Spring cleaning shouldn’t stop with the house. Read on for New York City’s best purveyors of housemade, artisanal soaps. By Jessica Allen.
More: NYC’s 5 Best Cleanses
Made from olive oil and glycerin, Soapology soaps come in standard rectangles or cut and sold by the ounce, scented with lavender or cucumber, among other ingredients. There’s a huge selection of specialty cleansers here as well, including shower gels in scents like water lily and jasmine or tobacco and caramel. At the little West Village store, you can also custom-make your very own specialty oil at the aromatic oil bar, and you just might get a free treatment or demo.
No matter the scent or color, the soaps Vivi Dristas makes by hand and sells in a tiny store in Astoria display the same three characteristics, which she feels to be the most important when it comes to soap: hardness, cleansing power, and moisture. Types on offer range from Egyptian geranium to lemongrass. The “stinky foot bar,” marketed for both humans and dogs, blends tea tree and peppermint to combat fungus and repel smells, perfect for flip-flop season.
More than 160 years ago, Kiehl’s was founded as an apothecary, dispensing beauty cures, medical treatments, and general care to the East Village. The trend continues, only the staff’s reach now extends far beyond the borders of Fourteenth and Houston streets. Its Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap contains oatmeal and bran to slough off the tough stuff, leaving behind a glowing softness. Follow with Kiehl’s best-selling Creme de Corps body lotion.
Specializing in sustainable, organic, homemade products for the house and body, skinnyskinny’s products are beautifully wrapped in reclaimed, recycled, eco-friendly papers. You almost don’t want to open them. But you should. Basil and mint is good for combination skin, while lavender and black pepper adds spicy complexity to any bath or shower.
Saipua has an advantage over the other spots on this list: namely, its very own flower farm in Albany. The Red Hook store sells both flowers and intoxicating, small batch, olive oil-based soaps (“saipua” comes from the word for soap in Finnish), made with food-grade extracts, herbs, and other ingredients. Saltwater, a best-seller, mixes nori seaweed and crushed sea salt, with hints of rosemary and various essential oils. Clary sage contains dill weed and patchouli, for an earthy, almost musty finish.