Pucker up

Mar 17, 2010 at 12:00 am

When I was a kid, I remember my mom taking me to a Wonka-ish shop that sold fake pill bottles filled with candy. 

It wasn't the sugary contents that made me decide I had to have one. It was the packaging. After all, who could resist candy "pills" labeled super rich, beautiful and brainy

I knew they weren't real, but I had a lot of fun pretending they were. Of course, the folks who peddled this junk to kids were about as wise and responsible as the creators of candy cigarettes.

It cost me most of my allowance and gave me cavities, but my earliest experiences as a consumer taught me to recognize and appreciate the charm of product labels. 

These days, I like to think I'm older and wiser, though I'm still a sucker for marketing, especially when it comes to fetchingly packaged beauty stuff. With technological advances and stiff competition, the best brands can deliver, believe it or not, with that kick of imagination and savvy marketing backed by heart-beating personality. 

Hence up-and-coming companies such as Lush Handmade Cosmetics, whose shower gels sport names like Tramp, Happy 4 Sad, Narcotick, and Sonic Death Monkey. What's not to like? 

So are you a decadent diva, demanding voluptuary, eco-conscious fop or energetic self-promoter? Or are you like me, a daydreamer with a soft spot for clever advertising?

While you ponder that, below are suitably labeled body washes, soaps and scrubs that'll leave you all squeaky with that, um, unsoiled feeling. 

City Map Soap 
City Bird 

City Bird offers City Map Soap. Each bar is handmade here in the Motor City. Glance inside the clear vegan glycerin, and you'll see a fragment of a Detroit street map. Choose from a mosaic of different shapes, colors and scents. The map stays visible till the soap is gone. See ilovecitybird.com or visit their retail shop (460 W. Canfield St., Detroit; 313-831-9146).

B Electro Shower Gel 

Vancouver-based Lush Handmade Cosmetics marked the year its hometown hosted the Winter Olympics by launching a racy limited-edition shower gel. B Electro is infused with grapefruit and tinted neon green to foam away morning grogginess or hangovers; its floral bouquet's rather seductive too. But don't let the flowers fool you. B Electro would rather be the first to cross the finish line than stop and smell the roses. Get it for a limited time at lush.com

Stinky Hippie Body Wash 
Scrub Your Butt Soap Company

It might have the dirtiest name in the beauty biz, but Scrub Your Butt takes getting clean very seriously. Stinky Hippie body wash is whipped up with an organic soap base and essential oils of patchouli and lavender. It naturally and gently liberates any free spirit from countercultural grime. And it smells great under hemp or tie-dye. See scrubyourbutt.com

Some Like It Hot Thermal Scrub
Soap & Glory 

Ad images that range from apron-clad 1950s housewives to sassy pin-up girls give this beauty brand its ironic retro appeal. Some Like It Hot thermal scrub is 100 percent sweet sex appeal. It contains a special blend of self-activating minerals that gives your shower some extra "heat." Natural oils, sugar, vanilla seed, and white sand exfoliate and soften skin. To top it off, it looks and smells like bubblegum. See soapandglory.com

Pink Hand Grenade Soap
Stinky Bomb Soap

No, it doesn't come from an arms dealer. This aloe and olive oil soap is made by a husband and wife team in Columbus, Ohio. They cast their 3-D soaps from actual demilled WWII steel body grenades. The generous 5-ounce bar is an ironic hot pink and has a black cherry scent, which is best enjoyed at home. Stinky Bomb gives a percentage of each bar sold to the Wounded Warrior Project. See woundedwarriorproject.org or stinkybombsoap.com.

Norene Smith loves commenting on beauty products. Send comments to her at [email protected]