(Please be sure to check the update to this review below..)
I’m going into this review a little nervous. And I have been nervous about many of my reviews, because how can I, a humble wetshaver for less than a year, take myself seriously enough to sit in judgement of many of these products, some of them in production for over a hundred years, and some of them loved by maybe millions of men. Tabac is one of these. From my point of view, it holds a legendary status amongst those men out there who take a brush to soap when they shave. And it seems to be even more popular as an aftershave/cologne.
So I got a sample of it probably a month ago from Garry’s Sample Shop, and in a little drawer it sat, all this time, waiting for me to get over my nerves about reviewing it. I even smelled it a few times and that Macy’s-cologne-counter-hating guy in me was like “yeah it smells like old man stuff”. That didn’t help the nerves. So today, having been away from the diaries for a while, I decided that it was finally time to shave with Tabac. Man am I glad I did.
The scent is very complex. The actual list of notes, according to basenotes, are: pepper, petitgrain, citrus, neroli, lavender, camomile, geranium, oak moss, carnation, sandalwood, vetiver, moschus, and ambergris. Got that? I know exactly what you’re thinking. That doesn’t help at all. I know. Here’s the way I would personally describe it. On top, I feel a very clean, slightly musky citrus scent. Beneath that scent is a floral background. At the back end of the scent, if you pay attention, you can definitely pick up the sandalwood feel. Overall it’s a very pleasant scent for the morning when you are shaving. It starts complex and stays complex. It’s not too citrusy, not too floral, and not too woodsy, but it is all three of these things, and more. As pleasant as it is, it’s just not personally my thing. At least not now…
This stuff lathers up so thick and creamy. I often hear people say that you are looking for a yogurt-like consistency with a lather. Of all the products I have tried, this was the most yogurt-like. I found it to be maybe just a bit too thick though. It began to feel a little tacky on my face. But it does provide great cushion and was moderately slick. All in all, it was a great performer, but maybe too much, if that makes any sense?
As far as the life of the lather, it was perfectly suitable to last at least 6 passes. And on my face, I never had to touch up a spot. Every soap needs to check out Tabac and then they will understand how long a lather *should* last.
Overall I had a fantastic shave. Baby Butt Smooth. My skin feels fantastic. The lather had a life expectancy I wish all shave creams had. The scent was ok. Clean, fresh, floral, but maybe just not my personal cup of tea. Is this good stuff? You bet your ass it is. The price is on par with other high-end soaps as well, so it’s not a bank breaker. It’s worth at least a sample try, and I am glad I did.
I really should have started doing this a while ago, but I will start giving actual ratings to soaps. I know there are others doing this already… Mantic, Greg, and a host of others. Well, that doesn’t mean I can’t right? I mean it’s just one more review and rating. I’m new to wetshaving, and many of these products, and I suspect you are too. In the end I hope these reviews will be helpful to you. Here’s the criteria I will rate, from 1.0 to 5.0:
1) Scent – How much do I like the scent. This will also include scent strength…
2) Lather Performance – This will incorporate two ratings: one for cushion, and one for slickness, as I have found that they can be exclusive of eachother.
3) Lather Life – Does this stuff fade into weak bubbles quickly or does it get thicker and better with each pass?
4) Overall rating – My general feeling after the shave.
So for Tabac Shaving Soap:
- Scent – 3.5
- Lather Performance – 4.5
- Lather Life – 5
- Overall – 4
I will try to get these ratings into my past reviews, as long as I can honestly remember and rate each criterion appropriately. If not I may just shave again and re-review.
EDIT – July 30, 2013:
I came back here to read what I had written about Tabac, and immediately realized I needed to update this. Since having done this review, I have tried many other soaps and creams, and tried tabac several more times. The scent and the performance have grown on me dramatically. I even ditched the sample and bought a full ceramic tin of it and it has become one of my favorite soaps. It’s a fantastic scent and a fantastic performer, and there is no wonder in my opinion why it is a favorite amongst many wetshavers. The only wonder I have is how did I not like this more when I first reviewed it. Silly me.
Here is my updated rating:
- Scent – 4.5
- Lather Performance – 5
- Lather Life – 5
- Overall – 5
Seriously. One of the best ratings I have offered. And it’s well deserved. Also I had neglected to mention in the original review that this is one of the few large-production soaps to still be made with tallow. No wonder the lather is so damn good.