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I can't remember how I first came across this soap as some of my early experiences with L'Occitane products were disappointing insofar as their hand creams are just too rich for my skin. This is described as being extra gentle and containing Shea butter as well as lavender so try this I did and I'm so glad I have.
~ Less provincial, more Provençal ~
Lavender has a bit of an outdated rep. Mostly, I associate it with products from the likes of Yardley, Crabtree & Evelyn or Woods of Windsor. The sort of olde worlde and typically English products which seem to be marketed as much towards tourists as anything Prince George could shake a rattle at.
I have no idea whether French lavender is any the nicer than its English counterparts, but L'Occitane state that: "fine lavender or true lavender (Lamiaceae family), fills the mountains of Provence with its vibrant colour and scent, at altitudes from 600 to 1,500 meters. The Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.) label is only granted to lavender that is grown at altitudes above 800 meters, in Haute-Provence. This is the lavender of perfumers, with its small violet-blue flowers and its fine, subtle scent."
The vibrant colour has gone - this soap is white, but the scent is certainly natural and strong without being overpowering. Not only is it a true lavender scent, which is lovely from the time the paper packaging is opened, but it lasts. Not for the duration of a bath, but unlike other soaps I've bought, the scent doesn't diminish with use.
I've always bought the larger of the two sizes of this soap. The smaller 100 g size is probably better suited to face washing or hand washing, but the 250 g size is an excellent size for baths or showers and is better value for money.
~ Raising the bar ~
At 250 g this isn't little, in fact it feels a bit odd at first if you normally use daintier bars of soap. What is still surprising despite having bought this repeatedly is the quality of this soap. With other soaps, I can almost see the bar getting smaller with every use, whereas this soap just doesn't seem to get smaller. Neither does its lather ability diminish over time either. Both, I imagine are due to the soap, along with the others by L'occitane, being triple milled. Simply put, once the soap is made and dried, it then gets rolled three times between large rollers until a paste is formed which is then pressed into soap moulds, et voila: triple milled soap is created.
A fancy way of extracting more money for their products you might think, but one of the benefits of this process (which was apparently developed in France in the 18th century) is that the soap is longer lasting than other types of soap. How exactly, I don't know, but the reality is spot on.
.. are excellent. My skin sometimes feels dry thanks to factors like the summer sunshine, air conditioning or central heating over winter. Shea Butter is known for being a good moisturiser, and although I cant establish what percentage L'occitane include in this soap, I put its rich and creamy texture down to this. It's one of the best soaps I've used for leaving my skin feeling hydrated and not at all taut, which comes in handy for those times when I forget to moisturise after a bath.
Given that L'Occitane work directly with women's collectives in western Africa to gain the Shea, one disappointing aspect is that they make no mention of the source of the sodium palmate or sodium palm kernelate which are also ingredients. These may well be naturally occurring but presumably not from a sustainable source.
The rrp for the 250g soap is £7.50. For those convinced that soap is soap I beg to differ. I can pinch pennies as well as the next person but this is one item I still pay full price for. I usually buy from their shop in Bromley and signed up to their electronic newsletter with the promise of a 10% off voucher in return when I was there. They haven't overwhelmed me with spam, but the voucher did take around 2 months to arrive which seems excessive. Nevertheless, its already been used to buy three more of their soaps on my most recent visit. For anyone wanting to try this soap, I would suggest signing up to their newsletter and using the 10% voucher for the smaller 100g soap, which would then only cost £4.05.
To put the price into context, Crabtree and Evelyn sell a Lavender triple milled soap which costs £15 for three 85g bars. Korres have a Chamomile soap which is £5.50 for 125 g. L'occitane is good value in comparison.
L'Occitane Lavender Shea Butter Extra Gentle Soap is generously sized for everyday use, formulated with a 100% vegetable base and enriched with nourishing shea butter / Its gentle, non-drying lather won't disturb the skin's natural pH balance / just-washed hands are left soft, supple and comfortable / Enriched with lavender essential oil known for relaxing the body and mind accompanied by mallow extract and grape seed oil, it leaves a light scent to the skin with a soft, irresistible touch / Suitable for men, women and children, Lavender Shea Butter Extra Gentle Soap by L'Occitane gorgeously soothes and delicately perfumes the skin /