I'm a big fan of artisan soaps - it's been years since I bought a grocery store bar of soap, and I keep a small collection of artisan bars on hand from various interesting sources at all times. I like to use my own soap slicer to cut them into travel sized sections, so I can both stretch them out and also so I can more quickly switch out the bar I'm using, the better to enjoy their wonderful scents and textures.
So, when I first took a look at Hill Mail Order Co.'s website, I was actually overwhelmed by the huge variety of bodycare products there. In the artisan soaps section along, there were nearly 50 options to choose from. There are also many bath and shower bombs, tartlets, bath salts, scrubs etc, along with lotions, butters, and creams of all sorts. The hardest part of shopping Hill Mail Order Co. will be the resulting shopping fatique as you go through their catalog. Fortunately, they also have an Etsy Shop with a smaller and more manageable selection to choose from.
In addition, I also received a sample sized portion of Lemongrass Calendula Hard Lotion, a cupcake soap, a full sized bar of Pumpkin Eggnog seasonal soap, and two shower bombs.
I was looking at a few weeks of solid personal pampering ahead of me (the things I do for you all!).
This scent is described as
"A wonderful exotic blend of raspberry, cantaloupe, watermelon, floral, grapefruit & kumquat."
A full sized 4.5oz version of this soap is available for $5.25, and several other cupcake 'flavors' are available too. The fluffy whipped topping is sprinkled with sparkles and a 'cherry' glycerin soap topper. These would make sweet favors or small gift for a birthday or other special occasion. I couldn't bring myself to actually try out mine, so I'm going to enjoy the way it looks for awhile before I use it.
Pumpkin Eggnog Homemade Soap Bar was this fall's seasonal offer - Hill Mail Order Co. currently has similarly decorated Holiday soaps available.
With this bar, whipped soap is layered on top, sprinkled with glitter, while the bottom layer is richly scented pumpkin-colored.
This soap smells like autumn, although I get more pumpkin and cider than eggnog. The scent blend is listed as:
"This fragrance is a magical combination of creamy vanilla custard, fresh pumpkin and apple, hints of cinnamon and clove, with subtle base notes of cedar and musk."
The cedar and musk, particularly, takes this scent out of the kitchen and gives it the more interesting depth of keeping warm around a fire.
This is where I need to talk about the one thing that I noticed with every Hill Mail Order Co. soap I had the opportunity to try: these soaps lather up quickly and easily and make for a highly satisfactory washing experience.
When you first hold them, before you add water, most were so satiny smooth, I double checked a couple of them to be sure I didn't actually have a hard lotion sample. And yet, they also hold up to a good bit of use before melting away.
Overall the scents tend to be complex rather than single notes, and not overwhelmingly strong - I am mostly left with a pleasant low key scent, a top note of 'soap' scent, and a really, really good sudsy soap that leaves my skin soft and moisturized rather than feeling tacky or dry.
The sample sized soaps I received were: 2 Hearts, Apple Orchard, Bermuda Breeze, Confetti Cake, Cucumber Melon Ball, Energy, Lavender Mist, Monkey Chunk, and Patchouli.
I am not going to go through each sample I tried individually - in all cases, it was a good bar of soap with their scent qualities an evocative hint rather than something that smacks you over the head. But a few of them did stand out for me.
Bermuda Breeze was among my favorites. Jasmine and mandarin, along with a hint of the ocean made for a light whiff of summer at the beach, and the soap itself has a layer made with finely ground walnut shells that looks like the sand meeting the water.
Practically speaking, this means the bar has exfoliating properties on one end, and smooth softening soap on the other. I loved that a lot!
Energy was another soap I enjoyed a lot. This is one of those complex scent blends I'd mentioned, full of various citrus notes, along with berries, jasmine and even a touch of 'champagne'. The result really does exert a bright and cheerful 'wake up' effect in the morning shower. And the bar itself is really pretty.
Patchouli is the last one I wanted to mention - this is a scent that can be really hit or miss for people. I am in the 'love it' camp, but I do have to acknowledge that it is all too easy to leave 'earthy' behind and head straight for 'dirty'. I did not find that to be at all the case here - for starters, all of the Hill Mail Order Co.'s scents lead toward subtle, so you're not going to find this soap clashing with whatever other scents you'll have on once out of the shower, but even while using it, I found it to be a lovely balance of woodsy and spice.a
The bottom line for me with these soaps is this: if your first consideration in buying a soap bar is that it be good soap that sudses well and doesn't leave any strange residue behind, this is a great choice. If you need a good moisturizing bar, this is for you. If you want a great big bar that's going to hold up to a lot of use, these soaps are definitely for you. If you need a really strong scent in your soap this isn't for you - these are soaps, not perfumes. No one is likely to go 'hmm, what's that' when they walk into the bathroom behind you.
So select the variety you like - I tried enough to feel confident that they are all good, moisturizing soaps, so the particular blend you choose is purely a matter of taste.
I was really happy to have an opportunity to try the Lemongrass & Calendula Hard Lotion. Mine was a sample sized version that came in a little condiment container. The actual bar for sale is 4oz for 7.50. I absolutely adored this - the lemongrass provides a bright and vibrant burst of scent whenever I open the little pot and calendula does a masterful job dealing with irritated and dry skin. I use this at every opportunity. With hard lotions, you do need to take a minute or so to massage them in because you're not just moistening the top layer of your skin - this will work itself down deep to heal and hydrate your skin. I can't recommend this enough.
In fact, I had a medical appointment the other day, and two separate people commented on how very soft my skin was. I'm sold!
Now, I used to enjoy taking the occasional bath and using bath bombs, oils and other add ins, I am no longer physically able to so do. I had never tried a 'shower bomb' and was honestly pretty cynical about whether they were worth the bother. After having tried this, I think they are, at least as an occasional treat.
The way these work is to just toss them into the floor of your shower - the water will melt them before you're done, releasing their scent into the steamy air, and because it's baking soda rather than oils, it will melt cleanly and not turn the floor of your shower into a slippery, hazardous, greasy mess.
The Bay Rum Shower Bomb is a collection of spices and baking soda pressed into a puck. As it melts, the resulting scent is heady and likely to appeal to both men and women. I didn't feel like it melted too fast, nor were there any remains of it while I was gone, but it did leave a bit of residue from the spices that had to be cleaned out of the tub later. I enjoyed it very much, but would reserve it for an occasional bit of pampering.
The Black Onyx Shower Bomb is the size of a muffin and is scented with sandalwood and bergamot, and I really loved this one. It also held up long enough to enjoy, while breaking up and melting before I was done, and with this one, there was no resulting residue left behind. The baking soda actually worked to chew up a bit of conditioner residue that was making the tub a little slippery.
If you like the idea of trying a shower bomb, there are several varieties, including many that use the same scent blends as the soaps. At approximately $4.50 each, they're probably not for everytime you shower, but for special occasions, there's sure to be one that can add the right aromatherapy boost to take your shower from a part of your daily routine to an occasion of pampering.
Overall, I found every product to be of good quality and fairly prices - the selection options are so many that it's hard to even pick out what else I might like to try, but I think it is a sure bet that choosing is a matter of 'which scent blend do I want' with no worries about whether or not they'll work well.
Hill Mail Order Co. Website
Hill Mail Order Co. on Etsy
Hill Mail Order Co. on Facebook
Hill Mail Order Co. on Pinterest
Hill Mail Order Co. would like to give a prize package worth $25 that includes two of their full-sized cupcake soaps (Love Spell and Lavender Mist) and one of their Strawberries & Cream Cake Slice soaps to one of our readers and they'll also tuck in a few surprise samples! Any of these would be perfect as a gift for that special someone, but don't forget to keep one for yourself.
This giveaway is open to US RESIDENTS only and will end just before midnight ET on 12-19.
The winner will be notified by email within 24 hours after the end of the giveaway. In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.
Good luck everyone!
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