In Hebrew there is a saying which translates approximately to “jumping over your bellybutton.” Now, regardless of the fact that it’s effectively impossible to do just that, the phrase means something close to biting off more than you can chew.
I believe Irish Spring indeed jumped over their own bellybuttons with the release of the Signature for Men collection in February1. When I went looking for the new products around the release time I was astounded to see a nearly $10 price tag on a 443mL bottle of what is essentially body wash of the drugstore variety. Since then the prices have allegedly dropped (about $7 at Shoppers Drug Mart presently), but I still remain hesitant. Although they boast new hydrating properties, based on a quick glance at the ingredients list on their own website, the natural, hydrating ingredients (Shea butter and sweet almond fruit extract) are outnumbered nearly 10 to 1, and are low on the overall scale of quantity within the formula2.
Furthermore, reviews online said unhelpful things about the new products like “I like it because it’s manly” and that the soaps come in “man sized bars3” – hmmm.
So I decided to save the Signature items for another day and picked up a bottle of their Cool Scrub body wash instead. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was getting, but to take a break from my LUSH bar soap phase (which, as you’ll see based on future reviews, is nowhere near over) I concluded it would do. After all, how bad can a body wash – even an obnoxiously marketed one – be? To clarify: I have used and enjoyed Irish Spring products before, having even reviewed some on this blog. My first experience with the iconic smell was at summer camp in seventh grade, when I begged my mom to buy me a bottle for the trip. What can I say? I was easily impressionable!
Cool Scrub is meant to combine body wash and body scrub in one with the added bonus of ‘the Irish Spring smell’, a category that’s been on the market for a while and never really impressed me. All those beads suspended in liquid soap don’t appeal to me, and I’m partial myself to things like the Coffee + Coconut Scrub from Jealous Body Scrub and the aforementioned LUSH bar soaps (Cupid’s Love still calls to me in my dreams). And I’m sad to report Cool Scrub didn’t change my mind about the topic, and this is why.
The front of the bottle reads “inspired by Celtic rock salt,” but do not be misled; there is no Celtic rock salt to be seen here (or in the ingredients list, for that matter), meaning the exfoliating properties must come from elsewhere. With a little digging I found a big presence of acrylates copolymer in this product, a type of plastic that’s used in ‘microbead’ form in this and many other cosmetics. Microbeads, I found out, are a growing concern among environmentalists in America and Canada, with groups organizing petitions to ban them outright for their harmful effects on the environment4. You can find out more in this video from LUSH Cosmetics.
So for this reason alone I already disliked this body wash before using it, and while I debated outright throwing it out I wanted to continue testing it before giving my honest and rounded opinion. For those wondering, the gel also has tiny seed-like bits in addition to the microbeads that help with scrubbing the skin, but the effect is minimal at best. It doesn’t compare at all to a standalone scrub like the Coffee + Coconut option (which, I may add, is all natural), and feels rather like rubbing a pinch of sand on the skin with some soap. The selling point for Cool Scrub turned out very disappointing, and then some.
The soap base itself is a pretty mint green in color and smells heavily of mint and washing detergent as it lathers. It has a cooling effect on the skin associated with menthol, and is neither drying nor hydrating.
Verdict: The smell alone does not sell me on this product that has so much going against it. Not exactly the traditional Irish Spring smell, but nothing memorable, either. The microbeads are a great concern of mine, and for one I will be avoiding them in my cosmetics from now on. This product doesn’t deliver to my expectations, making it a complete dud for me. I wonder what Old Spice has going on these days?
2Irish Spring: Signature for Men Hydrating Body Wash
3Fragrantica: Irish Spring “Signature Series”
4Ottawa Riverkeeper: Conservation Groups Ask Government of Canada to Classify Microbeads “Toxic”