Archive for the ‘Shaving Articles’ Category

Ease of Lathering: Easy. I have never had any issues lathering any of the soaps in this line. Whoever oversees these lines, it seems that one of their primary concerns is to make sure that the soaps create a lather. That’s just me making a theory. I have no idea. In any case, another good job by the RR guys here.

Protection: I find it interesting that Razorock produces so many different formulations of soap. They are all more similar than different, but there are subtle alterations to the formula that I don’t fully understand. In this case, The Stallion is a tallow version of their soap. It features aloe, but not argan oil, so it’s not exactly the “super tallow” formula that they have been putting in some of their most recent soaps. It is, I suppose, half way between the original tallow version, such as what you’d get in the classic XXX soap, and the newest version. All that put aside, this soap has very nice protection, producing an excellent lather that takes care of your face with plenty of cushion. No issues here to complain about.

Residual Slickness: With the tallow added to an already good soap, this stuff has a very nice slickness. I don’t believe that anyone taking part in standard shaving behaviors should have any problem. If you need more slickness than this, you may be pretty spoiled. Are there slicker soaps? Yes. At this price? Not that I am aware of.

Scent: Many shavers have indicated that this is one of their favorites in the RR stable. To be clear, this is a far more potent scent than the other Razorock soaps. It may be one of the most potently scented soaps I’ve used. What is the scent of Oud, after all? Well, going into the review, I didn’t know. I only knew that it had been considered to be quite something by some of those “in the know”. My feeling? I do like the woody, smokey smell, but it’s a little bit intense for me. I suppose I may have found my upper limit for scent comfort here. To give you an idea, the washcloth that I used to wipe off my face gave a blast of oud smell a few days later when I got it wet again. That might be more than I need, scent-wise. On the whole, the potency of the smell ended up being detrimental to my enjoyment of this product. Again, this will not be an issue if you, on the whole, tend to wish for greater scent power in your soaps. If you prefer a fairly mild scent, you’d be best served looking elsewhere.

Production/Value: As I’m almost getting tired of saying, Razorock/Italian Barber is awesome in terms of providing great value for the money. For ten bucks or less per tub, they’re killing it.

Notes: Because the scent is so intense, and the soap quality is, in essence, about the same as several other soaps that make up the same product line, I’m forced to come to grips with the fact that it will probably not be one of my high rotation soaps. Because I often shower after the shave, the scent power could be mitigated and not cause me any issues going forward, it could still be fine. That said, I’ve discovered that oud is probably not the note I appreciate most in my soaps. My qualms for this product, however, are limited to just the scent. Everything else is excellent.

Cheers, and Happy Shaving!

Peanut Butter is good. (If you’re not allergic, of course.)

The thing about peanut butter, though, is that it needs a little help from its friends. Much like Ringo Starr that way, peanut butter is.

Okay, let’s not get too far afield. We’re talking today about the idea of superlathers when shaving. What, exactly, is a superlather? Well, it’s basically using more than one type of shaving soap to create an amalgamated lather. Often, this is done because one soap is running out, and another one gets subbed in to get you through. That, or one soap isn’t quite doing the trick, so a stalwart like Arko or Palmolive gets used to save the day.

If we’re honest, we all end up with a few soaps that have some drawbacks in terms of scent or performance. Why not use them in a combination with another product that could shore up those drawbacks?

The two soaps in question are good quality products. I mean no indictment of them, but, for certain reasons, they aren’t my favorites.

  1. Mitchell’s Wool Fat – Super slick, but I have a hard time getting great, lasting lather.
  2. Derby Limon Cream – A great, inexpensive shave cream. It’s just a little shy on the slickness and face feel, as a lot of creams of this ilk are.

Looking at the two, they seemed prefect for a superlather combination. How did I do it?

Step One: Use the Mitchell’s like a shave stick

With a wet face, you rub the Mitchell’s soap puck against the grain of stubble. This coats the skin and hair follicles with the super slick tallow and lanolin, providing a base for the lather.

Step Two: Face lather with the Derby cream

Squeeze a moderate amount of cream (about nickle sized) onto the damp bristles of the shaving brush. From there, lather on the face as normal. You may need to work in a bit more soap, as you’ll be working with a bit more soap than you’re used to.

How did it work?

In a word, fantastic. I used this technique several times, and it yields performance on par with anything out there. With the slick tallow combining with the voluminous glycerin cream, you get the best of both. You take a classic soap that can be a bit tough to work with and a cheap mass-market cream, and they combine to make a lather that exceeds what they can accomplish by themselves. To some degree, you’re almost using MWF as a pre-shave lather booster, like Musgo Real or the like. I used Derby, but other creams would work just as well. I did also try it with Lucky Tiger, and results were exemplary. A great thing about Mitchell’s is that it has almost no scent of its own, so it won’t clash with your other soap, should it have a fragrance.

Highly recommended.

Cheers, and Happy Shaving!

 

I’ve done multiple reviews on Taylor cream. It’s good stuff, and is basically my reference for what a lathering shave cream is supposed to do. Thus, let’s get right down to the only difference between this one and the various others I’ve spoken about in the past. That being, of course, the scent.

Much has been said about the Taylor’s sandalwood. Many have gone on the record saying that it is their favorite sandalwood scent. For many people, their first “real” shaving gear tends to include this cream. It is heavily recommended by Amazon, and that probably has a lot to do with it. While I did go with a sandalwood soap as my first, I went with the Proraso Red. I am a fan of sandalwood. Woody sandalwood. My favorite versions of the scent are fairly forthright, without much in the way of cologne side scents to get it by. My favorite, to date, is the Captain’s Choice aftershave, which is basically sandalwood over the top of bay rum, with a strong woody element. Proraso sandalwood, with the strong primary scent, then some powdery barbershop scents over the top, also right up there.

You may feel that I’m not getting right to the point. This is true. I’m not. Why? Probably because, for me, this, the vaunted TOBS sandalwood just doesn’t do it for me. It is way too subtle, not nearly woody enough, and I get almost nothing once it’s lathered. It may as well not have a scent component at all, once it’s on the face. I was shocked and momentarily without any good idea of how to articulate this when I was doing my demo shave. I suppose that it is possible that I somehow got a batch that, for one reason or another, just didn’t have the full punch that it should. Mine is a sample. That said, every other sample I’ve tried has been at full power, and exhibited all the normal elements that the soap would do in a full container.

So, then, without wishing to, or wanting to, I have to say that my own findings are greatly at odds with the opinions I’ve heard about this soap. In my trip through the world of Taylor’s scents, it’s my least favorite to date. As is often said, scent is altogether subjective, so you may go along with the crowd on this one, and love it right to death.

Cheers, and happy shaving!

Ease of Lathering: Super easy. As with all the Razorock soaps, this soap is very easy to load, and lathers without any difficulty. It is very easy to get spoiled by RR soaps, as they just do their thing without any drama. No voodoo, no fussing around. The book on this soap is that it is a thirsty formula, where you really have to be willing to keep putting water into the mix to get the perfect lather. My experience is that there is no special treatment needed. I lathered it the exact same way as I typically do, and the soap worked perfectly.

Protection: This soap is a tallow formulation, though coconut oil is still the primary element. This is the same as the other tallow formulations that RR offers. Not a primary tallow formula, but a great vegan formulation, with tallow added to give you a little bit extra. Their new “super tallow” formula features aloe and argan oil, but that’s not what’s going on with this particular soap. It appears to be their previous formulation, like you’d find on the XXX soap, for instance. There is, however, one big difference. This formula features a thing called Fuller’s Earth, which I gather to be a mineral or clay that is said to improve face feel and protection.

I’m not well enough versed in the making of soaps to evaluate this claim, but I can tell you that this is another great soap by RR and Italian Barber. It gives excellent protection, with very voluminous lather.

Residual Slickness: I believe that one of the advertised advantages of Fuller’s Earth is that it has great slickness and treats your face well. I can’t gainsay any of these claims, as I had no issues whatsoever with the slickness or post shave while testing this soap. Once again, RR’s soap game is tight. At least for me, with the water quality here in Salt Lake City, and with the way I lather up soaps. As with any of my tests, they may not agree with everyone’s experience.

Scent: I was not totally sure what to expect with the scent of this MFer. It is a nice, gentle cologne scent, with some citrus notes. Not a lot of floralcy. In general, I find it a scent that has enough potency that you are aware of it, but not so strong as to be objectionable, even if you are not tolerant of scents in general. I’m quite fond of the scent here. I am seriously considering getting the themed aftershave. No issues here. I would say that you could probably mix a variety of aftershave scents with the small amount of lingering scent that this soap would leave behind. My sense is that it would not interfere, as it is a gentle, somewhat complex scent that shouldn’t punch through what would likely be a much more powerful scent riding above it.

Production/Value: Once again, I have to simply recognize that Razorock/Italian Barber provides absolutely top notch value. At the price point, there are no qualms or concerns that I can raise about what you’re getting for the money. For a high quality soap that can provide wonderful shaves, this one goes for ten bucks American (2017). That’s a damn good deal. With the Razorock soaps, which are fairly soft, they do ablate when being loaded. That said, they still give a lot of shaves per ounce. Great stuff.

Notes: If you’re into the scent profile you see, there’s really no reason not to try a Razorock soap. They are not currently fielding a bad soap formula. If you like tallow, get it. Highly recommended. And no, I’m not being in any way encouraged, remunerated, or supported by Italian Barber. Every product you see here has always been paid for, unless a friend has lent or given it to me. (No Razorock soap has ever been reviewed here that hasn’t been personally purchased.) Make of that what you will.

In wet shaving, there are some classic soaps that have done great service for many decades. Recently, I had the hare-brained scheme to do a bit of a comparison between them. A shootout, I suppose. I’m sure that my contentions will raise a certain number of eyebrows, but I’m just going to put my thoughts out there, for what it’s worth.

The Competitors:

1) Cella, the classic soft Italian soap from which pretty much the whole croap thing arose.

2) Proraso Green, another great Italian soap, this one with a cooling menthol and eucalyptus feel.

3) Mitchell’s Wool Fat, the tallow and lanolin soap of legend, for many reasons.

4) Tabac, the quintessential German shaving soap that tends to show up on Tuesdays…for some reason. <g>

Round One: Ease of Use

4th Place: Mitchell’s Wool Fat. Say what you want, “The Fat” isn’t the easiest soap to get a perfect lather out of. It’s one of the few soaps I’ll recommend people bloom. Even then, getting the correct load and lather isn’t like falling off a log.

3rd Place: Proraso Green. Even in third place, this is an easy, easy soap to work with. All the Proraso products are. Perhaps the only negative things I can say are that it ablates a little more quickly than the other soaps, and that it tends to leave a powdery residue on the sink and razor.

2nd Place: Cella. Cella is easy to lather, easy to load, and generally awesome. The only points it loses is that its classic container is a bit small, making it harder to get the brush down into the soap, and that it ablates somewhat quickly, being a soft soap.

1st Place: Tabac. I don’t believe I’ve ever used a hard-puck soap that lathered so easily. Through some magic of chemistry, this soap, without blooming, without any special treatment, can whip into a thick lather as easily as a croap. At the same time, the rate of use per shave is almost impossible to measure.

Round Two: Scent

4th Place: Mitchell’s Wool Fat. This is just a “clean” smelling soap. Really, it smells like bath soap to me. That might be perfect for some shavers, but I like to have a nose-full of something engaging while I’m shaving.

3rd Place: Tabac. At first, I wasn’t into the perfume-type scent at all. I’ve really come to like it a lot more over time, but it’s not a favorite for me.

2nd Place: Proraso Green: Good old, medicine-chest smell. I like the antiseptic smell of the menthol and eucalyptus. Others may have a differing opinion. Anyroad, there’s nothing left behind when the shave is done, so it’ll let your aftershave go forward unimpeded.

1st Place: Cella. The sweet almond smell of this soap always puts a smile on my face. It has just enough to bloom and make you feel like you’ve combined dessert and shaving for a few minutes. The smell goes away at rinse, though, so it won’t be fighting your cologne.

Round Three: Protection and Face Feel

4th Place: Proraso Green. While this soap has perfectly adequate protection and quite voluminous lather, it falls behind the other soaps here in terms of protection. The cooling feel nearly pushes it past the next competitor, but the quality of the other soaps just overwhelms the clearly mass-market Proraso a little.

3rd Place: Cella. This is a great old tallow soap. It works great, and is very slick. There are only a handful of soaps that can clearly best it. Some of those soaps showed up for this battle royale, though. I can say that, if this was just the soap of soaps, all I could get, I don’t know that I’d ever really have anything to complain about.

2nd Place: Mitchell’s Wool Fat. Yes, you heard me. Second. If it were just post-shave feel, it would be first, but because the lather from The Fat is more perishable and harder to get to that perfect, thick, creamy lather, and to keep it, Mitchell’s has to take the silver medal.

1st Place: Tabac. Last time I used this soap, I looked at myself in the mirror and just said, “That’s probably the best lather you’ve ever made.” Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of great soaps out there, and many of them make a heck of a lather. The combination of thickness, slickness, face feel, and durability of lather here is just legendary.

Round Four: Post Shave

4th Place: Cella. There’s no loser here. All these soaps work. Cella’s tallow formula isn’t the most nutritive you’ll find from a tallow-based soap. It’s fine, but this is tough company.

3rd Place: Proraso Green. This placing is pretty much solely because of the menthol and eucalyptus, which gives you a nice cool finish. Splash some mentholated aftershave on after a Proraso Green lather, and you’ve got a fantastic warm weather shave. I’d go with Aqua Velva, myself, but there’s a matching AS splash that many appreciate, as well.

2nd Place: Tabac. With a great tallow-based formuala, post shave feel is really excellent here, while the soap still washes away without a huge production (some high-fat/oil soaps can be tough to wash off). Few can climb the hill and challenge this old warrior.

1st Place: Mitchell’s Wool Fat. Tallow and Lanolin. A lot of lanolin. Say anything else about The Fat, but you can’t take anything away from its post shave feel. It’s kind of the king in that arena. Even more modern soaps with similar compositions don’t seem to be quite as soothing and nutritive. It’s this soap’s one true thing.

Final Standings:

I don’t want to say any of these great old soaps are “losers”. It should be mentioned that Proraso and Cella are both quite inexpensive, with Proraso being available for as little as around six bucks sometimes. None of these soaps are wildly pricey, but the two Italian soaps are certainly more affordable.

4th Place: Proraso Green. It’s a great hot-weather shave, a great workingman’s shave. It suffers a little in this difficult company, but deserves to be in anyone’s shave den.

3rd Place: Mitchell’s Wool Fat. The things that this soap does well, it does wonderfully well. It can be tempermental, though. It isn’t easy mode all the way down the line. That, and the lack of fragrance, holds it back in this test. Still, everythone should try it.

2nd Place: Cella. Just a great soap. Easy to work with, smells wonderful, and is available for a great price. No complaints here. It’s no wonder they sell this stuff by the kilogram.

1st Place: Tabac. It took me a while to fully appreciate this soap, and all its wonders. I’m still not as big a fan of the old-school, floral scent as some, but in terms of performance, yield, and just straight-up class, Tabac wins the day. For me. This year.

Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have other thoughts and opinions on the subject? What did I get wrong? What soaps did I miss? There could be a round two, maybe.

Cheers, and Happy Shaving!

 

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(Okay, it started out to be a quick take, but the knife ran away with the spoon, and I got rather long-winded. All apologies.)

I’ve tried a lot of soaps at this point. Many, many. I am not exactly a sheltered neophyte when it comes to Razorock soaps, to say the least. I think of myself, to some degree, as being spoiled and hard to impress. So…what can an honest, inexpensive little soap like this do to make me look up and pay attention? Let us begin.

I have another soap that uses the same vegan formulation as this soap. It is the Essential Oil of Lime. This is a coconut based formulation with argan oil to give it that little extra kick. It’s probably one step up from the most basic of the Italian Barber/Razorock formulations (due to the argan oil). I’ve never found a lot of fault with the Lime soap, so I didn’t have any negative thoughts going in. Then again, I’d just been bowled over by RR’s new “super tallow” formulation, and I thought that I’d probably be able to find some faults. Super things…being better than non-super things. That was the thinking.

Um, well…

I am having a hell of a time coming up with anything bad to say. Very quick to lather, very voluminous, and protected great. If you find that you either require or prefer a vegan formulation, this one will treat you just fine. I didn’t find it drying in post shave, but I typically use some sort of balm on most days. For a lot of the year it is very dry in the Mountain West. Winter, most especially (that’s when this was written). You almost can’t keep your skin hydrated. So, there’s that weakness in my test, I suppose.

What else is left? The scent. I am a big fan of lavender. For a long time, I did not know this was the case. Lavender? Younger me sort of scoffed at the notion. I wasn’t a wimp. Lavender was for…I didn’t know what it was for. Maturity set in at some point. I would say that this is an earthy, straightforward lavender. No spicy notes, no fancy footwork. Scent strength is moderate, not overpowering, but there’s definitely enough to give you a nice jolt of lavender. If you’ve smelled the lavender soap of the English bath soap made by Yardley, this is very similar. Perhaps just a tad bit darker and earthier, and a little stronger. They are a good match, though.

For six bucks American (2017, perhaps a sale price), this is a killer deal. The soap performs and smells as well as you could possibly expect it to. Once more, hats off to the guys at Italian Barber. This hobby doesn’t have to cost a lot. Razorock, at every opportunity, is proving that point. I would have a somewhat hard time giving you logical reasons why this soap gives up anything to ones costing two or three times as much. Shoot, even at double the price I paid, soaps are still considered a value bargain. If you like lavender, especially in a straight, no chaser kind of way, this is a must-have. On a final note, this is certainly a soap that could work with shavers of all genders, provided that they’re looking for that woody, soothing smell of lavender.
Minor soap box issue: I’d just like to say that any scent is totally fine for any shaver, irrespective of gender or other construct. If you like the scent, use it. We often make suppositions that a female shaver won’t be into some types of scents, and that some scents that we have been trained to consider feminine won’t appeal to the dudes. These are just generalizations. Everyone’s nose should lead them to where they need to be. If you like smoke and leather, have fun. If you’re all about spice, that’s great. If you’d prefer a lot of floral notes, that’s a hundred percent okay. My only request is that you don’t apply so much cologne or perfume that evidence of your passing lingers for several hours in the elevator. That seems excessive, and causes people sneeze more than they need to. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Cheers, and happy shaving!

Shave Soap Hotrodding

Posted: June 20, 2017 in Shaving Articles
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In a recent review, I wrote about The Body Shop’s Maca Root shave cream. It is a very high performance cream, perhaps the slickest cream available from any vendor I have tried. It performs at least on par with the best of the English creams, in my view. However, this product has a very neutral, somewhat uninspired scent. I am not alone in this assertion, as this generally seems to be the only complaint levied against the product.

As much as I liked the performance of the Maca Root cream, I found myself using it only rarely, as there are so many great soaps out there, many of which have wonderful scents to fill the shave den with joy.

The Idea: 

But…perhaps I missed the great opportunity that the Maca Root cream presented. We aren’t without agency and recourse in our shaves. We can experiment, combine, and customize our shave experience to suit us. The lack of a strong or present scent in the Maca Root product, combined with the great performance, makes it a great candidate for “mad science”.

The first soap I did this with was the Mitchell’s Wool Fat, as it also has a lack of scent profile (other than just a sort of soapy smell). While that does work, Mitchell’s is tricky enough to lather without starting to complicate things with a lot of additional ingredients (for me). The Maca Root cream, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to lather, so there is no impediment to the experimentation.

The Components: 

Pinaud Clubman Special Reserve is a grand old scent, available for cheap. It is, unlike some of the inexpensive cologne/aftershaves, quite strong and lasting. To me, it’s a great smell, one that reminds me of dudes when I was a young kid. I really like it, but it’s a bit too much for me to wear in most situations, as I get fatigued with the scent well before it begins to die away. Thus, it has languished a bit.

A little light popped on in my head, and I started thinking about how the potency of Special Reserve and the great performance of the Maca Root cream would go great together. With this in mind, I went in to have my nightly shave, and put them in combination.

The Method:

I put a slightly greater volume of the cream into my lathering bowl, dipping a finger into the cream and depositing about as much as a few stacked dimes in the bottom. I then shook about as much of the Special Reserve into the bowl as I’d use to splash on my face (a few healthy shakes). With a soaked, squeezed brush holding a bit less water than I’d normally use, I went to work. The lather built like you’d expect, and the great scent of the Special Reserve filled the shave den. The water balance was just fine, and the potency of the Special Reserve worked right into the lather with no additional difficulty. Success, at least this far along.

The Results: 

With the great lather that one expects from the Maca Root cream, I now had a nicely fragrant shave cream. The added scent totally dominated the light scent of the underlying cream, and there was no negative interaction there that I could smell. The shave came off great, and though some of the scent lingered after the shave, it wasn’t nearly as intense as splashing it directly on the face. For me, I shower after the shave, so I didn’t have to worry about having a long engagement with the Special Reserve, and growing tired of the smell.

What Did We Learn?

If you have a reasonably potent aftershave or cologne scent that you’d like to utilize in a shave soap, but said soap isn’t made (or at least is not in your possession), you can make it happen. Just take a high performance, low scent soap base, then beat the added fragrance into the lather and you’re off to the races.

For the base, I think it’d be hard to go wrong with The Body Shop’s Maca Root cream. It’s so easy to work with and performs so well, that you’d be somewhat hard-pressed to find fault.

It isn’t simply fragrances that can be added. I’ve added some Osage Rub to give a menthol and eucalyptus kick, along with some lemon essential oil. That shave was a beautiful, summery affair, reminding me more than a little of Proraso White. All you need is your imagination and a few additives to experiment with. I’m sure that all the old-time scents you can still get at the drug store, like Old Spice or Brut, could easily be put into the mix with good results.

Final Word: 

Don’t stand around the shave den lamenting products that are good, except for that one thing. Don’t look into your morning coffee and sadly wish for a scent that no one seems to want to make into a soap. You have the power to do some hotrodding and get what you want. You might have everything you need to make it happen, already in your shave stash.

Cheers,  and happy shaving!