Review

Simple Saturday SOTD – a sharp blade, a nice brush and a super cream

Many of the reviews I have done over the time since I started wet shaving have been of high end soaps and creams. That’s just the way it tends to be – I mean why not show off your best right? A lot of us forget that out there in the wet shaving wild there are dozens if not hundreds of everyday soaps and creams that are priced from less than a dollar to the mid twenties and all points in between. One such soap I used today – Musgo Real.

Now Musgo Real is, in my opinion, worthy of a place in everyone’s shave chit. Mugso Real is a light very pale green cream soap from Portugal – you can find it HERE.

The fragrance is what I can only describe as manly, barbershop, masculine and just nice. Soapy – yes. The fragrance notes on their website simply says “Woody and Oriental” but to me it is much more complex than that – yes those notes are there and can be detected but that is behind the soapy smell – the soapy smell of a laundry day with your Mum, the scent of a freshly dried cotton bed sheet that has been washed by that same Mum and then dried in the glowing sunlight of a summers day – y’getting it?

From the website:

“Musgo Real was first launched in the 1930s, and it remains a classic, found in Portuguese houses over several generations.

The brand retains its masculine aesthetic, while the products, offered in four different fragrances, have kept their rich formula.

Each of its lines are blended with lanolin, glycerin, shea butter and walnut oil to ensure a moisturizing, yet close shave. The range includes soaps, shaving cream or soap, aftershave, pre-shave oil and colognes.”

Luxury masculine aesthetic products with vintage inspiration!!

The rest of my stuff for today was:

  • Merkur Futur
  • Feather Blade on shave #1
  • Van Yulay black resin bowl
  • Future Chubby Prototype in black with a 28mm silver tip badger

Musgo Performance

I squeezed out a teaspoon full of the cream into my bowl. The badger knot had been soaking for ten minutes whilst I showered so I started lathering up. Take a look at the results – click on a photo for a closer look! This is after less than 2 minutes twirling…

I completed a three pass with plenty of lather to spare.I cut my nose, just I was feeling smug the Feather cut me. Styptic.

What can I say, if you don’t have Musgo then you NEED to buy some. My tube has a darker green colour and the current tube colour is a lighter shade but it is the same great soap.

And for those that like photos – here are the rest of the photos from today’s shave

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Today it is all about the brush – SOTD 5/March/2019

Hi,

as you all know I am also a brush maker/vendor [Alpha Brush & Shaving Company]. I have been working on a new brush for a few weeks and now it is coming to fruition and I want to tell you all about it. More later but first the SOTD:

  • Brush – Alpha Future Chubby 3D Printed in black nylon
  • Knot – 28mm silver tip badger bulb
  • Razor – Drew Dick Damascus 1/4 hollow
  • Bowl – Van Yulay black resin
  • Soap – The Holy Black/Caswell-Massey Regents Soap

The shave was awesome, the Holy Black soap performed like a trooper and produced a nice thick, Neroli/barber [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neroli] shop scented, lather with plenty for 3 passes. The Drew Dick razor – what can I say – superb, this is my second time using this Damascus steel quarter hollow blade and boy is it sharp. I had prepped with 3P and waited ten minutes for the brush to soak, a small scoop of soap, about a teaspoon full, also blooming in my bowl.

The Razor in Detail

The razor is one I ordered from Drew Dick last year and finally got my hands on it in the summer (UK summer – JULY) as I get stuff mailed to my relatives home in the UK to save postage and pick it up when I go to visit – it is like Christmas every time… It is a Damascus 8/8″ blade with a very slight smile. It is quarter hollow and has black horn scales and as you can see it is a Damascus blade – did I mention DAMASCUS? I think it is something like 30 layers – anyway handsome or what? It is wicked sharp. I have Three Drew Dick razors now and I love them all.

The Bowl – 5″ Van Yulay Black Resin

Yes it is a distinctive Van Yulay bowl. I bought two Van Yulay bowls last year, one light blue and one black. I misplaced the black one and only found it a couple of weeks back so here it is on show for (maybe?) the first time. Anyway it looks great and works great too. I don’t know the manufacturing process but to me it seems it is pressed from some sort of resin and it pretty much renders it unbreakable although I have not done any specific drop testing, and I won’t. The texture is like honey comb and it helps whip up a great lather in no time. The “comb’ also retains a little water. One thing that it does that does not please me though is that the soap tends to get stuck down inside the pattern so I have to mash the brush to get it out and even when the shave is completed I still see some unused soap in those dimples. The bowl is big enough, grippy and I like it apart from I use too much soap. For creams it is a dream!!

The Soap – The Holy Black/Caswell-Massey Regents Soap

From THB site:

“This shaving soap is made in our classic hot-process formula and made with only the purest essential oils and absolutes that we could source. A Rosemary top note is surprisingly mild while adding a eucalyptic (sic) element to this otherwise strictly citrus fragrance. Heavy on the Neroli oil and Bitter Orange Absolute, the floral orange notes are the obvious stars of the show here. Lemon and Sweet Orange oils balance out the bitterness of the Neroli and Bergamot and lend a fresh but not cloying aspect to this simple yet elegant offering. Due to the low flash point of the essential oils used in this soap it had to be made in very small batches at low temperatures, although highly labor intensive, we think this soap is worth every minute of work that went into it.”

All those fancy words mean something to a perfumer – I just love this soap – it lathers well, is stable and slick and smells great. Nothing more to say!!

Now – THE BRUSH – Future Rubberset 400 Inspired Chubby

This brush is inspired by, among others, Rubberset 400, Merit 99-x series and the Charcoal Goods rendition of a Rubberset 400, I noticed he has done a nice rendering of a futuristic looking chubby and I wanted to make something similar. I did email him on the subject of that brush a while back and even asked for his drawings (hee hee, he did not give them..) but he did say that “You are certainly welcome to pursue a similar design as there is no way to get a design patent or anything like that on a clone of an existing product. Good luck and would like to see what you come up with.” So I fired up my CAD software (I use Autodesk Fusion360 if anyone is interested) and got to work. I made something that was not quite right looking and then lost interest after a few weeks as I was not getting the results I wanted, instead concentrating on my redesigns for the T-400 and the Chubberset and some other new brush projects. That was until two weeks ago when I was chatting on WhatsApp to a customer in Australia – no names, no pack drill. He was looking for a chubby design so I showed him a couple of designs I was working on including this one – he helped me over the course of two days make refinements to the shape, the degree of chubbiness and the curvature until it was in a place that I really liked – I mean the brush looked great on paper and the 3D renders looked superb too.

So – bottom line is I had a design that I liked and the got it 3D printed at a local professional print works. Here is the result, with a beautiful 28mm silver tipped knot fitted. It is a lather beast…

I am having a very limited number of these made, right now, in 3D nylon, Titanium and Bronze – this is not the place to sell stuff but you know where I am. I will also have an aluminium (Spelling of Aluminium), cost effective, version in the near future. The bore is 29mm, height 65mm and max width 43mm. I have the handle fully bored out to keep the weight down – in the 3D printed ones I weighted it with some coins and filled the void with hot glue – the metal versions will also be fully bored out to keep the weight down, especially with the bronze ones, and I can then weight the handles to suit and I intend to fill the void with resin.

Finally – here are some renders of my bronze version!! 10 are being made – 6 are sold already.

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Review: Extrò Felce Biancospino

Sit back, and enjoy as this review has been a long time in the making, but what’s great is I have had an easy 6 months using the product. To start off this review we need to take a journey to a short ride from Turin, Italy to the Extrò shop to meet Donato. Donato Ciniello is the owner operator owner of Extròcosmesi, and easily one of the best men I’ve had the pleasure to know. Extrò makes everything from Shaving soaps to EDT, Refreshing eucalyptus splashes, as well as promoting other blade smiths, and artisans within his storefront. The great news is Donato will ship anywhere in the world for amazing rates, and very fast shipping. From Italy to me here in New York, USA takes about a week to 10 days. That’s huge ! Great prices and fast shipping 👍🏽👍🏽 that’s a win. Hopefully that is a good back ground on Donato and Extrò so let’s get onto the product

Felce Biancospino

Fragrance– for those of us that are blessed enough to speak Italian this translates into Fern Hawthorn. I find that it has an equal amount of each fragrance, nothing overpowering the other. They work symbiotically together to produce a beautiful bouquet of what I would call an aged forest, full of greens as well as fragrant trees and bushes. Their is zero flaw in the fragrance. Over the past 6+ months it has been stable and consistent with no unexpected spots.

Lather– Years ago we were confined by tallow shave soaps in the Wet Shaving community. Donato has been ahead of the pack for years using different vegan oils and bases. This particular Crema da Barba uses Shea Butter which is known for the post shave smoothness associated with Shea. This would be considered the quintessential Italian softer Croap or, somewhere between a cream, and a hard soap. I found an easy 30-45 second loading led to ample lather for equal more than 3 passes. This will be factored by your water being hard or, soft. If it’s any indicator I have hard water which in theory should be a negative, gives me zero problems. I will say though this soap does prefer colder to warm water. I’ve used my scuttle many times, but I temper the water to be enjoyable, but still create ample thick and slick fragrant lather.

Post Shave– As I have said above the main factor in the post shave is the Shea Butter Donato uses. People have used Shea for as long as smooth skin has been preferred (a really long time). I use the matching aftershave as a layering, but the true softness comes from the soap !

Conclusion- Easily put this is one of my favorite soaps to use. I prefer the earthy Fern and Hawthorn fragrance. It’s very natural in scent, and very protective. Felce Biancospino has the added benefit of containing Shea which gives a natural soft post shave feel. When combined with the aftershave you have a beautifully layered shave that’s fragrance lasts for quite sometime depending on your skins individual properties. There are very few soaps or, brands that equal the mastery of Donato Ciniello so, when you get a moment check out his website, and you heard it here on WSR that this is a solid purchase from a great European Artisan.

https://www.extrocosmesi.it

Facebook:

https://m.facebook.com/pages/category/Shopping—Retail/Extrocosmesiit-1727013654268658/

Soap: Extrò Felce Biancospino

Brush: Alpha Brush & Shaving co. T-400 Silver tip badger

Razor: Vintage Gillette President

Blade: Personna Med Prep

Aftershave: Felce Biancospino

Scuttle & Scotch Porter beard balm

SOTD 8th/Jan/2018 and Review of Martin De Candre Fougere

Hi – a revisit of a soap I have had for a while and only ever use on special occasions – the first working Monday after Christmas is pretty special no?

The line up:-

A couple of observation on what was a great shave – the Drew Dick did it’s work very well but there is a story there… I forgot to strop. So I started shaving, only the third time with this razor and it is tugging and painful – whoa!!! Then I realized I had forgotten to strop!! I normally strop 25/25 linen/leather before every shave and naively thought it was just part of the ritual… now I know differently. I stopped the shave and stropped – phew back to normal!!

The soap – essence of a nice forest clearing, ferns, green cut leaves and dew on the grass – that sort of smell you never get sick of. I love it. This is a hard soap and my technique is to scoop a bit out of the jar, it is a nice GLASS jar, and put it into my bow to bloom with some warm water. I add my brush to the mix and let them soak. The soap lathers easily but it is thirsty – a nice slick and fragrant shiny lather. Superb.

The Brush – a Shave Nation big Blue, and big it is weighing in at over 7oz. The knot is superb and yes those are gel tips. The handle is matt finished aluminium and anodised blue. It is grippy even when wet due to the sand blasted finish and the finger notch in just the right place.

Now back to the soap – it performed superbly and I was left with a nice hydrated skin and a great scent all day. I think MdC really nailed what is meant by fougere – better than B&M Reserve Fern in my opinion. Is it worth the money? In my opinion yes it is. The soap is hard aI mean HARD and will last a long long time. I use about a “almonds” worth for each shave so at this rate and given my rotation it will be years before the MdC wears out.

SOTD 6 November 2018 – Gillette Tech and TOBS Avocado – Van Yulay Bowl First Use

I know I am late posting this, but just did not have time to upload the photos to my Mac and so on. So here it is…

  • Lather – Taylor’s Of Old Bond Street [TOBS] Avocado
  • Prep – 3P
  • Razor – Gillette Tech
  • Blade – Feather
  • Brush – Alpha T-400 batch #1
  • Knot – 26mm HMW
  • Bowl – Van Yulay Honeycomb type

I prepared properly with a nice face wash, no special soap, and then applied a nice layer of 3P whilst I soaked my brush in tepid tap water (no really cold water here – I am in Thailand on business at the moment). I slapped in about a teaspoon of the TOBS soap into the Van Yulay Bowl and started lathering. I tell you this is going to become one of my regular bowls. I have had it a while, months in fact, and had not used it once. Today was THE day. The bowl not only has the ridges to help lathering but also a repeat of the same honeycomb on the rim at the bottom so there is NO chance you can drop this bowl even with wet hands. It is a resin material too so I am sure almost unbreakable. The honeycombs inside also retain a little water so you don’t have to dip so often and all in all it was a superb bowl and I lathered up with a super thick, teeny-weeny bubbled lather and started shaving. A simple 3-pass – the usual WTG, XTG and ATG.

The Gillette tech and feather blade combo just mashed through the growth – seriously this inexpensive razor just does what it says on the tin – it is superb, just heavy enough, grippy handle – all in all a very satisfying shave. The TOBS Avocado cream soap is one of my go to soaps too – I love the fresh, green, vegetable fragrance which to me smells like cucumber and not avocados although it does have the slickness of an avocado mash.

The story behind the Tech… – I bought a set of two Bakelite shaving stick tubes from a lady in Australia – she not only sent me the tubes but also a leather case to keep them in and nestling inside a little compartment was the Gillette tech, pictured here [I emailed her and told her and she said “good luck, no charge!!” – so this razor was FREE!!!]

The First Shave Of 2019 (1/1/2019) and a more in depth review of the Augustini Kamisori

I hope that everyone has a prosperous and happy 2019 and a lot of great shaves too. I had my second shave on the Augustini Kamisori and I wanted to show some more photos and my observations about this razor.

First a health warning:

The Kamisori is a superb blade to master. It is at the pinnacle of Japanese razors and it takes some skill to use. It is NOT for the novice wet shaver and nor is it for the novice straight razor shaver. Wait until you are comfortable with a sharp blade and can almost shave blindfold before you try a Kamisori!!

However, if you do master  a Kamisori it will give a superb and comfortable shave – you will be well rewarded. The kami I am using is a blade I bought from Augustini Razors in Melbourne Australia. It has a traditional left handed asymmetrical grind as you will see from the photos below. It is beautiful in every way – a true masterpiece of the art. IF you want one like the one I am using then contact Augustini through Instagram HERE.

The line up:

Lets first look at what makes a Kamisori – traditionally the Kamisori is made of a soft iron ‘handle’ with a hard steel cutting edge with either three layers or 2 layers (san-mai or ni-mai) this was done in order to keep the price down and is in line with how swords are made – soft body/hard edge. In this case the complete kami is made up of the same hard steel. A Kamisori is ground to be ‘handed’ either left or right handed although some modern Kamisoris do have a ‘western grind’ more like a traditional straight razor. Kamisoris were originally meant truly ‘for barber use’ so I am guessing that the handedness was for the barbers preference not the shavers. I use my Kami in both hands – (lets wait for the thunderbolts from the traditionalists….). The Kamisori I show here is left handed grind. The side with more grinding is called the ‘Ura’ and the flatter side is called the ‘Omote’. The makers mark would usually be found on the Ura on a Japanese razor however Augustini has not marked the blade – I think he should as it is a superb razor and something to be proud of – mark it Luke!!

So here are my observation on what was a superb shave:-

  • The heel of the razor – the point at the front – is superb and slightly angled and therefore muted – it will not dig into my face flesh if I lose concentration.
  • The toe is at almost 90º and is super sharp – beware of this digging in – you CANNOT use the Kamisori like a pencil. The blade needs to be parallel to the face at all times.
  • The handle is super shiny, just the right weight and very highly polished – dry hands or alum is essential

The shave was superb with even the ATG pass a delight.

A tip for a Kamisori shave is to use a very slick soap like Man of Siam Cadwgawn or something like TOBS Avocado  – something that leaves a residual slickness on the face after the pass – why? because the angle at which you shave with the kamisori is very shallow and the Omote will slide against the skin – if there is no residual slickness then it can drag and skip a little. Nothing to worry about just one thing to watch out for.

If you are a serious straight razor user then mastering the Kamisori should be on your ‘to do’ list and you would be hard pressed to find a finer example than this Augustini Kamisori.

 

 

 

SOTD 23/1/2018 SOTD 22/12/18 Augustini left handed Kamisori, Man Of Siam Cadwgawn soap and an ΑΛΦΑ T-400 with a Long John boar knot

I am in Australia on holiday and what better way to shave than with an Australian razor and some soap from Jack Jarvis – purported to be an Aussie too. So today’s line up is:

  • Augustini left handed kamisori by Augustini razors of Melbourne, Australia
  • Jack Jarvis Cadwgawn shaving soap by Man Of Siam (Jack Jarvis late of Sydney, Australia)
  • Van Yulay shaving bowl in blue resin
  • Alpha T-400 brush with a nice long 80mm boar knot

The razor – I ordered this razor on December 4th in anticipation of my going on vacation to Australia (save postage costs…) I finally picked it up on 19th December on arrival. It is an awesome piece of work – super polished and shave ready. It comes with it’s own leather pouch and you can choose the stitching colour – I chose red.

The soap – packaged as pictured. Scent notes are lavender, rosemary and clove. The lavender is subtle and the clove evident with the whiff of rosemary – smell like a trader!! The main thing I was worried about was lathering, the place I am staying in uses water derived from an Artesian basin well and is HARD – I mean super hard. I bloomed the soap for 5 minutes and soaked the brush while I stropped the razor on linen and leather. I loaded the brush tips for about 30 seconds and then transferred to the lather bowl – it whipped up a storm – super thick and glossy lather. A superb shave – WTG and 1 x ATG. A DFS for my first run on this razor.

Conclusion – the Man of Siam soap lived up to it’s reputation as a super latherer and the Augustini razor was a wow!!!

 

Merry Christmas to all.

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

 

 

SOTD 7th December 2018 & Man Of Siam Thai Ginger Zest Soap Review

Hi – you know how it is when you travel, especially as I do a lot, and find yourself in a shaving wilderness – scouring the pharmacies and stores in the vain hope that you might, just might, find something other than Wilkinson Sword or those terrible Japanese and Korean brands of shave gel? Well I found myself in Thailand and as I do I started my quest for shave products – local stores – nada. Pharmacies – nada. Not even a pack of razor blades only the same old dull disposables. So – back to the hotel and onto Google – the usual searches for soap, razors and so on. I googled “Shaving Soap Thailand” and about 5th from the top a result catches my eye: Man Of Siam – I quickly go to the site and note that they have shaving soap made in THAILAND – wow!! I am here for another 4 days so I quickly email the site and get a response from Jack, the site owner (strange name Thai bloke eh?…Actually, the He is a She named Nittaya…) that they have stocked out on the Thai Ginger Zest but they do have the other soap Cadwgawn . I quickly do a deal with Nittaya to buy both soaps and have them shipped to my home in Hong Kong once they are BOTH back in stock. . So – it was with baited breath that I received them this week. Safely packed and shipped all the way from Thailand. I wanted to try them both but opted for the first one I noticed, the Thai Ginger Zest. My other shave line up was:

  • Rigarazor 8/8 near wedge
  • Van Yulay Black Bowl
  • T-400 brush with the old faithful 24mm silver tip head
  • Proraso preshave cream

Prepped with the proraso and bloomed the soap a little – it is quite a hard soap definitely not a cream. Maybe what they are calling a ‘croap’. Prep over, razor stropped and I am ready. I swirl the brush in the soap for about 40 seconds to load the tips then get down to lathering up. Wow – the lather is easy to make (soft water in my place but Nittaya tells me that hard water is okay too). Within 30-40 seconds I have a nice bowl full of delicious lather. I lather up and its a winner – the fragrance is not overpowering, nice ginger zing with a citrus grapefruit background note. First pass is WTG and is so close that I decide to do a second ATG and then a third ATG. I am sat here with a nice fragrance doing this review. All in all the soap is a winner and I can’t wait to try out the Cadwgawn.

Asia, where I live, is a nightmare for wet shavers who like quality products an we have to rely on Amazon and eBay or those trip to the US or UK where we can buy stuff from real shops! Man Of Siam is a welcome oasis in the desert and I will be back!! Follow the link and see for yourself Nittaya’s range of quality shaving gear from Muhle and others as well as these superb Thai made, all natural ingredient, soaps.

 

LINK: Man Of Siam