Author: Peter Charkalis

First and foremost, I'm a family man who is blessed to have a wonderful family and extended family. I enjoy traveling, tinkering around the house, gardening, playing with my little girl and wet shaving. My work allows me to travel throughout the US & Canada and most recently some time opening the Australian and UK markets. I think I can bring an interesting spin on wet shaving, as I'm a Road Warrior and enjoy investigating Shaving Shops during my travels. I hope to share new finds, new shops, new experiences and perhaps some new artisans along the way.

Ballenclaugh Soaps – The Woodsman

For those not familiar with Ballenclaugh Soaps, they’re handmade in small batches by Chris Bartek at his home in Nebraska. Many months ago, I had  purchased Ballenclaugh’s Cherries in the Chamber, which is outstanding and was among my favorites at the time. After months of purchasing soap after soap, I frankly forgot about Ballenclaugh. My Cherries in the Chamber just got buried beneath my newer acquisitions, out of sight and forgotten. Well,  I recently rediscovered Cherries in the Chamber and was anxious to use it,  remembering how much I loved that Tobacco & Cherry scent. Needless to say, I really enjoyed it and glad to have been reacquainted with Ballenclaugh Soaps.  When you’re a small soap maker, it’s easy to get overshadowed by the ‘Big Guys’. I believe Chris is a part-time hobbyist / soap maker  with really no marketing or functional website at this time.   The marketing has mostly been word of mouth, along with people sharing their thoughts through the various forums. There’s so much hype and fanfare with other artisans, it’s easy to get lost among all the choices and countless soaps.  His soaps are really good folks and deserve a look!




The packaging is nothing fancy, It’s just functional. The soap comes in a screw top plastic container with no product description other than what is imprinted in black on lid. The sides are wrapped in twine to give it a rustic, woodsy feel. Personally, I can do without the twine, but who cares. It’s all about the soap. The first impression was WOW, this is different… a good different.  I never smelled anything like this before and I liked it a lot. Anyone who knows me, knows that I prefer a strong scented soap. A fragrance that I can smell while lathering and enjoy throughout the shaving process.  This didn’t disappoint and in fact, The Woodsman had a wonderful scent of Pine, that was strong and masculine with a hint of citrus. A perfect match, as the citrus subdued and mellowed the pine tar.  As you can see, I created a really nice thick and creamy lather. In my opinion, this soap also provides great protection with a nice glide, slickness and staying power. It didn’t dissapate at all. I also found that the formula was spot -on for it’s nourishing post shave feel. Perhaps this is a combination of the standard Ballenclaugh ingredients and numerous medicinal properties of Pine Tar. From the little research I have done on pine tar, I understand that pine tar soap goes back centuries and it’s great for your skin & hair. It’s been reported that pine tar possesses antiseptic properties and can be used as an anti-bacterial & anti-fungal agent. Pine wood also retains its oil during the carbonization process, so pine tar is also effective as a skin moisturizer.  Needless to say, for me, the medicinal properties is just an added bonus to a terrific soap. This is among the best lathering soaps I have used in a long time. To further illustrate this and to prove to myself that the first lather was not a fluke, I tried a second lather with my Plisson Synthetic and the results were identical. Outstanding!!!



Ballenclaugh Soaps Standard Ingredient List:

Saponified oils of Camellia Seed
Kokum Butter
Palm Kernel oil
Soy Bean Oil
Shea Butter
Beef Tallow
Stearic Acid
Tussah Silk
Bentonite Clay
Sodium Hydroxide
Potassium Hydroxide
Essential oils of :
Pine Tar
* First lather was done with a Nathan Clark Custom 24mm Silver Tip Brush
* The second lather was done the following day using my L’Occitane Plisson Synthetic Brush
Feel free to contact Chris via his Facebook page here:
Written by Peter Charkalis

Diary of a Road Warrior: Travel Tips

How do you bring the comforts of home while traveling for business or pleasure? Simple, bring your gear with you! The trick is to pack them in a way that won’t take up space and provide some variety. Why limit yourself, or worse, shave with that ‘Goo & Plastic’ while away. First, decide what you would like to bring and where are you going. If you’re going someplace warm & tropical, perhaps Coconut Cream Soap or something that smells like The Beach (wink wink). For me, there’s nothing better than a nice mentholated freeze when visiting someplace hot & humid. I have tried many travel cases & toiletry bags and found that eBags is the absolute best for traveling with your shaving stuff.  My shaving gear packs nice and flat  without sacrificing space in your luggage.  At only 2-1/4″ thick, you’ll be amazed how much shaving stuff you can pack into it! My travel bag wasn’t cheap, but it works well for me, as I’m able to fit all my gear with room to spare.

Remember, variety is the spice of life and as you can see, I travel with a number of soaps, lotions, splashes and razors. All you need is to find the containers to ‘right-size’ the amount needed for your journey. Let’s start with soaps. My TOBS Sandalwood is always with me and the container tubes work just fine for travel. Tabac is another go-to soap that’s Always with me when on the road. Since the a Tabac jar is glass and very heavy, I simply added shavings that I pressed in a Tupperware container.  I also travel with the matching AS & Cologne, which I placed into miniaturized containers.  By the way, eye dropper containers work great for cologne and AS , as well as little vials pictured. I think vials can easily be found with the local crack dealer (only kidding!).  The eye dropper contains my Tabac AS and the vial has Tabac cologne. Both are secure and have never leaked. Another tip is to bring your favorite AS/Cologne in travel sprayers that can be found in any fragrance specialty store. I found mine in Perfumania in the mall for a few bucks. I have two that I have brought along for my journey. The red sprayer has Al Fin and the clear has Penhaligon’s .  I sometimes travel with more than two razors, but for this trip, decided on just two. Below is a list of what I’m  traveling with this week:

  • Preshave:
    Homemade Oil (in bottle w/ black cap)
    Proraso Green (small round container w/screw top lid)
  • Soaps: 
    TOBS Sandalwood
    TOBS Coconut
    Tabac (in Tupperware)
    Soap Commander Courage (Sample)
    WSP Black Amber Vanilla (Sample)
    Trumpers Eucris (round container w/ screw top lid)
  • Aftershave & Cologne:
    TOBS AS Gel (Sandalwood)
    Soap Commander Balm (Courage)
    Al Fin (Red Travel Sprayer)
    Tabac AS (eye dropper container)
    Tabac Cologne (tiny bottle)
    Penhaligon’s Endymion
    Osage Rub (mouthwash travel bottle)
  • Razors:
    Vintage Gillette Black Handle SS
    EJ DE89L
  • Blades: Voskhod
  • Brush: Plisson Synthetic with Travel Container


Written by: Peter Charkalis



Madame Scodioli Soap & Aftershave Review

What does a bearded lady do during her spare time while traveling with the carnival? Well, she makes shaving soaps, creams, aftershaves and colognes. Riley Fouts, aka Madame Scodioli (the Bearded Lady) has created a unique persona and even more unique products. First, I’ll tell you that I find this scent intoxicatingly exotic and mysterious. Friends, this is among the best I have ever used. This soap scent is unlike anything I have tried thus far. As soon as you open the package the fragrance fills the room with this sweet, yet masculine scent of  cedar, patchouli, saffron and vetyver. The ingredient list didn’t mention whiskey, but I understand Madame Scodioli likes her whiskey and may have added a few drops. I believe I caught some tobacco as well. Needless to say, this is one heck-of-a fragrance! I was home alone during my testing and evaluation. Upon my wife’s arrival, she asked “what smells so good”? I told her it was this new soap and aftershave that I’m reviewing. She said the house smells wonderful and that she loves the fragrance. Therefore, I think your significant other may love this as well.

The Step Right Up Soap
The ‘Step Right Up’ soap is available on Etsy and comes in a square or round puck.  As mentioned, this Glycerin based soap has an amazing fragrance. I was able to create a nice lather, but it took a little time to dial-in on the amount of water to use. The lather was luxurious, fragrant and had a decent slickness to it. A nice shave and will definitely be in my rotation. The scent had nice staying power and was evident throughout the shave. I definitely was sniffing my brush throughout the shave and ended up with an exceptional experience. By the way, I used my Gillete Red Tip with a Voskhod blade and my new Nathan Clark Silver Tip brush for this review. Now to the aftershave….

Photo Oct 03, 4 49 06 PM

The Aftershave
The ‘Step Right Up’ aftershave is a perfect match to the soap.  The AS comes in a wonderful old time 5.0 oz. amber glass jar with screwtop lid.  Like some of our other favorite vendors, it comes with a useful reducer in the neck for reducing spillage.  It has a woodsy-exotic masculine fragrance that consists of cedar, smoky patchouli, sandalwood, musky saffron and finished with a touch of vetyver. I just love this lotion. It goes on smooth and is just soothing. No sting from alcohol, no alum, just a real nice lotion with an intoxicating fragrance.
The aftershave can be found here:

Photo Oct 03, 5 10 40 PM

The Madame Scodioli Scents are as Follows:
Aged Bourbon: Kentucky Single Barrel
Dust Shaker: Mahogany + Sandalwood
Fiji Mermaid: The Briny Deep
Fortunato: Pine, Smoke + Whiskey
Gray Skies: Nag Champa
Hierophant: Sage + Sweetgrass
Laudanum: Tobacco + Black Tea
Sentinel: Leather
Step Right Up: Cedar, Saffron + Vetyver
Timshel: Tobacco + Vanilla
Widdershins: Frankincense + Myrrh

Thank you for taking the time to look at my review. Hope this was helpful.
Peter Charkalis