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.