Arturro Barbiere “Pulire” unscented shaving soap

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Arturro unscented

I was contacted by Artur, the fellow behind the polish Arturro Barbier line of soaps about doing a review. So, he sent off a pair of soaps, their Vetiver scented one (which I’ll be covering in a few days), and this unscented “Purile” soap.

The soap is relatively soft. It reminds me a lot of Wickham Shaving Soap, both in appearance and consistency and performance. Like the Wickham, I found it had a relatively wide sweet spot. It would work reasonably well with just the water on a moistened brush, but the performance did improve when a moderate amount of water was added to the mix. It didn’t seem easy to over-shoot the amount needed. It provides a very good balance of glide and thickness, and left my skin feeling soft and moisturized as well. All in all, a pretty damned good shave.

So, it’s a pretty good soap for an unscented. Those of you who follow my reviews with any regularity will know that I consider the scent to be a rather important part of the overall shave process. The scent of this soap is, well, extremely neutral. It doesn’t smell of much at all, which I suppose is the point. Sometimes even with unscented stuff you can make out what ingredients went into it, but I didn’t really find that to be the case here.

  • 6/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 3/10 Scent Strength
  • 9/10 Lather Quality

So, if you’re specifically looking for an unscented soap, I’d definitely recommend that. If not, obviously I wouldn’t. Overall, taking the unscented-ness into account, I think I’ll have to give it a 6/10, because after all, it’s not something that I’d go out of my way to use when there’s scented products available. That having been said, I’ll be reviewing the Vetiver version in a couple of days, and I’m sure it’ll fare better.

  • Cost: They come in either a 100g plastic tub for about $9 USD or a 150g tin for around $12 USD, depending upon the exchange rate at the time. Purchases are made either via e-mail at arturrobarbiere@interia.eu, or via the contact form on his website.

Gear used:

Ingredients: coconut oil, stearic acid, vegetable Glycerin, distilled water, shea butter, beeswax, potassium hydroxide,

Erasmic Shave Stick

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Erasmic

My first impression of Erasmic’s shaving stick was that it was too brittle to be sold in this format. Like many shave sticks, it comes with a little plastic holder that has four prongs, onto which you are to impale the shaving stick. Anyways, one I removed the wrapper and went to reimpale the stick on the prongs, the soap broke off in chunks, preventing the holder from actually, you know, holding the soap. Far too brittle to be sold in this format.

The soap performed… well, pretty much exactly like the Derby shaving stick that I reviewed a while back. Good balance of glide and thickness once you dial in the right amount of water to use (not too much, be careful of adding too much between passes, not too little). A bit finnicky, but it was good stability-wise. No real noticable moisturization or other skin benefits however.

The scent was slightly less unpleasant. I wouldn’t say I like it, it was still a very artificial aroma, cloyingly floral. It was however also not very strong at all. Quite discernible when sniffing the stick directly, but not really noticeable at all when shaving.

  • 6/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 4/10 Scent Strength
  • 8/10 Lather Quality

Overall, meh. The scent did nothing for me, the shave was good but not great. 6/10.

Gear used:

Ingredients: Sodium Tallowate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Aqua, Potassium Stearate, Sodium Stearate, Potassium Cocoate, Sodium Cocoate, Glycerin, Parfum, Cinnamyl Alcohol, Citral, Citronellol, Coumarin, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool, Titanium Dioxide, Sodium Chloride, PEG-14M, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Gluconate, Sodium Silicate, Magnesium Sulfate, Tetrasodium Etidronate.

Acqua di Parma – Collexione Barbiere Shaving Cream

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ADP

Next up, we’ve got a cream that I’ve been waiting far too long to review: Acqua di Parma’s Collexione Barbiere Shaving Cream. Mind you, it’s the only shaving cream the Acqua di Parma makes, so you’ll typically see it called just that, or even just AdP.

The scent is a traditional “Colonia” scented cream, which might not tell you anything about it. Basenotes outlined the scents included in AdP’s main Colonia cologne line as being made up of citrus, lavender, rosemary, rose, vetiver, sandalwood, and patchouli. Suffice it to say that my nose isn’t trained enough to pick out those details. However, it is a scent which I do find fairly pleasant.

And, before anyone asks, yes it does smell fairly similar to the RazoRock XXX, or at least the old version, as I haven’t had a chance to pick up the reformulation yet. The XXX managed to beat it handily strength-wise however, as the AdP was relatively weakly scented during the shave. It didn’t fade all that much, but it was definitely subtle.

The lather quality was superior: whipped up easily, nice wide range of acceptable water levels producing good results, producing a nice thick lather, with great glide, and some decent moisturization properties to boot.

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

All in all, I’m giving it a 7/10. That’s rounding down rather than up, but still. The lather was great, but the scent definitely could have been stronger to suit my tastes.

  • Cost: So it looks like this was actually the old version; the soap was reformulated last year, and made unscented. Honestly, there’s no way in hell that a jar of the stuff is worth $70 if we’re going on the lather quality alone. There’s better stuff out there for far cheaper.  A 4.4 oz jar of the stuff will set you back $70. As for the samples shown, I got it off of someone from /r/shave_bazaar, I’m not sure they’re readily available for purchase.

Gear used:

Ingredient listing: Aqua, Stearic Acid, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Myristic Acid, Parfum, Propylene Glycol, PEG=150 Distearate, Limonene, Hydroxycitronellal, Menthyl Lacate, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Linalool, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citral, Benzyl Salicylate, Eugenol, Coumarin, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Geraniol, Hedera Helix (Ivy) Extract, Mentha Aquatica Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Leaf Extract, Amyl Cinnamal.

The Strop Shoppe – Russian Tea limited edition

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Strop Shoppe - Russian Tea

Despite its name, “Russian Tea” is an American invention, or at least the mix of tea, oranges, cloves, and cinnamon upon which this scent is based is, where it’s most popular as a Christmastime drink in the Southeast.

Strop Shoppe specifies that it’s a combination of orange, clove, and other spices. Those two scents are definitely quite noticeable in the mix, as well as a cinnamon-y note as well. I didn’t really notice much in the way of tea, however. Overall, it’s a sweet spicy concoction, which I found to be rather pleasant.

And the strength level of the scent is pretty much ideal for me. Nice and strong, without any noticeable fading while you shave.

The performance is excellent, as expected from one of the Strop Shoppe’s special edition soaps. It lathers up easily, very thick with a great amount of glide as well. And some great moisturization properties to boot.

I do however have to mention the inconsistency on the labeling. Again. The label listing of ingredients doesn’t list the cocoa butter or shea butter that another part of the label specifies it has in the “double butter formula”. Also, this soap can’t seem to figure out if it’s the special edition or the limited edition, as both are on the label. I seriously hope that I stop having to see labeling inconsistencies when dealing with the Strop Shoppe in the future. It’s irksome. Frankly, they don’t seem to be getting any better at this whatsoever. For example, on their website, the “Limited Edition – Vivace with Tallow & Lanolin” doesn’t have any lanolin at all in the ingredient listing.

Edit: So, apparently the newer style of the labels for the special edition Russian tea had the labelling fixed. And they’ve since fixed the issues with the ingredient listing on their website for the Limited Editions.

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

So, I think I’ll be giving this a 9/10. A very nice soap.

Gear used:

Ok… as for the ingredient listing, here is what the label says:

Ingredients: Potassium Stearate, Sodium Stearate, Glycerin, Castor Seed oil, Coconut Oil, Fragrance.

As mentioned above, I don’t think that’s accurate.

Brickell Men’s Products Shave Cream

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Brickell

So, I was contacted by Josh, the CEO of Brickell Men’s Products about a review of his shaving cream, a fragrance free non-lathering product.

My initial thoughts when I first got the package was, “hmmm, this smells familiar”. It smelled a lot like a product I had tried before. While it is a fragrance free product, that only means that they didn’t specifically add anything to it in order to give it added scent. You can still smell some of the products; the aloe vera juice and some of the various fruit juices and extracts added in, as well as a slightly less pleasant note from what I imagine are the oils and waxes they also use. Which, and someone correct me if I’m wrong here, tend to retain more of their own scent than you would find if you saponify the oils with lye in order to create a lathering soap. Anyways, it’s not  what I’d say is unpleasant, but it’s not really what I’d say smells “nice”. Fortunately, as should probably be expected, it’s rather weak smelling, so it’s really not noticeable while you’re shaving, this is all just while sniffing the cream directly. Which of course, is as intended. Those of you who like unscented products would be fine with that.

My 2nd thought when using it was “hmmm, this performs in a familiar fashion”. It seems kind of like a cross between a lotion and a shaving gel; at least some of the product seems to sink into the skin when you’re applying it. It provided some very good lubrication, but less cushioning than I would prefer. And as with other non-lathering products, you can’t really adjust the performance at all by varying the water that you’re putting into the lather (since you’re not), and you do end up using more product than you would with a lathering cream or soap (since the bulk of the actual lather that ends up getting used is mostly the air and water you whip into the lather instead of the cream itself, by volume). It does however avoid clogging up your razor, which I often see in non-lathering products. Everything rinses away easily with a blast of water.

Anyways, then I had a look at the ingredient listing, and thought to myself “oooh, that’s why it seems so familiar”. Despite the fact that I reviewed the other one first, the Brickell shave cream appears to have been the one which came first, before the One Shave which I reviewed last year. It looks like One Shave at the very least attempted to reverse engineer Brickell’s formula, since it appears to have the same ingredients, in the same “order”, and performed similarly, if they didn’t outright snag / copy their formula somehow (Brickell’s CEO assures me that the formula wasn’t obtained legitimately). Anyways, it looks like the one shave cream has disappeared off the face of the internet, but Brickell’s stuck around.

  • 6/10 Scent Pleasantness
  • 4/10 Scent Strength
  • 7/10 Lather Cream Quality

Anyways, as I consider the scent an integral part of the shave, that’ll hurt the overall score, which will bring it to a 5/10. If you don’t prefer a scented product, then it’s fairly reasonable for a non-lathering cream.

Gear used:

Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Leaf Juice, Cocos Nucifera (Organic Coconut) Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Organic Shea) Butter, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Emulsifying Wax NF, Calendula Officinalis (Organic Calendula) Flower Extract, Stearic Acid, Glycerin, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter, Lavandula Angustifolia (Organic Lavender) Distillate, Vaccinium Myrtillus (Organic Bilberry) Fruit Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Organic Sugar Cane) Extract, Acer Saccharinum (Organic Sugar Maple) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Organic Orange) Peel Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Organic Lemon) Peel Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Organic Cranberry) Fruit Extract, Ananas Comosus (Organic Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (Organic Papaya) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (Organic Papaya) Leaf Extract, Glycolic Acid, Malic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Olea Europea (Organic Olive) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Seed Oil, Citric Acid

QEDman – Spearmint and Tangerine shave stick

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QEDman Tangerine Spearmint

Edit: as below, this line is no longer available.


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

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