Cella and the question of progress

Posted: November 13, 2017 in Shaving Articles
Tags:

Things are getting better. We’ve come so far.

This is the rallying cry that we hear in the shaving world with some frequency. Every year, soap makers come out with better formulations that lather quicker and provide more glide and feature thicker, silkier texture. New things. Better versions of awesome. With Argan Oil and Nutrient X (I just made that up).

I have a great many different modern soaps, from several different brands. Are they good? Yes. Often very good. Fantastic, even. There is a tangible difference between the soaps. The way they load and lather. The amount of water they require. All the stuff that I write reviews on. In some cases, a change in formulation for a particular brand will yield some perceivable benefit.

Don’t get me wrong. The number of great choices in today’s wet shaving market is fantastic. I love it. I hope things continue to be so focused on innovation and progress. It’s a great time. A time of being spoiled for choice. Barring allergies and sensitivities, it’s hard to make a really bad choice with any reputable artisan. Even a small amount of study can get you into a brand that will treat you right.

But…if it’s all about progress, where does that leave the old, storied brands of soap? Have they been far outshined, consigned to be the dusty relics of the past? Let’s think of Cella soap, and use that as our basis for today.

Cella has been around essentially forever. Since 1899. It says so right on the package. I don’t know if the formula has changed over that span, but even if it has, I don’t think it invalidates my point altogether. We’ll just talk about what it is today, because we can’t time travel into the past to test it out. We shall assume that it was good then, and that people liked it. Why? Because they’re still making it now, and the company is still in business. Seems logical.

The Cella of today is no more expensive than your average artisan soap. Cheaper than some, more expensive than a few. Like the bulk of the artisan soaps, it is a soft croap (very soft, in Cella’s case). It is based in tallow and coconut oil. Again, not unknown in the wetshaving world. Likely, it has been formative to what shaving soap even IS to a lot of artisans, throughout the years. Similarities almost have to abound.

I’ve been using Cella, both A/B testing it with some of the best soaps available today, and just day to day through the last several weeks. Here are my thoughts:

When you know how to use Cella, it requires no real sacrifice of quality, even when compared to the best artisan soaps of today. It is easy to work with, provides a great lather, and is kind to your skin (provided that you are not sensitive to any of the ingredients. I am aware that some have a sensitivity to the calcium carbonate in the formulation. Happily, I am not one of those people.) To my nose, the sweet almond scent is always a winner. Even if it isn’t particularly compelling to you, few would complain about it. The scent doesn’t linger, so any aftershave you wish to use will be fine.

Weaknesses? If pressed, I would list two. The first is that, because of the extreme softness of the croap, the rate of ablation is greater and faster than other soaps might show you. Particularly, a triple milled soap is going to last longer, ounce for ounce. The other weakness I would list? The wee, narrow jar. The classic red jar, while iconic to the brand, makes it harder to lather than a wider mouth container might. This is easily fixed, as one can scoop out a little and put it into a lathering mug or bowl. You can also get this stuff by the kilogram, in case you just don’t want to have to think about soap for a long, long time.

So, then. If we factor the price vs. yield, where does that leave Cella?

For me, very much still in the mix. You can get a fantastic shave with this stuff. Maybe a few soaps are a little slicker. Maybe a few have even denser lather (very damned few). Maybe a precious couple leave your face with better post shave (yes, Mitchell’s Wool Fat fans, I hear your shouts). All that said, Cella still stands as a great option, an option that could easily be your set-it-and-forget-it shave soap.

Progress is a great goal. Progress has been made. The long, long shadow of the classic products have yet to be altogether escaped. For me. Let me know what you think.

Cheers, and Happy Shaving!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s