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A poor version of what was a great British product - shame on Unilever


Adequate as soap

Strong chemical artificial smell

Recommendable Yes:

40 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (5%):
  1. nikkired
  2. BrookieFan99
very helpful by (95%):
  1. dee7778
  2. xmum2fourx
  3. chrisandmark_is_here
and 36 other members

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---Why I Buy This---

I have always loved Pears Soap even since I was a little girl. Then I had a very old copy of Pears Encyclopaedia and at the front was the famous painting of Bubbles, with the transparent bar of Pears Soap on the floor beside him. It always looked so pretty that Pears became my favourite soap, but it was not one we always had, presumably because of the cost. I have always loved transparent things so this soap was a lovely treat.

---The Brand---

This is a very old brand as Pears Soap was first produced in London in 1789 by Andrew Pears. Andrew was a barber and perfected the art of producing a transparent soap wich was made from glycerine and other natural ingredients which gave it a srt of herby smell. This soap was quite a contrast to the adulterated products then on the market, many of which would contain poisonous subatances such as lead. Later the firm became part of Lever Brothers ans finally Unilever.

---The Product---

The bar comes in an individual box and is 125 grams.
The box is white shiny cardboard with a picture of the soap on the top, bottom and side - the transparent soap looks much nicer in the pictures than it actually is in real life..
The only claim on the front is 'Gentle Care'.
The shelf life is given as 24 months.
There is a full list of ingredients (see bottom of review).
It is said to contain high quality ingredients such as glycerine and natural oils which moisturise whilst cleaning the skin 'gently'.
They state that Pears is a 200 year old brand.
The soap is now manufactured in India under licence by Hindustan Unilever Ltd.
Inside the box the soap is sealed within transparent Pears branded plastic.
Once opened the smell is very strong - and not very appealing.
One side has the name 'Pears' imprinted on it and the other has 'Pears Transparent Soap'. It also feels slightly tacky to the touch.
The soap is slightly dimpled in the centre both sides, but not as much as the original product.
(Apparently you can also buy a blue and a green version but I have only seen their images online so not sure if they are available in this country.)

---Product Change---

Although it has been going since 1789 and you would think that spoke for itself, Unilever decided n 2009 to change the ingredients of this soap, so now instead of being natural ingredients it is more a chemical composition and the fragrance is very different and strong. The ingredients are listed at the bottom of the review but I think you would need a degree in chemistry to know what they all are.
There has been campaigns to revert to the old recipe but although Unilever said they would imporve on the existing one they would not relent and revert.
The original bar was hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, claims that have now been dropped. Also the shape is differnt - as the original bars were left to dry slowing and shrink, this is also why the original bars lasted longer.
A good explanation of the two different soaps is to be found at

---Family Connections and Medical Endorsement---

Not any more, but back in the 19th century some Pears advertisments were being endorsed by doctors who recognised its purity.
My husband's ancestor was James Startin who founded a skin hospital in Blackfriars, London, and treated Charles Darwin, and he was one of three dermatologists/doctors supporting the product and named on advertising posters.


60p per bar.

---My Opinion---

I don't know why I keep buying this soap, probably nostalgia - and I tend to forget how strong and badly it now smells, whereas I remember it as a lovely aroma and a golden amber hue. Just as well it is sealed in plastic - I love the smell of most soaps but this one is definitely disappointing. I cannot accurately recall the smell of the original bars - but it was definitely not like this badly 'improved' version.
It is reasonably transparent and can be used as an adequate soap, but it has lost all its old world charm for me.
The aroma now is strong and sort of chemically - not really inviting and not even pleasant to fragrance the bathroom. I will use this current bar but it will be used functionally and not in a pleasurable way - as nice soaps should be.
A very poor imitation of a really good and long lasting product - such a shame for it to end up this way after 200 years.

---Star Rating---

2 Stars.

---Would I Recommend?---

Not really - not as keen on it as when it was the original formula, the smell is very strong and overpowering - not like it used to be.


---Full Ingredients---

(As compared to about 8 ingredients in the original soap.)

Sodium Palmate
Sodium Stearate
Sodium Palm Kernelate
Sodium Rosinate
Propylene Glycol
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Chloride
Sodium Meta Bisulfite
Etidronic Acid
Tetra Sodium EDTA
CI 12490
CI 47005
Benzyl Benzoate
Benzyl Salicylate

Summary: Transparent soap but not a patch on the original version and artificial smell - such a shame.

(Also posted on Dooyoo under the name Rolandrat)

Pictures of Pears Soap
Pears Soap Picture 111070429 tb
Bar of Pears Soap
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Comments about this review »

chrisandmark_is_here 15.04.2012 13:35

I didn't realise they'd changed the formula, although have noticed my skin doesn't seem to like it as much and the smell was a bit 'different'. x

nikkired 14.04.2012 12:22

Great review :)

Bollinger28 12.04.2012 13:43

What a shame Unilever have messed it all up and it's no longer what it was :o(

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Product Information »

Product details

Long Name Soap
Type Shower & Bath
Genre Soap Bar
Manufacturer Pears

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This review of Pears Soap has been rated:

"exceptional" by (5%):

  1. nikkired
  2. BrookieFan99

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