Growing up with sensitive skin, it was always a challenge to find soaps, lotions, and sun screens that would work with my body, and not elicit a crazy, red rash. Along the route of growing up and getting interested in wilderness survival, I learned the relatively simple and fascinating trade of making soap. Before I had kids, I would make soap by hand from such easy ingredients as olive oil, lye, deer tallow, beeswax, and essential oils. However, since my second son was born and I returned to a full-time teaching career, buying soaps became so much faster and took one more task off my plate at home. Lately, however, our hard water combined with the dryness of winter in the arid Black Hills has left my skin in a less-than-optimal condition. I decided if I didn’t have the time or inkling to make soap right now, I’d better ditch the generic soap from the convenience store shelf and get something better.
I came upon Cabin Fever Mercantile first on Instagram, where I often find smaller, yet friendlier, businesses who are tailored to my wants and needs. If you’ve never looked for a brand on Instagram before, type in a search term for the product you are seeking, and anyone who posts photos in that category will pop up before you, allowing you to browse products and companies at your leisure. On this occasion, I was actually not even searching for the soap directly, but I saw Tracy Lanktree’s profile, rockymtnhigh40, come through on “suggested” profiles to follow, and so I checked her out! Needless to say, I followed the link to her Etsy shop (www.etsy.com/shop/TracyLanktree) for Cabin Fever Mercantile, and got excited to find handmade soaps, knitted wearables, and more! Being ready for a few new bars of soap, I placed an order for her Oatmeal, Milk, & Honey bar and her White Tea & Ginger bars.
The order arrived in two days from Oklahoma, and that night I took the Oatmeal bar into the shower, and put the White Tea & Ginger bar at my master bath sink. Here’s what I LOVE about these soaps:
- Scent and Feel. The scents are from all natural sources, which means I can smell great stepping out of the shower without that infamous red rash exploding all over my skin. The Oatmeal bar also contains Vitamin E oil and Coconut oil to smooth things out. The ground oatmeal in the bar created a nice loofa effect when I used it in the shower, which I like to have on my arms and face. The fragrances in the White Tea bar are light enough not to overpower your bathroom when you wash with it, but leave your skin smelling wonderful.
- Natural, organic ingredients. Oatmeal. Honey. Ginger. Olive Oil. Nothing on the label that I can’t pronounce, and most of the items I would actually consume in a normal week! Did you know that most bar soaps on the market REMOVE the natural glycerin that is inherent in soap, just so your skin dries out and you need to buy lotion to return the glycerin back to your skin? Talk about a marketing ploy! The ingredients in these bars from Tracy contain all the skin-nourishing goodness you would expect to come from nature.
- Lather. So often, I find that “handmade” soaps lack a little bit of foaming action. Mostly, this is because they do not contain those lathering ingredients that Americans think means “clean”. Well, it’s truly not the lather that cleanses as that has been added in over time, but our minds have been tricked into thinking lather is necessary to become clean. However, with both the Oatmeal bar and the White Tea bar, I found there was plenty enough lather to please my mind AND my body!
- Size. The price for these bars are $6.50 each. Usually that means you get one bar’s worth for that price. When the bars arrived, I found the them to be very large, enough so that I split the Oatmeal bar in half, creating two bars – one for each bathroom in my house! When I buy soap bars at the store, I get just about the same amount of soap for the price. A 2-pack of castile soap tends to run around $6 locally. Thanks, Tracy!
Did I find any downside to these soaps? None other than the need to buy more because everyone in my house wants to use them every time they wash, so they are disappearing fast! If you are in the market for some soap, check out Tracy’s Etsy shop and see all the other goodies she carries, from laundry soap to scarves, gloves, wraps, and even pet products!