Ease of Lathering: Very easy. This Catie’s soap lathers about as easily as anything out there. Absolutely no complaints. The soap will tolerate quite a bit of water, if your favored consistency is a bit lighter. It can also remain very yogurt-like in consistency, should you prefer that. By gradually adding in water, which I’ve found to always be the winning strategy, you can pretty much dial in anything you prefer here. Catie’s soaps, if anything, may lather slightly faster than Proraso and Razorock formulations, two of the soaps that I have found to be some of the easiest to load and lather. If your choice of brush is very soft, or if you have no patience with swirling around on the soap to get things started, this is a formulation you should probably look into.
Protection: Excellent protection. Again, nothing whatsoever to complain about. Catie’s Bubbles did not get all its accolades without reason. This is a superb soap base, with nothing that could be called a misstep in terms of performance, in my book. As I mentioned above, you can tune the lather to your preference, simply using less or more water to suit your purposes. Cushion and protection were available here aplenty, even with more aggressive razors.
Residual Slickness: Really nice slickness here. This is another great example of how a skilled soap maker can create a vegan soap that kicks butt and takes names.
Scent: Ah, the old scent question. For me, I get mostly grapefruit zest, with the citrus element dominating the much softer lavender scent. I am not sure what I was expecting, but it was a bit more strident than I had anticipated. I don’t hate it, but it’s not my favorite. If I had to do it over again, I’d probably pick a different version of Catie’s to try. Ah, well. Scent strength is pretty stout, and the scent does linger after the shave, though it mellows on the skin. I would say that anything following it should be compatible with citrus. There is not a lot of sweetness here. Rather, the grapefruit smell is quite realistic, and the lavender, rather than mellowing it, simply provides a sort of earthy undertone. After using this soap for a while, I’m enjoying it more and more, but it was a bit of a surprise when I first opened it up. I would say that it isn’t for everyone, but it might be perfect for you. Such is the subjective realm of scent.
Production/Value: The packaging on this soap is high quality. It might not come across in pictures, but the soap tub is actually a deep blue, and is transparent, so you can see the level of the soap pour if there’s enough ambient light. The soap itself is really, really good. It’s a soft formulation, and I think that the ablation of soap will probably be, if not rapid, certainly palpable. At the price, which is around $16 or so for 4 ounces, it is a fair deal. Not a screaming deal, but not a rip-off. I would put this squarely in the mid-priced artisan category. Not necessarily for the most miserly or economically-pressured shaver, but you don’t have to be one of the leisure class to afford it, either. At the price, there is a lot of competition, but my experience indicates that Catie’s holds its own with pretty much anything out there, particularly if your preference is for a vegan base.
Notes: This stuff is lauded as many shaver’s favorite soap, and I can see why. The ease of use and performance are right where they need to be, and the packaging gets the job done. I think I’d give a slight edge in that particular area to Soap Commander, but Catie’s still has a very good jar, and the labeling works. I think some of their soaps are a little vague in terms of what the scent will be, but I believe that they’re getting better on this score. I’d recommend Catie’s wholeheartedly, but do your homework about which scent you prefer, and perhaps consider getting a sample before buying a whole tub. That is pretty much the advice I’d give for any soap from any maker, so I suppose it’s more of a general caveat. That way, you will have shaves that treat your nose as well as your cheeks.
Cheers, and happy shaving.