Ease of Lathering: Fairly easy. I wouldn’t say that the Sterling formulation bursts into lather quite as easily as a few soaps, but it is not difficult to get a lather going. Amount of water required is fairly typical, and lather, once worked, is stable and well-formed.
Protection: Stirling’s soap base is well sorted out. It provides good protection during the shave. It is not as voluminous as a few, but certainly up for the task. Every soap formulation has a slightly different quality to the lather. Some create a dense lather that is not very thick when applied, while others are much like Cool Whip, with a huge amount of volume, but sort of fluffy, with less cushion than one would think. The Stirling soap hits a good mid-point.
Residual Slickness: Featuring a tallow base and other good ingredients, Stirling has excellent slickness, allowing the shaver to go over skin after the lather has gone without a lot of danger. I would say that it’s one step below the absolute best in slick soaps, but it’s darned good. Same goes for post shave.
Scent: I love, love, love the scent of this soap. Lots of apple, lots of cinnamon and spice. This is a nice, sweet, autumnal scent. Great for the holidays, if you’re not up for the darker fall scents. No complaints.
Production/Value: I feel like Stirling soap ablates pretty quickly when being lathered, needing a bit more product than some soaps to product the lather. That said, this is a fine quality product, and is offered at a great price. For the quality of the ingredients and the performance it yields, no complaints can be made about the price per ounce. If you can’t find a scent you like in the large stable of Stirling soaps, you may need a new nose. Packaging for Stirling products is no-nonsense, with the sample sizes being wrapped in plastic and the full sized products in their characteristic green plastic. Other mid-priced products feature more interesting graphic design and packaging choices, but Stirling certainly has established a “brand” with their own.
Notes: I was fortunate enough that a coworker allowed me to try out a bit of Stirling soap. It is possible that the lathering may have been easier when loading right from the full puck, rather than a small sample stuck to the bottom of a bowl. Otherwise, I fully stand by all the observations I’ve made. I would buy Stirling soap, considering my good experiences. However, I’m not absolutely certain I would by the Hot Apple Cider. Why? Primarily, it is because I’m just slightly sensitive to the amount of cinnamon in the mix, and it causes my face to feel a bit hot by the end of the shave. Not irritated, per se, but I wonder if I’d become so if I shaved with it over several consecutive days. Otherwise, no qualms whatsoever.
Cheers, and happy shaving.