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.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome to the newest feature on the Wet Shaver Review ! Every week one or, more of our team will choose a #sotd that resonates with us, to share with the whole wet shaving community. This week my pick comes from Holland by Bram Van Den Berg; I hope you enjoy this #sotd #review as much as I did ! Thank you Bram for your contributions.
Man, do I have a start of a great day!
The sun is out, temperatures outside are really nice and the dogs are in a very, very good and relaxed mood. What more can I wish for, right?
Well, a good shave would me a nice addition to the day!
And man, did I get one! grin
Yesterday I got a package in with a few new soaps and aftershaves. And one of those was this Extro Bergamotto di Calabria.
When I opened the jar for the first time and gave it it’s first sniff…
I knew this was going to be good!
As you all might know, i am a sucker for good citrus-scented soaps!
Directly out of the jar, you smell a nice blend of citrus fruits where the orange scent is the most dominant one.
So far, a good start.
Lathering is, as with any Extro soap, a really easy task.
The stuff lathers like a beast with my huge Rod Neep brush!
The lather is really nice and thick and really really slick and it smells like….heaven!
If i want to compare the scent to some other Italian soaps that I have used throughout the years, the best comparison is with the TFS Bergamotto Neroli and the TFS Zagara e Gelsomino.
It isn’t as overly sweet as the Bergamotto Neroli, but isn’t as mild as the Zagara either. A very nice middle-ground between those two.
From all the citrus scents, the orange is still the most dominant, even when the stuff is lathered.
A lovely sweet scent with a slight tangy note to it. Love it! grin
Shaving with this stuff is, as expected with the Extro soaps.
A very nice slick and a very nice and protective soap.
Nothing to complain here.
Now, the aftershave is where the whole thing comes together like PB&J.
First, give the bottle a good shake, so you can mix up all the ingredients properly!
The aftershave compliments the soap so good! As with any Extro combo I have tried so far.
The aftershave has the more bitter/tangy citrus scents and the orange moves to the back.
An amazing combo of a sweet soap and a more bitter and tangy aftershave to make a really nicely rounded combo!
Something that really fits the great sunny weather!
And the best part of it all is, I have a pomade that matches this scent profile!
So to compliment this all, I am wearing Nostalgic Handmade Super Waterbased Clean Cut Citrus today!
I’m going to enjoy the sunshine now! Bubaaaaaai!
Have a great day ladies and gentlemen!
I was introduced to SJOL a while back e.g. 3-4 years ago. St.James of London is made by Creightons the same as Trufitt & Hill, Geo F. Trumpers, and the last of the three “T’s”. I was instantly blown away that such an affordable product was so darn good ! Back then it was Cedarwood & Clary Sage; today I used an scent that would deceive.
Today I used a tube I stead of my larger jars of SJOL Black Pepper & Lime 🍋 it reminds me of a warmer place like the Caribbean, but also that spicy black pepper warms and invites those around you a bit closer, then they realize that initial Citrus also has a musk to it that is seductive and alluring. This unlikely scent is a winner for the winter ❄️! For the spring and the summer. This jewel of a scent will evoke a different response and memory each season.
What can I say about the rest ? It’s a Semogue 830 which is so well broken in could pass for pure Badger. If you do not have this brush; it is a staple for every traditional Shaver. The PAA Double Open Comb has done right by me. The DOC is affordable and attractive at that price point, just remember this is a buffing razor so buff away folks for that BBS shave. The Boulder from American Stonecraft I used as my lather bowl is worth this many of these $$$ and is a luxury; all these products work equally as well face lathered for free. That’s all I have to say, but if you contact Brittney McDermott or, Todd Fisher I am sure they would love to talk about St. James of London and match you up with the perfect cream and other products that fit your style perfectly.
Soap: St.James of London “Black Pepper & Lime”
Brush: Semogue 830
Razor: PAA Double Open Comb
Blade: Gillette 7 O’clock SharpEdge
After Shave: Royall Muske
Post Shave: St.James of London “Black Pepper & Lime” gel
Fragrance: Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet 💐 — with Roberto Monanni and 6 others.
Having had great success with our collaborative KSW soap/splash “Frosen”, we were excited to embark on another collusion. I’ve been a fan of Jon Eplin’s products since receiving a tin of Hydra (#hailhydra) from Nathan Clark (he’s not a brushmaker, he’s a Dr. Jon’s vendor that sells overpriced soap, BUT IT COMES WITH A FREE BRUSH 😉). I immediately was taken with the product. The artwork, the scent, how well it worked; this was very new at the time. Up till Dr. Jon’s (at that point Gentleman Jon’s), most non commercial products looked like they were put together by hand in someone’s spare time. That was part of the allure; the products held the “human touch”. Dr. Jon’s was very different in that regard, with its pop art labels and new yet similar scents. You’ve got a cologne (as in literal cologne [ie 4711, Farina]) scent, only with a huge grapefruit kick, a bay rum with a blast of tea, a barbershop, yet it isn’t, etc. All in all, a commercial style lineup and packaging, with a fresh twist on the whole package. This brings us to 13. We at WSR had been itching to work with Jon and were delighted when his schedule allowed it.
Thirteen is host to a whole new batch of awesome from Jon’s company. Firstly, the soap formula changed, and for the better. Not only is the soap harder and longer lasting, it’s now palm free. Palm farming has become a huge ecological problem of late; with many farms coming into existence after razing old growth forest. In the South Pacific, these farms are critically impacting the orangutan population. So when you buy a product with palm oil, think of a baby orang separated from its mother. Then do the humane thing and set it down, and buy a sustainable alternative. In terms of the performance, I noticed no difference, save for the post shave. Same awesome lather, with same awesome cushion and glide, with better (IMO) post shave feel. So, what we have is an environmentally friendly soap that feels better on the skin. +1
Secondly, the scent. We at WSR put our collective heads together and came up with a combo of off-the-beaten path stinks. Hedione, Iso E Super, Musk, and Oud. We felt this combo would allow the scent to be multipurpose (day/night, cold/warm weather) and richly masculine, while not being your typical fougere or oriental type scent. Jon put together a knockout mix from our input. I’ve had people say I smell like fresh laundry, their grandfather, a movie star, etc. but the compliment I’ve received most is that I smell great. And that’s good enough for me. 10/10 it works every time.
Thirdly, there’s the awesome graphic art, which comes from the pen of Jason Kincaid a.k.a. McFly. The name and art came from the mind of Jon and Jason. Jon had the idea of the devil girl pinup, so of course 13 had to play a part. So, with the framework of a 50’s pinup devil who’d look at home on a Steve McQueen poster, 13 was born.
All in all, we came up with an awesome idea for a scent, but Jon took that and ran, and ended up with a masterpiece. A great soap, with a great aftershave, with an even better scent (and my wife even likes it) with bitchin’ artwork. Where I’m from, we call that winning. Jon, we sincerely thank you for all your hard work. It was a pleasure working with you, and the end result is stunning.
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.
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.
A fragrance based around leather, jasmine, vanilla, incense, and sandalwood, with a fresh opening of raspberry and citrus; the newest release from Tom Ford? Serge Lutens? Slumberhouse? Wait, it’s a Revlon product from the Seventies made for women that can be found in most drugstores? Wait, what?
First, let me explain that fragrance tastes have changed radically over the past fifty years, if not longer. Consider even Old Spice, which was originally released for the feminine market. In today’s market, heady orientals are looked upon as “old fashioned” or better suited for an older generation. Niche fragrance houses are turning back the clock in this regard, bringing heady, rich fragrances back into popular eye.
Charles Revson released Ciara (a play on his initials, CR) back in the early Seventies as a high end, glamour scent for women. With today’s tastes, it’s very unisex, favoring masculinity in my opinion. Upon first application, you’re met with bright lemon and raspberry, soon followed with herbaceous sandalwood, drying down into dark, smoky vanillac incense.
A truly delightful scent at an excellent price. I’d advise searching for a bottle that still contains oakmoss, as I was lucky enough to find. If you cannot, it’s still worth it. Perhaps not as deep a scent, but still overall quite excellent. For more information, check out Fragrantica.
Ah, Drakkar Noir. The scent that started the black craze. Even if you’ve never worn it, you most likely know someone who did. As for myself? I first received it as a stocking stuffer back in the early 90’s, when I was but a boy (starting when I was 6, I received a small bottle of cologne, because men wore cologne). I used it, liked it, felt like an eight year old badass, then forgot about it. During an after Christmas sale at a local store, there was a 1 oz bottle on a great sale, so for nostalgia’s sake, I grabbed it up.
The scent, while being similar to what I remembered, didn’t have the impact that it did when I was younger. I blame several things. Firstly, IFRA. With the removal of oakmoss from nearly everything, many colognes and perfumes have lost their original character. Also, that was my first bottle of real cologne, not a cheapie/knockoff, so the “importance” of that most likely adds to the scent. And finally, in today’s world, it’s a cliche. It smells like every other black fragrance, because every other fragrance wanted to be Drakkar Noir.
However, this does not diminish the scent in any way in my eyes. While it may have lost its alpha male edge, and seem dated, it’s still a fragrance I’ll wear quite proudly. It’s a very solid “shaving cream” fougere, acceptable for wear at any time, be it at work in the office, out on the town for a night, or Sunday church. The crisp herbal/citric opening dries down to a smooth woody finish. A true classic.
While many lament the “death” of many fragrances, due to the IFRA changes, this scent is still very wearable. It may not be the most original, nor haute, but it has withstood the test of time to become an icon, and rightfully so. Go grab a bottle for yourself, and take a trip down memory lane.
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!