Wednesday, February 15, 2006

BATH & BODY: Bee & Flower Sandalwood Soap

What is it? Made in Shanghai, China, and wrapped in colored paper with gold seal, this bar soap has been around for years as a typical Chinese supermarket brand. Sold at a variety of shops at one time or another (think Pier 1 Imports ca. 1988), there's nothing high-priced or gimmicky about these soaps.

Why should I buy it? Has the most wonderful Chinese sandalwood (semi-sweet, woody) aroma, made with natural oils. Scents the entire bathroom and lingers on the skin. Perfectly layers with fragrances and body products. One bar lasts me a good 4-5 weeks.

Where can I buy it? A number of on-line and brick-and-mortar shops sell it, but Goddess Within seems to have the lowest price: $.63 (yes, 63 cents!) per bar (2.85 ozs)

The Bottom Line: With a variety of scents available, in perfectly kitschy packaging, Bee & Flower still ranks high as a gift worth giving. Inexpensive, wonderfully aromatic, this is a bar of soap that not only works great in the shower, but I also use it to scent drawers and closets.

Rating (out of 10): 10

Tell us about other sandalwood soaps you love!

21 comments:

Tammy said...

I have such fond memories associated with this soap! I think that it has been used in Asia for at least 100 years, too, since my grandma (who would be in her 70s today if she was still alive) used it when she was a kid in Asia. The soap does smell very beautiful, in my opinion. In fact, I'm going to run out to the nearest Vietnamese supermarket and pick one up tomorrow.

marlen said...

Tammy - I'm so happy that you know and love this soap! I bought about 10 bars the last two times I was in China and can't imagine being without it! Moreover, I'm thrilled that my blog entry spurred you to seek it out and buy a bar! Thanks for reading and posting!I'm glad you're here!

Anya said...

Marlen, forget Pier One 1988, I was buying this in the 60's from Chinese shops in Philadelphia. How exotic it was at the time, and how commonplace now!

It is lovely, as are the others in the line. I only use handmade soaps nowadays (snob!) but this holds a special place in my heart.

marlen said...

Anya - when you say handmade, do you mean your own?

katiedid said...

Have you tried Beauty Without Cruelty's? It's rather nice. There's also a nice little cheapy one by The San Francisco Soap Co. with cinnamon accents that my husband was rather keen on before we stopped being able to find it anymore 'round these parts.

I love the Bee ones though - I even like sending them as extras with packages when there's room for more than just the wee Pre de Provence ones I'm normally more keen on.

marlen said...

Katie - I don't know either of those companies, I'm afraid, will have to look into them. As for PdP, I know, thanks for introducing me! ; )

Anya said...

Oh, heck, no, I don't trust myself with lye. There are many wonderful soap makers out there nowadays, blending the softest, silkiest soaps with shea butter, macadamia nut oils, wonderful natural fragrances.

marlen said...

Anya - I hear that! An acquaintance of mine makes her own soaps out of her kitchen! I think it would be a fun hobby, though a bit pricey to start off with. Personally, I'm tired of all the essential oil soaps - everything smells bitter and harsh to me. I want to smell warm musk, aromatic greens, unusual florals...

Rue said...

Bee & Flower soap!

I have been using and loving these for ages. I always stock up at the Asian supermarket. I'm not a rose lover, as a matter of fact rose turns quite game-y on me, except for this soap and L'Ombre dans l'Eau, but I digress. My favourites are Rose and Sandalwood with an occasional dalliance with Jasmine. Need I mention the charming wrapper?

Rue said...

No matter what anyone claims, I have spent a small fortune on handmade soap and have always been underwhelmed. Essential oils are too volatile for soap. They practically evaporate on contact or worse, change or go rancid on contact from the heat. The 'soap' itself is never that good. Essential oils are not the best for cosmetics unless you use them straight out of their vials when you need them. ie: a couple drops of lavender eo in a moisturizer, eucalyptus eo in a bath, etc.

marlen said...

RUE - I'd love to try the Jasmine B&F soap! I recently discovered LUSH soaps and have really enjoyed them! Especially their honey soap. Another new favorite is La Perla Almond Blossom soap.

marlen said...

RUE - I'd love to try the Jasmine B&F soap! I recently discovered LUSH soaps and have really enjoyed them! Especially their honey soap. Another new favorite is La Perla Almond Blossom soap.

Rue said...

Check your email. :)

Anya said...

Marlen, you must try soap made by beekeepers. The honied warmth is lovely, and you'll often find a nice musky note. Look for soaps with vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood (of course, you noticed that!), ambrette seed and the like. They're natural fixatives, and any good soapmaker would know either to incorporate them to hold the more volatile notes (as in perfumery), or by themselves.

For a crisp green note, seek out violet LEAF in a soap, absolutely cucumber-y, or galbanum.

Speaking of absolutes (as in the violet leaf) they are more tenacious, for the most part, than EOs, stronger, too. Jasmine, rose absolute, osmanthus absolute, etc., all fit in this category. Most good handmade soaps aren't in stores -- shop online from soapers websites direct.

marlen said...

Anya - is Beekeepers a brand?

Lefay said...

Bee & Flower sandalwood soap has been a favorite of mind for years, though my local whole foods market doesn't carry it anymore (I'll have to try Boston's Chinatown). It is inexpensive, unpretentious, and lovely smelling. I've gotten compliments on my fragrance when I hadn't used anything except the soap.

marlen said...

Lefay - thanks for reading and posting! Glad you're here!

Anya said...

No, Marley, I merely was referring to people who keep bees and also make soap ;-) I can look up some and pass their websites on to you. Synchronistically, I received a lovely handmade bar of soap in the mail yesterday, from http://wingedseed.com It is made with beeswax (helps with the fixative powers), rose wax, rosa de mai absolute, rosa damascena otto and a lot of wonderful oils for the skin. It looks like a slab of dark ambery beeswax. I just checked Marcia's website, and the soap link isn't working. She isn't a beekeeper, BTW. I'll use the soap in my shower this morning, and see how the lathering and skin nourishing properties are. The scent is exquisite.

Rue said...

I keep coming back for the "soap p0rn"... I love soap more than I love perfume, or maybe one ties into the other. I love sampling soaps from around the world and have to repopulate my collection since, *ahem*, I used half of them up already. :)

marlen said...

Anya - thanks for the info! Keep it coming and feel free to email me with your ideas! Stay tuned for more soap reviews!

marlen said...

Rue - I'm the same, there is nothing better in the shower than a wonderful bar of soap...My tub is loaded with products...love variety! I often have 3 or 4 bars going at once!