Month: December 2018

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