Do you know what heaven smells like? I do. Nowadays, anyone who walks into my bathroom does. As a matter of fact, a friend recently asked to see my current bath collection and as soon as she walked in her first question was “What is that amazing smell?!”
Scent is obviously a personal thing and different people are attracted to different things, but I’m really not exaggerating when I say that Harvest Garden has managed to produce products which have the most incredible smell which seem to have universal appeal. My friend Felicia from The Beauty and the Geek AU and I are notoriously on opposite sides of the spectrum as to which scents we like in products, yet we both love what we’ve tried from Harvest Garden.
With this in mind, I maybe flipped out a little in excitement when Harvest Garden offered to send me a few things to try. Read on to find out a bit more about the brand and what I thought of the products.
Harvest Garden has a focus on natural products which are cruelty free (yay!). They carry a line of bath, body and face products. Located on the Central Coast of NSW, Harvest Garden started out handcrafting products in their kitchen. Suffice to say, they’ve expanded outside the bounds of their own home these days. I absolutely love hearing small business success stories like this, especially when the products themselves are of such amazing quality. It’s also worth noting that whilst I’m not particularly sensitive thus not usually overly concerned with potential chemical irritants (ergo natural products aren’t necessarily always my focus – sustainability, yes, cruelty free, yes, low environmental impact, yes, but natural isn’t necessarily on my radar), what I really love about these products is that they’re also palm oil free. Palm oil is one of those ingredients that is so impactful on the world and yet so difficult to cut out from your daily life as it’s hidden in so many things we use all the time. The second a company says “Palm Oil Free”, they immediately have my attention.
Harvest Garden sent me two soaps to try. Their soaps contain a mix of ingredients which are designed to target a range of skin concerns.
Rose Geranium, Patchouli & Lavender with Red Clay Soap – $7.50*
If it were possible to carry this around taped under my nose so I could smell it all day, I would. The smell is a mix of rose, patchouli and lavender (in case the title didn’t give that one away) which gives this soap a musky scent which I find really calming and refreshing. The use of red clay is meant to gently absorb impurities but red clay is also oily so it softens and conditions too. It’s supposedly suitable as a facial cleansing bar as well as for the body, but a quick glance at the ingredients leads me to think it’s probably not the best option for me as it’s oil heavy and that can sometimes break my combo skin out. If that’s not a concern for you though you might enjoy it. As with all soaps, I do find that I don’t particularly like the feeling on my skin after I’ve used it (I still can’t actually pin down which ingredient it is that makes me feel this way but I’m guessing it’s the lye) but honestly it smells so damn good that I’m willing to overlook it. I’ve been using this every day since I got it and despite the odd dry feeling after using it, it’s not actually drying out my skin so the olive and coconut oil are doing their job. I really can’t stress how good it smells enough. It’s an incredible scent and I love that I can smell it as soon as I walk into my bathroom. I kind of want to throw a few in some of my drawers to make all my clothes smell nice too!
Peppermint, Pumice and French Green Clay Soap – $7.50*
This one has a slightly different texture due to the pumice and consequently it works very nicely as a gentle exfoliant. The peppermint means this gives a slight tingling effect. I happen to find that effect refreshing and cooling, but I know plenty who find it unpleasant in sensitive spots so if you’re unsure stick to large surface areas! I was doing some research into the ingredients (influence of Felicia coming through again) and was pleased to see that French Green Clay is indeed known for its antibacterial properties (B. Williams et al., 2017). Once again, the smell is divine. I couldn’t rightly say whether I prefer this one or the Rose. I feel this one would be amazing in Summer due to the refreshing, zingy scent, whereas the Rose is more comforting and calming so perhaps better for colder weather. Either way, you can’t lose.
Epsom Bath Salts
Peppermint and Green Tea – $26.00*
These bath salts are probably most responsible for the overwhelmingly lovely smell currently emanating from my bathroom. Interestingly enough, I’m not normally a fan of the smell of green tea, yet for some reason it just really works in this combination. It doesn’t overpower the peppermint and consequently it just makes for a lovely subtle undertone. These salts make my bath smell absolutely divine. Once again, the peppermint means that there’s a definite cooling sensation (which is a little bit odd in a hot bath!) which I personally absolutely love. These were amazing after a long day when my joints and muscles were aching from arthritis. I wondered why, and I found myself falling into a black hole of scientific studies while looking at this product. The long and short of it is that it’s claimed that Epsom Salt baths can help with muscle pain and fatigue. After spending an inordinate amount of time trawling through sources, it seems that there isn’t a great deal of evidence in support of this. The claim lies within the fact that the salts contain magnesium, which has been proven beneficial for a variety of reasons, and through a bath we can absorb some of this. There is only one study which supports that we can actually absorb magnesium this way, and the study itself has faced a lot of criticism courtesy of a lack of a control group amongst other things (Ingraham, 2017). As a result, it’s difficult to say whether Epsom Salts themselves clinically provide pain relief.
So why does it seem to work for me? Well there’s plenty of possibilities. It could just be that the hot bath itself is helping to soothe my joints, but I’m not sure that’s entirely true because I do find this makes me feel better than just a standard hot bath does. I looked closer at the other ingredients and did some more research, and I think (and I emphasise think because I’m not a scientist and I found reading all the scientific articles painfully confusing at times) that it’s possibly the addition of the peppermint that’s most beneficial. In saying that, the study most often referenced (by the University of Edinburgh in 2006, published in Current Biology) that supports how peppermint might be a useful pain killer wasn’t one I could personally get access to, so I’m basing that on summaries I’ve read. Frankly it could just as easily be the placebo effect but knowing what I know about Psychology makes me absolutely a-okay with it if it is.
Does this mixture of results of my research reflect badly on the product itself? Absolutely not, I just feel you should be informed when it comes to your ingredients. Regardless of the science or pain killing benefits behind it, these bath salts are just a lovely addition to a bath because they smell so damn good. And whatever the reason, I do feel better after them so it certainly couldn’t hurt to give them a shot if you’re in a similar position.
Overall, if natural skin and healthcare is your jam, then you’ll love Harvest Garden. Importantly, however, if it’s not, you’ll still enjoy it because the products themselves are outstanding quality and feel luxurious as heck. Whether or not you believe that Epsom Salts help with muscle fatigue, you’ll still enjoy the experience of bathing with them in the water. Whether or not you care that certain clays are “detoxifying”, you’ll still love the smell and feel of the soap. Perhaps most importantly, by using their stuff you’ll be being kind to the environment and that trumps all in my books. I, for one, will definitely be buying and trying more of their stuff in the future.
Ingraham, P. (2017). Does Epsom Salt Work?. [online] http://www.PainScience.com. Available at: https://www.painscience.com/articles/epsom-salts.php [Accessed 12 May 2017].
Williams, L. and Haydel, S. (2017). Evaluation of the medicinal use of clay minerals as antibacterial agents. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2904249/ [Accessed 12 May 2017].
Williams, L., E. Haydel, S., F. Giese, Jr., R. and D. Eberl, D. (2017). Chemical and Mineralogical Characteristics of French Green Clays Used for Healing. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2600539/ [Accessed 12 May 2017].