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Friday, October 30, 2009

Virginia Soaps and Scents Review

The TOS Crew was recently asked to review some products from Virginia Soaps and Scents. I was THRILLED, because in our house we have been using homemade soaps and other products for a few years, but I had not tried Virginia Soaps and Scents because they didn't exist when I first started buying homemade soaps (and now I make my own).
Virginia Soaps and Scents may seem like a strange company to ask a Crew of homeschooling product reviewers to look at, but actually its a perfect fit because VSS is a homeschooling success story. The company itself was born out of a unit study by a homeschooling family, the Spargurs. They decided to make a batch of homemade soap as a history lesson, and a passion was born. And being true homeschoolers, they decided that if they were to make a business out of this passion, they would learn to do it all themselves, and they have. Beyond making soap, they handle every aspect of the business, even down to the packaging.

We received three different products from them to review. The first was their regular bar soap. I found it to be quite attractive, and was happy to see that it was scented with real essential oils, not perfumes (although it appears some of their specialty bars are scented using fragrance oils.) I particularly liked the scent of the Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey bar. I thought the sample size is quite nice, and the soap is beautifully irregular on the top-as nice to look at as it is to use. If you haven't used a bar soap in a while, you will be surprised the difference it will make in how your skin feels, and if you've never used a homemade bar soap, then you've never experienced soap the way soap was intended to be-with all the glycerin in tact. Compared to other homemade soaps, the VSS soaps lathered with small but rich bubbles, and was perfectly fine for shaving with as well as washing. The bars are 4.5 oz each and are $4.50 for one, $12 for 3, $35 for 10, or buy 4, get one free.
We also received a sample size shampoo bar. Now again, we've been using shampoo bars for years in our house, but for most people it is a strange concept indeed. But "back in the day" there were no specific products for body vs. hair. One soap did it all. Today, most homemade shampoo bars are slightly different from homemade soaps. The process for making them is entirely the same, but soaps are often "superfatted", or left with some of the oils not converted to soap by the lye, therefore they are left suspended in the soap as moisturizers. Shampoo bars are typically not superfatted, and that's the basic difference. Shampoo bars take a bit of getting used to...when you first make the change you have to remember that you've spent a lifetime coating your hair with plastics (just look for anything in your hair products that says "vinyl") and you have to get your hair back to a natural state. Once you do that though, you'll never go back. Shampoo bars get your hair SO much cleaner, and because it is a more natural clean, you can go longer between washings and not have your hair look dirty or oily. And they travel with much less mess, especially on airplanes (as a bonus, you can carry them on in your luggage and not have to worry about liquid product limits). I liked the VSS Shampoo bar a lot, and the Coconut Lemongrass scent was nice. The 5.5 oz bar sells for $5.50, or two for $10.

Lastly, we received a sample of their homemade laundry detergent kit. Homemade laundry soap is really easy to make, but if you are at all apprehensive about it, this kit is the way to go. The instructions are easy to follow, and everything you need (except the water) is included. Their instructions are for making a gel-like liquid, although the same ingredients can be used without water as a powdered detergent. I'd never made the liquid kind, so I was excited to try this one. The advantage to the liquid is that you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to make your laundry smell good. I added a tiny amount of lavender to mine. I've been using homemade laundry soap for a while now, and their recipe is essentially the same as the one I use, so I didn't see a difference with their product, but I can tell you you will save a ton of money with homemade laundry soap, and like I said before, this kit is an easy way to start. The kit is $4.95 and will do 64-72 loads of laundry.

The bottom line to me is that the products we tried from VSS were all great. I would definitely recommend them to anyone who wanted to save money and be more natural in the way they clean themselves and their clothes. Homemade soaps typically sell for $1 and ounce or more, and their soaps are right in line with that. Plus, they look and smell nice too.

To order any of their products, or see some of the others they offer (lotions, etc.) go HERE. To read what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal disclaimer:
As a member of the TOS crew,I received 3 sample bars of soap, a shampoo bar sample, and a laundry kit free of charge in exchange for my honest review. That free product is the only "payment" I received for my opinion.

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