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Ease of Lathering: Quite easy. The Soap Commander soap base is not a very hard soap, but it isn’t as soft as the the popular “Italian soft soap” or “croap” that you’ll see from a lot of makers. It does take a bit longer to get the brush fully loaded than some of the soaps out there. Nothing to detract from the performance or estimation of the soap, just trying to put things into perspective for you. No real challenge to load and lather, but doesn’t leap into a lather without any provocation. On the loading/lathering continuum, I would say that it is not as easy as Catie’s Bubbles or Razorock, but easier than Barrister and Mann, if that helps put it into perspective.

Protection: The Soap Commander puts in a performance worthy of his rank here, as this is a seriously rich and protective product. The feeling when you swirl this soap onto your face is truly luxurious experience. There is a sort of glide and richness that you don’t get with all products. Particularly, this tends to be a hallmark of the really good artisan makers, and rarely happens in a mass-market product.

Residual Slickness: Great. Let it not be said that it is impossible to create a vegan base soap that needs no excuses made for it. This stuff is slick, and leaves your face in really excellent condition. The post-shave feel is superb. In case you’re not getting the message, this stuff is racking up some great grades here.

Scent: Let me attempt to remain objective and refrain from delighted “squee” sounds. Damn. This stuff smells A-fricken-mazing. It has jumped right to the top of my favored smells. I’ll open the tub and smell it for a minute when I’m not even in the room on “shave business”. The official notes are teakwood and cardamom. There are several notes below that, like cinnamon and amber. What does that mean? It is a dark, warm, woody smell, with sweet and spicy following and underpinning that wood smell. It would complement a sandalwood or a bay rum smell, as notes are shared with both of those scents. This is, however, a thing unto itself. A wonderful thing. Scent strength is above moderate but in no way pungent during the shave. Just enough to fill the room with the smell of awesome during your happy little depilatory ritual. Because the scent comes from actual essential and fragrance oils, rather than chemicals, it lasts a while, if not covered by another scent. Top, top marks here. Wow.

Production/Value: The packaging on Soap Commander products is not flashy, but it’s extraordinarily well thought out. The graphic design is cohesive, clear, and functional. The soaps, while having a motto, as it were, (Passion, in this case) also make it clear what their fragrance notes are, right on the label. I like this, which is more of an exception in the wet shaving biz. Some soaps make it damn near impossible to tell what they might smell like. While having your soap named something neat, like “Zanzibar”, is great and all, it’s friendlier to the customer to be upfront. Okay, off the shaving soap/soap box with me. This is six ounces of high quality soap, made of excellent components, and with a nice, oversized tub that makes it easy to lather inside the container. It is offered at a very fair price. The solidity of the soap makes be feel that it will ablate slowly, so the shaves per ounce should be quite high. Perhaps not quite what a triple-milled tallow soap would be, but damn good. To me, the value is really solid. At $15 for 6 ounces (2016, Winter), you’re talking about really good price to volume.

There are cheaper soaps, but few of them are anywhere near this good.

Notes: I’ve pretty much gushed about Soap Commander in this review. I stand by my raves. This stuff is pretty rad. I’m seriously considering getting more Soap Commander stuff, though I need more shaving soap like I need a colony of puff adders in my sock drawer. At this point in my gear acquisition disorder, it takes something a little special to spark this level of attention. I’d been hearing about Soap Commander for a while, and I’m very glad I tried it. Highly recommended.

Cheers, and happy shaving!

 

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In the current wet shaving climate, many online shaving shops have their own “house brand” razors. Typically, these shops are contracting out the manufacturing or having a preexisting razors branded with their logo. For instance, a particular razor that is a twist-to-open design that is mass produced in the Far East and is subsequently sold under several name brands for a wide range of prices. Is this okay? Sure. Honestly, it is. If the razor is a good design, why re-invent the wheel?

In any case, my impression is that Maggard’s has specifically had a hand in the design and quality control of their razors. The heads are branded as being made in India, from what I’ve seen. I am not certain about their handles, but they are extremely well priced for a stainless handle. I infer from this that they are machined in India or the Far East. There are four Maggard’s head designs, and I’ve purchased all of them. I will be comparing and contrasting their qualities as the reviews are written and posted.

The first in line is the razor that they call the “V3”. This is clearly a razor head that is directly inspired by the flat-baseplate design of the Edwin Jagger DE89/Muhle R89/Merkur 34C. Maggard is not alone in creating a razor that is similar to this design. Taken as a whole, this basic design likely comprises a fairly significant percentage of razors sold. Why? Because it is a successful design that hits a great balance between efficiency and safety. For a large cross-section of the shaving populace, these moderate shavers are able to provide close and comfortable shaves. They control the blade well and are easy to use.

The V3 is thusly named because it is the third version of Maggard’s standard razor. It’s a closed comb razor with average blade reveal and a moderate blade gap, just as its historical antecedants were. It looks almost identical to the Edwin Jagger razor. The head itself is zinc alloy with a hard chrome plating. As was mentioned earlier, the bulk of Maggard’s handles are stainless steel. I elected to use their handle, though I could have easily mounted their heads onto a handle already in my possession.

I have owned a Murkur 34C in the past, and found it to be a good shaver for me. Although its performance was always good, I never felt any great emotional connection with the razor, and ended up giving it to a friend. If I were not a hobbyist, I could have easily used it as my only razor, and had a good experience. When you accumulate a lot of gear and engage a large amount of your brain power overthinking things, however, you sometimes fall out of love with a perfectly functional tool. It’s a hazard.

Thus, I felt that, at the outset of the test, I had a fairly good feeling and understanding about how this type of shaver performs.

I found the fit and finish of the V3 to be very good. No holdays in the chrome could be found, and the blade aligned without issue. I elected to use it with their “MR5” handle, which is a heavy, thick bar of steel that features a pattern that incorporates multiple finger grooves, interspersed with cut, checkered knurling. It is a fairly short handle, on the heavy side. It has clean, effective knurling and nice machine work. Perhaps not the very last word in perfect finish work, but very nice. There is nothing about any of Maggard’s razor handles that I have found to impede a shave.

I chose to use a Polsilver Super Iridium for my first shave. With a mild to moderate razor, my experience has been that they work to their best advantage with a fairly sharp blade. The Polsilver, in my estimation, fits this descriptor.

The combination of the V3 and the MR5 yielded a razor of great robustness that was easy to handle and comfortable to employ. The feeling of quality belied the fact that the combination could be purchased for under $30. Handling dynamics and solidity were well above that economic weight class, in my view. Stainless handles with a lot of machining typically come on razors that sell for over a hundred dollars. The zinc alloy head did not let the whole razor down in looks or tolerances, seeming altogether at home and consonant on the stainless handle.

Looks, however, do not tell the tale. These are not paintings. They are not collections of stamps. They are functional tools. They have to perform their function, or they are of no value.

Well, I can tell you that the V3 is an exemplary shaver. With a beautifully calculated and favorable ratio between comfort and efficiency, the razor gave me exemplary shaves over three passes. At no time did the shave ever feel rough, dangerous, or painful. There was none of the “skating” that mild designs can sometimes fall prey to. There was no overt incisiveness that can plague a more aggressive razor. There was just the polite and appropriate amount of efficiency for a close, comfortable shave.

The shaves that the Polsilver/V3/MR5 handle combination gave me were right up there with the closest I’ve had, and I finished each one with a face free of irritation. This is a really, really, good choice, unless you must have a high-aggression razor. I would say that the V3 is slightly more efficient than the Merkur 34C, but, if anything, a little gentler on the face. The MR5 handle trounces any of the options you might see from Edwin Jagger, Merkur, or Muhle on a razor of this kind (in my view).

To me, Maggard’s has a complete home run with this razor. Paired with a sharp, smooth blade, it will treat you right, provided you are a fairly regular shaver with stubble in the light to average coarseness range. If you only shave once a week, maybe less so, or if you have super coarse stubble.

With each successive round of testing and experimentation, I grow harder to impress, but the V3 from Maggard has impressed me. It’s an excellent bargain, and has all the right moves for a beginner razor or a daily shaver for guys who like to stay on top of their stubble without wrecking their face.

Although I have a great many razors that cost a lot more, this one feels like a keeper. I immediately connect with it far more than I ever did the Merkur. Nice job, Maggard.

In future articles, I’ll run through the rest of the razors, ranking them in terms of likability scale and giving my best impression of their appropriate usage case.

Cheers, and happy shaving.

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1) Sharpness: Good (not quite Great)
2) Comfort: Good
3) Value: Good to Fair
4) Availability: Good
5) Country of Origin: Germany
6) Passes “First Shave Test?: Yes
7) Longevity (# of shaves): 3
8) Notes: According to my research, the Bolzano blade was once the double edged blade of choice for professional Italian barbers. It was, from what I’ve learned, one of the “shave secrets” of the Italian market, revered for not only sharpness but longevity. I’ve heard stories of people getting eight or ten shaves on a blade with some frequency.

In the modern era, production of these blades has moved to Germany. That, for me, is a bit of a strike against the blade, simply because I typically don’t get along that well with German-production blades (except for Wilkinson Sword Classics, which are great). So, I wasn’t sure.

I picked up a pack of them nonetheless, as I’ve seen many people laud them as great blades. Trying this stuff becomes a bit of an obsession after a while. We keep looking long after we’ve found “it” in terms of gear. It can be silly at some points. That said, blades are pretty cheap, and so it’s not a lot to venture. As I’ve often mentioned before, it’s also imperative to forward the causes of GREAT SCIENCE, so I really have no choice in the matter. I must acquire gear. And test it. And write stultifying articles relating my findings.

The first razor I tested the Bolzanos with was the Gillette Slim Adjustable. I was using setting 9, and performing two pass shaves. I have a good handle on how this razor feels using this methodology, and so I feel pretty comfortable about evaluating a blade’s performance under these conditions.

How did the Bolzano blade perform? It was quite sharp, and also plenty smooth. I felt no “bite” or roughness during the shave, and it gave a nice, close performance. The second shave, if anything, may have been better (I may have had slightly better lather). Very nice closeness for a two pass shave, no irritation, no sting with the aftershave. The third shave was another success. It almost felt that the Bolzano was just hitting its stride at three shaves, seeming just as efficient and a little smoother on shave 3 than it was right at first. Good stuff. I don’t ever “grade” razors on shaves after three, but I will sometimes carry on and see how many good shaves a blade will provide, just as a data point.

The fourth shave in the Gillette Slim came off nicely. One little weeper right in my sensitive spot, but nothing to be concerned with. I decided to move on to another blade and continue the test with a different razor.

The next razor I employed for the test was the Maggard V3, which is very similar to an Edwin Jagger DE89 or a Merkur 34C. It was mounted to an MR5 stainless handle for the test, which creates a fairly heavy, moderate-to-mild razor. The first shave with the Maggard worked aces. I did a full three pass, and I found it to deliver great performance. Very close shave, with lingering closeness even twelve hours later. The V3 razor feels…businesslike with the Bolzanos, and turns out to be quite effective, without undue roughness to the face. I wouldn’t say that the Bolzanos are quite as smooth as an Astra SP or a Polsilver Super Iridium, but it isn’t harsh.

The final test was with the Merkur Futur, on setting 3. I found that it was an effective blade in this razor, but perhaps a little rougher in skin feeling than I would prefer. This tracks with the rest of the test. I would say that the Bolazano turned in a good, but not great performance. I always got a solid shave, and it didn’t irritate or abrade my face, but it was not super smooth, either. Depending on your shaving habits and preferences, it might be just the thing. For me, I find it to be one step shy of my favorites, but certainly respectable. If I needed a blade and this was for sale, I’d feel confident that it could get the job done. At the same time, the Bolzano doesn’t displace any of my favorites. In terms of the storied edge holding, I didn’t find any reason to doubt that people were having this experience with the blade. It did seem to power through three shaves without any hint of dulling out. So much of this is dependent upon the conditions, though. Razor, stubble, blade care, and of course, the subjective nature of the shaver. One shaver’s “it’s fine” is another’s “this blade is trash”. Thus, I can’t tell you. For me, using a DE blade more than three or four times seems like a false economy. Risking a bad shave over a few pennies doesn’t seem like a good gamble, to me.

The Bolzano blades are worth a try if you like a bit of “bite” in a blade, and get along well with a medium-to-sharp blade grind.

Cheers, and happy shaving.

Sometimes, you just have to give a product “the gong”. This is one of those times.

Here’s the story. I wanted to try the new Derby Premium razor blades. There was a deal for 25 of them, with a puck of soap thrown in. The soap was in a small box (no tin or cup). It was called GBS Ocean Driftwood.

I…will not dignify it will a full term review. Why? Because I gave it the short shrift. It did not survive long enough to even come to grips with the blade of my razor. Why? Read on, and I will tell you.

Scent: This is a nice, fresh scent. Not very strong. It smells like a lot of your average skin care products. Nothing to get angry about, but nothing in the scent department did much to win me over.

Lather: I attempted to get a good lather out of this soap, but it just wasn’t happening. After loading the wee out of it, the lather was still thin, filled with bubbles, and began to dissipate right away. I went back to the puck multiple times, fiddled with the water concentration, but it wasn’t happening. On the good side there was no sense of irritation from my face after minutes of attempting to get a decent lather going on.

End result: I washed off the GBS soap and went with Razorock Santa Maria del Fiore. It was the largest of possible differences, as the Razorock soap does just about everything right. Lathers fast, protects beautifully, and has an intoxicating scent that I can’t get enough of. Night and day difference.

After the shave was over, I went ahead and tossed the GBS into the trash. With all the great soaps I have to choose from, it simply wasn’t worth my time. Could I, after painstaking practice, get it to work adequately? Shrug. Maybe. Not interested. Too spoiled. If it was between this stuff and, say, Edge Gel (shiver), I’d make it work. Luckily, I don’t find myself in such dire straits.

I didn’t feel like it gave a good enough account of itself as a shave product to pass it along to anyone else. I don’t want to be the guy that ruins someone else’s shave with my hand-me-downs. This stuff just isn’t any good. Hey, sometimes, this happens. I’m just glad that the Derby blades it came with (spoiler alert) were actually good.

Cheers, and happy shaving.

P.S.: Don’t be afraid to pitch a bad product. Life’s to short to get bad shaves because your gear is underperforming.

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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.

Safety Razor Review: Muhle R41

Posted: February 20, 2017 in Shaving Articles
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There are some iconic tools in just about any hobby. Some are iconic because of their popularity, their formative influence, and large scale success. Others become known for other reasons, sometimes achieving notoriety by the calamity or mixed results that swirl in their wake.

In wet shaving, few razors have more mystique than the Muhle R41. When the first of them was introduced in 2011, they were lauded as likely the most aggressive safety razor ever made. Ever. Some debated whether the word “safety” should even be included in the name. The early version of the R41 was known to tear through whiskers with such manic vigor that it would simply laugh at a week’s worth of growth, even with the thickest of wiry beards. The book on it, additionally, was also that the slightest miscalculation or moment of inattention would result on large scale carnage, with blood splashing against the shaving mirror and you crying out for help before you succumbed to your injuries.

Buying or trying the R41 became something of a red badge of courage in the shaving world. Often not metaphorically, as you would be left bleeding from the adventure. For the right person and the right beard, however, the big Muhle was perfect, giving them close shaves when all else would fail.

For most, though, it was simply too much, too perilous. They might get good shaves, but they’d also get irritation, weepers, or outright cuts. Shaving with the R41 was the stuff of adrenaline junkies, or for the guys who would otherwise have to shave twice a day. It was like a big bore handgun, a 427 Cobra, or barbell loaded with five plates on each side. Not for everyone. Not for every day.

In 2013, Muhle re-engineered the R41, making subtle changes to the cap and baseplate to make the razor a little less likely to bite than the original. In doing this, however, they aimed to keep that same take-no-prisoners efficiency.

The consensus with the 2013 is that yes, it was slightly safer to shave with, but it was still very aggressive. It still would not suffer a fool. And, pointedly, it was still not for everyone.

In my tireless examination of all things pertaining to wet shaving, I felt that the time had come for me to try out an R41 and satisfy my curiosity about how it would be. That, and make sure my “man card” was safe for another week.

Because I didn’t have a razor with this type of “bling”, I ordered the Rose Gold handled version of the R41, in the contemporary, redesigned format. With a mixture of fear and enthusiasm, I loaded up a Dorco ST-301 blade and lathered up.

Now, I typically shave every day, or nearly so. I knew going in that the Muhle was likely not a razor I would want to do three passes every day with. I hoped, however, that it might prove to be a great “maintenance shave” tool. That is, a two pass shave that would be perfectly acceptable, and easy on the face.

For the first shave, I had one day’s growth, and did a two pass shave, with and across the grain of the beard. It was…fairly undramatic. I felt no pain during the shave. I finished the first pass and did find that it was one of the most effective razors I’d tried, right up there with the Merkur 39C and the Futur. If you’re not too picky, and just want a basic shave, one pass with a tool like this may well be all you need. The two pass technique, regardless of what razor you use, can only go so far. There will always be a bit of roughness lingering here and there on your face. The very efficient razors just leave less stubble than the rest.

I don’t believe that the R41 delivered a shave much, if any closer than a Gillette adjustable on “9”. Comfort during the shave? Hmm. Similar. Both require respect. It’s a very different feel. The Merkur Futur on setting “3”, for me, seems equally effective. Possibly more sense of the blade, but nothing really feels like a Futur. The Merkur Progress on the higher settings is also nearly as efficient, and perhaps a bit less intimidating. The Maggard V3A head feels smoother, but shaves at least as well as the first shave I got from the R41. None of those, in my experience, can shave as close over two passes as a Razorock Hawk with an Artist Club Pro blade. That thing is and efficiency phenomenon. It should be mentioned that, in my experience, the Progress and the Gilette adjustables like a sharper blade, while the Futur doesn’t seem to care.

After the shave, I had only minimal tingle/burn from the aftershave, but…but this is where the troubles began. Without having any negative sensations during the shave, I found that I ended up with rather pronounced irritation along my neckline with the R41. This, while only going with the grain in that area. The rest of the face was intact and fairly happy, but the neck did not like the attentions of the big Muhle. Not one bit. It was not the first time I’d had to dig out the hydrocortisone cream after a shave, but it was one of the more surprising, since the irritation did not immediately make itself apparent. I should mention that this was using proven products that I know that my skin tolerates, so it was not a false positive situation.

It’s one shave. I was being fairly careful, but not walking on eggshells. I had only one day of growth. Perhaps the Dorco blade wasn’t the best pick. Lots of possibilities. I’m not going to give up on the R41, but I’ll have to let my face heal up for a few days before taking another run at it.

So, I came back after my face was happy with me again. It took the better part of two weeks for all the irritation to subside, but I was shaving every day, so that’s an inflated figure, I suppose.

For the second try, I loaded in a Derby Extra blade, my go to if I feel like the aggressive nature of a razor needs to be taken down a notch.

How did it go?

Uh…it basically didn’t go. It only took me a few inches of my first pass to call it and bring in a relief razor. Yeah. I usually can get away with almost anything on my cheeks. The sensation the R41 was causing in my least sensitive facial zone was not at all okay, and not what I’m looking for in a shave. This, with the gentle Derby loaded in, and a really good soap lathered up. It felt like I was performing the shave with a belt sander. Just to be sure, I tried a range of angles, and neither decreasing or increasing my angle of attack improved the comfort.

When a shave suddenly goes pear-shaped on you, what do you do? My advice is to switch to something that works. Soap isn’t lathering? Go back to the puck, or rinse and try one that does. Brush doing something you can’t fathom? Go to a brush you know to be reliable. Blade is terrible? Pull it and load something you know to be a good match with your razor. And…if you’re trying out a razor that feels completely wrong, really uncomfortable…just punt on it and use something that works. Even if it’s a cartridge. Even if it’s a dreaded electric. This isn’t a “no pain, no gain” hobby. Yes, there’s a learning curve, but if you know how to shave, and are accustomed to doing so with good results, listen to your instincts if something feels off.

And that is what I did. I pulled the Derby and loaded it into a Gillette Slim, turned up to 9. Even on its maximum setting, the Slim felt like an old friend. The shave came off great, and all was well. It wasn’t a case of poor quality control at the Derby factory. It was just fine, perfectly capable of cutting the hair. You can’t really go further toward the “comfort” end of shaving than a Derby. They’re smooth. Not super sharp. With most of my other aggressive razors, they tend to work quite well. Not, perhaps, so much with the mild shavers (except, weirdly, the Feather AS-D2, but I have no explanation for that.)

What did I learn? I learned that the Muhle R41 is just not a good fit for me. Can I “tame the beast?” Evidently not. And I don’t need to. There are a lot of great razors around, and I’m not crestfallen that the R41 isn’t among those I can enjoy. My aim here was to try it and see what the fuss was all about. I’ve done that. Was it an expensive experiment? Yeah. A little. I knew it might be from the start. The razor is beautifully made, and it will likely be a great tool for someone out there. Just not for me. I’ll find a way to pass it along. Thus, there’s no remorse here. We have to be willing to gamble a little bit to do GREAT SCIENCE, right?

Cheers, and happy shaving.

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Ease of Lathering: Very easy. Like a few other high quality creams I’ve used, this one produces a great volume of creamy lather. I always bowl lather creams, and this one responded in a way similar to Taylor’s. Perhaps just a bit thirstier, if I really squint at it. It was said that a number of the English soaps are actually made in the same factory. My instincts say that the St. James is not the same cream base as Taylor’s. The resting consistency and response isn’t quite the same. I am not sure I can easily say one is better or worse in regard to lathering capability.

Protection: The lather is quite thick and rich, fairly buttery. Ample protection is provided during the shave. You’re not going to find many creams that do it better.

Residual Slickness: I wouldn’t say that St. James overawed me with slickness. It was certainly sufficient while lathered, but did not leave too much behind. Just enough for my auxiliary passes. As with all the creams I’ve tried, it is not the final word in residual slickness. You’ll probably want a tallow soap for that. In terms of face feel, however, St. James is really good. It leaves your face feeling well conditioned and pampered.

Scent: While this soap has a very gentle scent at rest, it becomes present in a subtle way once the lathering begins. I would say that the patchouli scent is predominant here, while the mandarin is, at best, a background scent. The interesting thing is that the scent stays for hours after the shave, which is unusual. Especially so, considering the potency is fairly gentle to begin with. What I attribute this to is the scent coming from essential oil, rather than chemical chicanery. I am not head-over-heels for patchouli, but I don’t mind it. The quality of the scent is superb and authentic. It smells high quality and luxurious. For those with a greater appreciation for patchouli, it might be the very thing.

Production/Value: It’s sometimes hard to decide whether the price of a product is fully warranted. My feeling is that St. James is marketed toward someone who would rather have a rather luxurious presentation than quibble over the last dollar. There is a well-sorted element to the box, the tube (or tub), and the product itself. I don’t know if the product itself is any better than Taylor of Old Bond Street, but the “feels” are a step above. If that makes a difference for you, or if one of their scents (which are rather exclusive to their line) is exactly what you’re looking for, then the value is fine. If you just want a good shave, there’s cheaper options to be had. A good number of them.

Notes: It isn’t hard to sense the elements in this cream that mark it as a cut above the average. It is a rich, beautifully packaged product. It commands a higher price per ounce that I typically spend. I argue with myself about the merits of such products, when there are such excellent value options around, and superb products in the middle of the price range. I think that there’s something to be said for having a few products of this sort in your arsenal, if only for the “special occasion” shave. Then again, if you’re ticking off boxes and making asset vs. liability lists, it becomes clear that a product at this price per ounce is suffering from some diminishing returns issues. I would find it tough to recommend St. James cream to a beginning shaver, or one operating on a tight budget. For the well-heeled veteran, however, I think it could provide them with some great shaves. James Bond class shaves, perhaps. For me, it didn’t quite justify the cost differential between it and the Taylor’s cream, which is basically half the price.

Cheers, and happy shaving.