Soap makes you feel all bubbly, any way you slice it

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Soap makes you feel all bubbly, any way you slice it

I never used to care about what brand of soap I was buying. Then I discovered the handmade soap at Lush, which recently opened in Myeong-dong, in downtown Seoul.

Lush smells like a dessert caf? Its has tiny chalkboards that read like the ones you see in gourmet grocery stores. Soaps, looking like fruitcakes, are cut and sold by the gram. I couldn't resist, so I chose three items to try at home.

Gentle Lentil (7,250 won or $6.20 for a 100-gram bar) is a shampoo that comes in bar form. It looks like a chunk of cheese specked with lentil beans. It's recommended for "luscious black hair worn by Indian women." The lentil extract is supposed to nourish and polish your hair. Teo deodorant (9,500 won) is made from tea tree oil, lemon grass oil, grapes and tangerine extract. The chalky white bar smells refreshing and feels dry on the fingertips. The third item is Narcotick (5,400 won), a liquid soap that's formulated for sensitive skin.

Gentle Lentil shampoo is impressive. It lathers into a rich white foam and cleanses extremely well without drying the hair dry. The Narcotick liquid soap is soothing. The deodorant bar smells more citrusy than real lemon. Its talc-like powder sticks to the skin nicely.

Lush carries 23 kinds of soap, ranging from roughly 4,000 to 7,500 won for 100 grams. It also stocks a line of cosmetics called the Black Bottle series.

Popular soaps include Fresh Famacy for your face, Bohemian Lemon for your body and Sandstorm for your feet. Sandstorm has a pumice stone-like surface on one side. Another shampoo called Dr. Peppermint, which is said to improve thinning hair, contains spearmint oil, peppermint oil and black peppercorns.

Lush's prices won't clean you out. "Without star marketing, fancy promotions or packaging, we can keep prices at base levels," says Christina Woo, president of Lush Korea. Ms. Woo had long been a fan of Lush before deciding to import the brand herself. (Lush was launched in England in 1994; its products are now sold in 31 countries.)

Ms. Woo's favorite? "A bath 'ballistic' called Tisty Tosty. When you soak in it, you're surrounded by rose buds."

A second Lush store will open Feb. 14 in the Airport Terminal in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul.

By Ines Cho
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