Friday, October 16, 2009

Virginia Soaps & Scents -- a homeschool family's business

Last year we jokingly told the Homeschool Crew leaders we needed to review some luxurious, pampering spa items to give us a break from some of our heavier reviews.  Then we started offering suggestions like chocolate, teas, candles, soaps, and lotions.  You can imagine how pleased we were this year when we saw Virginia Soaps & Scents on the list.  Ahh, hand made all-natural soaps!  Everyone was excited -- on the Crew and in my home.

click to visit Virginia Soaps & Scents

First, let me tell you about Virginia Soaps and Scents.  It is the family business of the Spargur family.  Roy and Richelle Spargur didn't set out to create a family business.  Their soap-making ventures began as part of a homeschool unit study they explored with their children.  It soon became a hobby, and then a business.  Roy and Richelle have 9 children, although from their brochure it appears that only 8 of their "cheerful unpaid staff" are still living in the home.  (I like that phrase.   My unpaid staff need to work on the cheerful part a bit more.)

As part of the Homeschool Crew, we received 3 items to review from Virginia Soaps and Scents: 

  • a sample of three of their soaps (fresh orange, coconut lemongrass, and oatmeal milk & honey)

  • a sample of their shampoo bar (ginger lime scent)

  • a sample of their laundry soap kit

Virginia Soaps & Scents Soaps
I love hand-made natural soaps.  I love how pretty they are with their colors and swirls, I love how they smell, and I especially love the way they clean without drying out my skin.  The Virginia Soaps and Scents website has an explanation of how soap differs from detergents and why most of what is sold as "soap" is really detergent.  One simple difference is that soap includes glycerin and detergent does not.  If you're wondering what that means, WiseGeek states that glycerin is a humectant that  "attracts moisture to your skin."      

When we first received the soaps, I was glad to notice that the scent was not too heavy.  I get headaches from really strong scents, but these didn't bother me.  The scent was pleasant and light, although they do have an unscented line for those with sensitivities.  The second thing I noticed was the unique shape of their bed and breakfast sample size, which resembled a mountain on top.  I quickly placed a soap bar in the shower, and one at each of our sinks.  I wanted to see how my family's hands and body reacted to the natural soap. 

We have minor skin sensitivities in our family.  My face leans toward oily, but the skin also dries out easily if I use anything too harsh on it.  This is even more of a problem in cold weather.  My husband's body gets dry and very itchy if he uses harsh detergent-soaps rather than true soaps.  Lastly, my children get dermatitis on their hands from many "hand soaps" (really detergents), especially in cold weather.  

No one in our family had any reactions to the VSS soaps at all.  My husband used it in the shower, and didn't get itchy.  I used it on my face without drying out my skin, but I still needed a light moisturizer afterward.  The whole family used it on their hands without problems -- and we always came away smelling great.  The other plus is that the glycerin in the soaps is great for shaving, as well.  You soap up your leg, and the razor slides smoothly over the area you need to shave. 

Virginia Soaps & Scents soap bars are 4.5 ounces in size, and are sold for $4.50 each.  You can save money by buying 3 for $12.00, buy 4 get 1 Free, or buy 10 for $35.00.  There are also gourmet soaps, Christmas soaps,and the All-in-One body bar available. 

Virginia Soaps & Scents Shampoo Bar
I've tried a commercially-produced shampoo bar before, as well as several natural shampoos.  I could only use them a couple times before I needed to use a regular shampoo on my hair.  I confess that I was hoping to fall in love with the Virginia Soaps & Scents shampoo bar ... and I did!  I knew that there is often a transition phase to get through when switching to a shampoo bar, so I didn't expect much from my first few attempts at using the shampoo bar. 

That was a good thing, because my first two washes weren't that great.  My hair seemed heavy and was oily very fast.  Then I read the instructions.  Oops!  Rub the shampoo bar ON YOUR HAIR ... not your hands.  My third wash made all the difference, when I rubbed it directly onto my hair instead of trying to suds up my hands and transfer it to my hair.  Finally, I got out of the shower with clean-feeling, light bouncy hair ... and a new appreciation for reading directions first.  After doing it correctly, there wasn't a transition phase at all.

I have fine, thin hair.  It gets weighed down easily with products, and it's fragile.  Once I started using the shampoo bar correctly, my hair wasn't weighed down.  I was also able to use it without a conditioner, although I occasionally used a vinegar or lemon juice rinse after shampooing my hair.  I suppose one caution of switching to a VSS shampoo bar should be that you might end up cutting 4-5 inches off your long hair as I did when you finally see it CLEAN and not coated in plastics from your conditioner.  Once mine was truly clean, I saw so much damage and split-ends that I decided to trim it.

My hair also tends toward oily, but my scalp gets dry and flaky easily.  I thought I might have to shampoo more frequently with the shampoo bar, but I didn't.  In this Fall season, I am still able to skip a day washing my hair.  My scalp flakiness hasn't totally improved yet, but an occasional vinegar rinse helps.  I suspect that continued use of the moisturizing shampoo bars will help, but that I may get soap build-up occasionally instead.  Vinegar rinses, lemon juice rinses, or baking soda scrubs should easily resolve soap build-up if it occurs -- or a wash with a commercial liquid shampoo instead.

The biggest surprise is that I really am able to go without conditioner.  I didn't imagine that would ever be possible, but it is.  One day I tried using conditioner, but it didn't seem to cling to my hair very well, because the natural oils in the soap were already conditioning my hair.  A couple times I took a very tiny dab of 100% shea butter, rubbed it on the palms of my hands, and scrunched it into the ends of my wet hair like gel.  It provided the prettiest waves for the rest of the day, until I brushed it that night.  (Of course, overdoing the shea butter can cause an oily look, so be careful.)

The secret benefit of the shampoo bar that I'm sure the Spargurs weren't expecting is that it also cuts through deoderant buildup in your underarms for easier shaving.  I know I get frustrated often when trying to shave my armpits and the razor has to scrape off the deoderant the "soap" left behind before it can cut the hair.  I'm not sure what possessed me to try my shampoo bar on my armpit one day, but I was surprised at how easy it was to shave afterward.  So if you use the shampoo bar for a couple weeks, and then decide it isn't for you, save it for your underarms ... although I strongly recommend giving it 3 or 4 weeks before giving up.

Both myself and my 14 year old daughter feel that we have more body and wave in our hair when we use the VSS shampoo bar.  I have even used it on my 12 month old son and his little baby fluff hair.  (Virginia Soaps & Scents does sell an Oily/Clarifying shampoo bar for those who need deeper cleansing.)  I am so glad that I have finally found a natural shampoo, free of harsh chemicals, that actually WORKS for my hair!!

Virginia Soaps & Scents shampoo bars sell for $5.50 for a 5.5 ounce bar, or 2 for $10.00.  It is larger than the soap bars, and square.  A shampoo bar should last as long as a 24-30 ounce bottle of shampoo, and many people are also able to quit using conditioner.  The All-in-One body bar is a soap/shampoo bar to simplify things when you travel.

Virginia Soaps & Scents Laundry Soap Kit
I've made my own laundry soap before, but it's been several years.  When we used to make our own, we often had to buy our ingredients from 3 different stores.   The actual process of making the laundry soap was easier than finding the ingredients.  I know others have had the same experience I had trying to find the ingredients for many of the online recipes.  Virginia Soaps & Scents is making it easier.

Not only are they providing a natural and gentle soap bar to use in the kit, they are also providing the other ingredients, so you don't have to track them down in 3 different stores yourself.   The sample kit that we received had the soap pre-grated.  All I had to do was follow directions, measure some water, and stir!


This is a low-sudsing soap, so it's great to use in front-loading high efficiency washing machines.  We have a top-loading washing machine, with hard water, but it's also working well for us.  The laundry soap gelled up nicely, smells fresh without a heavy scent, and is cleaning our clothes well.   It's inspired me to start making my own laundry soap again. 

Note -- if you use pocket cloth diapers with a fleece or suede-cloth inner lining, you should NOT use a soap based laundry product.  It will coat the fleece or suede-cloth and keep it from wicking away moisture.  In our home, we buy a detergent for our diapers when we are making our own laundry soap for our clothes.

The laundry soap kit is sold with pre-measured ingredients and instructions for you to make it yourself.  It will make a 2 gallon batch of laundry soap, which should wash 64-72 loads of laundry.  The kit sells for $4.95, which costs less than 7 CENTS per load.  You can buy 6 kits for $25.00 to save money, or you can buy the 9 oz. cleaning bar alone for $3.95 if you'd rather buy your other ingredients locally.  The soap bar will make two batches of laundry soap.

Do we recommend Virginia Soaps & Scents?
YES!  I enjoyed everything we reviewed for Virginia Soaps & Scents, and they worked well for our family.  My favorite item was the shampoo bar, because it was the first success I've had at using a natural shampoo with my hair.  Virginia Soaps & Scents is a great family company selling wonderful products.   They even have lotions, lip balms, shaving soaps, and pet shampoos.   Their prices are reasonable, and they have a variety of samplers and gift sets for Christmas gift shopping!

In addition to their great products, they're very friendly people.  They had a great response to my silly posting earlier this month about my children's reaction to their company logo.   When I admitted I was embarrassed they found my remarks, they even emailed me to tell me not to be embarrassed.  It was nice to interact with them personally. 

Our family gives Virginia Soaps & Scents a big "thumbs-up"!  

This has been a TOS Homeschool Crew review.  As a member of the Homeschool Crew, we are given homeschool-related items and asked to write honest reviews.  The items are provided to us by the companies, but we are not paid for our reviews.  There are over 125 Homeschool Crew members, with different homeschool methods and family situations -- providing different opinions about the products.  Click the TOS Homeschool Crew banner at the top to read more reviews on this product by other Homeschool Crew members.

Trusting In Him,


  1. Thanks for the great review of this company! PS this is Daisy's mom...not Daisy. LOL I was working on her blog and forgot to sign out.

    Blessings, Dawn

  2. april I used this on my diapers and it seems to work well. they certainly smell and look cleaner than using my regular perfume free washing powedered detergent.

    Julie K


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