The art of bathing lies in cleansing the body and rejuvenating the mind. In Turkish and Moroccan hammam/bathing ritual, this is achieved by scrubbing the body with black soap in a steamed space to alleviate the stress and strains of everyday life. Some spas add scented candles for the added benefit of aromatherapy and calming effect of soft light.
In the past, luxurious bathing rituals were not limited to hammams alone but also existed in the private baths of some. Marie Antoinette was known to have a ceremonious bathing regimen and took her baths wearing a loose fitting flannel chemise created by her perfumer Fargeon so as to not expose herself to the gaze of her ladies in waiting. Marie insisted on frequent baths and her bathroom at Versailles still exists with simple dove grey walls and a sloping tiled floor for the water to drain away.
Marie commissioned soaps scented with herbs, bergamot and amber adding drops of essence of lavender or essence of lemon in her bathwater. Her baths were perfumed with sachets containing a mixture of blanched almonds, pine nuts, linseed, lily and other assorted herbs and oils were placed in earthenware dishes to purify the air. Such were the preparations for a luxurious bath.
These days washing with a bar of soap is looked upon as a luxury of the past when people pampered themselves and took time to enjoy every day experiences like reading books or sitting for meals at a beautifully laid out table.
Unwrapping a bar of soap that comes in a beautiful package and smelling the subtle scents gives us a pampered feeling, relaxing us, and for this reason bar soaps are experiencing a resurgence.
Beautifully wrapped or boxed scented soaps make great gifts for a variety of occasions and some of the boxes can be reused to store small items. Scented soap bars made from plant ingredients are more environmentally friendly and can be stored in a dresser drawer to fill it with the delicate aroma of scented soap.
Is the appeal of a bar soap nostalgic or a small bathing accessory that promises a luxurious spa like experience? In either case we can allow ourselves to be charmed by a rejuvenating cleanse with a sweet scented soap bar.
"Fragrances are imbued with the magic to transport us. In a split second, their nuances, their accents and their vibrations sweep us away into either the past or the future".
Elisabeth de Feydeau
See our Collection of scented soaps in This N That