Tag Archives: tallow

Review: 42 Shaving Soap by Barrister And Mann

42 Shaving Soap by Barrister & Mann

42 Shaving Soap by Barrister & Mann

42.  It is “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything”, according to one of my favorite books ever, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  I loved the books so much I even have a gold-embossed collector’s edition hardcopy of the entire trilogy.  Yes, all 5 books!!

So grab your towels my friends, because that is exactly the one thing you need when you’re a galactic hitchhiker.  That and, if you’re lucky, a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster: an alcoholic beverage which, when drunk, feels “like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon, wrapped ’round a large gold brick”.  This drink happens happens to be one of the ingredients of this incredible smelling soap.  Ok, Don’t Panic, I’ll start making sense now.

First things first, this is a very limited edition soap that was created to celebrate Towel Day, which is a celebration of the life and writings of Douglas Adams, the author of the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  When I got an email from Barrister & Mann announcing that only 140 jars would be made, I had to get one immediately.  And this is now my go-to soap.

I have reviewed B&M’s Seville before, giving it the rare 5/5 stars.  The performance is just about the same for this tallow soap, and while I will not edit my previous review, I will bring it back just slightly from the edge of perfection, because I didn’t -always- get a perfect lather.  That said, what I like about this soap is that if lathered up right, in the right conditions, it is just that, perfect.  It’s super cushioning, it’s super slick, and it rinses clean and easy.  For me perfection was found in face lathering with a boar brush (my Semogue Owner’s Club boar brush), which with a good amount of water, and a decent amount of swirling, produced a super rich lather that was enough for a minimum of 4 exceptional passes.  It’s hard for B&M’s soap to let you down, thought a few times I didn’t get the lather I hoped for when using my Da Vinci badger.

When I first saw this soap, I -really- hoped that I would like the scent.  I love the books, the story, the characters, and I’m sure the style of the writing influences even the style of these reviews.  And seriously, it was not a letdown.  The scent is awesome.  Like Arthur Dent, the main character, it’s distinctly British.  It is very much a gentlemanly scent that could fit right in with some of the old-time British soaps like Truefitt & Hill and Taylor of Old Bond Street.  It’s citrusy-floraly with a hint of muskiness and … well, downright Britishness.  But Britishness with a bit of an aloof character to it.  To be direct, it’s a mixture of items plucked from the storyline: Petunia, Ambergris, Tea, and Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, which for the sake of simplicity, is lemon.  It’s a light, fresh, and delicious scent that’s perfect for summer, and it is my absolute go-to soap, probably until it’s all gone.

I’d say get some, but you can’t, because like I said, it’s limited edition.  You may notice that I like to start my reviews by saying I’m a lucky guy.  I figured in tribute to the silly nature of Douglas Adams, I would end with it: To be one of the few people in the world to have this soap in my rotation, yeah, I’m a lucky guy.

  • Scent – 5 (well done)
  • Lather Performance – 4.5
  • Lather Life – 5
  • Overall – 5

 

Review: Stirling Soap Company – Bay Rum Shaving Soap

Stirling Soap Company - Bay Rum Shaving Soap

Stirling Soap Company – Bay Rum Shaving Soap

I’ve been doing this for a while now, just about two and a half years.  And I really consider it a failure on my part that I have not reviewed this soap yet.  The thing is, I get to try out so many soaps that I hardly have the space anymore to order more!  Well thanks to my lady’s organizational skills, I now have room to load up on more, and one of the first ones I bought was a sampler of 5 scents from this giant in the artisan shaving soap community:  Stirling Soap Company’s Bay Rum Shaving Soap.

Now you knew I had to review their bay rum right?  I mean, c’mon.  It’s almost like my job at this point.  I do have other scents, including grapefruit and Bergamot Lavender, which I’m very excited to try.  But since they do have my namesake, review it I must.  Lest I be tossed off this fake pirate ship along with all my not-really-pirate-like belongings.

Bay Rum.  You get to define yourself when you define a bay rum.  Are you sweet or spicy?  Are you citrusy or woody?  And just what do you think of clove anyway?  All these questions must be answered before you can slap a “bay rum” label on yourself.  And it would help if you were a soap, otherwise you’d be quite a strange person.  So, how does Stirling define bay rum?

Bay West Indies (Pimenta Racemosa) essential oil is blended with Orange, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and a hint of Clove to provide a very complex and masculine aroma.

This is a fantastic straight-forward bay rum.  It’s classic and doesn’t complicate it very much.  The heart of the scent is the orange.  And the nutmeg and cinnamon warm it up so nicely that you’ll just sit there sniffing the puck over and over.  And for those of you who see “clove” and get worried, worry you not.  The clove is only strong enough to draw the bay scent out for a longer period of time.  Bay is a very short-lived scent, and clove is similar enough that if used in the right amount, will not smell clovey at all.  Honestly, when I finally read the scent list above, I was surprised to see clove in there, because it really is just a hint.  An almost imperceptible hint.  All in all it’s a great bay rum that is super pleasant, all the way though your shave until you clean out your brush.

Performance?  Damn.  This stuff performs exceptionally well.  This is a tallow soap, so vegans need not apply.  But if you’re cool with that, then sir, you are in for a treat.  Along with a castor oil base, lanolin, shea butter, and several other skin-loving ingredients, this soap lathers up super thick and rich.

Now I say this with a touch of hesitation, as this soap can sometimes lather up not so great.  But there are plenty of videos out there that discuss the best ways to lather it up.  Myself, I like to go in with a wetter-than-normal-but-not-soaked brush (I’ve been loving my new Da Vinci Uomo 293 silvertip badger brush) and run it over the soap for a while longer than normal, with very light pressure.  You’ll pick up tons of soap molecules.  And I also prefer these days to face lather.  So doing that I get an incredible amount of lather.

This lather is, like I said, really really good.  It’s super slick and it’s thickness really protects the skin.  Your razor will glide right over, taking all the whiskers and leaving your skin in great shape.  And the lather lasts too!  I easily get three passes, each thicker than the last, and have plenty left over in the brush for at least another two passes.  The lather usually shows no signs of thinning out, either.

I really should also mention the price.  For $7.50, you get a 125 gram puck.  You have to put it in your own container because all you get is the puck, but if you’re like me, you have a soap-dedicated cheese grater and containers at the ready, so this is hardly a problem, and the soap, like I said, is fantastic.  So this is some serious value for a little bit of work.

They sell samples of all their scents as well, and man they have a lot of them.  So go check out Stirling Soap Company and check out their selection.  You’ll love it.

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

Review: Bearded Lady Shaving Soap by Beer Soap Brewing Company

Beer Soap Brewing Company's Bearded Lady Shaving Soap

Beer Soap Brewing Company’s Bearded Lady Shaving Soap

There are several reputable shaving sites out there that have trading forums, where fake pirates like you and I can go and trade shaving products that we no longer use for one that might look appealing.  And nothing looks more appealing to a pirate than a bearded lady.  And that, my fake sea-lovin friends, is what I am going to write about today:  Beer Soap Brewing Company’s Bearded Lady Shaving Soap.  I can’t remember which soap or cream I traded for it, but I am very glad I did as I picked up a phenomenal performer.  I’ve tried it on and off for some time now, and I have finally come to know exactly how to use this soap

This one is fun.  The Beer Soap Brewing Company has several scents (one of which is a favorite around here in terms of scent, you get one guess).  What these guys do that makes them special is they add a specific beer to each scent of soap.  For this soap, they use Bearded Lady American Wheat Ale by Good People Brewing Company.  I happen to really really like wheat ales, so this is a perrrrfect matchup for me.

Let’s talk scent.  You probably are thinking the same thing I was:  what might a bearded lady smell like.  If you said “rugged”, well you win.  The makers say: “Notes of fir, bay, and cedarwood are anchored with a base of tobacco.”  Personally I am not the biggest fan of fir.  It brings a certain ambiance to a scent, an ambiance of fir.  And that ambiance is not for me.  I like “woody”, but not so much “woodsy”.  There’s a difference.  And at the end I’d say the combination is right in the middle of woody and woodsy.  It’s a rugged scent balanced out with bay and tobacco.  So while it’s interesting, it’s not something scent-wise that I would reach for.

Now, on to the really appealing part of this soap, the performance.  This is a tallow soap, and absolutely performs like one.   The way I found this soap performs best was to put some hot water on it (a trick I learned from HTGAM), for about 30 seconds.  Next I hit it with my DaVinci badger brush, and loaded it up good with a decent amount of water still in the brush.  Then I went and face lathered.  It lathered up to an amazing super-thick and creamy lather.  It stayed really thick on the face and while I was shaving provided an abundance of slick for my razor to glide over.

The best part was that this lather was -exactly- as slick, thick, creamy, and protective on the third pass as it was on the first.  Actually this was one of those awesome soaps that got better with each pass.  There are few soaps that do that, and I’m lucky enough to have them in my rotation.  Sometimes a lather just needs to age a little to really shine. It has to do with the ingredients, and this one has some awesome ingredients:  tallow, stearic acid, palm oil, castor oil, coconut oil, kaolin clay, and shea and cocoa butter.  As someone who spends a lot of time reading ingredients of soaps, I can vouch for this lineup.   Oh, yeah.. there’s also beer.  Bring that shit on.

So all in all, while this is not my favorite scent, this is one of the better performers I’ve tried in a while, and it’s safe to say that I’m not trading it.

  • Scent – 3
  • Lather Performance – 5
  • Lather Life – 5
  • Overall – 4

Review: Barrister & Mann – Seville Shaving soap

Barrister And Mann - Seville Shaving Soap

Barrister And Mann – Seville Shaving Soap

Recently, I’ve been doing several writeups on the new generation in shaving products.  Not your traditional names like Taylor of Old Bond Street, Truefitt & Hill, or D.R. Harris.  True, those guys have been around for a long time, and theres a very good reason for that.  But there is a new crop of shavemakers that truly deserve some high-end recognition because their products are just outstanding.  And recently I have added a new favorite to my list:  Barrister & Mann.

I recently ordered a sampler pack of their soaps, which also came with a sample of their awesome Kyovu aftershave.  The aftershave will get a separate review another time because it’s that good.  For today, I want to tell you about the first soap in their sampler that I have tried, Seville.  Oh man is it good.

This is a tallow soap, which is a breakaway from what seems to be the normal in the new generation of soaps and creams.  Most of them are vegan, or at least non-tallow soaps.  And they’re good.  They’re really good.  And this soap is on par with them all the way, and meets the demand of those shavers out there who prefer tallow soaps.

The scent is a blend of everything that is right in the world.  I have been a bay rum guy for a long time, but this scent is muscling its way into the #1 spot in my routine.  It’s an amazing barbershop scent that just leaves me floored with how good it is.  It’s a blend of bergamot, lemon, patchouli, oakmoss, lavender and rosemary.  I’m sure most of you are scratching your heads trying to imagine the scent, and thats why I almost hesitate to list it.  When lathering, shaving, even rinsing, the scent is the right blend, at the right strength.  This is one of those rare scents that simply take you away from the daily grind and make shaving something you want to do.  When you hear dorks like me say “the zen of shaving”, it’s scents like these that make up the zen part.  Have I mentioned yet that I like this scent…. a lot…?

As for performance, this stuff is right up there with the best.  I used my Duke 2 badger brush and built up a substantial lather, that was exquisitely thick and creamy.  It whips up super easy compared to other tallow soaps, that can sometimes flatten.  It does exactly what you’ve come to expect from a quality soap, giving your face an ultra-slick and cushioning layer of protection.  The razor glides with ease right through the whisker, leaving your skin feeling untouched yet as smooth as it can get.

One more thing to mention, their prices are outstanding for the quality inside of these products.  This is one of the better price-to-value ratios in the market.  Once you try them out, you’ll feel like you just ripped them off.  In my opinion, you did.

I say it all the time:  I’m a lucky man.  And I’m lucky now because I still have an entire sampler pack of Barrister & Mann soaps to go through.  And one of them is a bay rum.  Oh yeah.  Life is good.  Barrister & Mann is great.  Get some.

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

5’s are for those things that just seem impossible to prove.  The scent is great, the lather is great, super slick and super protective, and is easy to whip up.  The lather lasts wonderfully for a full three-pass shave and then some.  I can’t think of any way to improve it.  How can I not give it a full 5.  Nice work guys.  Nice work.

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!

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.