I just got stuck downstairs thanks to a fire alarm and the lifts not working so I took the opportunity to go buy some soap as the cupboard at home is bare.

I tried Stenders, one of those trendy shops selling blocks of soap handmade by lesser known European Royalty and full of magic ingredients such as Unicorn sperm, fairy snot and magic strawberries. It looks fine, smells good too but it costs 19 PLN for a small slice (100 g).


This seemed like too much money for soap, so I moved around the corner to Body Shop. Their soaps are not quite as trendy but very good for the planet. They are made from ingredients like sweat scraped from the back of toiling African farmers or triple recycled Yak’s milk. Their soap was priced at 14 PLN for about the same amount as Stenders and I was beginning to think I’d spent my life seriously underestimating the cost of soap.


Undeterred, I moved on to Super-Pharm, home of cheap stuff! In there I found some Nivea Care Soap, attractively packaged in 90g chunks and it even has funky ingredients like green tea, chamomile and strawberry. This is priced at 1.39 PLN so I bought six of them and still paid less than for one bar from either of the other places.


I have to conclude that the Stenders or Body Shop soaps are only for putting in the guest toilet and not for daily use. “Did you see that soap in the toilet? Why that must cost all of 19 PLN a bar!”. My skin really isn’t that fussy.

My favourite two soaps are both British and have stood the test of time but not yet made the leap to Polish soil; Pears (since 1789) and Wrights Coal Tar Soap (since 1860). I hope I never see these companies on the growing list of icons of the British Empire to fall victim of the munch-crunch and its bastard sons; firms such as Woolworths, Waterstone/Wedgewood & MFI to name but a few..

pears1 wrights_coal_tar_soap_original

They both smell good, although Wrights smells as though it will strip your outer layer of skin with one application. More importantly, they both last a long time and don’t leave a sea of soggy paste behind – not things I expect to be able to say about the Nivea stuff. For what it’s worth, a bath size bar (125g) of Pears will cost you the equivalent of 3.50 PLN in the UK and 125g of Wrights is 2.62 PLN. I always thought these were expensive soaps but now I know better!

For something as simple as soap, I find these massive differences quite amazing.


24 thoughts on “Soap

  1. Sth what has in its ingredients fairy snot and Unicorn sperm have to cost 19 zł (especially when it’s hand made). With Unicorn sperm it should cost even 190 zł as I’m sure it’ll be sold as an aphrodisiac with a slogan “Your corn will be EUni”* or “You will be united like never before”*!


    *All rights reserved for MaterialGirl, who wants to buy a license – Scatts know my e-mail

  2. I am most surprised. I have found that once any lady I know discovers Dove soap they never buy, or permit me to buy, anything else.

  3. I just bought Nivea soap this morning! Dove is nice too but sometimes causes sensitivity (too cloying and rich). Pears soap is one of my favourite smells ever, can you get it over here??

  4. I’ve bought Pears once over here but as usual they had quadrupled the price because only foreign types bought it!

    Try comparing the prices of shortbread biscuits, the Scottish type, in any shop that sells them versus in M&S here if you want another example of being ripped off for being foreign.

    guest – I have dry skin anyway!

    Ad – we tried Dove soap but it turns into liquid after a very short time.

  5. We don’t have Nivea soap here. (and they disc other products I use for face…Grrr) I use Safeguard. Not too long ago it was made into the shape of what looked like a bone to me. So I wrote and complained that I don’t like showering with a doggie bone. They told me that the reason was for the handicapped. I told them don’t fix something that ain’t broke. A handicapped person cannot hold onto a slipepry wet bar of soap any better than I can. Soon the shape was back to the original. Yeahhhh!!!!

  6. What fire alarm??? I wondered why the office was so quiet mid-afternoon…!

    Liquid soap works best for us, the kids like squirting it which is the only way they’ll us it. One day we’ll be able to buy some of the high-end quality soaps again.

    Oh dear, you fell for the colourfully packaged ones from the huge conglomerate. What weakness! (although Nivea ‘Rose-Blossom and Cream’ Care Soap sounds particularly soothing!).

    When was the last time you bought Pears and Wrights Coal Tar Soap? Sounds like the kinda stuff my grandmother used to wash out my mouth as a kid when I swore!! Eugh!

  7. I actually like this brand for the scent as well as the ultra-corny commercial from 1980.

    I’m sure most Americans think it comes from Ireland. And yeah, Pear’s is good too. I will ignore the bone-shaped soap issue.

  8. Oh yes, famous “Mydełko Fa” Siabada siabada siabada Ty i ja i mydełko Fa, none of the wedding party couldn’t had place without music band playing it. :D

    There’s also good Jan Izydor Sztaudynger epigram/facetious verse=fraszka:
    “Myjcie się dziewczyny, bo nie znacie dnia, ani godziny!”
    ~=”Wash yourselves girls!, (because) you don’t know day, nor hour”.

  9. It most definitely does look like a dog bone, Chris!

    Go buy some of that lye soap that’s being advertised above. Looks good and it is an all American product!

  10. Fascinating subject;)

    I’, waiting for about shaving creams:) I wonder if you found anything better than Wars… Nothing beats Wars, seriously – Biotherm and Clarins mogą się schować.

  11. My father prefered “Brutal”, so we used to say to him: “Don’t be brutal after “Brutal””! :D

  12. “it even has funky ingredients like green tea, chamomile and strawberry”

    They just write these ingredients on the package.
    Unlike “dumb expensive soap” :)

  13. The main differences in soaps are the ingredients, but please educate yourselves from the scientific databases, and sites available, which ingredients are known toxics and hazardous. MOST of the commercial soaps have in them proven or suspect toxins. The handmade soap appears expensive because most of us are only accustomed to buying the cheap commercial soaps which cost maybe not even one cent for the companies to make. The profit margins of these products are very very high, whereas the profit margiins of the handmade soap are far far lower. Soap is like cheese or wines or chocolates. So you can drink your one dollar wine from a box, eat your processed orange cheese single from its plastic, and celebrate your birthday at a fast food place or you can buy a lovely cava or wine, eat a fresh made organic and whole foods delicious dinner made by hand with love. Soap is just the same. The MOST important thing is to LOOK at the ingredients. Healthy pure non toxic soap should only contain natural oils, essential oils, and food things, with the exception of lye,,, sodium hydroxide,,, which makes the oil go into soap and which is completely out of the soap by the time it is cured. See whatever you put on your skin enters the system even more directly than if you eat something. You should not put something of your skin, that you would not eat. I am a soap maker as a hobby and work as a senior environmental consultant for the United Nations, which I have been doing for 25 years about. I think ONE of the reasons so many young and old get cancer is indeed because of the pervasive and consistent use of chemicals and the very common ones we breath in, ingest when eating or put on our skin, are likely in the first lines of suspects. The pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industries have some of, if not the, highest profit margins in the world, and just like the oil companies, they are not so easily going to give up their huge profits just because the things they use are killing the planet, its plants and animals…. and its peoples. Alot of habits we humans have are not so good for the people, planets, plants and animals and we CAN and ARE changing… so let us start by using safer healthier AND NICER feeling smelling etc products. Money is already meaning less and less in our world. When we align with nature and natural ways, and when we share and cooperate more, we WILL be even more abundant than now. That is what most people do not understand. So when that organic rice of natural soap seems ¨expensive¨, yet is still lower than a pack of cigarettes, or a cocktail at the club….perhaps look into your priorities. And please everybody become a Climate Neutral Leader, or none of this is going to matter within our childrens and grnadchildrens lifetime. Thank you

  14. I agree with Mary, these commercial soaps are full of toxins, all your body products are and the food you eat. Go organic and make your own products, it works out cheaper and can be made in a few minutes. I make my own shampoo, shower gels, hand washes and as a moisturiser I either use organic olive oil or home made creams using organic raw shea butter which I purchase form the Akoma website. I know exactly what is going into my products and what i’m putting onto and into my skin and body. Read the list of chemicals on your products and then look up these toxic chemicals on line.

  15. “I hope I never see these companies on the growing list of icons of the British Empire to fall victim of the munch-crunch and its bastard sons; firms such as Woolworths, Waterstone/Wedgewood & MFI to name but a few…” It happened, you know. I am so sorry.

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