Testing Vintage: Pears Translucent Soap

Time to test out another vintage product that you can still buy today and today it’s all about Pears soap. You can read all about last weeks Camay soap testing here just incase you missed it. First produced and sold in London, England in 1807 but Andrew Pears. Pears translucent soap has been popular and loved for quite some time and was the first ever mass-market translucent soap. Since 1917, the company is now owned by Unilever (much like Camay). Today, the soap is produced and manufactured in India but is still distributed world wide. The soaps popularity came from its unique translucent quality; because you could see through the soap, there was nowhere for impurities to hide. This was a huge marketing draw to the product and there was nothing else like it for quite some time.

One of Pears’ most iconic and successful marketing campaigns included the well known statue ‘You dirty boy!’ by Giovanni Focardi exhibited at the Exposition Universelle de Paris in 1878. The rights to the statue were eventually purchased by the company due to it’s huge popularity and was used to advertise and market the soap for the masses. Miniature versions of the statue were made to be used as displays in stores and in shop windows. Pears continued to use famous artwork to sell and market their product which made their company easily recognised and the reproductions of their adverts are still popular today. It’s worth noting that looking back at some of the adverts from todays context, some adverts are without a doubt racist and demeaning to people of colour. Some adverts show a person of colour using the soap and their skin turning white which is seen as a positive thing; such an idea is clearly outdated. Notably, the first ever female to endorse a product was Lillie Langtry and she was used to sell and advertise for Pears soap. Her famous ivory complexion made her ideal for the brand and oddly enough, her fee was related to her weight and it was said she was paid “pound for pound” (pound sterling for a pound of weight).

Originally, Pears translucent soap underwent a unique crafting process which included being dried for up to thirteen weeks in order to let all the alcohol evaporate. A unique drying process done inside large garages set at various temperatures and moved about are what caused the soap to turn translucent although it was quite a difficult process to get right. Since then, the soap has undergone several ingredient changes to adhere to new laws put in place on cosmetics and ‘wash off’ products. In 2009, the soap underwent a significant change which eventually lead to the soap being renamed as ‘Gentle Care’. The texture was softer, it didn’t last as long with frequent use but most notable, the scent was changed. Originally, the scent has a mild, spicy fragrance and now it was more aromatic and strong. The revamp of the soap was not popular so the company set about finding a new formula in an attempt to try to get it as close to the original as possible especially when it came to scent. It was relaunched in 2016 as the return of a “beloved British Icon”.

Testing Pears Translucent Soap:
It’s sad to know that the soap I purchased to test is nowhere near the original that was sold. Of course, certain laws regarding consumer products, especially beauty products, are very important and necessary but I can’t even know if the scent is still original. Finding Pears soap was super easy, it was just in the soap section of my local grocery store and it came in a paper box with three bars tucked away inside individually wrapped in plastic. Each soap bar is shaped into a rounded cake with ‘Pears Translucent Soap’ stamped into it. Each bar is 125 grams and the cake looks very much like the image in the 1950s adverts. The colour was that of a golden maple syrup; it had hues of gold, brown and orange and although I couldn’t see clearly through the soap cake itself, (like the above black and white ad), I could see light and shadows when I looked through it.

Miss MonMon testing vintage Pears Soap.

Now, the scent, the thing everyone was so upset about. It has a distinct spicy smell to it with a hint of thick sweetness in the background. I don’t think I love the smell, something about it seems a bit weird to me. I looked into what the original scent was and it was described as a clean fresh-linen scent. This new bar definitely does not smell like that. Its a really strange sweet, spicy but slightly burnt or overly processed smell. I’ve been sniffing this bar for the last ten minutes and I still can’t describe it … hmm maybe because I’ve been sniffing a soap bar for ten minutes is WHY I can’t describe it.

So how does it wash; upon contact with water, the soap cake gets really soft and slippery. It did shoot out of my hands at one stage. On my skin it felt soft, very smooth and quite gentle. My skin did not feel dry or ‘stretched’ when I got out of the shower and even after two weeks of testing. I found that it was quite soft and gentle. I felt clean, which is what you kind of want in a soap. After two weeks of use, I still don’t like the smell and I put the two other bars that came in the box in the linen cupboard to keep my old blankets scented.

Whilst looking into Pears soap, I did come across a beauty trend that included using the soap as an eyebrow gel. I couldn’t find the original source of the trend that started around 2016 but burst into popularity in 2019 and 2020. The most popular tutorial I found was this one; the idea is that soap helps stick down hair really well and was a cheaper alternative to a brow wax. With thick eyebrows with feathered ends coming into popularity, this trend helped boost Pears sales as it became a ‘must have’ beauty product. I thought I’d give it a go as all you needed was water, a spoolie and Pears translucent soap.

It worked pretty well but I’d definitely recommend only using a little bit of soap as if you use too much, it goes a bit white. I was a bit concerned about what would happen if I wore my soap brows and it rained as I don’t really want soap in my eyes. Regardless, soap brows are amazing! It’s a great easy and cheap way to set my brows and I loved being able to embrace my natural brows.

Miss MonMon testing vintage Pears Soap.
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Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.

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