SOTD 8th/Jan/2018 and Review of Martin De Candre Fougere

Hi – a revisit of a soap I have had for a while and only ever use on special occasions – the first working Monday after Christmas is pretty special no?

The line up:-

A couple of observation on what was a great shave – the Drew Dick did it’s work very well but there is a story there… I forgot to strop. So I started shaving, only the third time with this razor and it is tugging and painful – whoa!!! Then I realized I had forgotten to strop!! I normally strop 25/25 linen/leather before every shave and naively thought it was just part of the ritual… now I know differently. I stopped the shave and stropped – phew back to normal!!

The soap – essence of a nice forest clearing, ferns, green cut leaves and dew on the grass – that sort of smell you never get sick of. I love it. This is a hard soap and my technique is to scoop a bit out of the jar, it is a nice GLASS jar, and put it into my bow to bloom with some warm water. I add my brush to the mix and let them soak. The soap lathers easily but it is thirsty – a nice slick and fragrant shiny lather. Superb.

The Brush – a Shave Nation big Blue, and big it is weighing in at over 7oz. The knot is superb and yes those are gel tips. The handle is matt finished aluminium and anodised blue. It is grippy even when wet due to the sand blasted finish and the finger notch in just the right place.

Now back to the soap – it performed superbly and I was left with a nice hydrated skin and a great scent all day. I think MdC really nailed what is meant by fougere – better than B&M Reserve Fern in my opinion. Is it worth the money? In my opinion yes it is. The soap is hard aI mean HARD and will last a long long time. I use about a “almonds” worth for each shave so at this rate and given my rotation it will be years before the MdC wears out.

The First Shave Of 2019 (1/1/2019) and a more in depth review of the Augustini Kamisori

I hope that everyone has a prosperous and happy 2019 and a lot of great shaves too. I had my second shave on the Augustini Kamisori and I wanted to show some more photos and my observations about this razor.

First a health warning:

The Kamisori is a superb blade to master. It is at the pinnacle of Japanese razors and it takes some skill to use. It is NOT for the novice wet shaver and nor is it for the novice straight razor shaver. Wait until you are comfortable with a sharp blade and can almost shave blindfold before you try a Kamisori!!

However, if you do master  a Kamisori it will give a superb and comfortable shave – you will be well rewarded. The kami I am using is a blade I bought from Augustini Razors in Melbourne Australia. It has a traditional left handed asymmetrical grind as you will see from the photos below. It is beautiful in every way – a true masterpiece of the art. IF you want one like the one I am using then contact Augustini through Instagram HERE.

The line up:

Lets first look at what makes a Kamisori – traditionally the Kamisori is made of a soft iron ‘handle’ with a hard steel cutting edge with either three layers or 2 layers (san-mai or ni-mai) this was done in order to keep the price down and is in line with how swords are made – soft body/hard edge. In this case the complete kami is made up of the same hard steel. A Kamisori is ground to be ‘handed’ either left or right handed although some modern Kamisoris do have a ‘western grind’ more like a traditional straight razor. Kamisoris were originally meant truly ‘for barber use’ so I am guessing that the handedness was for the barbers preference not the shavers. I use my Kami in both hands – (lets wait for the thunderbolts from the traditionalists….). The Kamisori I show here is left handed grind. The side with more grinding is called the ‘Ura’ and the flatter side is called the ‘Omote’. The makers mark would usually be found on the Ura on a Japanese razor however Augustini has not marked the blade – I think he should as it is a superb razor and something to be proud of – mark it Luke!!

So here are my observation on what was a superb shave:-

  • The heel of the razor – the point at the front – is superb and slightly angled and therefore muted – it will not dig into my face flesh if I lose concentration.
  • The toe is at almost 90º and is super sharp – beware of this digging in – you CANNOT use the Kamisori like a pencil. The blade needs to be parallel to the face at all times.
  • The handle is super shiny, just the right weight and very highly polished – dry hands or alum is essential

The shave was superb with even the ATG pass a delight.

A tip for a Kamisori shave is to use a very slick soap like Man of Siam Cadwgawn or something like TOBS Avocado  – something that leaves a residual slickness on the face after the pass – why? because the angle at which you shave with the kamisori is very shallow and the Omote will slide against the skin – if there is no residual slickness then it can drag and skip a little. Nothing to worry about just one thing to watch out for.

If you are a serious straight razor user then mastering the Kamisori should be on your ‘to do’ list and you would be hard pressed to find a finer example than this Augustini Kamisori.

 

 

 

Gondolier by PAA

gondolierI managed to pick this up at a discounted price on black Friday and I’ve been using it quite a bit since then.  I love Phoenix Artisan Accouterments (PAA) soaps!  This is the second PAA shaving soap that I have used so I have gotten some good experience and familiarity with them.

The scent of Gondolier is a nice cologne type smell.  It reminds me a bit of rose water.  It is moderate in strength and not overpowering.  My wife acquired the AS for me as a Christmas gift.  The AS sent is identical with just a bit more strength.  I really like the scent, so much so that I’ve been using this soap almost daily.

Lather

The PAA soap base is one of the most thirsty soaps I have ever encountered.  There are some definite benefits to this.  For one, I can create enough lather in my bowl for 3 passes by loading the brush just once for 30 seconds.  The soap just seems to love water.  Even the bloom water, after applying to my face, creates lather enough to almost shave with.  What I have found is that initially, when I have lather in the bowl, it looks pretty much like any other soap.  But after about a minute, the soap seems to gain density.  Adding some water and whipping will create the most wonderful yogurt like lather.  The soap has a property which I call an anti-newtonian property of absorbing water without thinning.  You add water, whip it up and it just grows fuller.  It’s the strangest thing to lather your face and do a pass with the razor and then see that the remaining soap is a bit dry so you add water and the bowl is almost as full as before! Well I’m exaggerating a bit but the effect is there.

With the soap being on the more dense side, you might think that it does an excellent job of cushioning.  And you would be right.  This soap is as slick as any I’ve tried but it really excels at cushioning.  And with this it seems to cause the hairs of my beard to stand up well so they can be easily cut by the razor. This means a safer shave due to using a lighter touch with the razor. The soap just encourages you to use good technique.

Economy

Because of the properties I described above, I would say the economy of PAA soaps is quite good.  It may take you a while to figure out how to work with the great thirst of the soap and get the most out of it but once you do, I believe you can make the tin last quite a long time.

Post Shave and AS

The post shave feel of my face after using this soap is very good.  And this is not surprising when you look at the many ingredients of the soap, the various butters and other things really leave my face feeling good.  The AS also has a few ingredients not typical of the average AS (like aloe) and offers a very soothing finish along with a longer lasting scent.  And although it lists menthol as an ingredient, I did not feel hardly any sting when applied.

Conclusion

This soap goes to the top of my list.  There are other soaps out there that come close but none will surpass it, at least none that I have tried so far.  This particular scent is a good entry point for PAA.  I can’t imagine that anyone would not be instantly enamored of this beautiful rose like scent.

Details

Soap PAA Gondolier
Brush Semogue 2000
Razor Rockwell 6c, plate 4
Blade Racer Platinum Class
After Shave PAA Gondolier After Shave Cologne

 

SOTD and a Cry For Help – I stained my Razor!!

So guys,

I will post the SOTD below BUT I NEED HELP. I am on holiday in a very hard water area and I left my blade wet just a little too long and I stained the blade of my Drew Dick razor!! Can anyone help me on how to remove a water stain?

The Line Up:

  • Razor: Drew Dick 9/8″ Half-Hollow with Black Scales
  • Soap: Man of Siam Cadwgawn
  • Brush: The usual boar
  • Bowl: Van Yulay Blue resin

The Cadwgawn soap proved its worth again today as I used my Big Dick for the first time. A true super lather. Pics below.

SOTD 23/1/2018 SOTD 22/12/18 Augustini left handed Kamisori, Man Of Siam Cadwgawn soap and an ΑΛΦΑ T-400 with a Long John boar knot

I am in Australia on holiday and what better way to shave than with an Australian razor and some soap from Jack Jarvis – purported to be an Aussie too. So today’s line up is:

  • Augustini left handed kamisori by Augustini razors of Melbourne, Australia
  • Jack Jarvis Cadwgawn shaving soap by Man Of Siam (Jack Jarvis late of Sydney, Australia)
  • Van Yulay shaving bowl in blue resin
  • Alpha T-400 brush with a nice long 80mm boar knot

The razor – I ordered this razor on December 4th in anticipation of my going on vacation to Australia (save postage costs…) I finally picked it up on 19th December on arrival. It is an awesome piece of work – super polished and shave ready. It comes with it’s own leather pouch and you can choose the stitching colour – I chose red.

The soap – packaged as pictured. Scent notes are lavender, rosemary and clove. The lavender is subtle and the clove evident with the whiff of rosemary – smell like a trader!! The main thing I was worried about was lathering, the place I am staying in uses water derived from an Artesian basin well and is HARD – I mean super hard. I bloomed the soap for 5 minutes and soaked the brush while I stropped the razor on linen and leather. I loaded the brush tips for about 30 seconds and then transferred to the lather bowl – it whipped up a storm – super thick and glossy lather. A superb shave – WTG and 1 x ATG. A DFS for my first run on this razor.

Conclusion – the Man of Siam soap lived up to it’s reputation as a super latherer and the Augustini razor was a wow!!!

 

Merry Christmas to all.

Stirling Soap Company: Episode 1 – Ben Franklin

The first article in a series dedicated to Stirling Soap Company is about a soap which features one of the most awkward descriptions in the whole Wet Shaving community:

This soap smells like an older gentleman’s pantaloons at the end of a hot July day in Philadelphia, drafting important documents with no air conditioner. It’s actually a very unique scent that reminded a few of my testers of a root beer float. An instant favorite.

Many customers wrote to the owners asking for clarifications, because later they added to their website:

NOTE: The description is tongue-in-cheek. It smells like a wonderful blend of Frankincense, Benzoin, Nutmeg, and Clove. It doesn’t actually smell like sweaty old man pants. As of 3 March 2015, we have been averaging about 2-3 inquiries per week as to why we would make a soap that smells like an older gentleman’s trousers…


That said, let me start with some memories… 4-5 Years Ago my fianceè (who now is my wife) bought some Stirling soaps as part of a larger bunch for my birthday. The three soaps were Executive Man (which I liked), Coniferous (which I loved) and Texas on Fire (same as Coniferous, maybe even better!). I was nicely surprised by the lather produced by these soaps, a very creamy and thick lather, which, combined with the original and, in certain cases, uncommon fragrances, made a great combo for the wet shaver enthusiast in me. Years later, I had the chance to grab some samples thanks to a friend visiting the USA, and I was able to get some of the most praised soaps like Ozark Mountain and Stirling Gentleman, among others, and, of course, Ben Franklin. For all soaps, the formula is the usual Stirling one, with Tallow, Lanoline and Shea Butter, which provides a great slickness and tons of creamy lather.

The sample is a generous one, I think it will last for at least 15-20 shaves. I personally like the round shape, which allows to keep the sample on one palm and lathering with the brush directly on the soap surface. Of course, the other common option is to pick a small piece of soap, put it in your favourite bowl and theh lather inside the bowl. Be aware that these soaps are quite thirsty, so don’t be shy when adding water!

So, what can I say about the scent? This is definitely a soap which needed some time (i.e. shaves) to be fully appreciated. I spoke about my sensations with my brother-in-shaves Aaron and we both agreed that the scent reminds of an old, English artisan’s boutique; an ancient, warm, spicy, old-world reassuring scent. A scent in which the frankincense, the benzoin and the nutmeg are clearly noticeable, with a slight hint of lime (this was suggested to me by Aaron, at first I didn’t pick it up), too.

Two fragrances came to mind when trying Ben Franlin: Sartorial by Penhaligon’s, for that old-shop feeling, and Barrister and Mann’s Beaudelaire (which is much stronger, however).

Tested with both DE and Straight razors, with both Badger and Boar brushes, the soap performed great every time.

Since I don’t have any Stirling After Shave, every time I use one of their soaps I need to find a good matching aftershave (which, I must confess, it’s a task I love 🙂 ).

For Ben Franklin, I found these to work great:

  • Extròcosmesi FràRinik
  • Krampert’s Finest Bay Rum – Acadian Spice
  • Captain’s Choice Bay Rum

Overall, Ben Franklin has become a new favourite of mine, thanks to its unusual but really pleasant scent and its awesome performance. I wouldn’t define the scent as a crowd-pleaser, though. IMHO it’s a scent for those who like to sit back, relax and let their minds wander, thinking about past times.

Links:

Ben Franklin Shaving Soap

Krampert’s Finest

Extrò Cosmesi

 

 

SOTD 7th December 2018 & Man Of Siam Thai Ginger Zest Soap Review

Hi – you know how it is when you travel, especially as I do a lot, and find yourself in a shaving wilderness – scouring the pharmacies and stores in the vain hope that you might, just might, find something other than Wilkinson Sword or those terrible Japanese and Korean brands of shave gel? Well I found myself in Thailand and as I do I started my quest for shave products – local stores – nada. Pharmacies – nada. Not even a pack of razor blades only the same old dull disposables. So – back to the hotel and onto Google – the usual searches for soap, razors and so on. I googled “Shaving Soap Thailand” and about 5th from the top a result catches my eye: Man Of Siam – I quickly go to the site and note that they have shaving soap made in THAILAND – wow!! I am here for another 4 days so I quickly email the site and get a response from Jack, the site owner (strange name Thai bloke eh?…Actually, the He is a She named Nittaya…) that they have stocked out on the Thai Ginger Zest but they do have the other soap Cadwgawn . I quickly do a deal with Nittaya to buy both soaps and have them shipped to my home in Hong Kong once they are BOTH back in stock. . So – it was with baited breath that I received them this week. Safely packed and shipped all the way from Thailand. I wanted to try them both but opted for the first one I noticed, the Thai Ginger Zest. My other shave line up was:

  • Rigarazor 8/8 near wedge
  • Van Yulay Black Bowl
  • T-400 brush with the old faithful 24mm silver tip head
  • Proraso preshave cream

Prepped with the proraso and bloomed the soap a little – it is quite a hard soap definitely not a cream. Maybe what they are calling a ‘croap’. Prep over, razor stropped and I am ready. I swirl the brush in the soap for about 40 seconds to load the tips then get down to lathering up. Wow – the lather is easy to make (soft water in my place but Nittaya tells me that hard water is okay too). Within 30-40 seconds I have a nice bowl full of delicious lather. I lather up and its a winner – the fragrance is not overpowering, nice ginger zing with a citrus grapefruit background note. First pass is WTG and is so close that I decide to do a second ATG and then a third ATG. I am sat here with a nice fragrance doing this review. All in all the soap is a winner and I can’t wait to try out the Cadwgawn.

Asia, where I live, is a nightmare for wet shavers who like quality products an we have to rely on Amazon and eBay or those trip to the US or UK where we can buy stuff from real shops! Man Of Siam is a welcome oasis in the desert and I will be back!! Follow the link and see for yourself Nittaya’s range of quality shaving gear from Muhle and others as well as these superb Thai made, all natural ingredient, soaps.

 

LINK: Man Of Siam

 

SOTD 26th November 2018 – Mystery Soap, TWO brushes and a found copper bowl!! – Oh and an iKon x3 Slant bar

Today I made a mistake. I packed two brushes for travel. My trusty Alpha T-400 with a white horse knot and also my Jayaruh #215 with a boar knot harvested from an Omega – I forget which one…

I prepared the shave with 3P cream. I want to stress this cream is a whizz-bang pre-shave and also a miracle cream that can be used for shaving, preparing, aftershave and all-sorts – even sunburn and mosquito bites!! Here is how it is described:

The 3P Pre-shave is rather like prep but more of a thinner cream rather than a whipped cream like Prep. 3P also can be used for cooling sunburn, treating mosquito bites as an aftershave balm and – well according to the packaging it is a miracle cream!! – I get a menthol kick, nice and cooling sensation with a whiff o ammonia. it is nice. Here is a description of it….

Get your 3P HERE

(3P Prepara – Preserva – Protegge)

Fresh scent of camphor and peppermint oil.

3P Cream makes your hair smooth and supple.
The shave will thus be avoided for the benefit of shaving and skin irritation.
Provides smoother shaving and prevents irritation.
Can also be used instead of foam and shaving cream.
Suitable for all skin types
Experiences to 3P:

If you have ever had the pleasure of enjoying a traditional wet razor by an Italian champion Barber, you will surely know the importance of pre and post creams.
The shaving preparation always starts with a few hot towels, combined with a pre and post cream.

The three most popular are Proraso Pre and Post Cream, Prep Pre and Post Cream, or 3P Pre and Post Cream.

Although all three are similar in principle, of course everyone has its fan community.
3P refreshes a bit more with the camphor and peppermint oil as opposed to the others.
3P effectively prepares the face for a smooth and sexy shave.
3P is also an excellent aftershave balsam; Simply massage a little on the finger and into the still moist face.
3P provides protection, moisture and helps to treat small cuts.

Thanks to the small and resistant plastic tub, you can also take 3P with you in the hand luggage when traveling or in the gym.
TIP:
Many Italian men use 3P as a stand-alone shaving cream, especially with strong or those with heavy and sensitive beard hair. 3P is also a shaving foam, a true all-rounder

So, back to my story – two brushes – so I decided to use them both AND to make use of an item I found in my hotel room, – a beautiful hammered copper bowl. You might say what use a bowl that is 1. Not meant for lather inadvertent 2. Is not your own. It might harbor germs and all sorts right? Well no – copper is a natural anti-bacterial. That is why it is often used for drinking vessels. So I DID was the bowl and then lathered up with both brushes.

  • Bowl: Found copper bowl
  • Brushes – as above
  • Soap – mystery soap – brought a container of soap but have no idea what I put into it!!
  • Razor – iKon x3 Slant Bar
  • Blade – Feather on shave #2

Superb DFS – 3 passes and a super-slick lather. I loved every moment of it!! The lighting was also perfect in my hotel room and I found a handy mirrored table on which to take some arty-farty shots!!!

The true November Shave – Extròcosmesi 2/11 Soap and Solid Perfume Review

(Featured Image courtesy of Alessandro Horvath, Italy)

I know, I know, this wasn’t announced and some of you may be wondering “Where are the Stirling reviews?”. You’re right, but in the meantime I spent a wonderful Sunday in Settimo Torinese, near Turin, Italy, with Donato Ciniello and many Extròcosmesi friends, and grabbed my 2/11 Soap and Solid Perfume combo (plus a limited-edition Pirates soap+as combo, which I’ll review in the next weeks). I guess I’m biased, here, since Donato is a true friend to me, and I literally love his products (with probably 1-2 exceptions, in a range of almost 30+ soaps), but as soon as I smelled the soap, I instantly knew that another masterpiece was added to my shaving den.

A bit of background here: 2/11 (sorry US people, European notation used here :P) is known as All Souls’ Day, hence the graveyard theme of the label. Moreover, the main scent note of the soap is Cypress, and we all know that cypress is, well… the graveyard tree by definition. For those who love cinema, and the spaghetti-western genre in particular, there’s another curious fact in the soap art. A grave with the name Arch Stanton (*). Does that ring a bell? 🙂

The product comes, at least in the first batch edition, in an elegant glass jar, and it can be considered like a croap, more on the hard side. It’s almost black colour is another plus, to me.

The product description reads (translated from Italian):

“First edition of the 2/11 shaving cream. enriched with neem oil, Q10, elastin, shea butter. The soft lather it produces has an intense cypress scent. This shaving cream does not contain essences; the fragrance is given by the essential oils of cypress, rosemary and lemon balm.”

Is the description spot on? Absolutely Yes. Is the product as good as it seems? Absolutely YES, YES, YES!!! Q10 and elastin had already been used in another favorite of mine, Extròcosmesi Bay Rum soap, which gave me some of the best shaves with my straight razors, leaving my face as soft as the bottom of a baby.

2-11 RM

Very easy to lather with the brush directly on the surface (even with my Simpson Duke 3, which from time to time gives me trouble), the scent literally explodes once the soap is lathered. The cypress is definitely there, as well as the lemon balm, which personally made me think of Captain’s Choice Lime AS, while the rosemary is more in the background. Slickness and cushion are great, as almost every Extrò soap, as well as the post-shave feel. It’s very difficult to find any con, with products of high level like this.

The matching Solid Perfume is, for now (AS to be expected soon), the logic pairing after the shave. The scent is very close to the soap, personally I find the lemon balm to be more present. Longevity is good, although I wish it was a bit longer. I have to be frank, I prefer the old good classic bottle of AS to this.

Overall, another winner by Donato Ciniello, who is one of the greatest Italian artisans in the Wet Shaving scene.

Price: 21€

Available at Extròcosmesi, Settimo Torinese, Italy.

Extròcosmesi Website

(*) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Sergio Leone, 1966.