Tag Archives: shaving soap

Review: HowToGrowAMoustache.com – Bay Rum Synergy Shaving Soap

HowToGrowAMoustache.com - Bay Rum Synergy Shaving Soap

HowToGrowAMoustache.com – Bay Rum Synergy Shaving Soap

I am a lucky man.  I do love starting out reviews saying that.  So why am I so lucky this time?  Because had it not been for the off chance of just checking out traditional shaving, I would not have had as good a shave as I did today.  Let me tell you about a moustached man named Douglass Smythe.  Or maybe I should tell you about his website.  Or his Synergy Shaving Soap.

If you’ve been doing any research or reading online on any or the more well-known shaving blogs, you may have come across Douglass and/or his blog, and/or his shaving soap.  As a man amongst pretend-ship-sailing-men, I can tell you without a shred of doubt that Mr. Smythe has created one hell of a product.  I’ve been using this Synergy Shaving soap for a couple weeks now.  And I’ve been wanting to tell you about it, but I’ve been out plundering the wilds of the Caribbean Islands…. That, or my new job’s hours have been keeping me on my toes.  It’s one of the two…

Ok, first things first.  And the first thing is value.  This is now the largest tin of soap in my shave cave.  It’s a massive puck.  8 oz of soap in a wide-mouthed tin that is just fantastic for loading your brush.  And it’s priced so low comparatively, that I can’t think of a soap that offers this good a value.  And it’s not that this stuff isn’t a good performer.  It’s a great performer.

Alright, so I’ve come to discover that Synergy Shaving soap loves water.  And as Douglass has pointed out, it loves hot water.  I actually submerge the entire puck and tin (along with my Duke 2 badger brush) in hot water for a minute before shaving.  By the way, the labels on the tin are vinyl, meaning they won’t fade or crinkle up when they get wet.  Nice touch there, Douglass.

So yes, the hot water really awakens the soap, which responds with an explosion of lather on my brush.  I load the brush until the soap gets tacky, then I move to my mug (I really like using a mug/bowl).  As I said, this stuff loves water, so I add it quite liberally when building the lather, and also between passes.

The smell is fantastic.  It’s a bit strong when you first open up the tin, but as you’re lathering on your face, it really ends up being just a great scent at the right strength.  It remains that way all the way through the shave.  I have had issues in the past with some strongly-scented soaps (like Tabac) causing a problem for my sensitive skin.  I was worried that this soap may give me the itchies, but I am happy to report that my skin loves this stuff!

Performance.  Alright, so here we have another vegan soap.  I have been seeing more and more of these lately, and they have really been giving tallow a run for it’s money.  I’ve been a big tallow soap guy since I started traditional shaving.  But lately I have been reaching a lot more to non-tallow soaps and creams.

So this lather is not a tallow lather.  It appears, when lathered up, to be a little on the fluffier side, rather than a thick-yogurty side.  Adding a little more water brings it closer to that yogurt consistency we look for when building a lather.  Moving the lather to my face, all “this isn’t tallow” worries are instantly quelled.  This lather is amazing.  When lathered on the face, it is very thick, and incredibly slick.  This is a fantastic shaving soap, providing a great cushion for my razor.  It also rinses clean off my face and off my tools.  The lather does need a little refreshing between passes, which I’ve noticed with other veggie soaps, but a little bit of water brings it right back to life.

I’m very impressed with this soap.  And considering it’s size, I will be for a long time.  If you haven’t yet, check out HowToGrowAMoustache.com.  The soaps are fantastic, but you also should check out Douglass’s blog and podcast if you haven’t already.  When you hear his interviews and read his articles and how-to’s, you’ll see that this is a man who really just wants to make quality shaving products.  Synergy Shaving Soap is a home run.

  • Scent – 4.5
  • Lather Performance – 5
  • Lather Life – 4
  • Overall – 4.5

And how silly of me.  I totally forgot to talk about one of the best parts – the natural ingredients, most of which are organic:

Ingredients: Kokum Butter, Organic Mango Butter, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Avocado Oil, Organic Pumpkin Oil, Organic Castor Oil, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Organic Neem Oil, Safflower Oil, Glycerine, Purified Water, Sodium & Potassium Hydroxide,Soy bean protein, Chaulmoogra Oil, Aloe Extract, Maca Root, Yellow Dock Root, Essential Oil

Beat that.

Review: L.A. Shaving Soap Company – Santa Monica Bay Rum Shaving Soap

Los Angeles Shaving Soap Company - Santa Monica Bay Rum Shaving Soap

Los Angeles Shaving Soap Company – Santa Monica Bay Rum Shaving Soap

I am a lucky man.  There are so many people in this world using the foam in a can to shave with, people who are literally cheating themselves out of experiencing pure bliss in the morning in the form of traditional shaving.  And one of the most pleasurable aspects of the traditional shave is the old badger brush and shaving soap combo.  And today I am lucky because I have found an amazing soap:  Santa Monica Bay Rum Shaving Soap, made by The Los Angeles Shaving Soap Company.  The only thing that John from the LA Shaving Soap Company could have done to better this bay rum experience is deliver it in a pirate ship.  Let me explain.

First off, we’re going to talk scent.  Because this soap’s scent profile is totally unique, and includes a “generous dollop of dark rum”.  [The pirate in me just yo-ho-ho’d.]  I would think that many soap makers might shy away from adding rum to their product, in the worry that it might adversely affect the latherability of the soap.  In this case it did not, but we’ll talk lather later.

The scent blend contains West Indies Bay, Vanilla extract (hell yes), Orange extract,  Balsam Tolu, Clary Sage, Sweet Myrrh, Lemon extract, Anise extract, and Ho Wood esxential oil.  So in essence we have plenty of eye-opening citrus, which is balanced with a hint of sweetness from the vanilla, and slight wafts of floral and woody notes.

Overall the scent comes across similarly to other bay rum soaps (like Mike’s Natural Soaps, and Taconic), but leans in the direction of a spicy and slightly sweet profile.  All in all, it smells awesome in the container, awesome when being whipped into a lather, and awesome on your face.  Not too strong, and not too light.  It’s hard to imagine it getting much better than this.

This soap, which actually is soft and more of a soap/cream combo (often called a croap), is made by a vegan, and as such contains no tallow.  But considering the lather I got from both shaves I have had thus far with this product, you wouldn’t know it.  This is one of the best non-tallow soaps I have shaved with.  The lather was ultra slick and very thick and cushioning.  It lathers up really easily too.  You shouldn’t have any problems at all getting an amazing lather.  Now I have gotten thicker lathers from tallow soap.  But for a non-tallow soap, as I said, this is one of the thickest I have come across.

I did a 3-pass shave.  The lather got better and better and better with each pass too.  Thats one of my favorite aspects of a great soap/cream.

  • Scent – 5
  • Lather Performance – 4.5
  • Lather Life – 5
  • Overall – 5

Lather Performance gets a 4.5 only because personally I prefer tallow soaps, and the thickness you get from tallow.  But, as I said, this is one of the best-performing non-tallow’s I have tried.

If you want to up your shaving experience, check out the Los Angeles Shaving Company.  Their bay rum is great, and I’m really looking forward to trying out their other scents too.

Review: Klar Kabinett Shaving Soap

Klar Kabinett Shaving Soap

Klar Kabinett Shaving Soap

Klar Kabinett.  For those not well-versed in the ways of wet shaving, you might mistake this for a pack of butter, or maybe some old… cabinet cleaner?  Then you dig a little deeper, and find that this is a very special soap indeed, one that is loved by many traditional wetshavers.  Like my review for Art of Shaving’s Lavender Shaving Soap with tallow, this one is a little unfair because Klar Kabinett is about to become a thing of the past.

Klar Kabinett comes in two 250g sticks, very much like a pack of butter.  Considering that most shave soaps come in 100g pucks, to get 500g of a quality shave soap for almost the same price is pretty astounding.  Add to that the fact that Klar has discontinued the Kabinett soap, this is a steal.  I just purchased one of the last pucks available from Fendrihan.com only a couple weeks ago.  I say this confidently because they are now out of stock, as is all other wetshaving suppliers that I know of.

So this review may be one for the archives, which is a shame because it really is a great shaving soap.

The scent is straight up rose.  There may be other background hints of other scents; my untrained nose picked up hints of eucalyptus and maybe geranium.  But all in all its a very light, powdery rose scent.  It’s extremely subtle, and probably on the too-light side.  But then again, it may be just exactly right.  Its very light when smelling the bar, but comes more to life when mixing up the lather and while shaving.  All in all a very pleasant and soft rose, that gains strength as you use it.

The lather is exceptional.  It doesn’t need much water either.  It was extremely slick.  In fact as I was rinsing my face between passes I was amazed at how slick my face felt while rinsing.  And it provided great cushion as well.  And the super rich lather lasts and lasts.  With a very average amount of loading the brush, I got enough lather to last two 3-pass shaves.  I could have kept on going and going….

Today I shaved with the first DE razor I ever bought: my Merkur 34HD, loaded with a fresh Personna Medical Prep blade.  I had a completely nick-free and super smooth shave and my skin feels great afterwards.

  • Scent – 4
  • Lather Performance – 4.5
  • Lather Life – 4.5
  • Overall – 4

500g of this soap is going to last me for a very very long time.  That to me just screams value.  It’s a fantastic soap, and if you are a true fan of rose, you need to keep an eye on the B/S/T boards on Badger & Blade and hopefully someone might want to share some.  Good luck, gentlemen.

Review: D.R. Harris – Windsor Shaving Soap

D.R. Harris - Windsor Shaving Soap

D.R. Harris – Windsor Shaving Soap

Not too long ago I ordered a few samples from Garry’s Sample Shop (that is an unrequested plug for Garry, who runs a wonderful service).  It was in this sample pack that I requested some D.R. Harris soaps.  Well for the past couple days I have really been enjoying one of them, D.R. Harris’ Windsor Shaving Soap.

The lather whipped up nice and thick.  This is one of the last major English soaps to still use tallow in their ingredients.  Tallow provides a rich creamy lather which has only been matched a few rare times by non-tallow creams/soaps in my experience.  And, as expected, this lather got better and better with each pass.  I tell you there is some magic that happens while the brush/lather are resting as you shave each pass.  The lather was better-than-moderately cushioning and slick as I shaved, shaved clean and rinsed clean as well, leaving a hint of the very nice Windsor scent behind.

Windsor is a great fresh morning scent, perfect for your shave routine.  As D.R. Harris describes it, Windsor starts “with citrus overtones, maturing into a warm, leathery scent with notes of black pepper and vetiver”.  To the guy who doesn’t know what that means, that “fresh then warm” description is right on.  That vetiver is what warms it up on the tail end of the scent.  As I said it’s a great scent for the morning.  As I went through the shave I felt the scent was light, and perhaps it is best left that way.  Too much stronger and it would be a bit overpowering.  Any lighter and it would smell like soap.  So I think the gentlemen at D.R. Harris have done a find job.

All that said, I think I prefer the fougere (citrus/fern) scent of D.R. Harris Arlington over the leathery scent of Windsor.  You may disagree.  And that’s cool with me.

  • Scent – 3.5
  • Lather Performance – 4
  • Lather Life – 4.5
  • Overall – 4

Review: Mike’s Natural Soaps – Rose & Cedarwood Shaving Soap

Mike's Natural Soaps - Rose & Cedarwood Shaving Soap

Mike’s Natural Soaps – Rose & Cedarwood Shaving Soap

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there who are probably not reading this.  I was going to just shave with whatever I felt was next in my rotation of creams and soaps and then I realized, “Hey, I’m pretty sure I got a rose sample somewhere, maybe I should review it”… And here we are.

Today, in honor of my mother Eleanor, who’s recipe for Pink Potato Salad is listed in the vaults at Food Network, I shaved with a rose-scented soap, a sample that I have had lying around for a while now.  Today I bring you a review of Mike’s Natural Soaps – Rose & Cedarwood Shaving Soap.

You hear a lot of guys going nuts about tallow.  I get it now.  Yes I am not new to tallow soaps and I have had the privilege of trying out a wide swath of soaps and creams.  It really does seem like every time i try a tallow soap I go nuts over the lather.  And conversely, every time I try a non-tallow soap I am left feeling ‘ok’ about it.

Today I went nuts.  Mike’s Rose is just an amazing soap.  The scent is unique thanks to the cedarwood.  Now from what I understand, rose essential oil is extremely expensive, due to needing so many rose petals per drop of oil.  So many soapmakers use fragrance oil for rose.  This is one of them.  I honestly wouldn’t have known if Mike didn’t say it on his website, but regardless.  The rose scent is wonderful.  It is the driving force of this shaving soap.  But then there is the cedarwood, which adds a sharp, fresh note to the fragrance.  It’s truly something you have to just smell to understand.  Overall the scent is wonderful and bright, while retaining it’s floral presentation.  Really nice scent that is present but not overbearing.

The lather is simply perfect.  I like a nice thick lather, with cushion and slickness, that lasts.  The lather that I got from this soap could easily be the bar that I measure all other soaps up to.  As I mentioned before it’s a tallow soap, that also is loaded with other amazing ingredients like avocado oil, kokum and shea butters, and lanolin, the magical wax from sheep that makes Mitchell’s Wool Fat so extraordinarily slick.

The lather was ultra-thick and creamy, with enough to last 5 passes.  Each pass got better and better, too.  And it stayed thick on my face while I was going through each pass – I never needed a touchup.  And it was amazingly slick, allowing the blade to glide right across my skin and through each whisker.  I could still feel that slickness as I rinsed between passes.  If I had any complaints it might be that the lather got a little bit dry by the third pass, maybe too thick.  But then a few drops of water and a re-whip will bring it right back to where it was.  Still a fantastic lather… Mike’s mom should be proud.

My hardware was pretty usual for me, but the software was tailor-made for mother’s day:

And here are my ratings for the shave:

  • Scent – 4.5
  • Lather Performance – 5
  • Lather Life – 4.5
  • Overall – 4.5

Review: Tabac Shaving Soap

Tabac Shaving Soap

Tabac Shaving Soap

(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.

Review: D.R. Harris – Arlington Shaving Soap

D.R. Harris - Arlington Shaving Soap

D.R. Harris – Arlington Shaving Soap

Ahhhhhh…. You hear that?  That’s the sound of luxury.  Its the exact theme of this shave.

D.R. Harris, is one of the “ivy league” shaving product producers from London.  They’ve been around for over 200 years, making the very best in creams, soaps, scents and other products.  In the batch of goodies I ordered from Garry’s Sample Shop, I received this sample of D.R. Harris Arlington Shaving Soap, arguably one of their most popular signature scents.

Arlington is a very simple scent:  citrus over fern.  So what does that mean, you say?  As usual, not a whole lot I can tell you without putting it up to your nose, but I’ll try my best.

It’s a soft scent.  I can definitely smell the citrus, but it’s not too strong.  I can also definitely smell the fern, which is almost impossible to describe.  But once you smell it, you’d easily say “oh yeah, fern”.  It’s a clean soft green scent, even with a hint of “soap” but definitely a great scent for spring, which I happen to be enjoying at the moment.  It also has that classic kind of smell, one from another time, similar to Geo F Trumper’s Eucris, but not as dark.  A wonderful outdoorsy spring scent.

Let’s talk about the lather.  Oh yeah.  I love me a good lather.  D.R. Harris Arlington soap is a triple-milled (french-milled) tallow soap.  Triple-milling will remove water, making the soap harder, richer, and much longer lasting.  So once you get a puck of this stuff, it ain’t goin anywhere anytime soon. I whipped it up using my Simpsons Duke II best badger brush and got an unbelievably thick, rich, luxurious lather.  It got better and better with each pass and left me with a fantastic cushion for my razor and wonderful slickness for the blade.

The remaining lather rinsed clean off my face, and left the wonderful arlington scent lingering.  I had an excellent BBS shave, and it left my skin feeling wonderfully moisturized.

This is a great soap to have in your rotation.  If the other D.R. Harris soaps are the same, then I’d feel safe recommending them all.

D.R. Harris Arlington Shaving Soap is available at Amazon.com!

Review: Mystic Water Soap – Orange Vanilla Shaving Soap

Mystic Water Soap - Orange Vanilla Shaving Soap

Mystic Water Soap – Orange Vanilla Shaving Soap

Mystic Water Soap is one of the wonderful artisan soapmakers that get mentioned quite a bit on the shaving forums.  And a while ago I rang them up on the internets and ordered a few samples.  It’s been a while, but I have finally gotten around to this one here, their Orange Vanilla variety.

I love creamsicles.  I think you are a rotten person if you don’t like them.  Well not really, but cmon, there is something about orange and vanilla coming together that is so awesome, in the same way that it’s awesome when peanut butter and chocolate come together.  So when I re-stumbled upon this soap sample a few days ago I got really excited and decided to make it my next review.

First the good.  The good hits your nose right out of the bat.  The scent.  The soap is actually brown from the vanilla in it, so you know you’re dealing with great stuff.  The smell is exactly what you think it would smell like.  It’s sweet, but not a cloying, heavy kind of sweet.  The orange is there with the backup of vanilla, and its not a strong vanilla.  Overall the scent is wonderfully balanced.  And it stays wonderfully balanced while being whipped up into a lather and while on your face.  Awesome smell.

The ingredients in this soap are exactly what you want when you love your face.  Tallow, Glycerin, shea butter, avocado/palm/castor oils, Aloe vera, Bentonite Clay, wheat protein, and something that doesn’t come around too often: silk..

The slickness this soap provides is top notch.  It’s fantastic.  You feel it when lathering it on, and you feel it when rinsing your face after each pass.  Can’t say a bad thing about this aspect of the lather.

Well I pointed out the good, you say.  So then is there a bad?  Unfortunately, yes.  I found, not only with this soap, but also with the last MW soap I tried, that the lather is somewhat lacking in it’s thickness and cushion.  It just doesn’t thicken the way I personally like my lathers to thicken.  It’s a light fluff kind of lather, almost like whipped up egg whites.  There’s not much substance to it.  And by the time I am halfway through a pass, I find that what is left on my face is just vanishing into nothingness, albeit still leaving an incredible slickness behind.

Maybe I am doing it wrong.  Maybe I am spoiled by great latherers I have tried like Art of Shaving, Geo F. Trumper, and Taylor of Old Bond Street.  I like everything about this soap, except the one thing I love the most about traditional shave soaps, the thickness and luxuriousness of the lather.  It’s missing here for me.  Of course, I won’t dismiss the company, as it has many many happy customers.  YMMV (Your mileage may vary) is the key word in shaving soap reviews.  Try a few samples yourself.  You will definitely love the scents, and the slickness.  And if you end up lathering it better than I am, then you’ll absolutely love the whole package.

Edit:  I completely forgot to mention a couple things…

First, I tried this soap for 2 consecutive days.  The first time I mug lathered and got a very weak lather.  The second time I face lathered and got a better result, but it still was quite lacking by the third pass.

Second, While I did have problems with the lather quality, I got great bbs shaves both times.

Review: Art of Shaving – Lavender Shaving Soap (with tallow)

Art of Shaving - Lavender Shaving Soap

Art of Shaving – Lavender Shaving Soap

Yup.  With tallow.  I know, it’s not fair.  I have not tried the new non-tallow formulation, but I can tell you that I’m astounded that Art of Shaving (or more properly, their parent company) would mess with something that is so dead-on awesome.  And I apologize to all of you who will probably not have the chance to try out this amazing shaving soap.  All I can offer is a chance to experience it in my own words… Ok I’ll shut up and get to it 🙂

So yes, I had read that some time recently Proctor & Gamble, the parent company of Art of Shaving, decided to cut corners and remove tallow from the entire line of Art of Shaving products.  This devastated the fans of their soap, whose glowing reviews fill the halls of Amazon and all the shaving forums.  When I read of the demise of Art of Shaving tallow, I decided that I would keep out an eagle eye for any sales of the tallow formula.

About a week ago, it happened.  Someone had stumbled upon a cache of Art of Shaving’s Lavender Shaving Soap with tallow at a local grocery store for a decent discount.  He bought all of them and came back to the forum to share the news and offer some for sale.  I jumped at the occasion, and purchased not only my first Art of Shaving shaving soap, but also my first lavender-scented soap.

Fast forward.  It arrived.  I also had just purchased some 1-cup pyrex bowls to mill my soaps and soap samples into.  So I did just that, maybe 1/4 of the soap went through a small grater and into the bowl.

So today was the day.  While showering, I left my mug and best-badger brush in hot water to soak, and also left a thin layer of water on the top of the soap.  Once out of the shower, I softly shook out most of the water from the brush, poured the water off the soap, and loaded the brush for about a minute, until I could tell it was thickened with a great amount of soap.  Into the mug it went, where i spent another minute or two whipping up a super-thick, wonderfully fragranced lather.

I could tell right then and there that I was in for a real treat.  This lather smelled ridiculously good right there in the mug, and was so thick that the brush easily stands on it’s own.  I went to lather my face and felt that if I let go of the brush, it would stick to my face.  The smell was gorgeous, the lather was ultra rich and thick.

While shaving I took note of not only of how well this lather provides a great cushioning, but also is very slick, allowing the blade to slide across my skin, but take the whiskers away with little to no effort.  And as thick as the lather was, it wasn’t gunky, and didn’t stick too badly to my Weber DLC DE razor.  As I rinsed after each pass, I could still feel the slickness.  And right after that the soap rinsed completely clean.

The second pass (my personal test of how good a lather holds) was even better than the first.  The same goes for the third pass.  And there was enough luxurious lather for at least another 3-4 passes when I was done shaving.  I used this to wash my hands, if anything to impart a little more of that delicious lavender scent to them.

My shave was smooth as silk, and left my face wonderfully moisturized.

And now I am pissed.  Because I found a great great soap.  At least I am at the beginning of this puck.  I am going to try the new non-tallow formula, and see how it compares.  But you can bet your ass that I am going to be on the lookout for more pucks of the tallow stuff.  Oh man is it good….

Oh, I should probably be doing this more, but here is my full lineup:

Review: Mitchell’s Wool Fat – Shaving Soap

Mitchells Wool Fat - Shaving Soap

Mitchells Wool Fat – Shaving Soap

Epic.  That is what this stuff is.  This is one of the classic tallow-based shaving soaps that piqued my interest when I first started wetshaving.  I mean, yeah I had heard of Barbasol, Schick, and Edge shaving creams and gels, but Wool Fat?!?  This stuff had earned my curiosity and I quickly ordered some.

I ordered a refill puck, shredded it with a cheese grater, and packed about half of the shreds into a 3″ plastic tub. I have used this tub to shave maybe 20-30 times, and I still have more than half of that tub left (with the other half of the original puck still waiting in a plastic ziplock!), so you know this stuff will last a long time.

Ok, first things first, if you know the back story of Mitchell’s Wool Fat, you can skip down a little.  Mitchell’s Wool Fat was first discovered in the 1930’s by a British chemist named Fred Mitchell, who noticed that sheep shearers always had super soft hands after shearing their sheep.  It was lanolin, a protective wax exuded by the sheep’s skin, that kept the sheep’s wool, and the shearers’ hands, very soft and supple.  Using that noggin of his, he put two and two together and formulated a soap with lanolin in it.  Soon after, he used that noggin again and thought “this would make a fantastic shave soap too!”.  And thanks to that wonderful noggin of his, we have the gift of one of the best shave soaps in existence.  One with a very understandable cult following.

The lather.  Mitchell’s Wool Fat has this little bit of baggage attached to it that it is hard to lather.  I will admit that I found this true the first couple of times I tried lathering with it.  The lather seemed a bit thin and didn’t last for three full passes.  But I think I have mastered the art of lathering Mitchell’s Wool Fat.

Note #1: I will soon post a video or two showing how I lather up the fat.

Note #2: There is a lot of talk about what type of water works for lathering the fat.  I personally think that the water in my area (NewYorkCity area) is not very hard, for what it’s worth.

Here is how I get an amazing lather:

  1. While I shower I soak the brush and mug in hot water, which ends up being warm by the time I am out of the shower.  Sometimes I wet the soap too, but I get a great lather whether or not I wet the puck, so I don’t really do that anymore.
  2. Shake most of the water out of the brush.  You want the bristles to be soaked through, but you do not want too much extraneous water in the brush as a whole.  Don’t shake the brush too hard.  It’s hard to describe in words, but you want to shake maybe 80%-90% of the water out of the brush, without being too aggressive.
  3. Load the brush on the puck.  I hold the puck sideways while loading the brush.  Some soap may bubble out the sides of your container, and I just let that fall into the sink.  You don’t want it in the mix because the key at this stage is very little water.  Load the brush for about a minute or so until you feel that your brush is thickening up with soap pretty good.  You will hit a point where you will feel like its enough.  You’ll get it with practice.
  4. Empty all water from your mug and start swirling the brush in the mug.  After about 15 seconds it will feel a bit dry.  Use your fingertips to add a few drops (5-8) of water into the mug.  Continue to swirl for another 20 or so seconds.  There are three ways to lather that you should alternate between: Swirl, back and forth, and pressing.  Pressing means to push the brush into the lather to get it deep into the bristles.  But please, for the sake of your brush, do not push down too hard.  Just a little dipping motion.
  5. Keep repeating adding a few drops of water and lathering until you get a meringue-type foam that sticks to your brush even when you shake the brush lightly in the air.   It should be between 1-2 minutes of lathering, probably closer to 2 minutes.
  6. Rinse your face with hot water, dry your hands, load your brush with lather, and start face lathering.  Start by swirling the brush until your entire shaving surface is covered.  The swirling motion will lift all the hairs and insert lather underneath them and also exfoliate and excite the skin underneath.  This will increase blood flow to the skin, expanding it, and causing the hairs to stand up slightly more.
  7. Once your face is lathered up, start a fast-paced back-and-forth motion with the brush.  Like you’re lightly slapping yourself with the brush fairly quickly.  Then start slowing down.  The slower you go with the slap motion, the thicker the lather will be on your face.  Within seconds you will have the most amazing thick cushioning layer of Mitchell’s Wool Fat on your face.

One thing you will notice when you are rinsing the fat off your face is how amazingly slick your face feels.  This stuff provides an amazingly slick cushion for your razor, and really softens your whiskers.  Your razor will glide over your skin like an ice skater but remove your whiskers like a hot knife through butter.

The smell is absolutely wonderful.  It’s a clean scent, with very little fragrance, so it’s an excellent soap for sensitive skin like mine.  Any time one of these products starts irritating my skin, the next few days I reach for the Mitchell’s Wool Fat tin to shave with.

Also, one amazing thing about this stuff is that the lather gets thicker and better with each pass.  So you lather up and shave the first pass.  Then you rinse your face.  Then you grab the mug and whip up the lather again for a few seconds and re-apply the lather.  It’s going to feel even better, thicker, and more protective than the first pass, which is exactly what you want.  The third pass (if you go that far) will be even better.

This stuff is of legend, and I am a Mitchell’s Wool Fat cultist.  Your shave den is incomplete without it.

Mitchell’s Wool Fat is available at Amazon.com!