Whatever happened to plain old soap? I’m talking about bar soap: Ivory, Dial, Dove, Irish Spring, or the Sweetheart brand my mom used to buy. You pick it up and rub it on your hands or face or your whole body, depending on what you’re up to, swoosh it around, and rinse it off.
I grew up watching commercials for these products. You want Ivory because it floats. You want Dial because it gets you clean. You want Dove because it has cream in it, and you want Irish Spring because a gorgeous Irish woman says it will make her man smell manly.
As for Sweetheart, I never saw an ad. I think it was the store brand, but I liked it, and I loved the way it had raised writing and scallops all around the oval rim. A little whittling, a little glitter, and you had an art project. Now you can buy it as “antique soap” on Ebay.
I think our Sweetheart soap was usually pink to match the bathroom tiles. Soap came in colors in the ’50s and ’60s, just like toilet paper. You could buy everything to match. Now it’s all white, and bar soap seems to be going out of style.
Back in the dark ages, we had powdered soap. I loved the way the scratchy Boraxo soap felt on my skin when I washed my hands at school. Anyone remember Ronald Reagan’s “Twenty Mule Team” Borax TV commercials? Here’s one you can watch. I don’t know what mules had to do with soap, but when you washed with that stuff, you were CLEAN.
Oh, and remember Lava? It was mud-colored and felt like it had sandpaper in it. If you used it every day, it would take your skin off. You used Lava when you got really dirty, not just averagely dirty. It’s what construction-worker dads like mine used after work.
Then liquid soap came along. I like the decorative containers, although I find the pumps frustrating. When the bottle is full, you get more soap than you want, and when it’s half empty, you have a hard time to getting it to spit out a few drops. You can certainly buy all kinds, white creamy soap, orange anti-bacterial soap, scented soaps like the coconut-lime soap I bought for the kitchen because the green color matched my décor. But I’m still using my bars of Ivory soap.
Yes, bars get gooshy. They shrink and fall apart as they get used up—but I never feel as if liquid soaps get me clean. Bacteria builds up on the soap, you say? I just read a scientific study that says bar soap is no more germy than liquid soap. Visit “Pros and Cons of Liquid Soap.”
Besides, I live alone. All the bacteria on my soap is my own bacteria.
Anyway. Now there’s this thing called “body wash.” I have a growing collection received for birthday and Christmas gifts. Because I’m a woman of a certain age, I guess folks don’t know what else to buy me and figure I’ll like the pretty packages of soaps, “crèmes” and lotions. I don’t know what to do with them. I’ve got this green puffy thing on which I can pour “body wash” and rub it all over my body. It feels good, but is it getting me clean? And why do I want to smell like ginger or mandarin oranges? I just want to smell clean, as in no smell.
Soap is rumored to dry out the skin while the creams and gels add moisture. But they also make you feel greasy. I don’t want to come out of the shower feeling like I need another shower to get clean.
Do people think I spend all day slathering stuff on myself in the shower or massaging pseudo-soap into my face? I’m a get wet-lather-rinse-get-out kind of girl. Give me a good old bar of real soap and a washcloth and I’m good to go.
If you’re looking for the perfect gift, don’t send me shower gel that smells like cookies. Send me actual cookies.
How about you? Bar soap, liquid soap or shower gel? Why? What’s your favorite brand and flavor?
Photo Copyright: mallivan / 123RF Stock Photo