Sep 20, 2018

A retro review of old school bar soaps

by Darrin Vindiola

This is a review I wrote awhile back, where I compared three retro bar soaps.  I thought the three brand of soaps below appropriate to review, because all of them have been around for as long as I can remember.  The review is a culmination of about one month's research.  I came to my final determinations by showering daily with each individual brand, until the bar was rendered useless.  When the soap was no longer usable, I then moved onto the next brand of soap, noting comparisons and differences during the duration of usage.  Enjoy..


 cost: $4.00 for 8 bars
produced by the Dial corporation

Back in the day, COAST was referred to as "The eye opener soap", and I've got to say.. this statement isn't too far off the mark.  The soap has a light and airy scent that definitely helped to awaken my senses first thing in the morning.  The suds this soap produced were abundant to say the least. The nice curved bar makes it easy to hold, and clean yourself effortlessly.

After drying off from my showers with this soap, I could faintly smell it on my skin, but not for very long.  This was quite surprising for a soap that has such a bold scent straight out of the gate.  I was sure the smell would prominently linger on my skin for quite some time.. but it didn't.  Being a deodorant soap however, it did its job efficiently and worked quite well, even during long days that included afternoon bike rides.

I also used this soap for my hands after working with greasy bicycle parts.  While I required a bristle brush to remove a few stubborn grease spots.. the soap did a bang up job of getting my hands spotless.  In the end, this bar of soap lasted exactly 7 days.  When the eighth day arrived and I entered the shower only to find a piece of soap the size of a quarter, I decided it was time to move on to the next brand.


cost $4.50 for 8 bars
produced by the Colgate company

Irish Spring has had many slogans over the years, but the most famous may be that it leaves you as fresh and clean as a whistle.  It may sound a bit corny, but this is the experience I had with Irish Spring.  While the soap didn't produce nearly the amount of suds that COAST did, it was incredibly efficient at removing dirt and grime.  Perhaps the the lack of suds equates into the soap not breaking down as fast.   The reason I lean towards that reasoning, is because my bar of Irish Spring stood up to daily showering (sometimes twice a day) for 12 days! 

I used the bar for hand washing as well, and found that ink marks and grease were easily removed from my hands with minimal effort.  This deodorant soap not only did a great job of lifting whatever dirt and grime it encountered, but also did an outstanding job in regards to inhibiting odor causing bacteria.  The scent of Irish Spring is very pronounced, especially once the suds start foaming up. The crisp clean scent was still clearly present even after I got dressed, and was noticeable throughout most of my day, and into the afternoon.

The curved bar makes it easy to hold, and the scent of the soap never got weaker during the entire duration I used it.  The only negative I could find with this soap, is that it cleans SO good, it left my skin feeling a tad bit dry.  Not a problem right now, but in the winter when the air is ridiculously dry in Colorado.. this could make for dry and itchy skin.


 cost $6.09 for 8 bars

produced by Proctor and Gamble

Safeguard was the complete opposite of Coast and Irish Spring.  A Safeguard bar of soap is white, with a very mild scent.  When I opened the soap package and pulled the bar out, it reminded me of the Dove soap bars that my bride uses.  It was very mild yet pleasant smelling, with a noticeably softer feel to the soap.  Something that really caught my attention, is that the bar looked significantly smaller than the Irish Spring and Coast bars.  Upon examining the packaging, I learned that these bars were almost 25% smaller, weighing in at 3.2 ounces versus the 4 ounce Irish Spring and Coast bars.  My hopes that the smaller bars would hold their form adequately were ill fated, as the bar only lasted for 5 days.

After drying off from my showers, I could barely smell the faint scent of the soap on my skin, and even then.. it quickly dissipated within minutes.  During one afternoon I used the soap after working on my bike for a few hours.  There was plenty of dirt and grime present, and a scrub brush was needed from start to finish to aid the soap in doing its job.

In the end.. Safeguard wasn't quite my cup of tea.  Nevertheless, I can see this soap working really well for people with sensitive skin.  Those who tend to have problems with the ingredients and perfumes in stronger smelling and cleansing soaps, might really dig this product.  It would also serve as a good soap to use if you needed a second shower during the day.  The soap didn't dry out my skin, and was very mild.  For my daily showers, the soap did its job.. but I didn't feel squeaky clean like I did from showering with the other two soaps. 

Searching for some Retro Soap?

After nearly a month of testing, I reviewed my notes and decided that my favorite retro soap is..

As I get more thrifty in my old age, I truly cherish products that give you your moneys worth.  At a cost of roughly 56 cents per bar, and a shower shelf life of nearly two weeks, this soap in all rights qualifies in my book as a steal!

I also demand results from the products I use, and Irish Spring did not disappoint.  An incredibly efficient deodorizing soap with a fresh clean scent that lasted most of the day, is what primarily sold me on this soap.  The fact that this superior product is also very economical, was icing on the cake.

It's been awhile since I performed this review, so I may have to do another one soon.  It shouldn't be a problem, as there are several retro bar soaps out there that I have never tried.  Let me know if you have any suggestions for me!

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