Author: robykeys82

Wet Shaver enthusiast, keyboard player, jazz-lover!

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

 

 

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.

 

 

Review: Local Gent Shaving Co – Tobacco Lounge Shaving Soap

As anticipated, this soap has been waiting to be reviewed for a long time. Oh, I wish I had tried it earlier! Once the plastic film containing the soap was removed, the scent came to life, strong and manly (I left the soap to dry after my shaves and it acted as a home fragrance).

The artisan describes it as: “The Tobacco Lounge was a true creation of inspiration. Love having a nice cigar from a Spanish cedar lined humidor while relaxing in a old leather club chair? Then this soap is for you! we have created a custom blend to give you a fresh and sweet musk to create those sweet highs and smoky low notes with the feeling of being in a classic cigar lounge. Does not get more manly than that!”

The cigar and tobacco notes are there, a soft and sweet musk note is there, too. Regarding the last sentence, well, we might object that there are other soaps in the market (I think of Midnight Stag by CFG, for instance) that are definitely manlier than this.

For those who like to make comparisons, this soap reminded me of a great soap, Cognac and Cuban Cigars by Henri & Victoria. The overall scent is quite similar.

How did this soap performed, scent apart? I tried it with both my 5/8 Jaguar (my straight razor of choice) and my Muhle R89. With the Muhle I used two blades, a terrible one (a Personna, clearly a defective one, since they are usually very good) and a favorite of mine, an Astra Green. With soaps which come with no container (a slight con, here) I usually either put them in a bowl or in my left hand and perform the lathering directly on the soap surface.

In every shave the soap provided a great protection to the skin, ensuring the right amount of glide and a great post-shave. Even with the terrible blade, the soap helped me to avoid nicks and cuts.

My suggestions for an AS to pair with this soap are the following:

  • Extrò Tabacco
  • Figaro Dopobarba Splash (100ml edition)
  • A Bay Rum (St. John’s, Acadian Spice, Captain’s Choice Bay Rum and CO9T)

Overall, I must admit that I had no high expectations about this soap, but I was proved wrong. It performed very good and outperformed some other soaps I bought during my honeymoon (I won’t mention them), soaps of more praised brands. I think Local Gent Shaving Co. deserves more recognition, since it’s not a brand I’ve seen often in the various FB groups.

Ingredients:

Water, Avocado Oil, Castor Oil, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Stearic Acid, Vegetable Glycerin, Potassium Hydroxide,Sodium Hydroxide, Bentonite Clay, Fragrance and Essential Oils

More reviews to come…

In the next weeks I’m going to review a bunch of Stirling Soaps (see picture) as well as the only remaining soap to try from my honeymoon wet-shaving shopping (October 2016), that is, Local Gent. Shaving Company – Tobacco Lounge. If you’re asking why did I wait 2 years to try it, well… I don’t know! 🙂 Probably the scent from the puck is not strong and inviting enough, but…who knows? Maybe I’ll be proved wrong 🙂

The Stirling bunch includes some of the most loved scents in the whole range, like Ozark Mountain and Stirling Gentleman, while Ben Franklin looks like an outsider which could be a nice surprise to me. We’ll see! 🙂

Pinaud Clubman Reserve AS Series #3 – Brandy Spice review

When I found out that some Italian resellers had the full Clubman Reserve line, at first I wanted to try only the two fragrances we’ve reviewed so far, i.e. Whiskey Woods and Gent’s Gin. Brandy Spice was not on my list, mainly because I’m not really keen on Brandy and then because of the description, which, as we’ll see shorty, mentions apple. Apple is not something I like particularly, either as a fruit to eat or as a scent. Luckily, my Italian friends who already tried it (thanks Guido and Rocco!) told me: “Get it!! It’s the best of the bunch!”. And so I did, and Man, I’m really happy ’bout it!! 🙂

I’ll go straight to the point here: my friends were right, and Brandy Spice is the best of the bunch, by a long margin. While Whiskey Woods and Gent’s Gin were respectively good and very good in terms of scent and longevity, Brandy Spice appears to be of a higher standard in both departments.

The presentation is similar to the other two products, the only complaint being the plastic used for the bottle. The presentation notes are the following: “The Brandy Spice scent combines Brandied Apple and Citrus Zest with mixed spice and Musk to finish each shave on a smooth bold note.”

The description is, as usual, spot-on. The brandied apple is there to give a fruity character to the overall scent, the spices are light but still noticeable, while the Citrus Zest, to my nose, is well hidden in the background. The combination of all these notes gives Brandy Spice a classy and unique character, with a powdery finish which personally I love. The longevity is good, although I wish it would be greater.

After some weeks of use, comparing the new Reserve line to the Classic Pinaud line was a logic consequence to me; I think the new line is more modern and could be more suitable for young people (aged 20-35) than some of the fragrances in the Classic Line (I’m thinking about Clubman Special Reserve and the Classic one, in particular). That said, I don’t see the two product lines as opposed one to each other; on the contrary, I see them as two great alternatives, depending on your mood, time of the year, weather and all of those subjective factors which makes you decide for a specific product of your rotation 🙂

Finally, let me spend some words about possible matching soaps. After a careful look in my den and days of experiments I found out that two soaps appear to be good choices when it comes to form a pair with Brandy Spice:

  • Ghost Town Barber by Chiseled Face Groomatorium
  • Jozef (Special Edition) by Lebelle Soaps

These two, despite being different beasts, have a slight background sweetness which, IMHO, matches quite well with the fruity-spicy character of Brandy Spice.

And this ends our journey inside the new Pinaud Clubman Reserve realm. Stay tuned for more reviews to come in the next week (Preview post coming soon).

Pinaud Clubman website

Chiseled Face website

Lebelle Soaps

Here are the links to the other articles of this series:

Pinaud Clubman Reserve AS Series #1 – Whiskey Woods review

Pinaud Clubman Reserve AS Series #2 – Gent’s Gin review

Pinaud Clubman Reserve AS Series #2 – Gent’s Gin review

The second AS in our three-part series about Pinaud Clubman Reserve products is Gent’s Gin. Like the name suggests, the dominant accord is Gin. I’m not an expert of gins at all, but from time to time I like to enjoy a good Gin Tonic 🙂 So when I first smelled this, I knew I was in familiar territory.

The bottle is, for all the three new entries, the classic plastic Pinaud bottle. This gives the product an old, classic Barbershop feel. That said, presentation is very nice, in pure Clubman style, with the classic gentleman clearly visible and a nice presentation which reads “The Gent’s Gin scent combines Lime and Red Cedar with Fresh Juniper and a Gin accord to finish each shave on a smooth masculine note. ” The color is a light blue, similar to the one of Pinaud Lime Sec aftershave. But while the Lime Sec is probably one of the worst AS I tried (smelled very synthetic to me), Gent’s Gin is not. Indeed, it’s definitely a very good aftershave!

I find the description on the bottle to be spot-on; the notes of lime are there, and so are the woodsy notes from the Red Cedar. But the dominant scent is the one of Juniper, and I like it very much! Combined together, all these notes provide a light, fresh and masculine scent. My only complaint is that the longevity is on the short side. After the 45 minutes / 1 hour mark the scent is gone.

Suggested season: Spring/Summer. I think it goes well with citrusy and fresh colognes.

The first soap which came to my mind when I thought about a suitable combo was, of course, Stirling Gin & Tonic. However, my sample of this soap run out weeks ago, so I tried different products and I found out that Edwin Jagger Lime and Pomegranate cream appears to match quite well with this aftershave. I’m not saying the scents are similar, not at all; but I think there’s a common “mildness” in scent between these two products which make them a great pairing.

Speaking of Gin-themed products, I can’t help mentioning Captain’s Choice North, which, despite being described as “North will bring to mind those deep coniferous forests of the Canadian wilderness. It has a full-bodied evergreen scent with top notes of juniper and a hint of vanilla.” is, at least in the bottle I ordered sometime ago, a very very strong Gin-like aftershave, where the Juniper note prevails by a long margin.

Gent’s Gin is a gentler product, while I like to define North as “Gin in your face”, very straightforward (and very good, if you like Gin, of course). I think both of them are worth a try, if you like Juniper and anything related to Gin.

Links:

Pinaud Clubman website

Edwin Jagger website

Stirling Soap Company website

Captain’s Choice website

Pinaud Clubman Reserve AS Series #1 – Whiskey Woods review

When I read that Pinaud Clubman had released three new aftershaves, Whiskey Woods was the one which tickled my fancy the most. I like Whisky (with or without ‘e’) very much, so this aftershave looked very promising.

The bottle is, for all the three new entries, the classic plastic Pinaud bottle. This gives the product an old, classic Barbershop feel, but personally I’d prefer glass instead. That said, presentation is very nice, in pure Clubman style, with the classic gentleman clearly visible and a nice presentation which reads “The Whiskey Woods scent combines Tobacco Leaf and Bergamot with Whiskey and Woods to finish each shave on a smooth smokey note.” The color, despite the image featured on the website being orange, is brown, a brown reminiscent of tobacco rather than whiskey.

Since there are no matching soaps to use with these series of aftershaves, I had an intense look at my den and finally opted for Mickey Lee Soapworks Grand Havana, one of my favorite US scents in the Tobacco department. Tobacco notes are combined with tea and vanilla, for an overall results which is classy and, IMHO, matches well with the Pinaud Whiskey Woods aftershave.

So, what about the aftershave itself? I have to be honest here and I’ll immediately tell you that this is my least favorite of the three new entries 🙂 Probably my expectations were too high on this and too low on the other two products (more about this in the next articles). Don’t get me wrong, Whiskey Woods is a very nice aftershave, with a manly character which will please many of us. The Whiskey and Tobacco notes are there, the post-shave effect is good, the alchool burn is not too strong. The only (minor) drawback is that it reminds me of Pinaud Clubman Virgin Islands Bay Rum, a product I have a love-hate relationship with (I use it rarely). To my nose, the two products are related, somehow.

That said, Whiskey Woods is a good product which, however, struggles to stand out in the ocean of aftershave the market is full of. Worth trying? Yes. Unique? No.

Spoiler: the matter is completely different for the other two entries.

Links:

Pinaud Clubman website

Mickey Lee Soapworks website

 

A Wet Shaver PReview

This 2018 has been a tough year for me. Hence the few posts here on the website, as well as on the various Facebook groups. Nonetheless, Wet Shaving remained one of my favorite hobbies, helping me to relieve the pains of my personal life.

Moreover, this has been a year in which my wallet told me “Thank you Roberto!”, since my purchases have been few and selected ones.

Among these, there are the new Pinaud Clubman aftershaves: Whiskey Woods, Gents Gin and Brandy Spice.

New Pinaud AS

This short post is just a preview of a series of three articles in which I’ll try to give my thoughts about these three new products by the glorious American brand. In doing this, I will propose some (IMHO) good Soap/AS pairings featuring these products.

Are they as good as their classic line brothers? Do they really add value to the whole range of products of Clubman? Stay tuned!

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.

FrazzledKilt_ShaveSoap_6ozTop__51762.1492890342.500.750

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.

felce-biancospino-crema-da-barba-extro-

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.