The clear winner of the plant-based soaps I tried from this Drugstore.com order is … Olivella Face and Body Soap. It says it’s 100% olive oil from Italy. The ingredients are: Sodium Olivate (saponified virgin olive oil), water, glycerin, fragrance.
I was pretty skeptical given the short ingredients list, and how drying I have found most castile soaps I’ve tried. For that matter, most plant-based soaps I have tried with a short list of ingredients have been pretty drying. This one was really not bad. I’m guessing it rinses pretty well, because the bar is so susceptible to dissolving in water. The package warns: “DO NOT leave soap in standing water.” It’s so susceptible, I’m wondering how anyone can leave a bar like this in the shower. Never mind, it works well.
But… There’s always a catch, right? Here again, the fragrance. I quickly got used to it (unlike some other soap fragrances) and it doesn’t seem to leave a strong residue of fragrance on the skin. However, the fragrance has a distinct, I would say slightly masculine, European soap smell to it. The scent makes me think of European hotel soap or maybe someone’s dapper Italian grandfather.
They have a web site www.olivellaline.com . The company has baby products and makes a “detergent.” But their “detergent” appears to be made from castile soap. (I do not speak Italian, though – always check with the company!)
At any rate, if I can get this same soap without the fragrance, I will see how it works with the washing test and report back. The lesson from this for me was that soaps from the same basic oil can be very different.