Author: robykeys82

Wet Shaver enthusiast, keyboard player, jazz-lover!

Summer scents and soaps: my top 3 for 2017.

It has been (and still currently it’s being) quite a hot summer here in Italy. Some days have been so hot that even shaving somehow lost some of his charm. However, in those rare days in which the temperatures were acceptable, I really enjoyed my shaves, in particular those shaves in which I used the products I’m going to list below. So, I thought to share with you, Wet Shaver Review friends, my top 3 for Summer 2017.

#3 Spot: K-Shave Worx – Frazzled Kilt

K-Shave Worx may be a young brand, but they quickly established themselves as one of the most interesting, capable and great people on the busier and busier wet-shaving market (hi Kelly, hi Kevin!).

This Frazzled Kilt is their rendition of Green Irish Tweed by Creed and an homage to Kelly’s Irish origins.

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Well, the package itself suggests we’re talking about a great product. The scent is invigorating and fresh, one of those scents you happen to often smell when you’re in your shaving den, even if you are not going to shave or you just shaved. Smelling for the pleasure of smelling it! 🙂 The performance is classic K-Shave performance; easy to lather, great cushion and skin protection are there, excellent post-shave feeling.

#2 Spot: Extrò – Felce e Biancospino

This is actually a really close second, and my friend Donato will forgive me if I reserved the #1 Spot to another product 🙂 I already told him thousands of times how much I love this Felce e Biancospino (Fern and Hawtorn) soap and AS.

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This scent is one of the three summer scents by Extrò (the others being Lavanda e Muschio and Arancia Italiana, excellent performers as well) and the first fougère rendition by Donato Ciniello’s company.

Well, the scent is simply amazing. The fern scent is clearly identifiable and the hawtorn provides a wonderful addition to the overall product. The soap comes in an almost gelly form, while the Shea Butter (typical of these summer offerings by Extrò) not only makes the soap so easy to lather (two swirls of the brush are enough), but also provides a great post-shave sensation on the skin.

In conclusion, a must-have for everyone loving fougères.

#1 Spot: Chiseled Face – Summer Storm

This soap is not a 2017 release, but nonetheless is my favourite summer scent, period. Think about the smell of wet grass after a storm, combine it with a fair amount of freshness given by the matching AS, and you will have the perfect combo for a Summer shave on a warm/hot day.

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Summer Storm is probably not a very complex scent, but it’s certainly a typical American Scent. And often I wonder why, here in Europe, we often lack the creativity of our American counterparts. Chiseled Face is one of my favourite US brands, since the soaps I’ve tried always performed well and combined ease of usage, great scents and awesome post-shave feeling.

So, this is my top 3 for Summer 2017. What about yours??

P.S. Runner Up (4th place): Extrò MDL II. Being a special edition (already gone), I felt uncomfortable in including it, but sure it’s worth mentioning. American Pine and Italian Pine essential oils combined with menthol crystals: a rinvigorating and refreshing soap for those hot summer days. I wish it would become a regular product instead of a special edition.

 

Journey to Italy – Part 2

In my previous article I wrote about two of the most iconic Italian products in the Wet Shaving fields, Floid and Proraso. If you remember, I also underlined the fact that I tend to use foreign products. This was particularly true until October 2014, when I took a train from Genova to Settimo Torinese with a close friend, to visit Extrò Cosmesi, run by Donato Ciniello, an extremely nice and competent guy who sells TFS (Tcheon Fung Sing, despite the name is a 100% Italian company) products as well as his own made colognes, moustache waxes, beard oils, shampoos, home fragrances, etc.

Donato was recommended to me by a fellow Wet Shaver, Adriano, who talked me about some of the TFS soaps and was so kind to send me a sample of Felce Italica (Italian Fern. Unfortunately, a discontinued soap). I was so amazed by both the scent and the performance of this soap that the first step was to add Donato to my Facebook friends, then getting some information on his products and finally purchase the train tickets to pay him a visit 🙂

That day of October I purchased several TFS soaps, Extrò Colognes, Donato’s homemade Bay Rum, made in batches which all differs from the previous one in composition, and a wonderful AS which has become a true favourite of mine, Pirata. The recipe of this AS dates back in the 40’s and is described as a “fresh, spiced old style fragrance”. Used with an atomizer is pure Aftershave Heaven!! I rarely buy the same product twice, this was an exception and I restocked during my second visit last year.

During the last year and a half I bought about a dozen of different Extrò Colognes, as you can see in the picture below. My favourite are Fresco (as the name suggests, a fresh fragrance for summer months), Arzakena (named after the Sardinian city of Arzachena, a myrtle scent), Tabacco and Farinik, a very strong tangerine and spices cologne which matches its related soap. Used as Aftershave, it will burn like hell, so I’d recommend it only for those brave enough to enjoy the burn feeling given by an alcohol-based AS! 🙂

Donato is also a straight razor aficionado, always looking for ancient razors to restore in the Sunday Markets around his town and he also sells strops and sharpening stones in various sizes.  Discover more at  Extrò Cosmesi WebSite.

Extrò

Me and my friend Claudio (smelling a bottle of Pirata AS) at Donato’s shop, October 2014.

Now I want to spend some words on TFS, since Donato is their main distributor and I had the pleasure of trying several of their products. The Chinese-sounding name comes from the fact that the founder was “a man, who was born in China and arrived in Italy in 1930. During the war he was interned in a prisoner-of-war camp and after the World War II he married an Italian woman. With his wife, he decided to found this society and following his knowledge in the field of soaps, he began to produce shaving soaps.”

The range of TFS soaps include different lines, from the basic, low-priced “monochromatic” jars (the most famous being the “Ciotola rossa”, almond-scented) to the luxury Linea Intenso, with different scents available (Bergamotto-Neroli, Tabacco Verde, Sottozero, Crazy Sandalwood and many others), from the Sensitive Skin line to the Torino Forti Sensazioni line launched in 2015, consisting of two scents, Corte Sabauda and Sotto la Mole, dedicated to the city of Turin, where the company is based. Other great soaps available are the ones dedicated to some of TFS and Donato’s friends, like Farinik (tangerine and spices), Ambassador (Tuscan lavender), Uncle Walter (Musk, Juniper). Finally, the latest addition to the catalogue is the Panta Rei soap, a “Manna” (see here) scented soap which I have still to try and will be one of the next purchases.

TFS are also makers of the new Figaro Monsieur, an oud-scented soap specifically designer for usage with DE and Straight Razors. The matching Aftershave is available, in a wonderful 400ml bottle.

After more than a year of constant usage of TFS soaps and AS Balms, my experience with ALL of these products has been ultra-satisfactory! The scents, the ease of lathering, the comfort during the shave, the wonderful post-shave sensation on the skin. There have been times in which I didn’t use any AS at all.

If you are wondering why I’m describing these products with so much enthusiasm, well, the answer is simple: because they’re excellent product at very reasonable prices and, most of all, because these products made me know great guys like Donato and Luca aka Farinik! 🙂 Which, in the end, I think it’s one of the best thing of our hobby: it allows to make wonderful friendships! 🙂

We’re at the end of our journey to Italy. I’m perfectly aware that there are other Italian products which were not covered in these articles (the first names which comes to my mind are Cella and Valobra), so I can’t exclude in the future there will be a Part 3.

ITALIAN VERSION – VIAGGIO IN ITALIA, PARTE 2

Nel mio precedente articolo ho avuto modo di scrivere di due tra i più classici prodotti italiani per la rasatura, Floid e Proraso. Se ricordate, ho anche sottolineato il fatto di come io tenda ad usare prodotti stranieri. Questo fatto era particolarmente vero prima di Ottobre 2014, quando presi un treno da Genova per Settimo Torinese insieme a un caro amico per visitare il negozio Extrò Cosmesi, gestito da Donato Ciniello, una persona affabile e competente che vende sia prodotti a marchio TFS (Tcheon Fung Sing, azienda italianissima a dispetto del nome), sia prodotti a marchio Extrò quali colonie, cere per baffi, oli da barba, shampoo, profumatori d’ambiente, ecc.

Donato mi fu segnalato e consigliato da un amico Wet Shaver, Adriano, che mi parlò in termini molto positivi di alcuni saponi TFS e fu così gentile da mandarmi un campione di Felce Italica (ahimè, sapone non più in produzione). Fui così folgorato sia dalla profumazione sia dalla performance di questo sapone, che il primo passo fu quello di chiedere a Donato l’amicizia su FB, poi di informarmi sui suoi prodotti e infine comprare i biglietti del treno per andare a fargli visita 🙂

Quel giorno di Ottobre ebbi modo di acquistare parecchi saponi TFS, Colonie a marchio Extrò, il Bay Rum artigianale di Donato, che viene prodotto in singoli lotti che differiscono ciascuno dal precedente quanto a composizione, e un meraviglioso dopobarba che è diventato rapidamente uno dei miei preferiti, Pirata. La ricetta di questo AS risale agli anni ’40 del secolo scorso e viene descritta come una fragranza fresca, speziata, old style.
Usato con lo spruzzino… è una goduria! E’ raro che io compri lo stesso prodotto due volte, Pirata è stata un’eccezione, poichè durante la mia seconda visita a Donato ho fatto scorta.

Nel corso dell’ultimo anno e mezzo ho acquistato circa una dozzina di diverse colonie Extrò, come si può vedere nella foto più sotto. Le mie preferite ad oggi sono Fresco (che come il nome suggerisce, è adatta per gli afosi giorni d’estate), Arzakena (una fragranza al mirto, che prende il nome dalla cittadina sarda), Tabacco e Farinik, una colonia dalla forte persistenza alla fragranza di mandarino e spezie. Usata come dopobarba, brucia moltissimo e mi sento di raccomandarla solo a quei coraggiosi che amano la sensazione di bruciore sulla pelle data dall’alcool del dopobarba (e anche dalla cannella, in questo caso) 🙂

Donato è anche un appassionato di rasoi a mano libera, sempre alla ricerca di vecchi rasoi da restaurare nei mercatini domenicali attorno alla sua città; nel suo negozio si possono trovare anche pietre per affilare e coramelle. Per maggiori informazioni, visitate il sito Extrò Cosmesi.

A questo punto voglio spendere alcune parole su TFS, poichè Donato è il loro principale distributore e ho avuto il piacere di provare molti dei loro prodotti. Il nome di origine cinese deriva dal fatto che il fondatore era un cinese arrivato in Italia nel 1930. Durante la guerra fu internato in un campo di prigionia e dopo la fine della Seconda Guerra Mondiale sposò una donna italiana. Insieme a sua moglie, decise di fondare questa società e, grazie alle sue competenze in materia di sapone, cominciò a produrre saponi da barba.

Il range di prodotti TFS include diverse linee, dalla linea base ed economica delle ciotoline monocolore (la più famosa delle quali è la Ciotola Rossa, alla mandorla) alla Linea Intenso, disponibile in diverse profumazioni (tra cui citiamo Bergamotto-Neroli, Tabacco Verde, Sottozero, Crazy Sandalwood e altre ancora), dalla linea per Pelli Sensibili alla linea Torino Forti Sensazioni, lanciata nel 2015 e consistente di due profumazioni, Sotto la Mole e Corte Sabauda, entrambe dedicate alla città di Torino, dove TFS risiede.
Altri ottimi saponi disponibili sono quelli dedicati ad alcuni degli amici di Donato e della TFS quali Farinik (mandarino e spezie), Ambassador (Lavanda toscana), Uncle Walter (muschio, ginepro).
Infine, l’ultima novità al catalogo TFS è il sapone Panta Rei, un sapone alla profumazione di Manna di Sicilia. Devo ancora provarlo ed è nella mia lista di prossimi acquisti.

TFS è anche la ditta produttrice del nuovo sapone Figaro Monsieur, alla profumazione di oud, pensato in maniera specifica per la rasatura con DE e Mano Libera. E’ disponibile anche il corrispondente dopobarba, nel classico bottiglione da 400ml.

Dopo più di un anno di uso costante dei saponi TFS e dei balsami dopobarba, posso dire che la mia esperienza con TUTTI questi prodotti è stata ultra soddisfacente! Le profumazioni, la facilità di montaggio, il comfort durante la rasatura, la splendida sensazione post-rasatura sulla pelle. Tutte ottime, e ci son state persino volte in cui non ho voluto usare dopobarba, tanto perfetta era stata la rasatura.

Se vi state domandando come mai stia descrivendo questi prodotti con tale entusiasmo, beh, la risposta è semplice: prima di tutto perchè sono ottimi prodotti a un prezzo assolutamente ragionevole, e, più di tutto, perchè grazie a questi prodotti ho conosciuto grandi persone come Donato e Luca aka Farinik! 🙂 Il che, alla fine, ritengo sia una delle cose più belle del nostro hobby: una parola tira l’altra e si finisce per creare bellissime amicizie. 🙂

Bene, siamo alla fine di questo nostro piccolo viaggio in Italia. Sono pienamente consapevole che ci sono altri prodotti per la rasatura italiani di cui non abbiamo parlato in questi due articoli (i primi nomi che mi vengono in mente sono Cella e Valobra); per questo motivo, non mi sento di escludere, per il futuro, una parte 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journey to Italy, Part 1

Oh Italy, the Bel Paese… Art, beautiful places, women, food and wine! What about wet-shaving goods? Well, in these modern days there are still some old-school barbershops and wet-shaving raised a growing interest in the last 10 years. Together with the long-lasting Italian barbershop tradition, this makes Italy a very interesting place to visit for the enthusiast wet-shaver… Unless you already live here, as in my case, which makes things much less interesting… with some exceptions (more on this on Part. 2).

This couple of articles will be a short journey to Italy, talking about some Italian classics as well as other topics.

The first approach to wet shaving came when I was about 15. An old boar brush of my father, some tubes of Palmolive and Proraso, and for 2-3 years I wet-shaved (I still remember the strange looks my school mates gave me when I showed them the brush during the school trip to Naples in 1999. Ah the old good times!). Then, I don’t know why, I stopped and reverted to canned goo. I returned to WetShaving as soon as I started working. Probably earning money for the first time proved to be the deciding factor. TOBS Lemon and Lime came, as well as a big 200ml bottle of Trumper’s Extract of West Indian Limes AS. Since then, I never came back, the Soap Acquisition Syndrome grow year by year and I discovered great products made both in Europe and USA. Little room for Italian products, at least until I met with a guy I’ll talk about in Part 2.

The only Italian products which were constantly in my den were essentialy two classics of the Italian tradition. Floid (see Featured Image) and Proraso, which are sold at almost every supermarket here in Italy (especially Proraso, in its classic green packaging).

Floid: well, almost every barbershop in Italy has it proudly displayed in the cabinet. Classy, timeless, old-fashioned, it’s the perfect complement for an haircut, a straight-razor shave, a moustache-trimming. The (sadly, old. The new is an abysmal grey label. No comment.) packaging is wonderful, the light-yellow label and the smiling face splashing the AS are in the Italian aficionados’ collective imagination.  Not to mention the big orange atomizer!! 😀 I know that I’m not the only one who entering the bathroom and spotting the big Floid bottle can’t resist spraying some Floid on his neck and cheeks! This AS, moreover, is awesome in the hot summer month, providing an immediate sense of freshness! I never tried the spanish versions (Suave and Vigoroso) so I can’t compare them to the Italian one. All I can say is that if you love old-school scents, you must grab a bottle somehow!

Proraso: Proraso always makes me think about how mankind is strange: always seeking for things which can’t be easily obtained, often overlooking the local/national excellence. This thought is supported by serious evidence: me looking for the English and American soaps on one side, and many American friends who literally love Proraso and post several SOTD Pictures proudly featuring all the Range… Others ask where to buy it, and I often smile thinking about our local supermarkets. Given the price for a tub, about 2-3 Euros, they would feel like in Wet Shaving Paradise.

Those who know me are aware I’m always looking for that special and unique scents in my soaps, so… yes, I’m not really a fan of Proraso, since the scent is plain Menthol and I often got bored of it. This, however, doesn’t prevent me from saying that the performance of this soap, especially for the price, is top notch! Used in the summer months, Proraso will provide a very refreshing experience, as well as a thick lather which protects your skin while shaving.

Weird but effective tip:  add some drops of Floid on the tub and then build the lather. The scent will improve and the freshness will be multiplied x 2 🙂

 

The classic Proraso Soap tub, with its distinctive green colour.

 

ITALIAN VERSION – VIAGGIO IN ITALIA, Parte 1

Ah, l’Italia, il Bel Paese… Arte, luoghi meravigliosi, donne, cibo e vino! E per quanto riguarda la rasatura tradizionale? Beh, in questa epoca improntata alla modernità esistono ancora delle barberie vecchia scuola e la rasatura tradizionale è tornata a suscitare notevole interesse nell’ultima decina d’anni. Ciò, unito alla tradizione barbieristica italiana, fa dell’Italia una nazione molto interessante da visitare per l’appassionato wet-shaver… a meno di non abitarvi già, come nel mio caso, il che rende tutto molto meno eccitante… con qualche piacevole eccezione (su cui tornerò abbondantemente nella seconda parte).
Questa coppia di articoli vuole essere un breve viaggio in Italia, in cui parleremo di alcuni grandi classici italiani, ma non solo.
Il mio primo approccio alla rasatura tradizionale avvenne più o meno quando avevo 15 anni. Un vecchio pennello di mio padre, in setola, qualche tubetto di Palmolive e qualche ciotola di Proraso, e per 2-3 anni andai avanti così (ricordo ancora gli sguardi perplessi e stupiti dei miei compagni di classe durante la gita scolastica a Napoli, quando feci vedere loro il pennello. Ah, i vecchi tempi!). Poi, non saprei neanche dire perchè, smisi e tornai alle bombolette. Fino a quando, nel 2007, iniziando a lavorare ritornai alla rasatura tradizionale. Probabilmente guadagnare soldi miei per la prima volta ha influito notevolmente ed è stato decisivo. Una ciotola di Lemon and Lime di Taylor, una bella bottiglia da 200ml di dopobarba al Lime di Trumper, e via! Da allora, non son più tornato indietro, la SAS (Sindrome da Acquisto di Saponi) è cresciuta di anno in anno, consentendomi di conoscere prodotti straordinari prodotti sia in Europa sia oltre oceano. Nel mio regno/antro della rasatura, c’era poco posto per prodotti italiani, almeno fino a quando non ho conosciuto una persona, di cui parlerò nella seconda parte.

Gli unici prodotti italiani che hanno sempre avuto un posto costante nella mia rotazione erano essenzialmente due grandi classici della tradizione italiana. Floid (vedi immagine di copertina) e Proraso, che possono essere trovati pressochè in qualsiasi supermercato qui in Italia, specialmente il secondo, nella tradizionale confezione verde.
Floid: che dire, in quasi ogni bottega di barbiere in Italia fa bella mostra di sé una bella bottiglia di Floid, sul bancone, negli armadietti, ecc. Di classe, senza tempo e con un gusto piacevolmente retrò, Floid per me costituisce il perfetto complemento di un bel taglio di capelli, di una rasatura, di una spuntatina ai baffi. Il packaging, specialmente nella vecchia versione (sulla nuova, con un’orrida etichetta grigia, stendo un velo pietoso) con etichetta di colore giallo tenue, con la facciona sorridente mentre le viene spruzzato il Floid è qualcosa che è nell’immaginario collettivo degli aficionados. Per non parlare del mitico spruzzino arancione!! So di non essere l’unico che, entrando in bagno e notando la bottigliona di Floid, non resiste alla tentazione di spruzzarsi sul collo e sulle guance un po’ di dopobarba! 🙂
Tale prodotto, inoltre, è perfetto nei torridi mesi estivi, garantendo una immediata sensazione di freschezza! Non ho mai avuto modo di provare le versioni spagnole (Suave e Vigoroso) e quindi non ho modo di fare paragoni. Ciò che posso dire che è se amate le profumazioni old-school, dovete assolutamente prendere una bottiglia di questo classico intramontabile, in qualche modo!

Proraso: questo prodotto mi fa sempre pensare a come sia strana la natura umana: siamo sempre a cercare cose che non possono essere facilmente ottenute e spesso ignoriamo o tralasciamo di proposito le eccellenze locali e nazionali. Questo fatto è suffragato da prove concrete: il sottoscritto a cercare saponi in terre lontane da un lato, e molti amici americani che adorano letteralmente i prodotti PRORASO, al punto di immortalarli in numerose foto di Sbarbate del Giorno, chiedendo dove si possano acquistarli, ecc. E io nel leggerli sorrido al pensiero che se vivessero qui, con i nostri supermarket si sentirebbero in paradiso, visti i prezzi (2-3 euro a pezzo).

Quelli che mi conoscono sanno che son sempre alla ricerca di quel sapone dalla profumazione particolare, speciale e unica, e quindi… non si può dire che io sia un fan di Proraso, visto che la profumazione è mentolo schietto e tale profumazione mi stufa dopo poco. Ciò tuttavia non mi impedisce di dire che la performance di questo sapone è eccellente, a maggior ragione vista la fascia di prezzo! Usato nei mesi estivi, Proraso vi garantirà, oltre a una rasatura ben protetta, un’esperienza assolutamente rinfrescante!

Consiglio strano ma efficace: aggiungete qualche goccia di Floid direttamente nella ciotola di Proraso e montate la schiuma lì. La profumazione migliorerà e la freschezza raddoppierà! 🙂

 

 

Follow the smoke…

No, I’m not going to review a BBQ Restaurant or a Tobacconist Shop. Not at all. We’re a Wet-Shaving-themed blog, aren’t we? So, what I’m going to talk about this evening is one of the most original and great soaps on the market, at least for my tastes! It was given to me as a present for my birthday by my girlfriend, who struggled a lot to get it, but in the end, thanks to the patience and kindness of different persons (the artisan himself plus other resellers) she managed to have the soap shipped to Italy!

In my previous articles I told you about my top 2 “surprises of the year”; well, this soap completes the Top 3, sitting on the third step of the podium. The soap is Cigar Lounge, by Soapy Bathman, run by Chris Erskine, a Canadian artisan who knows his job and created a very nice line of soaps, AS balms, Shampoo Bars, etc. with a variety of scents to please the tastes of the most discerning gentlemen out there.

Cigar Lounge. The name itself intrigued me from the start. I’m a very moderate smoker, but from time to time I like smoking a good cigar (both Habanos and Italian, Toscano, cigars) or smoking a pipe, just to spend a relaxing evening. I didn’t know what to expect from the soap. Cigar Lounges are not so common in Italy and reading the evocative description on the producer site didn’t completely unveil the aura of mystery about this soap.

“Imagine yourself sitting in a smoky Cigar Lounge, glass of liquor in front of you, soft raspy jazz music gently whispering in the background.  Smelling the thick, smooth scent of your cigar with every exhale. With a blend of bergamot, lemon and spiced Tobacco leaves you will picture that everytime you shave.”  (from http://soapybathman.ca/item_38/Cigar-Lounge-Shave-Soap.htm )

When the soap arrived, I instantly fell in love with the presentation and, most of all, the scent. If I had to choose the word which describes it best, it would be (apart from Awesome) Balanced. Yes, because I was afraid of a soap which would smell too smokey, resulting off-putting. Not at all! The scent is a wonderful combination of citrusy notes, with hints of liquor and cigar smoke here and there, all perfectly balanced. I think this is the key of the success of this soap, which got very positive reviews everywhere.

Scent is not everything, however; so, how does the soap perform? At first I had some difficulties in lathering; nothing dramatic, but I wasn’t fully satisfied. I asked Chris for advice and he was very kind and quick to link me his video tutorial. Soaking the soap for 3-5 minutes hugely improves the lathering process. The lather obtained is very creamy, the protection for the skin is very good and the scent is strong enough to be smelled after the end of the shave. I like the scent of this soap so much that sometimes I don’t apply aftershave just to continue smelling it! Just a bit of talcum powder. 🙂

Overall this is a great soap which I highly recommend to all those who:

  • enjoy citrusy scents
  • enjoy the scent of a burning cigar
  • want to try a one-of-a-kind soap!

In picture: SOTD 21/01/2016, the Romeo y Julieta n°3 hasn’t been smoked yet! 🙂

 

Surprise surprise…

When it comes to scents, especially here in Italy, the most common ones are the usual Almond, Lavender, Menthol you will find in dozens of products, sometimes mixed with some more uncommon ingredients.

Personally, I often tend to look for the hidden gems or the unusual, not to say weird-sounding items, and with this attitude I was instantly interested when I read about a soap which  scent was the one of a forest fire in Texas! After reading some reviews online, most of which positive, although warning that this would be a love-or-hate-it scent, I put it in my wish-list. Then, my girlfriend purchased it (together with a stunning total of 12 soaps) for my birthday and I was able to try it personally.

In my previous post I said that Tiki Bar Soap was the N° 1 Surprise of the past year. Well, Stirling came a close second.  IMHO, it deserves the N° 1 spot for the Best “Bang for the Buck” category! Great protection, very easy to lather with all kinds of brushes and strong scents (I love soaps which scents linger in the air for a while).

Back to Texas on Fire, the first time I smelled it I was hit by a strong smoky scent, like the one of campfires. Smoky but also woodsy, leathery and earthy and, most of all, manly! This is how I’d describe this soap. I agree with all those reviewers who said this is probably a love-or-hate-it scent. Those who prefer subtler scents would discard this fine Stirling offering. On the contrary, those, like myself, who are constantly looking for unusual scents, will love it!

Wet shaving and memories of the past

Today I was coming back home from work and I thought about the next article for WSR. I already knew that today’s shave would employ one of my Tiki Bar soaps. This thought made me travel back in time, thanks to one of those strange mental connections that sometimes happen 🙂

Premise: as many of our follower may know, Tiki Bar is owned and run by Amanda Stott, one of the most successful (and man, the success is truly deserved!) artisans in the Wet Shaving community. Tiki bar soap is based in Alabama, USA and it was this detail which started the mental connection I mentioned above.

The fact that a guy living in Genoa, Italy, uses a shaving soap made in Alabama, US, almost 8000 Km away, recalled me when I was a kid (in the late 80s) and my aunt came regularly to visit me and my parents. She came from Milan (150 Km away) and every time she brought us some products which were almost impossible to find in my town (be it a strange tropical fruit or the latest cream cheese on the market). Back then Internet was yet to come, purchasing goods was quite different and the only idea of getting those products was, at best, unlikely.

We’re in 2016, the World has changed (and not often for the best), and nowadays getting a product which is made thousands Kms away is no more a miracle! 🙂

If I had to name the brand which personally I found to be the best surprise of 2015, that would be Tiki, without hesitation. Amanda is a careful artisan, who puts passion in her activity and provides an exceptional customer care. Recently I had issues with the parcel being held at the <CENSORED> Italian customs, and when I asked her for a piece of information which was necessary to fill a custom form in, her reaction was very quick. Moreover, when finally the parcel arrived and I found out that there was an extra soap, she was so kind not to pretend the soap to be sent back to the US or that I’d be charged for it. This is a classy customer service.

What about the soap themselves? I had the pleasure to try four of them so far, and the best word to describe them is AMAZING, from the Presentation to the post-shave feeling.

The images on the soap tubs are simple yet reminiscent of the main character of the product they contain. The soaps are very easy to lather, with every kind of brush, be it boar, badger or synthetic. The lather is creamy and provides great cushion and protection to your skin and glide to your razor. The scents (which is a subjective field, I know) are all awesome and contribute to make the shave a great experience.

The full range of Tiki Bar soaps include some traditional scents as well as some more distinctive ones. The ones I own fall in the second category:

  • The Captain: by far my favourite Tiki soap and one of my favourite top 3 soaps of all times. A cherry pipe tobacco flavour which is rich, complex and masculine.
  • Davey Jones Locker: one of Amanda’s most complex scents, inspired by Geo F. Trumper Eucris (which I love!) but different in the final result, it’s a complex blend of amber, patchouli, ginger grass, which are added to the Eucris olfactory pyramid, which is: top notes of black currant, caraway and coriander; middle notes of jasmine and lily-of-the-valley; and base notes are sandalwood, oakmoss and musk.
  • Kilted Tiki: made using Scotch Whisky, this is one of those special soaps which are so far from our European and Italian tradition. Very strong and masculine scent. Some could find it a bit owerpowering. Personally I love it! 🙂
  • Go West: it took me some time to appreciate it, at first I couldn’t pick the leather notes, but after some usage know it’s becoming a favourite, as its brothers!

 

Back to the origins

Some years ago (in 2008) I decided to switch back to Wet Shaving. I already had had a Wet Shaving period, but I was 18 and it didn’t last much.

When I started again, TOBS Lemon and Lime cream was my first “serious” cream. I still remember the day I bought it in a fine shop in the city centre. From that day, I never came back to canned goo again! During these years I tried several products of the TOBS line and none of them disappointed me.

If I had to choose the scent which I like most, I’d tell you Mr. Taylor without any hesitation. As you can see in the picture, I love this scent so much that I have almost the full range (in the past I also tried the bath gel, very nice, too!). As you can guess, being a Wet Shaver means having dozens of different soaps, and I’m no different. Some days I like to experiment with soaps/creams and AS combinations, other days I prefer to go to a safe haven and TOBS is my primary choice.

This scent, IMHO, epitomises the classic English taste; it exudes elegance from the first moment you open the bottle of AS/Cologne. This elegance is also present in the Cream and in the Talcum powder. If I had to make a present to a teenager to make him wish switching to Wet Shaving, this would be my n°1 scent choice. It’s elegant without being too “old man” style, nor too complex like, for example, Eucris by GEO F. Trumper (which I love) can be.

If you happen to visit London, you can’t miss the Jermyn Street area (Piccadilly); paying a visit to TOBS, Penhaligon’s and Geo F. Trumper shops is mandatory, for the Wet Shaving enthusiast!

The performance of the cream is standard Taylor, which means great! Great protection, great slickness, perfect post-shave feeling. The price of the TOBS products, moreover, is another factor which makes these products absolute winners! Of the 3 Ts, TOBS is the one with the most affordable prices, nonetheless the quality is top notch!

This is my first article on WSR, more to follow!