Before I was thirteen, soap wasn’t something you purchased in our house to smell nice or improve your complexion. It was all about getting off the dirt and lasting as long as possible. With a four or more people living in our house at any one time, and one bathroom, bars were shared by all. Soap dishes were utilitarian, typically wire, so the soap did not turn into a puddle of mush. If our father of the moment was doing something requiring extreme scrubbing, we typically all got to bathe with Lava brand that week. If there was a new baby in the house, we got unscented yellowish castile soap that came in plain waxy wrappers. On rare occasions, a bar of Ivory would show up to encourage my little brothers to bathe longer (it floated so they played in the tub, using the bar as a makeshift boat).
And then one day, a lovely bar showed up that was gently curved and smelled quite nice. It fit perfect in the hand and had the most gentle lather. My mom used it on her face and we were NOT allowed to use it in the bath or for our own faces. My memory doesn’t go back well enough to recall the brand but it wouldn’t have been expensive. I remember watching her wash off makeup at the end of the day, working up a lovely suds and spending a good deal of time rubbing her face in gentle circles from forehead to chin. My mom worked very hard at a local sewing factory. Our house was largely filled with men and boys. Carving out that little beauty routine for herself was no doubt a minor miracle.
When I am making my soaps, I often think of who will be using them. Will they be carving out their own beauty routines, finding ways to soothe their bodies and souls at the end of long difficult days? Will they be preparing to celebrate a special time and taking a few minutes to smell and feel extra luxurious with softly scented suds? Will they just be getting ready to go to bed and using one of my soaps to cleanse off the grime of the day before much needed restful sleep? or bathing a rambunctious little one and using the time to calm them down and get them ready for pleasant dreams? It gives me great pleasure to think of people using my little bars of happy!