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Back to the ranch of bargain hunting this week, and outwith the shower gels I've been recently reviewing brings me back to a soap that I buy from time to time. Apparently it is a very old formula, having been around since 1919. I like variety though, often buying soaps that remind me of my childhood and then some! I also like using soap at times instead of continually relying on shower gels and creams.
Knight's Castile isn't a soap from my childhood, but it is soap I discovered when I was a student and trying to make my pennies last. The name of this soap is unusual in the sense that the original name of "Castile" refers to a part in Spain where olives are grown and "Castile soap," was the British name for Olive oil based soap. However, don't go thinking this is an olive soap - Knight's Castile soap is made up of coconut oil and tallow - a rendered form of animal fats - and on the basis that a lot of soap was made up traditionally with tallow, Knight's Castile soap has a little more cleaning versatility than its ingredients would suggest.
The Price, The Product & The Promise
Usually I buy Knight's Castile soap from my local Semi-Chem priced at £1 for 6 x 100g bars. In more recent years the cost price has increased to £1-25 and the bars are usually sold in a set of 6 of 100g, 4 of 125g or 3 of 125g. Singularly one 125g bar costs on average between 99p and £1-25, though I'm led to believe this is from the original multi-packs that sellers have just chosen to separate and then sell individually, which is a bit cheeky!
The soap bar on its own is a mild and gentle formula and thus is white in colour and has a curvy rectangular shape with the simple words "Knight's Castile" in large capital lettering. The soap doesn't have any claims other than the fact that it promises to be mild and gentle.
General Design & Scent
Although the soap packaging is void of practically everything but the name and brand company (all in white with blue lettering), there are no indications to anything which has been added and with the research of this soap from the home company's website, Gumption. Gumption claims this soap is Ph balanced but you won't find that on the packaging for the soap. Well it is a mild and gentle formula after all but Gumption could have added the fact that it's Ph balanced too and "Cream soap", particularly for consumers who are new to the brand. Luckily the soap on the website and the soap here, is one in the same despite a lack of printed information.
Look out for the only other distinctive emblem on the soap paper packaging; it's a picture of a little girl in a little white dress. Whilst I don't mind this at all, it certainly stands out from the crowd against more ostentatious and luxury wrapped soaps on the market.
Scent wise, it is a very understated scent, flowery at times and has shades of Camay's original fragrance without being overly powerful. Sometimes I am also reminded of Coal tar soap but without being too strong. The secret of this soap however is in its actual use and less of the scent which dies away after showering.
When it came to actual use, I swapped the Pears soap in the shower for Knight's Castile to see what I would be up against in comparison. Remembering that the package doesn't state whether this is a cream bar or not, I wasn't expecting the surprising results.
Move over Pears!! After wetting the bar and allowing it to roll around my hands for a moment, what I was rewarded with was quite surprising - this soap lathers up extremely well - and upon applying to my body, I found that the soap moisturises and rinses off well without drying out skin too much. Certainly it is obvious from the moment you start to wash with this soap that it has an extra long lasting effect, even if the scent is barely detectable. In some way it reminds me of Cussons' original "Pearl" soap in the way it leaves a film of softness and it's by no surprise to find that out of its additives, glycerine is added which may suggest why I feel soft when using this soap in general. After towelling down, my skin feels smooth but a smidge dry.
So does it make a good replacement in lieu of Dove soap? Well in some ways yes, because Dove leaves me smooth and replenished without feeling dry and Knight's Castile does a similar job although there is a little dryness left over compared to Dove. Here although this is a cream soap, its Ph balance gives me no irritation which is why I also recommend it for facial use as well, particularly for men who dry or wet shave.
After washing with this soap in the shower, I went as far to try it on my face against my facial wash and found a similar result on my face - even after shaving - my skin feels smooth and moisturised - but with very little drying out.
In terms of longevity, I find one 125g bar of soap lasts a month if using it every day.
Because the soap is made of tallow and coconut oil, I can foresee buyers who can't use animal fat based products, a major downside. This is a real pity here because for the price and if bought in the largest variation of the soap available, there's real value for money offered here with the 6 or 4 packs of the soap.
Another downside is the availability of the product. Whilst it may be a pound store favourite, Knight's Castile can be found in supermarkets, but only selected supermarkets. On a recent visit to ASDA I found no packets of the soap in-store, Tesco didn't stock this product but our local Co Op does get the soap in from time to time.