Showering can often feel like a bore and a chore—especially when the alternative means getting a glorious extra 10 minutes in bed. But what if showering could in itself become glorious? What if you could, in some small way, look forward to those few minutes under the warm water, using the suds to coax your body and mind into the present moment? It’s possible. All you need is some damn good soap.
“I think that when you shower or you bathe, or even when you’re washing your hands, it can be such a special moment,” says Alexandra Hulley, founder of one such damn good soap company called Nectrous. “It doesn’t matter if you have kids or a partner or roommate, or whatever else is going on—it’s your time, and it can be really meditative, in a way. The tactile experience combined with the scent: I think it can be really transformative.”
Hulley has long been fascinated by the power of scent, and founded Nectrous in Vancouver after starting to experiment with making her own all-natural soaps—which she admits she did “on a lark.” But it turned out she loved the experimentation of it all, using her passion for aroma to produce soaps that nourish, hydrate, and yes, smell incredible.
“I love the process of having an idea of what I want to make, and then tweaking it—how much apricot kernel oil or shea butter to get a certain type of lather or a certain type of effect,” she says via video chat. Certainly, Nectrous soaps are cleansing and softening, but they are also visually gorgeous; especially the much-Instagrammed Terrazzo Bar, which looks like a colorful mosaic.
“I make individual batches of soap that are colored with different natural ingredients, things like spirulina, algae powder, and turmeric,” explains Hulley of making the Terrazzo. “I wait for those to set, and then reassemble them and pour another soap base on top.” With a beautiful orange and lavender aroma, it makes the act of sudsing up a truly luxurious experience (and has, quite frankly, taken this author’s own shower time to the next level).
Hulley has been working on Nectrous for a number of years now, but it was only when the coronavirus pandemic hit that she really took the opportunity to focus on it full-time. “I’ve worked in the service industry for my entire adult life, and there’s a lot of comfort and security in that,” she says. “I love soap-making, I love everything about it—but it was still hard to make that leap to trust in what you’re doing, and that what you’re doing can be something big and sustainable. And then, when COVID hit, and I was sort of forced into it because the restaurant where I was working just shut down. And I was like, ‘Okay, this is go time.’”
This increased attention on her brand has been fruitful so far (see: aforementioned Instagrammable Terrazzo Bar), most recently in a collaboration with Pure Sunfarms. To celebrate the cannabis company’s new digital lifestyle marketplace, Hulley was tapped to create a special collaboration soap.
“I wanted something that sort of was evocative of the brilliant, shining sun: nourishing and optimistic and bright and summery,” Hulley explains. “So I started with a base that was really moisturizing and nourishing, because that’s always key to me; I hate soap that dries out your skin. And then I wanted to do something aesthetic with that as well, so I did a turmeric ripple through it. And combined it with a really fresh, citrusy, green scent that smells alive and warm.” A bar of soapy sunshine is hard to beat, especially in the grey depths of winter. It’s enough to get you out of bed and into the shower, that’s for sure. Lather, rinse, repeat—it’s not a routine, it’s a ritual.