Breena and her husband recently started up a line of bath & beauty products out of South Florida under the name The Happy Manatee, and since I like soap and they like me, they sent me a bunch of samples to try out. I'm perhaps obviously biased, what with the owner being a friend of mine and having received free samples, but what follows are my honest, objective-as-possible opinions about the products I tried.
Gingerbread Salt Scrub [$7.99 for a huge tub]
I'm a) wary of scrubs and b) in love with this stuff. The former is because my skin's pretty sensitive (read: acne prone, with a tendency to flake & fall off at the very thought of exfoliation & other preventional attempts), and the latter is because this scrub is blissfully massagey without being scratchy, with a lot of moisurizing oil and a comfortingly warm, very clovey ginger-cinnamon-spice scent that will last a couple hours on your skin if you don't wash it off. It'd be great for unwinding by yourself or with a showerfriend (nod-nod-wink-wink-say-no-more). Use it before you soap up for a little moisturization, or afterwards for a whole, whole lot. I'll get several applications out of this tub. My only gripe about this stuff is the snap-lid container, which becomes difficult to open when it's oily and wet, which is necessarily what happens in, say, a shower. It might be easier to use in a bath, or when the container has seen a bit of wear. They've also got a Peppermint Salt Scrub and a Coffee & Sugar Scrub.
Peppermint soap [$4.99 for an averagely bar-sized bar]
This soap smells lovely, like a meltaway peppermint candy with just a hint of vanilla. It foams up really creamily with lots of suds and practically no scent other than a touch of sweet cleanness when used with a loofah (the peppermint comes out more, like tea, when it's used directly), and the scent lingered on my skin for maybe half an hour after my shower. The soap is marbled red and white, with a sweet surprise of red glitter scattered sparingly throughout. When used all by its lonesome for test purposes, it did leave my skin a bit dry -- but that's mostly just my sensitive skin + dry winter weather. I'd absolutely recommend this as a body soap for people have sturdy skin or who don't mind moisturizing after a shower, or as a hand soap to everyone. They've also got 6 other scents & formulas that I'm not going to read about right now because I have a weakness for soap and currently own more than I'll use in a year.
Cocoa Body Lotion Bar [$4.99 for 2 1-inch-square bars, 1.5 ounces total]
In bar form, this solid lotion smells like -- well, like a piece of chocolate. Just from the cocoa butter it's made with, apparently! It comes wrapped like a chocolate, in pretty gold foil (which is a bit difficult to peel off when the bar is cold -- you might want to warm it in your hands for a minute or so before trying to remove the foil). Once it's settled into my skin it smells a bit less sweet and more musky/dusty/sexy, and the scent lasts a good couple hours but doesn't have very much throw, which I like in a lotion. It feels greasy until it soaks in, but that's how solid lotion bars go -- it's a very rich sort of moisturizer, best for when your skin really needs help. A little is quite enough to get along with, so even though the bar is only about an inch square, it'll last me awhile.
Mint Chocolate Body Butter [$9.99 for a 6-ounce tin]
This stuff smells and feels sinful. I'm honestly not big on lotions, but I keep coming back to this -- the texture is velvety, and it smells like Thin Mints. Like the Cocoa Body Lotion Bar, it's a bit greasy on your skin until it's had time to soak in, so give it a few minutes after application before you go putting on nice clothes. The mint fades and the chocolate amps on me after it's been on awhile, going more musky/dusty/sexy. I think it's got maybe a tiny bit more lasting power and throw than the Cocoa Bar, but not by a lot. Just thinking about it makes me want to go put some on. I apply lotion sparingly, and this tub will last me just about forever. They've also got 3 other body butter scents.
Baked Goods Candle [$10.99 for a big ol' Bell jar filled with candle]
When I first received it, this candle had an almost overwhelmingly strong bakey/cinnamony scent, but I left it to cure for a few weeks and it mellowed into something quite gentle and nice, like snickerdoodles (and this coming from a monkey who prefers subtle, cleaner, more boylike scents in candles). As it burns, it mostly just smells waxy -- you really only get the bakey scent by sniffing it directly, and when you blow it out -- which I consider a candle win. I haven't had it lit for very long, but it didn't smoke or sputter, and seemed to be slow burning. I'm looking forward to reaching the other layers to see what they smell like. And I love that it comes in a Bell jar -- makes it easy to minimize the scent when you're not using it. They've also got 10 other candle scents and 3 massage candles.
Cleopatra's Milk Bath [$5.99 for a 6-ounce tin]
My tablespoon-sized sample of this wasn't quite enough for a tubful of water (I suspect you'd need at least twice that much for a full bath), but it softened the water and gave off a gentle, cleanly pretty, soft citrus-rose scent. I used mine in the teabag it arrived in to mitigate potential flotsam (you might want to do the same if you don't like floaty bits in your bath), but the rose petals, lavender buds, and orange peel would probably be very pretty when used loose. It's just a tiny bit pinkish from the rose petals, which you shouldn't leave sitting in your tub, as they might leave a stain to be scrubbed. I'm curious to try using more!
Japanese Cherry Blossom Fizzie (currently only offered as part of gift sets [$14.99 for a bar of soap, 2 fizzies, and 2 lotion bars])
If the Milk Bath smells pretty, the Cherry Blossom Fizzie smells sexy. Possibly dirty-sexy. In an excellent if incongruous-to-bathing way. It's floral and musky, and I could swear that ylang-ylang is involved in it somehow. One li'l hemisphere was enough to just lightly scent my bath, but I'd probably use two next time 'cause I'm so enamored with the scent. The fizzie action was excellent and entertaining, not at all lackluster the way some bath fizzes can be, and it had just enough olive oil in it to make the bath moisturizing without the tub getting all slippery. The light pink color only barely affected the bathwater. They offer 3 other fizz scents in other gift boxes.
A Note on Packaging and Ingredients
Though the packaging isn't anything fancy, it's all very greenly minimal, mostly practical, and (best of all) mostly reusable. Though the ingredients aren't listed in full on the website at the moment, they're similarly minimal and practical, generally vegan and with no preservatives. I'm picky about what I put on my skin (see above re: sensitive and acne-prone), and I felt good about using everything I received. If you have any questions about their products, I'm sure The Happy Manatee staff would be glad to answer them. Or leave a comment here, and I'll get answers back to you as soon as I can!
And hey, as a thank-you to Breena for sending me things and to you for reading (or, y'know, scrolling) this far, I'm offering a contest! One lucky commenter will win a small gift box of their choice from The Happy Manatee! Just leave a comment with your email address and the name of the small ($14.99) gift box you fancy (for yourself or someone deserving of a good pampering), and one week from today, on Sunday, December 19th at 5:00pm, I'll randomly draw a winner to receive their desired gift. You must comment with your email & the name of a gift box to enter, but I'll give you an extra entry for linking to this post publicly on Twitter, Delicious, and/or Facebook, for a possible total of 4 entries! Just comment with a link to your tweet/delish/FB post so's I'll know you