Category Archives: Creams & Soaps

Reviews of shaving creams and soaps.

Review: Queen Charlotte Soaps – Cayman Shaving Soap

Queen Charlotte Soaps - Cayman Shaving Soap

Queen Charlotte Soaps – Cayman Shaving Soap

So I received this package of samplers from Queen Charlotte Soaps a while ago, and have only just now gotten around to sampling their bay rum scented shaving soap.  Queen Charlotte Soaps have named their signature bay rum scent “Cayman”.

I shaved with the setup pictured here; a Weber DLC with Personna Medical Prep blades, and used my Simpson Duke II best badger brush.  I’m just getting used to the brush and the water here in the new apartment, and I think I’m really finding the sweet spot with lathering soaps.  So I am really happy that I held out this long to try out QCS’s Cayman, which I’ve been using for two days now.

So here’s how I worked the sample.  I have this Col. Conk mug (also pictured) that I pressed the slice-of-pie-shaped sample into the bottom of.  I made sure the mug and the soap were dry so that it all stuck to the bottom, then used some pressure to spread it around, mostly lining the bottom of the mug.

I prepped the brush under warm water for 45 seconds, enough to get the hairs all wet and loose.  I then shook most of the water out of the brush, but not shaking hard.  Enough to leave a decent amount of water still in the center of the brush.  Then I began loading the brush, which I did for about a minute, adding a few drops of water from my fingertips only once.

I then brought the brush straight to my face and face-lathered for my first pass.  The lather was super-thick and rich, and definitely benefits from back and forth paintbrush style lathering, as opposed to swirling.  This left me with a rich, thick cushion for my first pass.

The lather didn’t quite hold up for other passes tho.  It did stay rich on my face, but weakened slightly by the end of each pass.  Also each pass’s lather was less thick as I went along.  I added a little water to the mug and lathered up for one more fake pass, just to test, and the lather was back again, a little more substantial than the previous pass, so it’s pretty clear that this soap loves water.

The bay rum scent is great.  As you should probably know by now, I love bay rum, and this particular version is pretty much exactly as advertised.  Its complex yet delicate, and spicy.  However I found it a little on the light side.  I would have liked just a little more oomph out of the scent.  I got a good whiff of it while building the lather out of the mug, and also when it was on my face.  Then again, sometimes less is more.  I didn’t find it overly clovey, nor was it a straight up bay rum scent.  There was citrus and spice.  Honestly, I think Queen Charlotte Soaps has a great take on bay rum.  Quite pleasant indeed.

Oh and I should mention, this is an artisan soap company, based in Charlotte, NC (one of my favorite cities), and this tallow soap is LOADED with stuff your face will love, including palm, avocado, castor, and olive oils, and cocoa and shea butters.  And it doesn’t stop there either.  Glycerin, kaolin clay, aloe vera, and Vitamin E round out the intensely good-for-your-skin ingredients.  As I sit here writing this, my face feels not only BBS (baby butt smooth), but also it feels soft and well-conditioned, with no irritation at all.

I had a great shave today.

Review: Geo F. Trumper Rose Shaving Cream

Geo F. Trumper Rose Shaving Cream

Geo F. Trumper Rose Shaving Cream

Our ship is sailing in a sea of samples.  And one lot that I received a short time ago is from a very special brand, Geo F. Trumper.  Their sandalwood skin food, which I have yet to review, was the first non-modern shaving product I tried.  I fell in love with the scent, and it was that scent that truly opened my eyes to the whole world of shaving products out there that are not your typical go-to things like the can-of-goo shaving cream, and aqua velva aftershave (no knock intended).

Anyway, in browsing the shaving forums, I discovered a post saying that Geo F Trumper offers free samples of their products, all you have to pay for is shipping.  So I instantly went over to their website and ordered a sampler (they choose which items to send).  So now I have 2 skin foods, and several shaving creams and colognes.  So we are all set for some smooth sailing my friends..

The first one I am trying is Geo F. Trumper’s Rose Shaving Cream.  The sample comes in a small flat round glass jar, which supplies an ample amount of cream.  I always hear people say that you want an almond-sized amount of cream to shave with.  I’d say that this is about the right size.

The scent out of the jar is a light but present rose scent.  It’s also a pink-colored product, and when whipped up retains a light pink hue.  The rose scent also holds up in similar fashion.  The scent infiltrates the air around you as you whip up the lather.  Oh yeah, let’s talk lather.

This cream whips up into an incredible amount of lather.  With the amount supplied, there is easily enough lather for 6 passes, and as with several creams I have tried, the lather seems to get better and better with each pass.  When applied to the face, the scent is very light but clean and refreshing as well.  It’s a really beautiful scent.

And this product, meant for sensitive skin, has an ample amount of glycerin included to moisturize your skin as you shave.  In fact, using my Weber DLC and a fresh Feather blade, I had one of the closest BBS shaves I’ve had to date, with absolutely no nicks and zero irritation.  It was an awesome shave, with an awesome scent, and an awesome lather.  I was actually very surprised how much I liked this shaving cream.

Geo F. Trumper, you continue to make this guy a very happy shaver!

Check out Geo F. Trumper’s Rose Shaving Cream at Amazon.com!

Review: C.O. Bigelow Premium Shave Cream

C.O. Bigelow Premium Shave Cream

C.O. Bigelow Premium Shave Cream

First, I should mention a couple things.

1) This product is marketed as C.O. Bigelow Shave Cream, but in reality this product is essentially identical to Proraso Shave Cream, and is made by Proraso using the exact same ingredients.

2) The product I am using is known as the “new formula” and therefore does not include the parabens that were found in the “old formula”.

So for Christmas I received a Bath & Body Works gift card from my girlfriend’s mother.  It was a lovely gift, and afforded me the opportunity to try out a shaving cream that I have heard a lot about, and one that receives almost constant glowing praise:  C.O. Bigelow Premium Shave Cream.  My girlfriend and I have been visiting her family in Florida for the past week, and I have shaved with it every day, and it has been awesome.

As with other creams, you only need a small, almond-sized dab.  Whip it up a little with your brush, add some drops of water, whip more, add more water, whip more.  Eventually within a couple of minutes, you will have a rich luxurious lather that whips up super-thick and creamy on your face.  A small dab will give you enough lather to last 10 passes.  And the cream does not age.  My last pass is just as luxurious as the first pass.  It is an AMAZING latherer.

On the face, it smells fresh and clean.  The camphor-eucalyptus smell is an invigorating scent, and the menthol cools your face more and more with each pass.  It will moisturize your skin, with the included glycerin.  But the way this stuff works as a shave cream is the best part.  It allows the razor to do exactly what it wants to do, and that is to glide on your skin while removing your whiskers.  In the entire week I used it, I needed my styptic pencil only one time, for one weeper, which was my fault anyway!  Seriously, this stuff is awesome.

And when you go to rinse off after your shave, your face will feel amazing, glowing in a menthol breeze, with that clean feeling still lingering, though thats not to say the soap is clingy.  No, the soap will rinse right off, and leave nothing but that menthol trace on your skin, a great way to start the day.

Oh, and if you have sensitive skin, as I am discovering that I probably do, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about with this stuff.  I had zero rash or anything using this product.  It totally rinses clean and was super gentle with my skin.

I wasn’t sure when I bought this if I would like it that much.  I was wrong.  I love it.

C.O. Bigelow Shave Cream is available from Amazon.com!

Review: Mystic Waters Soaps – Bay Rum Shaving Soap

Mystic Waters Soaps - Bay Rum Shaving Soap

Mystic Waters Soaps – Bay Rum Shaving Soap

This shaving soap is different in several ways.  First off, let’s talk consistency.  It is a very soft soap, with the consistency of perhaps playdough.  So the sample I have was very easy to press into the bottom of my mug.  For a tallow soap, this was a nice change of pace.

Now the scent of this soap is not what I was expecting.  This is quite an off-the-beaten-path take on bay rum.  It is a very fragrant barbershop-style scent, which reminded me of the old-style London scents that come out of Truefitt & Hill.  Rather than sweet, citrusy, and spicy notes, there were manly, floral notes.  It’s a very intriguing and clean scent, perhaps calling in a little of that clean note from Mitchell’s Wool Fat.  In all honesty, I think it might be a little bit too removed from your classic “bay rum” scent for my taste, but that’s not to say it smells bad.  I noticed on the Mystic Waters website that they use fragrance oil rather than a blend of essential oils.  Maybe that is what is different?  I don’t know.

As for the lather, this was my first experience with Mystic Waters Soap, and the lather was a tad disappointing.  I could not get a thick lather on any pass.  However, I just did some searching and found a few how-to videos directly related to Mystic Waters Soaps, and learned a lot.  I’m coming off of a streak of hard soaps, and as such, perhaps didn’t do this quite right.  I have two other samples fo Mystic Waters Soaps, and will do my diligence to give this company a fair shake.  There are several videos, and many message board posts wherein people proclaim their love for this soap and how easily and wonderfully their soaps lather.  Yup, I must have done it wrong.  Stay tuned for more MS sample reviews to see if I can redeem my lathering skills.

This soap is loaded to the gills with great stuff for your face.  Organic shea butter, castor oil, avocado oil, palm oil, glycerin, aloe vera, and on and on and on.  The tallow is rendered from beef suet purchased by the owner from farmer’s market vendor who raises grass fed beef on her local Maryland farm.  This stuff is made with love, and while I didn’t get the best lather, my skin was left feeling fantastic and… loved.

I do want to make a special note that this is yet another small artisan company.  Actually, this is a one woman army, Michelle.  And she reached out personally when I placed my order.  I can’t help but tip my hat and say thank you.  Thus, she will get a fairer shake than other larger companies might get in these diaries.  Thanks Michelle!

Review: Queen Charlotte Soaps – Key Lime Shaving Soap

Queen Charlotte Soaps - Key Lime Shaving Soap

Queen Charlotte Soaps – Key Lime Shaving Soap

I think I’m a really lucky guy.  I spent many years shaving in the shower with a 4 or 5 blade vibrating cartridge razor, not using any shaving cream because I felt my oily face did enough of the lubrication.  And I always had razor bumps on my face, and lots of nicks, and still not anywhere near a bbs (baby butt smooth) shave.  And in prep for Movember 2012, I started really digging into the vast world of traditional wetshaving.  I’m really lucky because I showed up to this world at a damn good time.

There are so many artisan, homemade startup companies selling really, and I mean really fantastic products.  Yes, the classics are the classics, and they are still around for a reason, and I won’t deny them their greatness.  But these newcomers really bring some awesomeness to the table.  Case in point?  Queen Charlotte Soaps.

I love Charlotte.  I’m in a rock band that tours around the US very frequently.  And Charlotte, NC is one of our sweet spots.  We have a lot of fans, and even more friends, in Charlotte, and have had for years now.  And as I have been browsing on the shaving forums, I keep seeing the initials “QCS” come up over and over again.  Then came a name, Queen Charlotte Soaps.  What?  Someone in one of my favorite cities is making something that I am now obsessed with and they’re doing a great job of it?  That’s when I ordered some samples.  And I can’t wait to tell you about them.

My first sample to try was their Key Lime shaving soap.  As I am a newbie to wetshaving, I am also a newbie to key lime.  My girlfriend, who is starting to get a little tired of hearing about shaving (I’m sure I’m not the only one, right gents), got me to try key lime pie for the first time a couple of years ago.  What the hell have I been thinking not trying it?  It’s now my favorite desert.  Ok, personal story over.

I crushed the sample of key lime soap into the bottom of my old spice mug, and I could already smell the lime scent jumping out of the mug.  As I started loading my brush, the smell started really filling the air around me.  But then I lathered with it, and there it is, full blossom on my face and in my nose, the gorgeous scent of key lime.  Now I have tried several lime-scented products from shaving creams to aftershaves to skin food.  This scent was unique in that it was not too sweet and not a dark lime smell.  Some of those products smell like lime jello.  Some smell like lime jellybeans.  And some smell like a dirty spicy lime.  Queen Charlotte’s Key Lime is a light, bouncy, smart kind of lime scent, definitely not sweet, but not unsweet, and not a heavy smell.  I really really like this smell.

And this soap performs as good as it smells.  I face lathered and this stuff exploded with just a few dabs of water.  And after a few paint-brush strokes, thickened up like a delicious key lime cream.  It lubricated and protected my face fantastically, and rinsed from the razor easily.  Shaving once again with my Weber DLC and Personna Med blades, I had zero nicks, zero weepers, and completely BBS shave.

I am very impressed with Queen Charlotte Soaps.  Their key lime is spot on awesome, and if you like key lime, this is a must-try.  I have several samples of their soaps and creams, and will be reviewing them soon as well.  I really can’t wait to shave again.  And again.  And again.  I told you I was a lucky guy.  Check back for more updates soon!  Thanks 🙂

Review: Mike’s Natural Soaps – Orange, Cedarwood, & Black Pepper Shave Stick

Mike's Natural Soap - Orange, Cedarwood, & Black Pepper Shave Stick

Mike’s Natural Soap – Orange, Cedarwood, & Black Pepper Shave Stick

Alright, I was really excited today to try my first shave stick!  So glad that Mike’s Natural Soaps is my first shave stick candidate, and with a really delicious scent as well.

So I did my normal routine, which was to warm up my shave brush in warm water while I showered.  Today I was using what has become my go-to setup, which is the Weber DLC with a Personna Medical Prep blade.  Today’s shave was my fourth shave with this blade.  I’m new to the Medical Prep blades.  I typically get 3-4 shaves from a Feather, but with these PMP blades, I’m getting 7 per blade before I feel them losing their effectiveness.  I’m also using a Simpson pure badger brush.  (My Duke 2 best badger is on the way!)

Anyway, yes, I toweled off and rinsed my face with hot water.  I grabbed the white tube with the silver label and dipped the soap part into the water as well to help lube it up.  I started applying it to my face.  It did feel a little dry and sticky.  So I kept dipping the soap in water.  Also I felt my scruff was pulling a good amount of soap from the stick, and that also was a part of why it was sticky.  Like rubbing it over sandpaper.

Anyway, I grabbed my brush, which was still soaking, and left a good amount of water on it.  I feel this was a little bit of a mistake, because the lather exploded as I brushed, but it was a little too wet.  Next time I use this shave stick, I will definitely start with a less-wet brush.  I should have known, I mean you can always add water.  Doh!

The smell of this soap is absolutely fantastic.  It tickled the nose of this bay rum lover.  As advertised, it’s dominated by orange.  But it’s a dark, spicy orange.  You could even say it’s closer to an orange zest.  Like that smell in the air when you peel an orange, that really crisp scent.  The cedarwood and black pepper also come into play, adding to the darker notes of the scent.

When applying lather for the second pass, I felt that the lather was a little dry, and needing some water.  I dipped the tip of my brush in water and face lathered again, but found the lather a little thin.

For the third pass, I felt I had to re-use the stick on my face, which is one definite benefit of using a shave stick.  If you ever fall short on lather, you can always re-apply.  I don’t want to give Mike an unfair shake here.  This is my first time with a stick and I’m sure with more practice I can lather this stuff better, just like I did with the same soap but in the tin.

As for moisturizing, this stuff has tons of stuff in it that does just that.  It is a tallow soap, boosted with vegetable glycerin and a whole host of butters and oils to go on smooth and help that razor glide along.  I did three passes (with the grain, across the grain, against the grain) and didn’t have a single nick.  The perfect shave.

Review: Taylor of Old Bond Street – Avocado Shaving Cream

Taylor of Old Bond Street - Avocado Shaving Cream

Taylor of Old Bond Street – Avocado Shaving Cream

Alright.. In the absence of bay rums to try and review, I’m gonna keep the reviews coming, and hopefully give you, the reader, as many options as I can when it comes to all of these shaving products.

I am discovering that I have slightly sensitive skin.  I don’t react too badly to products, but as I go along, I am starting to realize that my face can get a little itchy here and there.  So I decided to go back and pull out this stuff again, because I never had a bad reaction to it.  When I first started shaving back in October, Taylor of Old Bond Street Avocado Shaving Cream was my go-to stuff.  I bought it on recommendation from other shavers on the message boards, and because it was pretty cheap in comparison to other creams.

First off, a little goes a long way.  First off, I leave my brush to soak in hot water while I’m in the shower.  When I go to load the brush, I first shake out most of the water.  Once I have eliminated about 3/4 of the water, I very lightly swirl my brush in the tub, as if I was trying to load it onto a feather without breaking the feather.  Does that make sense?  So I just swirl it around a few times, until some of the cream is on the brush.  I’m not going deep here, just brushing the top of the cream to get some on the brush.  An alternative is to dip your finger in and get an amount a little smaller than an almond.  Just a little swab.  Just remember a little goes a long way.

So I swirl my loaded brush in my Old Spice mug, adding drops of water here and there, and in about a minute, I’ve got a half a mug full of thick, warm lather just waiting to be slathered onto my face.  So why wait?

As I start swirling the brush around my face there are two awesome sensations going on.  First is the smell.  The smell has grown on me a lot.  There are many reviews from people out there saying they are not sure about the smell, some don’t like it at all.  Personally, when I first tried this stuff, it didn’t smell like avocado to me.  There is avocado in the smell, but also maybe a bit of lavender(?).  Honestly it’s not a strong smell.  It’s a clean smell.  I understand that smell is a personal thing.  Some people hate this stuff, some love it.  A lot of people say it’s grown on them.  I’m one of those, and I really do like the smell now.

The second is the sound.  There is something about using a cream as opposed to a soap.  It has this thick sloshing sound as you swirl it around that feels and sounds just awesome.  It drives you directly into the heart of that zen experience that shaving should be.

So yeah, this stuff lathers amazingly well.  I wouldn’t necessarily face lather with this stuff.  It works really great in a mug though.  And with just a little bit of cream, you easily have enough lather for a minimum of 5 passes.  When I say a little goes a long way, I really mean it.

Oh and the shave?  I shaved with my Weber DLC and Personna Medical Lab blades, and today I had the smoothest shave I’ve had in a long time.  Totally BBS (baby butt smooth).  This stuff lubricates your face so good that the blade just glides across.  And it all rinses clean as well.  Scent and all.  So at the end, you have nothing on your face.  No soap scum, no scent, and no whiskers.

That, my friends, is a perfect shave.

So yeah, Taylor of Old Bond Street Avocado Shaving Cream is relatively cheap, and well worth the money.  Go get some and try it out!

Review: Mike’s Natural Soaps – Bay Rum Shaving Soap

Mike's Natural Soaps - Bay Rum Shaving Soap

Mike’s Natural Soaps – Bay Rum Shaving Soap

In my journey through the many shaving products I never knew existed, I have tried a few of the bigger brands of classic shaves.  Truefitt & Hill, Col. Conk, and Taylor of Old Bond Street.  They make great soaps, and have been around for a long time, which is a testament to how great they are.  I also tried Mitchell’s Wool Fat, which contains natural lanolin, which is a wax that comes from sheep skin.  They exude this wax as a protectant, and over a hundred years ago, Mr. Mitchell noticed the softness of wool shearers’ hands, and decided that lanolin might be a perfect ingredient for shaving soap.  Boy was he right.

As I have been reading the shaving forums, I started noticing many mentions of homemade brands of soap, made by avid shavers who fell in love with traditional wetshaving, and the myriad of products available, and decided to make their own.  One of those brands was Mike’s Natural Soaps, which is handmade by, you guessed it, Mike.  Mike lives in Brooklyn, a neighborhood I frequent often.  So I started reading more about Mike’s Natural Soaps.

Mike puts an incredible amount of care into his products.  The ingredients are 100% all-natural, and his formulations have come from much tinkering with the recipe.  One look at the ingredient list and you’ll see that this stuff is meant to LOVE your face, and vise versa.  Included in the list are tallow, glycerin, kokum butter, avocado oil, shea butter, lanolin, coconut oil, kaolin clay, and vitamin E.  The only ingredients I left out?  Distilled water and essential oil.  That, my friends, is love.

I finally realized I had to place an order, and ordered a few samples.  The first one I tried is the bay rum scent, of course!

Some may say that lathering up a lanolin soap is an art form.  Some say that the lather depends on your water.  I typically have no problems lathering up lanolin soap, having previously shaved many times with Mitchell’s Wool Fat.

I took the sample I got from Mike, which is a little sliver about the size of 5 Wrigley gum sticks stuck together, and pressed it into the bottom of my Old Spice mug.  While I showered, I soaked my brush (a Simpson pure badger) and also splashed some hot water onto the top of the soap.

After the shower, gave the brush a few shakes, shaking out most of the water, and started swirling it around in the mug.  I did this for about a minute until it started to get a little thick and tacky.  At this point, I started smelling the fantastic bay rum blend.

Once I was satisfied, I splashed more hot water on my face, dipped the tips of my brush in hot water, and started applying it to my face.  The lather exploded on my face with an excellent creamy yogurt-like texture.  I dipped the tips of the brush in water again, and came back to foam up the lather even more.  I ended up with an incredibly soft and lubricating lather not only on my face, but also loaded to the gills into my brush.

The smell of this soap is just awesome.  Mike’s take on bay rum is unique, and its a dark spicy blend, consisting of bay rum, bergamot, and vanilla.  So the bergamot lends that citrusy-spicy note, and the vanilla balances that with a sweet note.  The resulting blend is a warm, spicy aroma, that goes amazingly well with the entire hot-water wetshaving experience.  I can only sit back and applaud Mike for this excellent take on the bay rum scent.

I did a three-pass shave, using my 1960 Gillette Fatboy with Personna Medical Prep blades, and the lather that originally loaded into the brush was enough for all three passes, with plenty of soap left over at the end to wash my hands and face.  I’m serious, this stuff is a serious latherer.  And you’ll feel the effects of the moisturizers every time water hits your face.  As you’re rinsing, you’ll feel nothing but a super-slick surface, perfect for protecting your skin as you drag a razor across it.  I had my Fatboy adjustable set to 5, which is pretty agressive for me, and while I was a little bit careless on my neck on the last pass, the rest of my face went completely unscathed.

(For the record, the above picture is from a more recent Shave Of The Day, and shows my Weber DLC and Simpsons Duke II best badger brush, and of course, a full tin of the soap)

Overall I had one of the best shaves I’ve had in a long time, and I owe a large part of that to Mike’s Natural Soap.  Awesome.