It’s been a little while since we tested out a true vintage product but over the next few posts, we will be testing out and trying out some vintage soaps. I have been delaying these posts for about a year and a half so I’m glad to finally have them ready to post. I will start each post with a short history on the product and then dive into my own little review. We are going to be squeaky clean for quite some time.
I’m excited to note that the photos from this blog have now been published in the international pinup magazine, Retro Lovely. We even managed to get front cover and multiple page spreads so please go here to have a look and order yourself a copy.
When it comes to vintage beauty products which have stood the test of time, Camay is one of the most popular and iconic products of all times. Originally starting in 1926, Camay was marketed as a “white, pure soap for women” as many soaps were coloured to mask impurities. Camay really pushed their marketing for beauty aimed at women throughout the use of slogans such as “Camay: the soap for beautiful women” and “for your most beautiful complexion at every age”. The soap came wrapped in a paper wrapper featuring the cameo of an elegant lady in a silhouetted profile on the front. Camay went on to change their soap bars to a soft pink colour which became an instant hit as it made the product even more feminine. The soap became most famous for it’s bridal campaign where, especially in the 40’s and 50s, most adverts depicted a blushing bride and the soap claimed to help you get your bridal glow. The adverts claimed that by using their product, you would become your most radiant self and achieve the beauty and purity of a bride. The soap evoked femininity, purity, luxury and a softness that could only be achieved through using their specially scented soap bars.
Eventually, by the turn of the 21st century, sales of Camay had started to feminist and the product had lost it’s appeal with the American market. The soap was mainly sold to online distrubuters overseas, mainly Eastern Europe, but it has been reportedly still found in some stores in the US according to the Camay spokesperson. Procter and Gamble, eventually sold Camay to Unilever in 2014 but there has been no announcement of the product making a big return anytime soon. Today, Unilever focuses on it’s Olay bars. According to the New York Times, “These days, the company is more focused on its Olay bars, which compete directly with the Dove Beauty Bar, made by Unilever. These products contain synthetic detergents that are less irritating than soap, said Dr. Amy Derick, a dermatologist in Barrington, Ill. But Camay, which is a traditional soap like Ivory, may feel less irritating because it contains glycerin, Dr. Derick added”.
Since the disappearance of the soap from ordinary store shelves, online sales for stockists have always been high and steady. There’s a sense of loyalty to the product with many long time users claiming the memories invoked within the scent and the product itself cannot be replaced.
So there I was, hunting for a few bars of this very caught after vintage soap and I eventually found some from Ebay. There’s a few US sites that you can find it on cheaper but they either didn’t ship out of the US or the postage was ridiculous ($83 to ship one bar of soap…no thanks). The pink Camay bars are now labeled as Camay Classic and the one I purchased had a reddish pink paper wrapper with a modern stylised camera logo on the front. There was arabic writing featured on the packaging which aligns with the soaps global reach. The soap was a good decent size (125 grams) and the colour wasn’t as pink as I expected, it’s more on the peachy side of pink.
I now understand why everyone loved the classic scent so much. The soap certainly has a vintage soap smell and reminded me instantly of my grandmothers bathroom. I went over to visit my mother and brought the soap with me, she looked at it and just said, “oh my mother used to use that soap all the time” and I instantly felt more connected to the scent and love it even more. It’s not an easy scent to describe, it’s certainly a soapy smell but it sort of smells slightly powdery, very sweet and soft. Sort of like the quintessential feminine soap smell. I know that’s not helpful but when you smell it, you’ll understand it.
I was pretty excited to use the soap. I thought I would use it for two weeks to give it a fair trial. I didn’t want to use it on my face as my skin can be prone to breakouts and after trying a new cleanser and the weather changes recently, my skin is pretty upset. Using the soap, I found it lathered really easily and felt smooth and velvety on my skin. I tend to have dry skin and was a bit worried it might leave my skin feeling tight but it surprisingly didn’t. My skin felt really soft, subtle, clean and smooth after using the soap. The scent lingered for a little while but I normally have to apply a lotion to my arms as they have been really dry lately so that may have masked the smell. At one point my partner did notice that I had a new scent upon leaving the bathroom and although he said it smelt a little like an old lady, he said it as nice, you know, for an old lady. Oh well, I’ll take it.
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.