Has the UK got a national type of soap? In France ‘Savon de Marseille’ is everywhere. It comes in shampoos, washing powders and cosmetics. First made 600 years ago, it should be made with olive oil. I watched a TV programme about it that went to one of the few remaining soap factories in Marseilles. The owner of the company said he used nothing else on his body as it was good for washing hair as well. He said his skin was as smooth as a baby’s and he hadn’t got a grey hair. The presenter stroked his outstretched arm and agreed that his skin was beautifully soft and free from wrinkles. I was convinced. But, the programme warned, there were plenty of imitations and only 5% of products labelled as ‘Savon de Marseille’ are the genuine article. I shopped carefully in my local organic shop and chose a 500g cube as it might take some time to return my skin to the softness that I was born with. As it was so big, I needed to cut it into pieces. Unfortunately, it had a texture like shale and each slice fell into small shards. Bathing with it was therefore problematic and also the smell was not at all pleasant. As for using it on my hair, the feel and smell was more industrial and coarser than I had been led to believe. Sorry, ‘Savon de Marseille’, I was a convert, but I would rather use the national soap of England – when someone has produced and marketed it! (While researching SPAS I found that Epsom Salt soap and Epsom Salt shampoo can be bought from Epsom Salts.co.uk!)

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