“I make soap” your aunt says as she hoists a colorful brick that smells of an unplacable melange of alcohol, plastic, and perhaps pine. You accept it, hesitantly, and surreptitiously head to Sephora for your favorite shower gel. This could be the image conjured by the notion of handmade skincare, but this is simply not the case with at Lyes And Lathers. Made in locally in Mechanicsburg Pennsylvania, the soaps are not only beautiful, but smell amazing, and are truly effective.
Jena, the owner and creator, respects both the science and artistry required to make soap and skincare; this dedication to research is probably the key to her success. She combines her culinary experience with her love of chemistry to create simple products, many with food-grade ingredients. She understands the interplay of her raw componentry and why it works at a much more sophisticated level than those who tout “all natural” products without being able to articulate beyond internet-derived talking points why or what chemicals they’re trying to avoid.
The first soap I tried featured a beautiful caramel and toffee color with a warm unisex sent of orange, clove, and frankincense. It seemed festive, and was frankly one of the only bars let by the time I got to her at the HBG Flea. In use, the smell is just as earthy, while swirls of black walnut and black tea exfoliate the skin subtly. The scent lingers on the skin like a sheer gauze.
I knew I needed more, especially as the soaps do not last long. This is not a mistake nor a flaw in their design. As the bars do not have preservatives, the soaps will slowly dissolve, especially if you get them very wet, like I do. On their website, they say each bar should last about 25 showers.
So back I travelled (the holiday season makes shopping easy with the seemingly perpectual string of markets to attend) to purchace two other soaps and a body butter. The first, a cedar and lime salt bar, is interesting because the inclusion of salt and activated bamboo charcoal make this soap not only firmer than the others, but more clarifying. Though many of their soaps have an exfoliating aspect, this one seems to be the most so. Perhaps those with versy sensitive skin should take pause before trying this, but I would recommend it to those who need to buff out one’s knees, feet, or elbows. The scent is clean and crisp, a good morning pick-me-up. The last soap I tried was scented by lavender, mint, and pine, with lavendar flowers strewn throughout. The most gentle of the soaps, this scent and texture were the most soft and soothing.
I have also come to love the chocolate peppermint body butter. The scent is reminiscent of a Peppermint Patty and the texture is like heavy whipped cream. It melts on ones limbs in a very satisfying way and provides long-lasting moisture, both due to the abundance of oils found in it. The smell is fantastic yet not artificial and given how cheap it is, only eight dollars, it makes this a must buy for the winter months. I still need a heavier cream for my feet and other abused body parts, but this moisturizer does wonders for my legs and arms.
Overall, the products are incredibly cost effective, proving that expensive does not necessarily mean better, as Lyes and Lathers does not spend exorbitant amounts of money on advertising as do other skincare brands. It’s really putting money straight back into the hands of the soap maker. This brand is especially close to my heart because it is local. If anyone is interested in purchasing handmade, luxury skincare, check out their etsy page or facebook for updates. I know I’ll continue stalking them on the local market circuit.