Tangent Review: Coast Pacific Force Soap

A few months ago I did a review of some notable aftershaves, and admit it was a bit of a departure from the usual subject matter of From Pyrgos. I won't do it often, but occasionally I'll succumb to the itchy need to review a personal grooming product other than perfume. Just a heads up.

For some reason, I happen to love bar soap. I like shower gels too, but not as much. Contrary to popular belief, they're not actually soap. Shower gels are really just skinscent perfumes in gel form, and are washed away before their essences ever have a chance to shine. Kind of a waste, especially since the gel itself is utterly functionless, usually having no inherent antibacterial or cleansing properties. There are some gels out there that try to be soap, and conscientiously possess the requisite qualities of effective cleaning agents, but they're not as satisfying to use as a solid bar.

I enjoy bar soap because it is bar soap, you see, and not just because I prefer it over shower gels. Bar soap is a shower luxury, a traditional amenity that dates back to Medieval times and beyond, something people were enjoying long before showers and running water even existed. I'm fascinated with bar soap because it can come in any shape and size, be any color, and hold any imprint of text or image. Bar soaps are elements of design and aesthetics, and therefore reflections of personal taste. He who chooses a specific soap, be it Zest, Dial, Irish Spring, or any one of a gazillion other soaps out there, is choosing something based on a subconscious style ethos. People don't associate soap with personal style, but if you're drawn to a specific kind of bar, there's probably a reason.

Recently I got into Pacific Force soap by Coast. I've always been an Irish Spring kind of guy, with the occasional detour into Old Spice Land, but there are a few bloggers here and there that lament the demise of the original "original" Coast soap. They chalk this loss up to the introduction of a "new" original, and a soap "flanker" called Pacific Force, which by some accounts is an abysmal product. The parent company for Coast changed of course, and this explains the shakeup, but I'm not that interested in the details. What intrigues me is how Pacific Force smells - which is to say, almost like nothing at all.

Actually, Pacific Force smells like something, but it's hard to describe what that something is supposed to be. When I opened my first bar, I expected to smell something sweet, with hints of tropical fruits and flowers. Most aquatic soaps try to emulate the scent of a flamboyant bar drink, the kind that comes with a melon kebab, salt necklace, and umbrella. Not Pacific Force. This smells more like sea spray - it is bitter, a touch salty, a little briny, and a lot "fresh" without anything extra added. Oddly enough, for a cheap soap, Pacific Force smells a lot like the ocean. The real ocean, not a cartoonish Coppertone ocean. It's pretty darn good.

Another criticism of Pacific Force is that it supposedly lathers poorly. I think it's bunk, really. It seems to lather no better or worse than anything else I've ever used. It has a bit of a tacky feel to it, even when dry, which is strange. Usually soap feels like plastic before it gets wet. This feels more like an old Post-it note. But it's not like I'm carrying my soap around with me between showers, so it doesn't matter. Pacific Force's bowed shape serves it well, allowing the bar to stand above wet fiberglass when not in use, which prevents mushy scum buildup. Its lather is moderately rich, and releases more of that bitter, ozonic-salty scent. After toweling off, my skin retains the simple flush of fresh bitterness, a good template for my SOTD.

If you haven't already, and you're a guy in need of one, try this soap. It's a lot better than I thought it would be, it leaves me feeling and smelling perfectly clean, and its fragrance is anything but a sweet cop-out. It's very masculine and fresh. It's a winner.

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