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Savon de Marseille with crushed lavender buds

This soap is the real deal. There are any number of crushed lavender soaps on the market; this is the soap they're imitating. I'll review by criterion.

Price: This soap is definitely pricier than the likes of Dial or Zest, but I expect premium soaps to cost more than mass-produced supermarket brands. As far as premium soaps go, this is actually quite affordable, especially considering it comes in 300 gram blocks. Granted, Marseille soap is not triple milled, so it might not last as long as triple milled soaps. Having said that, considering that some very high-end triple milled soaps cost three to four times as much per unit, and do not perform any better or last all that much longer, I would say this soap is a bargain.

Quality: Very high. The crafstmanship that goes into traditional Marseille soaps is legendary, and if this soap is any indication, the legend is well founded.

Latherability: Outstanding. I lather this soap with a sea sponge and get profuse, intensely thick lather that is nearly the consistency of whipped cream. Few soaps in my collection can match this one in terms of the amount or the luxuriousness of the lather it produces.

Moisturizing: Some superfatted or emollient-added soaps I have used do a slightly better job of moisturizing, but the Marseille lavender soap still leaves my skin feeling well tended, rather than stripped. That is no mean feat, considering the simplicity of the ingredients, and that it has no added ingredients intended to moisturize. The palm-oil base of this soap has a more neutral pH than olive-oil based Marseille soaps, which helps make it less drying.

Scent: Outstanding. This soap uses only essential oil to scent, and it smells fantastic - very rich, fresh and natural. Upon opening the shipping box, I was nearly blown over by the intensity of the aroma that wafted out. Once the soap has been out in the open for a while, it mellows a bit, but its scent is still very present and nice. I have used many other crushed lavender soaps that use fragrances to scent. This soap leaves the competition in the dust.

Efficacy: It cleans well without stripping my skin. What more could I want in terms of efficacy?

Packaging: Traditional Marseille soap blocks do not come with any packaging. Having said that, the rustic look of the stamped blocks is great.

Are there any downsides? Well, there may be a few, depending on your perspective. Not everybody likes soap infused with plant particles. My girlfriend actually doesn't like this soap, because she views the lavender buds as unnecessary and "dirty." Personally I don't agree, as I find the buds to be a part of this soap's "charm," but as always, YMMV. Also, the 300g blocks are pretty big; if you have small hands, they can be a challenge to hold while lathering. Some people advocate cutting them into smaller bars, but if the soap has aged at all, it will have hardened, making it more likely to crumble when cut. Do this at your own risk. Finally, tallow lovers might balk at the fact this is a veggie-only soap. I don't consider that to be a disadvantage; I have put this soap toe-to-toe with some of the finest tallow-based soaps made, and it has held its own against all of them, and beaten many of them.

If this review seems overblown with praise, it isn't. The fact is, this is one of the few soaps I keep using over and over, and have re-purchased many times. It's that good.

Note: To my knowledge, there is only one official importer of this soap in the U.S. that distributes to various retailers, making it tricky to find if you don't know where to look. (If you know where to look online, it's easy to find.) If you would like information where to obtain this soap, please feel free to PM me. I don't want to promote any sellers in a review thread.
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