Lend a Hand by Sudsing Up

I'm so excited to introduce a lovely new natural beauty brand that launched this fall: Hand in Hand. The brand and its signature Orange Blossom soap was created by two friends of mine, the very talented photographer Courtney Apple and her fiance Bill.

Courtney and Bill put extensive thought and research into their final product: a gorgeous Vermont-made bar soap that's scented with orange blossom, grapefruit and eucalyptus essential oils. The creamy soap cleans and softens skin with glycerin, cocoa butter and shea butter and is Fair Trade (for its cocoa and shea butter) and Natural Products Association (NPA) certified. The couple made a conscious decision not to use palm oil in their soaps, due to rapid deforestation of rainforests that's occurring from widespread use of palm oil. All in all, Hand in Hand is made with extremely eco-conscious natural ingredients.

But that's not even the best part.

For every bar you buy, Hand in Hand donates a bar to an impoverished area of the world where children are prone to illness (often deadly) that spreads more rapidly due to lack of hygiene. Studies have shown that hand washing with soap can eliminate almost half of these deadly diseases. For every bar you buy the brand also saves 50 square feet of rainforest in Southeast Asia. When was the last time you did nearly as much with one simple $8 bar? The first soap shipment will be sent to Haiti at the beginning of January 2012.

With the holiday (hostess gift) season coming up, I'm also planning to stock up on a few to give as last-minute gifts- in a stocking or a gift basket. They're as elegant on a bathroom vanity as they are functional by a kitchen sink.

And lest you worry for one moment that I might be the least bit biased in my review, let me assure you: I'm not the only one taking notice. Just ask InStyle, Daily Candy and Martha Stewart Weddings, who have already given Hand in Hand major recognition in the weeks since its launch. Better get on board now and lend a (clean, sweet-smelling) hand!