January 04 2011
It was on a work trip to Portugal more than a decade ago that I first discovered Claus Porto soaps. I was stopped in my tracks by a display of brightly-wrapped packages in an old-fashioned pharmacy. I went inside to smell them, bought half a dozen – selected according to the attractiveness of the packaging – and have been hooked ever since.
The vegetable-based soaps, I discovered, don’t just look good, they are a delight to use. Handmade in Porto by Portugal’s oldest family-owned soap manufacturer, with a history dating back to 1887, they are scented with a high concentration of essential oils and milled seven times to ensure that they remain smooth and scented until the very end.
My favourites include the Citron Verbena or “Banho” fragrance (first picture) and the Water Lily or “Madrigal” soap (second picture), although once you have tried one, you will want to work your way through the 20 or so fragrances in the range, which includes Lime Basil, Tobacco and Red Poppy – each with its own distinctive and vibrantly-patterned wrapping.
I stock up on the smaller size 150g soaps (€6.95) whenever I go to Portugal as they look great piled up in a straw basket in the bathroom and make excellent token gifts – not least because you don’t have to wrap them. You can buy the large 350g size (£9.95) from the UK stockist, www.powderpuff.net.