Bathing, a necessity, a routine. We do it without much thought, but know it’s a must. This otherwise tiresome chore is transformed into an exhilarating experience by something so simple, soap.

What was the first soap you recollect using? For me, it was the cream colored Cusson’s Imperial Lather with a red packaging. Yes, I am surprised I remember all those details including the manufacturing companies, but that my friends is the power of advertising. It was among those constantly featured commercials in almost every evening soap opera and programming watched during my childhood.

Sometimes I wonder what or who influenced he purchase of which soap we used (my father did the household goods shopping in those days). One thing I know for sure is those TV soaps made me feel special. If the beautiful people in those commercials were using it, then I was of that same caliber. Of course there were other TV soaps from time to time- Joy with the Joy Girl commercial, Lux with their beauty queens, and Premier with its constant change of colors, sizes, wrappers, and fragrances. I loved it all, the scents, the songs, the soaps.

I never gave much thought to the difference in pricing (I obviously lacked purchasing power) when compared to other soaps sold in my neighborhood shops. However, I do remember some soaps were sold without wrappers/a packaging. These were the ones approved in my household for dishwashing. Dull yellow and eeky green were their colors. With names such as Okin, it is of little wonder why they didn’t capture my childhood heart.

The transition from childhood to adolescence, homebound to boarding school saw an introduction to an even wider array of soaps and fragrances than I could have ever imagined. Sadly, it was goodbye to my darling scented soaps for me at least during the first couple of years. The climate was going to be harsher I was told, shared bathrooms, shared germs, and I was in dire need of protection. Thus came along Delta, Dettol, Tetmosol, and the like. For some inexplicable reason, they were either colored yellow or green. Just like Okin. As we, new school recruits hit the showers each morning, I realized that I didn’t have to smell like the freshly scrubbed floors of a general hospital to be clean.

Camay, Irish Spring, Zest, Tone, Pears and a host of others gave a bit of themselves as the girls lathered. I was stunned by the endless alternatives as they came in bar and liquid forms, local and imported. The curious child in some of us saw the proliferation of soap exchanges. Here is a scenario. Your parents packed the required 6 bars of soap for you. You decide to locate another girl who uses a soap you consider exotic. You give her one of yours and she gives you one of hers and you both get to sample something different. Or another scenario. You run out of soap right in the middle of a school term and turn to a friend to bail you out. She gives you some of her stock and once more you get to try a different scent.

I recall a girl in the dorm who always had a particular brand of soap in great quantity. It was a black, rock solid soap that appalled many. I guess that was my first introduction to never judge a soap by its color because the undeniable fact was that her skin glowed. I did experiment with that soap and even got my father to purchase more, but I lost interest quickly when my soap continually leaked black liquid and soiled the other items in my shower caddy. I considered that a miss, but they were hits I did try, Irish Spring being one.

You could smell the fragrance miles away. Whether it was the Original or Aloe, Sport or Icy Blast fragrance, that soap had appeal. Of course it was more expensive, but it was goodbye to the likes of Imperial Lather and Tetmosol once I caught the bug. I think my father complained about the price difference and something to the effect of having a different financial standing than my classmates, but I am sure you are aware of the fact that not all soaps are equal. And when you are in an environment that good personal hygiene together with good scents put you in a favorable light, it’s time to change your game.

During the soap revolution, thing were changing on the homefront too. My sisters were getting older and with age comes a change of taste, needs, and scent. There was the translucent Eden bar and for those who were hoping for a lighter and brighter complexion, Skin Success and Fair & White showed up. The stakes were high and beauty was what they were after. Being younger than them, I observed silently. I don’t know if this is a safe platform to confess that I did try one or two of those beauty promising soaps, and for all the times I denied using them, well, you now know the truth.

This revolution was also happening in my schoolmates’ homes as some of them returned in senior year with skin lightening soaps and boy did they get lighter. I don’t think we judged it as being a good or bad thing then, it was more like something else to talk about. Wow!!! Did you notice that Bubbles went from black to white overnight? Something along those lines.

There was also the introduction of exfoliating soaps. Did you know that the tiny dots on this soap can strip off dead old skin cells and reveal the new and brighter you? Really! Let me try it. My favorite was the Dove brand with its white and light blue packaging, and of course, delightful scent.  I doubt if the soap revolution was something we intended to happen, but like one of those we-didn’t-ask-for-what-we-got experiences, it happened.

Now, as I walk through aisles, I see soaps and remember people. I inhale the scents of suds and revisit places. Sometimes, I think it is weird, other times it reminds me of the journey so far. How I went from that child eager to try all sweet-smelling, beauty promising soaps to the unqualified scientist who reads soap labels, crosschecks ingredients, and is content with dipping her hand into a jar of black soap made in Ghana, creating new memories with EverFresh.

How about you though? Which are your favorite soaps and why?

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