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Russian Alternative to French Perfume: The History of Soap Making in Russia

Sunday, November 10, 1:00-2:30pm
Members $6, Nonmembers $12. Call 978.598.5000 to register.

Marina Smirnov, creator, and owner of Finist natural beauty products will present the history of soap making in Russia. Marina will also speak about her soap-making practices that enhance the healing properties of herbs, clays, and essential oils, helping to recharge and restore balance and beauty. The lecture will highlight key aspects of the History of Soap-Making and Bathing in Russia. It will shed light on the origins and techniques of the “art” of making soap starting from medieval times and leading up to the present. But is making soap an art or a science? The answer is somewhat subjective, and the lecture will cover both aspects of the process. As part of the science behind the manufacturing of soap, an overview of the health benefits of using natural hygiene products, and what characteristics distinguish them from the rest, will be included. From the artistic perspective, various color, texture, and aromatic combinations will be discussed to give a sense of the breadth of possibilities when something as utilitarian as soap takes on artistic quality. You can see samples of products on Instagram or Facebook #FinistDesign. Products will be available for purchase after the lecture.

About Marina:
Marina Smirnov was born in Leningrad, USSR, currently known as Saint-Petersburg, Russia. From an early age, she showed an interest in art and an aptitude in creativity, which allowed her to complete a rigorous art-related curriculum in one of Saint-Petersburg’s schools. She then complimented her education in Russia by completing another 4-year degree program at the Massachusetts College of Art. Despite slowly transitioning to a career related to IT and software development, her passion for art and creativity remains. It is this interest to “create,” which, coupled with having sensitive skin herself and having a young son who also has sensitive skin, led her to start making quality, small-batch, handmade soaps in her very own home laboratory (a.k.a. “the kitchen”). After many trials and some errors, she has mastered the art of formulating new soap recipes and uses her creative freedom to craft soaps of various colors, designs, and medicinal qualities. All of the products she makes, starting from soaps and candles and finishing with bathing salts and lip balms, bear the hallmark of being tested and having a beneficial effect on the health and appearance of skin. The soaps are tested and used by the people who are most important to her: her family and herself. Thanks to her vivid imagination and zest for colorful and aromatic bouquets, Marina’s been making more soap varieties than her family can use. There’s now enough to share with the world!

Check out Marina’s website here.