QEDman – Spearmint and Tangerine shave stick

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QEDman Tangerine Spearmint

So, apparently the owner of the place that made the QEDman soaps for QEDman has retired. They’re down to one last scent available in the shaving stick, the wild orange, and three scents available for the tubs; Anise & Lavender, Grapefruit & Peppermint, and this one, Tangerine & Spearmint.

The lather is decent enough; a good balance of lubrication and thickness; you’ll want to be reasonably generous with the amount of water used. Somewhat narrow sweet spot to get the balance just right, but some good moisturization.

The balance on the scent is definitely predominately the spearmint, which shouldn’t be all that unexpected, considering it’s generally considered a much strong scent than tangerine. You can detect hints of the sweetness of tangerines underneath the minty-ness. Fairly pleasant, although I would have preferred more tangerine.

The strength is reasonable to start, without much in the way of fading. Not strong per se, but definitely not weak.

  • 8/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 8/10 Scent Strength
  • 8/10 Lather Quality

Anyways, it’s a nice enough soap, with good performance in all areas, but nothing to write home about in any aspect. 7/10 overall.

  • Cost: As mentioned, the shaving stick in this scent is no longer available, however a 5oz jar can still be found for $13.50. While they do ship to Canada and some other places outside the US, the shopping cart feature only works within the US, so you’ll need to e-mail for a quote.

Gear used:

Ingredients: Saponified 100% food grade coconut, palm, castor, and safflower oils, with kosher vegetable glycerin, soybean protein, aloe vera extract, and essential oils.

Garden Variety Soap Company – Bergamot Cedarwood shaving soap

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2014-08-14 23.43.22

So I received this puck of shaving soap after getting an inquiry from the soap maker about doing a review. I frankly kind of wish she had contacted me prior to coming up with the formulation; perhaps I could have helped to steer her in a bit of a better direction.

As we often see from people who are already making soap that decide to delve into making shaving soaps, it looks like it’s basically hand soap with bentonite clay added. I suppose I can’t blame them terribly; after all that’s pretty much what comes up on the first page or so if you google “How to make shaving soap”. The problem being that they’re all listed on soap oriented websites, and not anyone with any real “cred” with regards to shaving. I’d liken it to someone who was trying to figure out how to bake a cake following a recipe on an breakfast website telling egg lovers how they can alter their omelet recipe by adding some flour, instead of actually listening to the advice on a baking site.

Which isn’t to say that some type of clay can’t be a small component of a good shaving soap (as seen in Mike’s Naturals amongst others), but it sure as heck can’t be the only thing that you’re using to try and make it into a shaving soap instead of something else.

Anyways, enough of a generic rant, about this soap in particular: it seriously lacked lather stability. If you do use it, I’d suggest tailoring your lather mix to be on the water-heavy side, so at least you get a very good amount of glide, since you’re not really going to be able much to speak about in the way of thickness. It did at least have some decent moisturization properties, but that’s not really enough to salvage the performance.

The scent was pleasant; the bergamot seems to be predominate with the cedar and the other scents providing a nice base. There’s a bit of sweetness to the mix as well, which might be from the shea / cacao butter. All together, it came together for a nice combination.

It was about a middling strength; not strong, but not weak, with fairly decent staying power.

  • 9/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 8/10 Scent Strength
  • 6/10 Lather Quality

Anyways, I’ll be giving this a 6/10; I can’t really recommend it due to the unsatisfying shave it provided.

Gear used:

Ingredients: Water, Sunflower Oil, Castor oil, Coconut oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Palm Oil, Shea Butter, Cacao Butter, Bentonite Clay, Essential Oil Blend (bergamot, cedarwood, juniper, patchouli, lime, clove)

RazoRock “La Famiglia” Don Marco shaving soap (original formulation)

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RazoRock Don Marco

So, this is yet another example of the fact that I really need to get reviews done quicker and out the door faster. Here’s a review of the original formulation of RazoRock’s “La Famiglia” Don Marco shaving soap, which has since been superceded by a new formulation. The old one can however still be found at a few spots.

The soap lathers up easily, really thick, with good amount of lubrication. Just be sure to use enough water; this is one of those soaps where you might lather it up, and it could look right, but when you go to use it, it’s not as slick as it should be, because it needs more hydration. But if you get the water balance right, it’s just an excellent soap, with a good amount of moisturization as well.

The scent is quite pleasant, orange-y and citrus-y from the bergamot, with a nice bit of sweetness from the neroli, it is really a nice little package. Unfortunately, it’s not all that strong, starting off at what I’d say is a medium amount, and experiencing some fading from there throughout the shave.

Edit: For those who don’t read the comments, Joe from RazoRock has pointed out that the only change in the formulation was an increase in the strength of the scent by 50%. I presume by that ihe means a 50% increase in the amounts of the fragrance used by either volume or weight. The base soap formula has stayed the same. So… yeah, I’ll probably like the new stuff better.

  • 10/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 7/10 Scent Strength
  • 9/10 Lather Quality

Overall, I’ll give this an 8/10.

Gear used:

Ingredients: Stearic Acid, water, cocos nucifera, potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, fragrance, sodium carbonate, linalool, linalyl acetate, decanal, erthyl 2-naphthyl ether, gamma-undecalactone, alpha-dimethylphenethylbutyrate, octanal, cital.

Honeybee Soaps – Coffee Mocha

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Honeybee - Coffee Mocha

Mmmmm… coffee and chocolate, two of my favourite things.

Honeybee Soaps’ rendition thereof is a fairly pleasant mix. It’s heavier on the chocolate, and a bit light on the coffee IMHO, and overall not quite as sweet as I would have expected. Still, it works fairly well, coming off what I’d say is a medium strong mix, without too much in the way of fading.

The lather’s the usual from Honeybee soaps; use a fair bit of water and some elbow grease and you’ll wrest a decent balance of thickness and glide out of the soap. It’s certainly good enough to get the job done.

  • 8/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 8/10 Scent Strength
  • 8/10 Lather Quality

All said, I think I’ll give this a 7/10; it’s good, but doesn’t really stand out in any particular area.

Gear used:

Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Castor Oil, Hempseed Oil, Safflower Oil, Shea Butter, Glycerine (vegetable origin), Vitamin E, Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Sorbitol, Sorbitan Oleate, Soybean Protein, Wheat Protein, White Kaolin China Clay, Cosmetic Color and Fragrance Oil.

Kiss My Face – Key Lime Shaving Cream

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KMF Key Lime

The scent is a refreshing aroma of tart lime; very nice. Although a glance at the label reveals that the underlying ingredients which made that scent are a fair bit more complex. but it definitely comes together as something that strongly reminds me of key limes. Unfortunately, it’s not really strong enough. It’s certainly noticable when lathered and put on the face, but not strongly so, and it faded away quite a bit while I was shaving.

The lather seems to be the same as any other Kiss My Face cream; requires a medium amount of water to get going, and a bit of elbow grease, but leaves you with a creamy lather with a pretty good balance of lubrication and cushioning. Nothing really out of the ordinary when it comes to moisturization.

  • 9/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 7/10 Scent Strength
  • 8/10 Lather Quality

All in all, we’re looking at a 7/10 for this one.

Gear used:

Ingredients: Aqua, Myristic Acid, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Allantoin, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Arnica Montana (Arnica) Flower Extract, Hydrastis Canadensis (Golden Seal) Root Extract, Equisetum Hyemale (Horsetail) Extract, Alchemilla Vulgaris (Lady’s Mantle) Leaf Extract, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass) Leaf Extract, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Extract, Saponaria Officinalis (Soapwort) Root Extract, Nasturtium Officinalis (Watercress) Leaf Extract, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass) Leaf Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Fruit Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Oil, Hydroxyethylcellulose

Red Leaf – Black tea shaving cube

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Red Leaf shaving cube - Black Tea

Red Leaf is a shaving soap which, judging by the ingredient listing, is at least partially based upon a melt-and-pour base. That having been said, I think it’s at least on par with one the best melt and pours that I’ve used before, such as Elvado, or Honeybee Soaps.

I didn’t find too much of an issue finding the right amount of water for use with this soap. I do know I sometimes have issues with that with soaps sticks, or cubes I guess, given that it’s a bit harder to control the amount of water you’re using when it’s not being added directly into a bowl or scuttle. But this stuff seemed to be fairly tolerant to different levels of moisture. It provided a good balance of glide and lubrication, and some decent moisturization to boot.

They describe their scent as follows:

The scent of warm toasted tea leaves, Black Tea is a slightly smoky, sexy, and warm scent with a woody natural smell with notes of Sage and Sandalwood.

I suppose that seems reasonably accurate; it’s definitely smoky and warm. I wouldn’t really say that it smells all that much like Black Tea itself, but it’s definitely in the same vicinity. I rather do like it. The strength could use some bumping up; it’s still noticeable, but definitely not strongly so when lathered up and applied to the face.

  • 9/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 7/10 Scent Strength
  • 8/10 Lather Quality

All told, I think I’m willing to round this one up to an 8/10.

  • Cost: I got this from MenEssentials, where the 100 g cube goes for $10. Red Leaf also has sample sizes available on their website. I’ll note here that the sample sizes are the same formulation as the cubes; however I’ve confirmed with the owner of Red Leaf that the “travel containers”, the 3.5 oz jars of soap, they are a slightly different formulation from the cubes or the samples, so I make no promises that the performance would be similar.

Gear used:

Ingredients: Ingredients: coconut oil, sustainable palm oil, castor oil, safflower oil, vegetable glycerin, purified water, sodium hydroxide, sorbitan oleate, soybean protein, wheat protein, fragrance

Musgo Real Shaving Cream – Classic scent

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Musgo Real - Classic

Musgo Real is most well known for their line of glycerin pre-shave soaps. The shaving cream line is relatively new, or at least relatively newly widely available outside of Portugal / Europe. The brand is part of the Claus Porto group, so this is the 2nd cream from them I’ve reviewed, the other being O Melhor.

This scent is the original, based off the “Real Lime Oil” version of the pre-shave soap. And I don’t really like it as much. It frankly smells harsher than the original; more chemically if you know what I’m getting at. It’s not a *bad* smell per se, but it’s not something that I particularly find pleasing either. The scent is relatively weak when lathered however.

The lather on the other hand performs quite well. It’s a relatively thirsty soap, but with enough water and some work it whips up to a nice and thick creamy lather, with a reasonable amount of glide. Some minor lather stability issues, but not bad enough to have an impact unless you tend to lay it on very thin. And good moisturization properties as well.

  • 6/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 7/10 Scent Strength
  • 8/10 Lather Quality

Overall, I’ll be giving it a 6/10. Some might like the scent better, but I wouldn’t really see myself using it on a regular basis.

Gear used:

Ingredients: Aqua, Potassium Stearate, Sodium Palmitate, Glycerin, Coconut Acid, Parfume, Potassium Silicate, Coconut Oil, Lanolin, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel extract), Buxus Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Alcohol, Menthol, CI 77007, CI 19140, Geraniol, Fcoumarin, Cintronellal, Cinnamyl Alcohol, Inalool, Benzyl Benzoae, Limonene

Elvado – Madera Almond Shaving Soap

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Elvado - Madera Almond

My next review from Elvado is their Madera Almond Shaving Soap. Seems like named it’s after the county / city of Madera California, where I believe they get the almond essential oils used to scent the soap.

The formulation appears to be exactly the same as the previous soap of theirs that I’ve tried (well, other than the scent part), with no real discernible difference in the performance, as expected. It’s a fairly good melt and pour. It does require a fair bit of water to get up to optimal performance, along with some elbow grease. Gives a good glide with just a tad less thickness than I usually like. And it left my face feeling nice and moisturized after the fact.

The scent is a classic Italian-style sweet almond, like Cella et al. It’s quite pleasant. The strength is good, coming on fairly strong, albeit with some noticeable fading going on before I was done each pass.

  • 9/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 8/10 Scent Strength
  • 8/10 Lather Quality

The verdict? 8/10. It’s pretty good, and probably fairly competitive when stacked against most other almond scented products I’ve tried.

  • Cost: I was provided this tub free for the purposes of the review by the folks at Elvado. At the time I write this, everywhere appears to be out of stock of the version in the tub, it looks like you can still get the 71 g shaving stick for $14.96.

Gear used:

Ingredients: Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Oil), Elaesis Guineensis (Palm Oil) , Cathamus Tintorius (Safflower Oil), Glycerine (Kosher of vegetable origin), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Purified Water, Fragrance (Parfum 100% Natural), Sodium Hydroxide, Sorbitol, Sorbitan Oleate, Glycine Soja (Soy Bean Protein), Titanium Dioxide (Mineral Whitener)

The Strop Shoppe – 1887 Limited Edition with Lanolin

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Strop Shoppe LE - 1887

So, anyways, one thing that I need to keep in mind when I get a limited edition soap to review is that they’re limited. And I should probably review them faster than slower. I bought this soap back in June of last year, and stuffed it under the sink on my “to-do list”. In the meantime, they stopped making it, and you’ll have trouble finding it. So, sorry, here’s a review for a product you might not be able to get.

The Limited Edition / Lanolin formula performs exquisitely. It’s got a very wide sweet spot, and provides great thickness and glide. There are absolutely no issues with lather stability, and it left my face feeling great and moisturized to boot. Anyways, it’s pretty much what I expected out of the Strop Shoppe. For quality wise, at least.

One thing I’ll note is that there appears to be an inconsistency about the packaging. At the top, it says it is “Special Edition: Extra soft – Double butter Formula, Cocoa Butter – Shea Butter.” The ingredient listing at the bottom however doesn’t list any Cocoa Butter or Shea Butter. I presume that this was probably just a left-over from their special edition that they failed to remove when they made up the label for the Limited edition. This is, unfortunately, also something that I’ve somewhat come to expect from the Strop Shoppe; they’re great at making soaps, but the little details of running a business sometimes seem to slip past them. For example, their current listing of a Limited Edition says in the description that it’s made with tallow and lanolin, but the ingredient listing doesn’t mention lanolin at all.

The scent is nice enough. I’ve seen it described elsewhere as “woodsy, spicy, and tobacco”, which doesn’t seem all that far off. The spicy portions develop a bit more once lathered up. All in all, it’s a nice cologne-y scent. The strength is decent; coming on at about a medium strength, without much in the way of fading.

  • 8/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 8/10 Scent Strength
  • 10/10 Lather Quality

Overall, I’m willing to round up and give it a 9/10.

  • Cost: As mentioned, it’s not really available anywhere anymore. I had purchased this one $17.50 from MenEssentials.ca.

Gear used:

Ingredients: Potassium Stearate, Sodium Stearate, Glycerin, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Lanolin, Fragrance.

Al’s Shaving Products – Lather Shaving Cream – Blue

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Al's Lather Shaving Cream - Blue

So Al’s got a new line of shaving cream which he’s in the process of developing. He sent me out a sampler pack of a bunch of scents that he’s trying out right now, including the one that he currently has available, Blue.

It’s supposed to be a more affordable option than his main line of creams. I guess the million dollar four dollar (the price difference between the two lines) question is whether or not the savings in cost came at the expense of performance? Well, IMHO, yeah, a bit.

Don’t get me wrong here, the lather shaving cream is still a good cream. It’s just not a great cream, which I feel that Al’s main line is. It lathers up easily, however I wasn’t able to get it quite as thick and creamy as I can get the main line. It’s not a very thirsty cream, so just a tad of water would be needed. Folks used to his main line should be warned not to over-water it, as it will start to thin out appreciably if you use the same amount. Still, it yielded a nice and slick cream with some good thickness. Some minor stability issues, but I do mean minor, only thinning out a bit while applied to the face during the shave. One thing it does share with the original formulation is a good amount of volume produced.

The line is designed to also appeal to those who like a more subtle scent to their shaving cream. So, well, anyone who’s been reading my reviews will know that is one aspect I’m not going to be a fan of. That seemed to be the case for the sample I tried, coming in at what I’d consider to be just under a medium strength scent. So great for those of you who don’t like their scents strong I guess.

The “Blue” is designed to be a rendition of Davidoff’s Cool Water, which was itself an homage to Creed’s Green Irish Tweed. It’s a pleasant blend, although like most “cologne-y” scents, I have trouble picking out any of the individual notes. Al says it’s crafted with lavender, peppermint, geranium, jasmine, coriander, rosewood, musk, and amber. Quite pleasant.

  • 9/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 7/10 Scent Strength
  • 8/10 Lather Quality

Overall, I’ll give it a 7/10. It’s a good cream, but I’d mostly recommend sticking with the originals instead, unless you’re one of those folk who do like their creams to not be as heavily scented.

Gear used:

Ingredients: Aloe Vera, Water, Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Coconut Acid, fragrance, Sodium Hydroxide

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