I’ve never reviewed a soap before but Vivid Gardenia “Perfume in a Soap” from Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes made me excited to venture into new territory.
Vivid Gardenia was released a few weeks ago in February 2022 and is described as “perfume in a soap.” I love gardenia, both in perfumery and in nature; the bigger, the better, as far as I’m concerned, but I also appreciate tender, fresh, green fragrances centered around the note so long as they are realistic, natural-smelling, and evocative. To the extent that a soap with a mere 3% olfactory or perfume materials can meet those criteria or replicate those facets, Mr. Tauer has succeeded wonderfully, in my opinion.
On Tauer Perumes, Mr. Tauer describes Vivid Gardenia, its ingredients, and its scent as follows:
Vivid Gardenia PERFUME IN A SOAP: A rich perfume blooming in pure vegan glycerin soap.
The vivid Gardenia perfume in a soap enchants with its mystical green airy gardenia flower petals. Their white delicacy is emphasized with all natural Jasmine absolute (J. grandiflorum) and a graceful green Bourbon geranium note. A lush rose bouquet with hints of amber and sandalwood harmonizes the floral bouquet. The gardenia perfume in a soap blooms wonderfully in soap, it projects and lasts, and will fill any room with the seductive perfume of white gardenia in bloom.
Shipment: This product ships with International PRIO mail from Zurich, Switzerland
All Tauer perfumed soaps (perfume in a soap™) are hand made in Switzerland, using packaging materials sourced entirely in Europe, using pure vegan glycerin soap. They come cellophaned (around the soap and the packaging) to preserve the fragrance until use. The perfume concentration in vivid Gardenia is 3%..
I would like to share with you Mr. Tauer’s thoughts, from years ago, on the olfactory facets of gardenia and how he sees them. To quote from his official description for his Sotta La Luna: Gardenia in my review of that same fragrance:
When working on the gardenia fragrance, I […] learned that the gardenia fragrance is different every day. Its notes are the most beautiful during the night, with notes of fresh spices, of roasted coffee beans, of mushrooms in wet moss, creamy sweetness of jasmine, narcotic beauty and the gentle perfume of rose buds, with vibrant woods and balsamic sweetness.
Mr. Tauer has incorporated several of these aspects in Vivid Gardenia soap. When I sniff the virgin bar just unwrapped from its cellophane, I’m greeted by creamy, quietly mushroomy, minimally indolic, fragrant, and very naturalistic gardenia. Its blooms are lush, ripe, but also fresh and green.
Their heady aroma is supplemented by an equally mushroomy but also fresh and green tuberose that’s been splattered by green floral sap and a floral, tuberose sweetness.
When the scent of Vivid Gardenia in the unused soap bar is taken as a whole, the cumulative effect smells of: a clean, budding, but also ripe, fleshy, heady, sweet, creamy bouquet of gardenia and tuberose, imbued with authentic mushroom undertones, carefully sweetened by a touch of vanilla, splattered by indistinct greenness, then set upon a pale, soft woody base. What comes to mind are white flowers represented from buds to blooms, green leaves, sap, and woody stem. I love it.
When used in the shower, lathered, and applied to wet skin, Vivid Gardenia’s bouquet is significantly simpler and blurrier but still thoroughly enjoyable. My reductivist, nutshell impression in the shower is of floral cleanness with a subtle creamy subtext. However, if I sniff my arms and the sudsy, soapy loofah ball up close, Vivid Gardenia’s scent suggests – vaguely – white florals, woodiness, sweetness, and an occasional passing hint of something floral that is also mushroomy.
Upon leaving the shower, Vivid Gardenia leaves my skin feeling clean but not stripped the way that some commercial bars of soap occasionally do. The initial whiffs coming off of me are of clean softness.
To my surprise, however, 5 minutes after leaving the shower and drying down, I noticed that my arms were wafting a soft, muted, miniscule but definite fragrance bubble that smelled of sweet, clean white floral creaminess. If I sniffed my arms intently up close, there was a blurry, hazy note that, once in a while, translated into “creamy, mushroomy gardenia with woods.” That said, it was only once in a blue moon that a woody subtext appeared. The majority of the bouquet was a simple but pretty white floral creaminess with just a sliver of mushroom floralcy layered within.
I didn’t expect Vivid Gardenia to last on my skin at all, but it did in its own quiet, muted way, at least if I sniffed my arm up close. 40 minutes in, whatever sillage there was from the small floral scent bubble around me shrinks and basically disappears, though Vivid Gardenia is still apparent in its floral creaminess when I sniff my arm up close. Outside, there is nothing remotely detectable unless I put my nose right on my arm and even then, it’s only a weak, dying flicker. However, inside the house, Vivid Gardenia is easily detectable if I sniff my arm up close for over 2 hours. Yes, it’s a merely a quiet smear on the skin but it’s unquestionably redolent of clean, slightly sweet, naturalistic, gardenia-ish cream floralcy.
To be crystal clear, Vivid Gardenia does not have the sort of gardenia aroma that you would find in a proper fragrance with anywhere from 8%, 14%, 18%, or 22% perfume concentration, nor is its aroma as clear, powerful, or unmistakable as the gardenia bouquets would be at those levels in liquid olfactory form. How could it be? But for a mere soap, I’m impressed that Vivid Gardenia has lasted over 2 hours, let alone on my skin which is particularly aggressive in eating up floral or majority floral compositions.
I really enjoyed Vivid Gardenia, and I would recommend it both to gardenia lovers and to anyone who wants to buy a gift for a gardenia lover. It’s priced at $20, which seems like an excellent price for a high-quality niche soap with an authentic and nuanced creamy gardenia aroma and for a 100 gram bar that will last a while.
Plus, there’s the comfort factor which I’d argue is significant. The last few years have been incredibly stressful, mentally and emotionally exhausting, and turbulent. The last week alone felt like a month due to the war in Ukraine. Costs are rising for everything, making simple pleasures and affordable self-care more important than ever before. In this context, $20 for a wonderfully fragrant, smooth, luxurious olfactory escape every day when you take a shower feels like a perfect small indulgence, if you ask me.
Andy Tauer offers a few other soaps besides Vivid Gardenia. You can see them listed in the Details and retail section below. They range from tuberose to ambered citrus and one with iris, leather, citrus and woods called “Data Miner.”
If you’ve always been curious about Tauer soaps or about luxury niche scented bath or body products generally, if you’re looking for a small luxury indulgence that will be a scented escape every morning (or night) when you take a shower (or bath), or if you’re a passionate gardenia lover, then I strongly recommend Vivid Gardenia. Given the rounded, smooth, enjoyable quality of its bouquet, I bet the others are just as lovely and I hope to test that theory with Mr. Tauer’s Tuberose soap.
In short, this is good stuff. I recommend it.
Disclosure: My Vivid Gardenia soap was provided courtesy of Luckyscent. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews and my opinions are my own.
I know I’d love this! I get my gardenia fix from Gardenia by Elie Saab.