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Set Sail with the Softsoap Limited Edition Summer 2013 Body Washes


I’ve often written about the transportive  — even transcendental — power of scent, how fragrance notes are layered together like threads of fabric, woven to create a magical aromatic carpet that can usher us to the most extraordinary destinations. This summer, Softsoap explored these aromatic properties, allowing its devoted customers to transform their daily showers into indulgent experiences in which they could dream about beaches in the South Pacific, frozen piña coladas with paper umbrellas, honeysuckle-colored Chinese hibiscus blooms tucked behind sunkissed ears, and glistening grapefruit halves served for breakfast on shoreside hotel balconies. See, for Summer 2013, Softsoap introduced two new limited edition body wash scents: Pacific Sunset Refreshing Citrus and Maui Coconut Splash, each available for $3.48 at Walmart stores through September.

The two scents selected have deep-seated associations with tropical destinations. Maui Coconut Splash, of course, relies on the sweet and creamy aroma of coconut but it mixes this note with hints of lime, watery melon, and even aloe so that it never feels too heavy or saccharine but instead remains light-hearted and refreshing. I figured this would be my go-to scent given that I’m a bit nutty about coconuts, but I found that, while pleasant in its own right, this shower gel smelled less like the creamy, milky, delicious pulp inside the coconut and more like its water — and, again, even this scent was diluted a bit so that the lime notes seemed as strong as the coconut aroma. The name “Coconut Splash” is actually quite indicative since the shower gel does have the aqueous, fresh, ethereal quality of a body splash but with that hint of coconut to infuse a laid-back island charm.

As for the Softsoap Pacific Sunset Refreshing Citrus Body Wash, well, that one left me floored. As soon as you smooth it onto your skin, it immediately makes you perk up. The zesty, cheerful, mouth-watering ruby red grapefruit aroma fills the steamy bathroom and leaves your skin smelling downright edible. It’s the type of body wash that makes you feel energized first thing in the morning — even before you’ve had that morning cup of coffee. Even my boyfriend commented on how much he liked this aroma and that, in and of itself, speaks volumes since he usually just grabs whatever body wash is handy and never utters a peep about its pros or cons.

Each 18 oz. body wash has a nice consistency that’s light and a bit gel-like without being too runny, blubbery, slimy, or viscous (and let’s face it: texture can play a big role in whether we like or dislike our bath products). They both lather nicely — mainly thanks to the use of coconut-derived sodium laureth sulfate (not to be confused with sodium lauryl sulfate, a harsh detergent that can strip away the natural oils of the hair and skin), which works as a foaming agent and allows you to better distribute the product atop the skin for a deeper cleanse. Decyl glucoside, a surfactant for more sensitive skin that’s often found in many baby shampoo and detergent formulas, is also present here to complete the sudsy effect.

Now, these are billed as being “moisturizing” body washes, but I can’t say my skin has felt softer or more hydrated after using these. On the flip side, my skin also hasn’t felt dry, itchy or uncomfortable, so I’m not suggesting that the opposite is true, but my experience doesn’t necessarily support the “moisturizing” claim. A glance at the ingredients on the body wash label doesn’t point to any common hydrating agents — not shea extract, olive oil, sweet almond oil, glycerin, panthenol, green tea extract, vitamin E, soybean oil, or safflower seed oil. Then again, it seems like the only ingredients listed are chemical derivatives which could mean Softsoap didn’t wish to disclose its super-secret body wash recipe, a common enough game plan for drugstore brands albeit a frustrating one for today’s discerning customers, most of whom make important purchasing decisions based on the ingredients they read while scanning the labels of these very products.

The list of ingredients on each Softsoap Body Wash label does include artificial colors (like the ubiquitous yellow no. 5) and fragrances, so these cleansers should could potentially irritate the skin of those with known allergies to synthetic colorings and/or fragrances. Beyond these ingredients, however, nothing else listed is particularly worrisome: there’s cocomidopropyl betaine, a synthetic surfactant that can cause dermatitis in those with sensitive skin but which is considered harmless in most cases; good ol’ sodium chloride; and DMDM hydantoin, an antimicrobial formaldehyde releaser that functions as a preservative (some consider this a controversial ingredient due to its formaldehyde properties but the percentage of this substance is so small that DMDM hydantoin is generally deemed safe and, in fact, is found in most drugstore shampoos, conditioners, sunscreens, lotions, and body washes).

Overall, I’ve been really pleased with these body washes — particularly the Pacific Sunset Refreshing Citrus since the tangy ruby red grapefruit aroma remains on my skin for hours, making me daydream of sipping a Mimosa on a beach in Tahiti. And, while I didn’t find it to be particularly moisturizing, it also didn’t strip my skin of any moisture — and, besides, with as nice bit of lotion, my hydration needs were perfectly met.

Besides,  each bottle holds 18 oz. and costs less than $5 so that you can treat yourself to two vacations: one an aromatic getaway and the second a much-needed break from excessive spending on bath and body products. What’s not to love about that?

** Disclosure: In order to properly review these Softsoap products, we were sent samples of each body wash from representatives of the Colgate-Palmolive publicity department. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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