bath tonight, and it is such an incredibly wonderful scent; my very first thought is this is the kind of soap couples will keep stealing from each other in the shower, because it's so wonderfully unisex. It's a beautiful vanilla sandalwood scent that's wrapped up in a warm, animalic musk, with the scent of something almost leathery that makes me think of being wrapped in a blanket on a cold night, snuggled up on a leather sofa, with a warm dog or two curled up with me. I love it. Also, two hours after using it in the bath, I can still smell the scent very, very strongly on my skin -- but it's not overpoweringly unpleasant. I just love that the scent sticks to my skin!
I can't get over how pretty these two hot process soaps are. They're almost too pretty to use... almost. When the wrappings are removed, this is what they look like:
I love that aged, marbled look they both have (Mandinka on the left, Whiskers on the right. The smaller bars are The Queen Is Dead on the left and Blackbird on the right.)
The Queen Is Dead is a black soap with so much gold shimmer in it and such a beautifully smooth surface that part of me feels like it should be bezel-set and hung around my neck! Instead, I am using it as a hand soap. Here's the scent description: "The Queen is dead! Long live the Queen! Blackened honey, glossy leather & a glittering swirl of smoke rising from the earth. This is a truly wicked blend, inspired by the enormous black bees that hold forth in our garden as the earth scorches in the late summer heat. Sweet but sinister, certain not for the faint of heart, it calls to mind gothic queens with waspish waists and poisonous kisses."
I really like The Queen Is Dead. It's another unisex scent -- very leathery and semi-sweet.
Blackbird - I couldn't wait to use this one either. It's also being used as a hand soap at my bathroom sink. Here is the description for this one: "The flutter of ebony feathers, razor-sharp claws. A proud, iridescent blend of sleek lavender ruffled by dark shadows of patchouli & musk. Deep & heady & a little bit wild, Blackbird blends herbaceous lavender with dark resins, sweet tonka bean & musk, & an earthy bit of clary sage & patchouli. It's a complex, slightly masculine scent, a different & dangerous take on lavender for those brave enough to come near."
Well, I don't like lavender. It's probably my #1 most disliked fragrance, so I don't love this soap. I do love every other note in the description -- clary sage, for example, is one of my most favorite scents in the world, and I love patchouli and musks, warm creamy tonka, and resinous notes. The use of so many scent notes that I love makes this a soap that I will use until it's finished, but the presence of the lavender means I probably won't ever order a full size bar. However, as I expected, the quality of the soap itself is outstanding -- it's smooth and has such a luxurious lather.
Paintbox Soapworks' hot process soaps are nut free and vegan. Her soaps contain no SLS's, propylene glycol or parabens.
The hot process soaps are $7 for a 5 oz. bar. The full size glycerine soaps are $6 for a 6 oz. bar. You can also order a sample collection of five glycerine soaps (of your choice!) for $6.
Paintbox Soapworks also sells Sorbetto Sugar Scrubs, Solid Scent Balms, and various creams and lotions, but I have not used any of those products, so can't comment on them.
So all of that is a really long-winded way of me telling you that you need to go check out Paintbox Soaps now and order! I'm already excited to take a shower in the morning so I can use my Whiskers soap again. I'm also really tempted now to pull out Mandinka and start using it even though that would mean I'd have four soaps in use in my bathroom all at once. And once I'm done with these, I'll be going back for more, you can bet on that!