Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Review: Virginia Soaps & Scents

Some folks are just oh-so crafty. I personally have a hard time creating anything but a tidy sense of order. I used to fail art class back in school (no joke), and I can't stand getting my hands dirty for the purpose of creativity and artful expression.

I have a few uber-crafty friends who sew, knit, make candles, and are familiar with the inner workings of Michael's and JoAnn fabrics. You'd think that being a homeschooling mom, this would just somehow magically transfer over to me. But you'd be wrong.

So when I heard that as part of the TOS Crew, I'd be receiving a package from Virginia Soaps & Scents for review, my first thought was "Uh oh! I have to make soap?!"

But contrary to my initial thought, Virginia Soaps & Scents does not force the consumer to "make" their own soap but rather, they make it for you.

Owned and operated by the Spargur family, a fellow homeschooling clan located in (where else?) Virginia, Virginia Soaps & Scents produces a number of homemade "gourmet" soaps, plus lip balm, laundry soap, pet shampoo and more.

For the purpose of this review, I received one each of the following products:

  • Oatmeal, milk & honey soap
  • Fresh orange soap
  • Coconut Lemongrass soap
  • Ginger Lime Shampoo Bar
  • Laundry Soap Kit

Each of the soaps I received were the 1.75 oz "Bed & Breakfast" size samplers. Their regular sized bars are 4.75 ounces for the soap, and 5.5 oz for the Shampoo Bar.

Our Thoughts:

When I first opened my package, the family was greeted with a lovely combination of pleasing aromas. Everything smelled so good, that all five of us inhaled each bar and sighed, "Ahh....!"

Shortly thereafter, Dean and I walked outside in the backyard with the dogs. Suddenly we both paused and sniffed the air. Dean said, "Something smells good out here." I sniffed again. "Yeah, you're right. Hmm...Do you think it could be the soap?"

Since we couldn't tell if it was that or just some kind neighbor baking a fruit pie, we decided to have the kids sniff the soap and walk outside, too. You know, for scientific confirmation.

Yep. It was the soap! (Bummer about the pie though...) Moving on!

The next morning, the children and I put everything to the test, starting with the bar soap and shampoo bar.

The Soap: $4.50/each, 3/$12 or Buy 4/Get 1 Free

The soap lathers up quite nicely, and again, had a nice fragrance to it. The Fresh Orange smelled almost good enough to eat! The Oatmeal, Milk & Honey bar has a slightly rough texture that was great for exfoliation. Sierra used this one and really liked it. She said it didn't make her skin feel itchy at all, which was great.

Abby used the Fresh Orange bar and liked how it made her skin feel "soft" and "smell nice". Ethan used the Coconut Lemongrass and said it smelled "like summer time". This didn't make him break out in itchiness, either. (We all have very sensitive, eczema-riddled skin.) The only thing we didn't like was that the fragrance didn't last all day long. But that's really minor compared to not itching all day!

Shampoo Bar: $5.50

According to Mrs. Spargur, this product works so well for her that she no longer uses conditioner. Hmm...I had to test that theory out for myself.

Now with the Shampoo Bar, you have to actually RUB it on your hair. You don't lather it up in your hands. It only took a few rubs before I had a luxurious lather going on. It smelled great, rinsed well, and I skipped the conditioner as planned.

Once my hair was dry, my hair felt incredibly clean--like really, super-duper clean. Perhaps "too clean". And it didn't brush out well, either. Note to self: I'm definitely not a "skip the conditioner" kind of girl!

So the next day, I used the Shampoo Bar again, only this time adding my usual conditioning rinse.

My hair felt even worse.

I don't know what it was, but it was just not clean looking or feeling that second time around. Maybe it was the conditioner not playing well with the Shampoo bar or something. I'm not sure. All I knew was that it was definitely a ponytail day after that. (Ahem)

My daughter, Sierra also had the same results with the Shampoo Bar. In the end, we decided it was good to use maybe a once a week, to really deep-clean our hair. More than that was simply too much for our hair type.

However! All was not lost with the Shampoo Bar. It's also recommended as an all-over body bar (hair, skin, shaving), which we again, put to the test. This time? We absolutely LOVED it!

Our skin felt great; no itchiness, no redness. In fact, I think it actually improved the look of my facial skin during the few weeks I used it! My face just felt nicer after each use. Never dry or tight, nor did it break me out (a common issue with many facial products). And anything that doesn't give me a zit is worth it's weight in gold in my book!

Laundry Soap Kit: $4.95

Now, this was the product I was most looking forward to! I've been making my own laundry soap for a few months now, and had actually just ran out when this Kit arrived. (Perfect timing, eh?)

The Kit contains pre-measured amounts of grated lard soap, Borax and Washing Soda, which make a 1/2 gallon of laundry soap. All you need is a bucket and hot water!

I actually liked the way this soap turned out more than my current recipe. It turned to a nice gel consistency, whereas my current recipe didn't. ('Twas supposed to but...?). As there's no fragrance to this product, your clothes won't smell "Tide fresh", but they will indeed be clean. The cost per use comes out to about 5 cents per load, which makes this an incredibly economical option.

This Kit is perfect for those curious types who aren't ready to make a full commitment to the Homemade Laundry Soap Club.

Virginia Soaps & Scents has a variety of Samplers and Gift Baskets available, which would be perfect for your holiday shopping needs! I'm considering purchasing a few samplers to give as gifts myself. :) (Friends and family: You did NOT read that last line. Ahem.)

Their customer service is impeccable and their products are terrific. I loved how everything was so sweetly packaged, smelled great, and didn't involve me actually making soap. (Well, aside from the laundry detergent, but that's different.) Their prices are reasonable, and I am very pleased with everything I tried.

To learn more about Virginia Soaps & Scents, please visit their website by clicking here.

We're pleased to award Virginia Soaps & Scents two very happy thumbs up!

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