Would you wipe your sides with a side of bacon? Probably not, which might be the reasoning behind the growing popularity of vegan soap, made entirely from plant-based oils instead of the sodium tallowate or fallow (read: animal fat) found in even your everyday bar of Dove or Irish Spring. If suds with grease might not sound like the healthiest option available, you might be right: vegan soaps are made with natural oils that are ample in vitamins A, E and K, per the Clear Conscience Soap Company: "These vitamins make your skin more beautiful by moisturising, preventing wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes."
But since anyone, basically, can make their own soap if they would so please, the small bar of cutely-wrapped bar of olive oil mixed with some local wood ash and nearby caustic potash has become a staple of any farmer's market or small town bookstore.
But if you're like me, you want to wash yourself with more reliable sources. Which is a reason why I throatily recommend the ol' Cedar Door Bath Supply Co: a business based out of the hearty middle land of Plymouth, Michigan. "No one ever said that soap has to be boring," their website advertises. "No, we don't use human fat like Tyler Durden," they add with folksy aplomb.
Boasting no less than ten soap collections, their latest, The Lazarus Collection, debuted this weekend and features soaps with names like "Bad Blood" and "Tupelo Honey," the latter promising the experience of "star jasmine. orange. violet. sticking your head in a beehive full of honey." But what kept me coming back wasn't the scents or smells, it was the ornately-designed bars, carefully sculpted and evoking reliefs of faraway mountain ranges.
But if you're looking for something more, uh, classic, then let me recommend to you nothing less than a brand you might have seen in the store once or twice, Dr. Bronner's All-One's collection of soaps galore. It's titular Bronner, per their own narrative, was a kind of beatnik of German-Jewish origin who preached some of kind of pantheism after leaving his homeland after finding resistance to, per the company website, his "powerful personality, Zionist ideals and ideas for modern soapmaking." That and Nazis. He later awarded himself the honorific and founded a soap company with it in the late 40s, populating its wrappers with what Mother Jones calls "rambling phrases" and "tiny, disjointed doctrines" Good stuff: Sara Lamm, who's about to come out with a documentary on sperm donation titled Thank You for Coming later this year, made a movie about it.
But is the soap any good? How do Bronner's Magic Soaps' compare to their more newfangled creations? Well! Their liquid varieties, which Cedar Door and many other vegan soap brands don't offer, are creamily potent. The scents aren't quite classic: their Eucalyptus variety has a heaviness that will remind the soaper of time spent in a hospital but their Almond and Citrus-scented blends feel like proper bath material. Sud's up!