Shaving Soap Review: Captain’s Choice “North”

Posted: October 8, 2016 in Shaving Articles

Ease of Lathering:
Easy. Like all the other soft soaps or “croaps” I’ve used, this one loads into the brush easily, and can be brought to a creamy lather without doing anything involving black magic voodoo. It is easy to overlook this quality, as it is so frequently  present in the modern soaps. Still, being easy to load and lather should not be taken for granted. The chemistry involved in the soap making process is not inconsiderable.

Protection:
This soap, when lathered to the consistency you prefer, should provide you with good to excellent protection. I found that, whether I had a quite thick and yogurt-like consistency, or a bit lighter layer (perhaps on a later pass), it worked just fine. To be frank, most of the shave soaps you will find on the market (that are from reputable “real” wet shave companies) are going to provide pretty darned good performance. Yes, there are differences, but there are several known formulations that work well. You might discover that you prefer tallow-based soap, or glycerin-based. You might find that you like to have lanolin, or coconut oil, or a particular combination of saponifiers. Scent, of course, can be a great decider between soaps that perform in a similar way. Suffice it to say that the Captain’s Choice soap will not leave you wanting in regard to protection.

Residual Slickness:
I found that the residual slickness on this soap was quite good. I was able to take secondary passes without reapplying the soap, even with the Gillette Aristocrat razor, which is a design that acts much like a squeegee on the face, leaving very little soap behind. As should be mentioned, going over skin without a significant soap layer is not a technique I’d advise for the beginner. If in doubt, always dab a bit of lather on. Soap is a lot cheaper than Band-Aides. The whole point of the game is to shave off the hair without shaving off the skin. It tends to be more fun when you’re not engaging in macro-dermabrasion.

Scent:
My sense is that the scent of this soap, and its accompanying aftershave, will be greatly divisive. This is a soap with a strong scent. Its top note is juniper berry, I believe. It is meant to be a woodsy smell, and it clearly is. I find it to be almost an aggressive scent at first, almost antiseptic. There is an element of Pine-Sol here. I do tenderly love Pine-Sol, myself, but I don’t associate that type of scent with a shave product immediately. I bought this scent because it was totally different than anything I had. Different is what I got. With the soap itself, the scent isn’t going to linger. So as long as it doesn’t turn you off during the action of the shave, it won’t interfere with your further activities. If you’re considering it for purchase, I would say that there’s an element of gamble. You won’t hate the performance. You might dislike the scent, though.

Production/Value:
Captain’s Choice provides a high quality product, packaged well, that should perform as expected and contain the best ingredients. Their prices are a bit higher than the mass-market shave products, but right in line with what other companies are charging for a similar quality product. You’re not getting ripped off here. On the other hand, it isn’t Palmolive or Arko. The additional room left in the plastic soap jar makes it a bit easier to load from the container without getting foam all over the sink. That is a thoughtful inclusion on Captain’s Choice’s part.

Notes:
I wouldn’t recommend this scent as one of your first soaps or aftershaves. It’s too much of a niche thing for that. Too big a chance you’ll fail to dig the bouquet. Also, with any soap with a good amount of essential oil in it, you run the risk of a bad reaction. If you know yourself to be allergic or sensitive to coniferous oils or juniper, I’d think it would be better to pass on this one.

I believe I can generalize, however, on the quality of the soap. No reservations in that regard. Perhaps the sandalwood or bay rum would be a better first choice, if those scents tend to key into your sense of what shaves should smell like. I can say that the Captain’s Choice aftershave in sandlewood is superb. Perhaps my favorite aftershave smell. The Bay Rum gets great accolades, as well. If you have a few “safe” choices for soap, however, and are looking for something a little outside the mainstream, this might just be the thing. One final note. This might be a far better “winter” scent. There’s an element of this that reminds you of being out in the woods, cutting down trees.

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