Helen Atherton, Dook
For those not in-the-know, ‘Dook’ is a Scots word for ‘to dip or plunge’. A particularly apt name as Helen lives and makes her soaps in Portobello, Edinburgh’s popular beach front (where it’s totally normal to see swimsuit-clad people strolling up the beach in February after an early morning ‘dook’). Until five years ago Helen was a primary school teacher who enjoyed being creative on the side, cooking, sewing, knitting, dabbling in a bit of soap making. But the classic juggle of small children and work led to her striking out on her own in 2018 with just £1500 of her savings. The Rosemary and Frankincense salt soap was the first product she sold, first to family and friends, then at Christmas fairs. In the early days it was tens of soaps a month, now it’s hundreds. The soaps were soon being sold in galleries and shops, and Helen has recently opened her own shop in Joppa.
The main product in the soap, 50% of it, is Himalayan salt, which creates a hard, long-lasting bar with a thick creamy lather. Most also have organic coconut oil and raw organic shea butter and none have sodium lauryl sulphate, a foaming agent pumped into cheaper soaps. The packaging is plastic-free, just boxes made from recycling cups, which helpfully means you can smell the soap before you buy. They’re all made in small batches by Helen herself, mixing clay and activated charcoal into the soap batter and pouring the (all natural) coloured mixture into the mould. The range now includes shampoo, conditioning bars, hair oil, bath soaks and a very cool organic cotton ‘soap saver’ bag, which you put the annoying end of soap into so you can use up the very last drop. Genius.