Review

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.

 

The Barber

Some stories defy time, oceans, countries, and words. This meeting between Luca Farina, and an older proud barber in Italy is one of these. Take this journey; feel the pride, and love this unites us for all time. – Aaron

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Sometimes, if you leave the main street, you can discover a fairy-tale spot…..
I was walking through the streets of Domodossola when, looking down a little side street, an old barber-shop’s sign caught my eyes. It piqued my curiosity and I moved closer. I found myself in front of an old barber shop, where time seemed to have stopped at the 50s. Inside a white-haired barber said: “Please take a seat, if you have patience, I’ll serve you, Mister!”
Tommi welcomes me with his friendliness and his 87 years of age. After preparing the necessary items, he starts brushing, very slowly, the shaven soap on my face with an Omega 48, while explaining me, step by step, what are the right moves to do a good shaving. Then he tells me about his life. He started working at 10 years of age as barber’s apprentice. At 22 he opened his own shop. He says: “I even had 3 very good employees. At that time there was so much work, we shaved more than 100 beards a week”.
Then he explains me how he cuts and smoothes hair with the tip of the scissors; that he has travelled a little the world; that he has been an actor of dialect theatre, that he writes books and poems. “When I’m writing a book I feel alive” and he let me read a piece of the book he is going to finish. He tells me about his famous and important clients and I perceive his great love for his job.

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At the beginning of this year he had an artificial hip implanted. Its shop remained closed for 3 months and he thought he would not open anymore, but back from the hospital, he told himself: “What can I do at home?”. And he opened his historical shop again, where you can find him working with his scissors and razor.

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You can spend a lot of time listening to Tommi’s tales and you go away happy, well shaved and with one of his books (autographed) under your arm.

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-Farinik. by, Luca Farina

6 shaving tips that changed my life forever- Mark Herro

Just follow the link to a better shave every time ! 

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/6-shaving-tips-that-changed-life-forever.html

Mark Herro Aka Mantic59 again takes your shave to the next level ! Thanks for everything you do Mark 🙏🏽

Aaron’s Pick- Asylum Rx SE: By Ronald Davenport Sr.

The Asylum Rx like many new production razors, are modern “SE” or, injector light styles. The Asylum Rx, IMHO sets itself apart in many ways from looks to the shave itself.

Our friend on the WSR Facebook Page who is equally as unique in a good way, has an opinion, and he is not afraid to voice it ! In steps Ronald Davenport, a Renaissance man in many ways, and a observant practioner of observation, as well as trial and error; will find every nook and cranny of his ever growing wet shaving collection; often posting these musings on the Facebook page. In steps Ronald in his own words about the Asylum RX !! Thanks for your contribution good sir !

 

 

Asylum RX Razor I would start off with good Pre-Shave discipline. Using a stiff Boar for a well exfoliated growth area. Then Pre-shave Oil followed by hot towels. Then my favorite Boar, but that’s just me. Remember, you get out of a shave what you have put into it (IMHO). If you are in the workforce and have a busy out the door routine, well maybe save this experience for a day off or at night. Out of the box one will notice the fine finish on this pleasantly satin metal. That and the style. It’s like a Jaguar sitting there ready to start. The fit of parts are so tight which makes this Razors curves smooth and sleek. We could hardly ask for a more sweet sexy looking instrument. As I write this, I still have a BBS face, well almost, and I shaved last night at 8 pm. It’s now 2:30pm, I have a medium to heavy beard too. Yes I chase a BBS Shave. As far as numbers? I don’t have a number where I get to and then done.
Sometimes I reach a four pass and touch ups, because touchups are a pass in themselves. When I get to a point that I’m happy with the shave, then I’m done. Much has been written on the topic of “ Comfort vs. Closeness”. However the less scraping on our faces the better. That’s where this Asylum RX SE comes in. With a Feather Professional SE Blade ( subjective ) I think one will find an instrument which reduces the amount of work it ( razor ) is tasked with. Without reservations I can honestly say this razor gave me the best shave I have ever had, from any shaving system. This in itself, in my world is a feat, as I am a (BBS chaser), and I never expected to have this razor give me a shave even approaching a straight shave. The weight and balance are ideal. Not all of the heft is balanced, top is lighter and mostly in the handle, which speaks of how well it maneuvers in all those tight spots. Handle length is just right for a big hand but not to long for a Lady’s hand. Something about angle. Just with the eyeball it may appear to be an extreme slant when compared with some modern SE razors. However when compaired with most vintage SE standing up on the base of the handle, the angle of the blade will be very familiar, pretty close to most Vintage SE.
It was designed to take the Feather Pro-Blade or equivalent, however the Pro-Guard blade will not work. Speaking of blades, most SE blades are rounded on the ends, right? also on the safety bar there end guards or stoppers to hold the blade even. We find this feature on most Vintage SE like MMOC by Gem. Good feature. One person from a well-known talk-ey forum said this; “Well, if you like aggressive razors the Rx is right up your alley. I enjoy my Rx. Incredibly efficient with a Kai blade, whether a Captain, Titan Mild Pink or the ProTouch MG. All provide smooth and clean shaves. The Feather Pro and the Rx? Now that’s when it really shows its true colors. Viciously sharp, but efficient and if used with a very light touch and care, amazing.
A friend sent me a couple samples of the Pro and I bought 3 boxes with a coupon code from a vendor I purchase from. For me, it’s the pinnacle in achieving a fantastic, BBS shave daily. Only my 2 prized straights, Wade & Butcher Wedge and Boker Celebrated are on par with it”. This Razor is at the top of the Food Chain, alongside Muhle R41 (2011), and the Icon ShaveCraft Tec,. ATT H2 and lest we forget, the most aggressive adjustable, MERKUR VISION 2000.
Thank you again Ronald, this is what we at the WSR are all about, our members helping the wet shaving community; you have the hands on knowledge. It’s an honor to us to post your review. – Aaron
If anyone is looking to have a review on any Grooming, Wet Shaving, Pipes, Pens or, anything that you are passionate about; please contact Aaron Schecter either on the Facebook group page or, at aschecte@gmail.com

Aaron’s Pick April 5th,2017: Extro & Bram Van Den Berg

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.

IMPORTANT!
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!

-Aaron

St.James of London “Black Pepper & Lime”

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.

Extro’ Tabacco Shaving soap and After Shave Review

An in depth video review of Tabacco by Extro’ Cosmesi. We will discuss both the soap & after shave created by Donato Cinniello, brought to me from Paolo Tondi of TVB Shaving. If you love Tobacco scents and top end European artisan shaving look no further than Italy and Extro’

  • Soap (croap) – Extro’ Tabacco
  • Brush: Marfin no.69 custom Italian Briar Silver tip badger
  • Razor: Vintage Dubl Duck GoldEdge straight razor
  • After Shave / EDT: Extro’ Tabacco

Dr. Jon’s 13 for WSR

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.

Find out more about some of my favorite grooming productshand-turned shave brushesand bomb-ass artwork in these links

Straight talk about Straight Razors

When I was a child I remember the feel of stubble on my fathers face; it intrigued my young mind. I also envied at 5 years old why I couldn’t grow this scratchy stuff that I loved to touch, it was a way I believe fathers, and sons bond; the physical contact as well as the manly aspect of the beard, and generations past that also looked at their grand fathers, fathers, brothers……or, whoever your favorite stubbled face growing up, and inspiring that youthful mind to think of the future that someday; I too will have stubble for my sons to ponder over.

How in the world does any of this have to do with Straight razors then, and removal of that moustache or, full beard ? A few month’s back I received a comment on my YouTube channel  that basically read “why is anyone taking advice about straight razor shaving from a guy with a full beard” ? At the time I had a chinstrap beard, not a full beard there is a difference, actually a very big difference.  So this is a good time to say why I choose to use a straight razor, and why a bearded man has a tougher job overall removing that face fur.

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Many people find that using a straight razor can be tough, and I won’t disagree. If it was easy we would be using a 5 blade cartridge razor. The straight razor shave is different in most aspects of the actual shaving from the 10-30 degree angle you shave at, to the grips and reverse grips to accommodate your face. Yes it is more difficult then some people would like. Other people instantly know this was meant for them;  it’s a time of reflection, accuracy, solitude and stress relief that is unique to any other form of introspective activity. I love using a straight razor ! there I said it loud, and proud or, wrote it (I was yelling in my mind). After a good 30 days most people find that while having a learning curve that ultimately the switch was well worth it. so lets get into some Straight talk.

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Straight razors are broken down to a few simple terms. The edge is the actual sharp portion of the blade that shaves, The remainder of the blade is known as the face. The toe is the end of the front portion, which may have different looks like round tip, French Point, Spike to name a few and there are more. The opposite of the edge is the spine which will lead into the shoulder which are stabilizers more for the mfg. then the shave. Finally for our purposes you have the scales which is the counter balance, and grip assist to the tang which is everything the blade is not. As we see there are some terms there, but don’t drown in the physiology of the blade just know every aspect of that blade whether you use it or, not impacts your shave. So what is right for you ? the first time Straight razor user.

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Lets make this simple, and black and white as there is so much non-sense in circulation you could be turned off by taking bad advice. here is a rule of thumb. Avoid Chinese razors in general as the quality is pretty much like everything else with that logo. It works, and will shave, but the upkeep can send you right back to your previous shaving device. I will be the first one to say a quality straight razor does NOT have to be expensive, it’s just not ! this is what sends many people to those Chinese blades is price, $30-100 is the lie that anything else is a small mortgage payment. Guess what you can get a quality vintage razor for that maybe less or,  even a brand new razor for $100; like the Ralf Aust base model which I still use today. The constant performance just is not there with any Chinese razor I have every tried. A straight Razor is an investment in you ! your worth the extra few dollars. I recommend buying a round point which looks like a sideways “U” at the toe, which will help you avoid cuts, and are in general,  just an all around go to for most gents. Next up bigger is NOT better. You will hear mathematical terms used that sound like your back in school. Some are 3/8, 5/8, 6/8, 13/16, 15/16, 8/8 and we can talk fractions all day, but at the end all that means is the width of the face (see above) of your razor. I recommend 5/8 for two reasons the weight, and feel is great for both beginner and veteran shaver alike. The second reason is back to the guy who questioned my facial hair, because you can maneuver tight hollow of your face easier allowing you some facial hair like a chin puff, any moustache, as well as some pretty awesome side burns without the fear of loss of blade control and bulkiness. Finally you’ll see a ton of scale options (again see above) ranging from plastic to celluloid, to even precious Abalone. I would encourage the plastic or, acrylic scales as they keep cost low, and there is nothing wrong until you know a straight razor is for you, to be prudent. To cut to the point I usually just tell people there is a brand called Ralf Aust sold by SRD that is made in Solingen Germany the city of blades known for high quality carbon steel,  and it fits every recommendation I said above. Just do not forget to buy an introductory strop as well it’s not an option. Down the road once you get the technique down as permits get more bling razors, but remember this is an investment, and I promise you will never find a successful business that didn’t crawl before it ran so take your time, and enjoy it !

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one last thing before I go. Never let anyone say you cannot use your DE/SE razor, and a straight razor in the same shave why give up a DE or, SE razor !…. I don’t know about everyone else, but I invest in myself, and trust me all three of those razor belong in my life, and maybe yours too. Shave on everyone, I hope this helped a bit. – Aaron

 

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! 🙂