Monday, August 13, 2007

Reviews of Old Soaps

I assume that many of you dear readers have collected different kinds of objects in your lives. Some people collect porcelain dolls, and some people collect real dolls. Some people collect trivets, while others collect license plates. I, too, have collected certain things over periods of time in my life. I have an old Lego collection, and a crystal and mineral collection, and a 'coins from other countries' collection. Nowadays I suppose I collect recordings and music scores, if anything. Oh, and who could forget my collection of properties in Dubai. But I think there are only a few people who have collected a huge bag of travel soaps and shampoos from various hotels spanning the last thirteen years. I went through this bag while on my 'vacation', and thought I would provide you with a design review of hotel soaps across North America. I will not be providing, however, a performance review of said soaps and shampoos. As cute as they are, hotel shampoo is still crap, and I've never stayed in the Four Seasons to use their luxe samples. My hair already gets enough mistreatment from my everyday 99-cent Big Value Shampooze.From left to right, these are highlights of the standard bottle.
1. 'Gentle Organic Shampoo', hotel unmarked. Classy, understated elegance. I feel like each drop is a chamomile-infused blessing from heaven. And by heaven, I mean somewhere in a factory in Tennessee. Overall, not too ostentatious design, but not too cheap. The lid could stand to be translucent. Midnight Shoveler grade: B+.
2. Canadian Conditioning Shampoo. Like Pert Plus, but orange, it strips your hair of its nutrients, and then puts the nutrients right back! How 'bout that! Design elements include the ever-present Canadian Maple leaf, and square shape. Reminds me too much of cologne containers, however, and Scotch bottles for cheap alcoholics. Grade: B-.
3. Where do I start, Howard. Howard Johnson, your cheap hotel rooms beguile me. If you only went for a Minimalist Mod look you could really pull off a $45 hotel room and this hideous mini-shampoo. Instead, your colors are throwupbeigeorange (yes, one word, it all runs together in one wretch), and grass-stains mixed with teal crayons. No, no, no. However, small changes can improve your shampoo drastically! Change the shape of the bottle to a concave neck, like vintage perfumes, which would be elegant in white. And make your logo and lettering even more blocky and '70's, and I'm there, sleeping at shabbychic HoJo. But for now: D+. At least your bottle is white. Unlike #4. I can't even read the label even if it wasn't a blurry photo. Your shampoo has separately violently which perfectly matches the faux-marble finish of your label, complete with faux-elegant gold lettering. Gold=dazzling, so why doesn't it work on soaps? I know, because your shampoo isn't suppose to look like it's imitating a piece of gold-striated marble dug out of a quarry. Do you think anyone is ever tricked into thinking your bottle top is an actual ball of gold? Then don't lie to me! D- for lying.
I've calmed down. Now we'll look at Eccentric shapes.
1. Marriott, as much as I don't like your salmon-and-grey, I think it works with the cylinder shape. I'm sort of indifferent to this one, but it also came with an identical container of baby powder which sprinkles out delightfully. B+.
2. Comfort Inn Conditioning Shampoo. As much as I bet this shampoo sucks, I like the bottle a lot. It's art-deco classy and I like the translucence. However, couldn't Comfort find a more exciting color for the label and top than dull gray? A-.
3. (Behind). Shirmack. I suppose I should think practically about this one, like, 'I could store 50 single-use shampoos all in one pocket! Yay!' and praise the lack of waste material: How much shampoo goes thrown out after one use in a hotel room, every day, in hotel rooms all across America? It pains me to think about. But then fashionable Midnight butts in and says, you're paying for this hotel room, and all you get is this free sample? What happened to 'lather rinse repeat?' Grade: On the Fence B.
4. This isn't even a shampoo. I think it's a candy. But it's from Mexico, and it's from 1993. This candy is from a hotel 14 years ago. Gross. It's hard to tell from this photo of a photo, though, that the design is actually quite nice, and simple yet attractive. So this candy gets an A. But fails to be a shampoo.
Less dazzling highlights. 1. Dockside Inn, Martha's Vineyard. This soap is clear, but very cherry red-colored, even after 8 years in a cupboard. This is the one shampoo I saved to use for real, because it holds its age well. It's like a good wine of the soap bar world. And quaintly designed, with a tie-in to the 'candy-colored Victorian B&B' in which I stayed. (Don't get all impressed, it wasn't quite that glam.) A.
2. 'Fleur de Lis Flex & Go'. Ugh. There's something ugly about the 'Flex and Go' font, and not very fleur-de-lis-ey in the overall aesthetic. The actual symbol of the fleur-de-lis reminds me of French Monarchies. Heralds. Brocade. Beautiful, tall, Wrought-iron fences. This Fleur-de-Flex -and-Go reminds me of IHOP and fluorescent lighting. What if you made the cap into the shape of the fleur-de-lis? Maybe I'd rethink my grade: C-.
3. Stage West. I'm only amused by the porn-chic font of this hotel, which if I recall, looks nothing like California in the 1970's. Nor reminded me of anything Western. It did live up to the hype of the rest of the bottle, though, which states "All-Suite Hotel & Theater Restaurant Body Lotion Lotion Creme". They liked the idea of lotion so much they said it twice. If you're going to go all out, why not say 'Hotel & Theater Restaurant with Bathrooms Food Fun & Sleeping Luxurious Hot Body Lotion Lotion Creamy Creme'? C+.
Bizarrely, the winner of the design contest of 13-year old soaps is from Disney World, and I usually can't stand a lot of Disney emblazoning. In fact, I'm probably breaking some copyright code now by even showing you a picture of "M**key M**se" without permission.
But yet, the design of this shampoo and soap is way cool, and it still looks fresh and hip even thirteen years later (I was eleven when I went to Disneyworld, though it seems like only yesterday that I was watching Michael Jackson at Epcot Center. Sigh.). I like the close cropping of the Mickey on the label, and the font is fun and geometric with its filled in A's and O's. The size is also substantial while still being 'travel'-sized; I could see myself reusing the container with more soap and being a good little recycler. I assume these soaps were on the fancier side of hotel rooms, but I never stayed in an official Disney hotel I have no idea where these came from. It's a mystery, but they get an A anyway.
Before I leave you with an apology that this post was so long, there's one more soap which gets an A+. I think I also used it once as a pet, because it has a little leash on it. Leash or no leash, it's probably the best soap in the history of bar soaps.
But it wasn't a soap...It was a soap...lobster.


kh said...

i need a shower now.

Darling Moon said...

Who was the French dandy who wandered around Paris with a his pet lobster on a pink ribbon leash? That final soap must surely be in his honor.

Alexis said...


speaking of strange collections of the bathroom variety...i aspire to collect toilet paper from various exotic locations. My aunt's friend reportedly has a collection in frames to decorate her bathroom. "Toilet Paper from Around the World"...I actually intentionally collected some while I was in Eastern Europe a few years ago...I wonder where it went...