Review

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

 

SOTD 26th November 2018 – Mystery Soap, TWO brushes and a found copper bowl!! – Oh and an iKon x3 Slant bar

Today I made a mistake. I packed two brushes for travel. My trusty Alpha T-400 with a white horse knot and also my Jayaruh #215 with a boar knot harvested from an Omega – I forget which one…

I prepared the shave with 3P cream. I want to stress this cream is a whizz-bang pre-shave and also a miracle cream that can be used for shaving, preparing, aftershave and all-sorts – even sunburn and mosquito bites!! Here is how it is described:

The 3P Pre-shave is rather like prep but more of a thinner cream rather than a whipped cream like Prep. 3P also can be used for cooling sunburn, treating mosquito bites as an aftershave balm and – well according to the packaging it is a miracle cream!! – I get a menthol kick, nice and cooling sensation with a whiff o ammonia. it is nice. Here is a description of it….

Get your 3P HERE

(3P Prepara – Preserva – Protegge)

Fresh scent of camphor and peppermint oil.

3P Cream makes your hair smooth and supple.
The shave will thus be avoided for the benefit of shaving and skin irritation.
Provides smoother shaving and prevents irritation.
Can also be used instead of foam and shaving cream.
Suitable for all skin types
Experiences to 3P:

If you have ever had the pleasure of enjoying a traditional wet razor by an Italian champion Barber, you will surely know the importance of pre and post creams.
The shaving preparation always starts with a few hot towels, combined with a pre and post cream.

The three most popular are Proraso Pre and Post Cream, Prep Pre and Post Cream, or 3P Pre and Post Cream.

Although all three are similar in principle, of course everyone has its fan community.
3P refreshes a bit more with the camphor and peppermint oil as opposed to the others.
3P effectively prepares the face for a smooth and sexy shave.
3P is also an excellent aftershave balsam; Simply massage a little on the finger and into the still moist face.
3P provides protection, moisture and helps to treat small cuts.

Thanks to the small and resistant plastic tub, you can also take 3P with you in the hand luggage when traveling or in the gym.
TIP:
Many Italian men use 3P as a stand-alone shaving cream, especially with strong or those with heavy and sensitive beard hair. 3P is also a shaving foam, a true all-rounder

So, back to my story – two brushes – so I decided to use them both AND to make use of an item I found in my hotel room, – a beautiful hammered copper bowl. You might say what use a bowl that is 1. Not meant for lather inadvertent 2. Is not your own. It might harbor germs and all sorts right? Well no – copper is a natural anti-bacterial. That is why it is often used for drinking vessels. So I DID was the bowl and then lathered up with both brushes.

  • Bowl: Found copper bowl
  • Brushes – as above
  • Soap – mystery soap – brought a container of soap but have no idea what I put into it!!
  • Razor – iKon x3 Slant Bar
  • Blade – Feather on shave #2

Superb DFS – 3 passes and a super-slick lather. I loved every moment of it!! The lighting was also perfect in my hotel room and I found a handy mirrored table on which to take some arty-farty shots!!!

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! 🙂

The Pro Proraso Brush

Today was a simple, but extremely enjoyable shave. I’ve used Trufitt & Hill products many times, but not with a very awesome, and super affordable brush; the Omega Pro Pros aka, the Omega Proraso Boar 🐗 which is the brother to the #48 professional, but with more backbone, and a lower loft. This brush happens to be part of Omega’s professional lineup. The handle whilst being thermo plastic has a great hand feel which is fairly large in circumference, as well as a nice loft, and damned if this brush isn’t filled to the brim with dense natural boar hair.

I always soak any brush for 3-5 minutes for the hair to absorb as much water as possible, and the follicle to expand as much as possible; making it softer, and more likely to splay, and really pick up and whip up a substantial lather.

The dimensions are IMO very nice coming in at,

Height : 133 mm 

Loft : 65 mm 

Base : 64 mm 

Knot : 28 mm

Making the Proraso Professional fairly balanced between loft and handle, though the handle is full in hand, and that fully stuffed 28mm knot is dense, and full of backbone. After about a dozen or, so shaves you’ll notice the break in and will load the hardest French tripple milled soaps with ease.

The rest of my shave went without a hitch. I appreciate you taking a moment to look at this short review of a top notch brush, at a $10-15 price point. Keep smooth my friends.

  • Pre: hot shower with Musgo oakmoss soap
  • Prep: Proraso White
  • Soap: Truefitt & Hill Trafalgar
  • Razor: Fatip Nero
  • Blade: Bolzano (1)
  • Brush: Omega Proraso Professional
  • Aftershave: Pinaud Gents Gin
  • Lotion: Trufitt & Hill Trafalgar Balm
  • Fragrance: Burberry Brit
  • 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

    The 3 day crisis of 2018

    Wow rarely do I go 3 days without shaving, when I say rarely I mean never. This happened, and yes I feel the shame; yet the interest of a certain product made me excited to shave.

    So earlier this year we had a group razor and soap made, it was a phenomenal deal. The razor made by Riccardo Tonarini, is fully custom 8/8 set in Olive wood with a T10 bolt 1/4 hollow and French tip. The grade steel escapes me, but something like “awesome” comes to mind.

    So the 3 day challenge; I was ready to go like a kid on Christmas morning. Soap 70th Anniversary Saponifico Varesino… Check. Totally rocking Alpha Shaving & Brush co.’s T-400 Silvertip Badger brush…check. WSR Custom 2018 LE razor… BIG CHECK. So when your dealing with a razor this large being careful is sage advice. Luckily I made it though the shave with zero effort. Riccardo Tonarini my hat is off to you Prego Mille !

    Now I’m as they say BBS smooth, made it through the 3 day crisis of 2018′ and have gained more experience using large blades. This is where I leave all of you for now so as always thank you, and stay smooth !

    -Aaron

    The HeirComb-Beard and Hair Comb

    When you think of the different aspect of Beard care what first comes to mind? Moisturizing? beard oil or balm? Today I’m going to talk about the grooming aspect of beard care more specifically, I want to talk about beard combs. If you google beard combs online you’re gonna find a lot of brands that sell their own version of beard combs and what they claim is that their beard comb is the only comb you need to buy. I don’t necessarily believe that, not because I think their product is over rated or because it’s not worth buying, but rather a beardsman may need a different comb to fill different needs. I have several wooden beard combs all different sizes that get the job done. I like all my wooden combs for different reasons, but, I don’t use even one of them to comb the hair on my head. The wooden beard comb is not really meant to accomplish that. I also have a couple of handmade combs that I’ve tried using for moustache styling but get really warm when I’m using my wife’s blow dryer to warm the wax spreading it throughout my stache. I have a whole drawer full of beard combs that I use throughout the week. Why so many beard combs you might ask? The simple answer is, because I want to! I love beard combs and I can’t seem to get enough of them. I recently had a chance to try a comb from Heircomb.com If you read the about section it tells the story about how their company was founded when he came across the metal comb passed down to him from his grandfather. His grandfather used this metal comb everyday. Through thick and thin with all of life’s ups and downs, good time and bad times he always carried his comb. Years of living life day in and out and learning from your mistakes helps you grow as a person and gain wisdom. Eventually his grandfather passed his metal comb full of wisdom and glory down to him to carry on passionately throughout life gaining his own wisdom until one day passing it on again.

    Obviously I’m referring to the comb in more of a symbolic and not organic manner. His grandfather used his comb during the AH-HA and OH-NO moments in life. Passing his comb down is his way of saying without words, this is what I used everyday as I was becoming the man I am today, now it’s your turn. I get it 100% and I’m along the same train of thought when it comes to passing things down to my children. My eye glasses, watch and wallet are all small items to me but are the things I want to pass down to my children. My wallet represents my passion and strength in providing for my family and the sacrifices I made along the way. My watch represents all the minutes I’ve counted until the time I can be home with my family. My glasses represents trying to see the obstacles in my way of raising a family with good morals and judgement. They also represent seeing visions of the future when I retire so I can spend more of my time with my wife. I can add a comb to my list that represents pretty much what I described above. Heircomb states on their website, “Restoring American Pride…..Pride in our Family, Pride in Ourselves, Pride in our Country, Pride in our Products” and I think that’s a powerful statement. Our children today are living in a society that provides whatever they want when they want and tells them that they don’t have to work hard to get the things that they want. The pride of craftmanship, stewardship and just making a living through hard work and pride for what you do is slowly slipping away. Heircomb is simply saying, let’s make America great again even if it’s through smaller increments at a time so lets start with a smaller token that is useful in everyday life that you can take pride in, Enough about emotional stuff!……..let’s talk about the Heircomb shall we?

    I was very excited for the chance to try their ‘THE HEIR’ beard and hair comb. The comb came packaged in a sturdy cardboard box. The comb itself was sealed in soft plastic resting against a foam insert with the American flag printed right on the front. The first thing I noticed when unpackaging was the weight of the comb. It was neither to heavy or to light. The ‘THE HEIR’ comb is laser cut from T304 stainless steel. T304 is the most common used stainless steel in a lot of products including forks, knives, steel wires, medical and personal care instruments, automobiles, machine parts, so on and so on. The T304 steel comes from the family of 300 steel grades. The T304 is very soft and durable with a lot of long time reliability, better finish and durability, as soon as I held the comb in my hand I knew I was holding something special and one day could be passed on to my son or daughter. Measuring in at 5″ x 1 1/4″ ‘THE HEIR’ fits perfectly inside your pocket and is just the right size for beard management. The signature ‘H’ cutout located at the top gives this comb its own flair. The comb is dipped in their premium “Satin Black” polyester coating creating an effortless glide through your beard and the hair on your head. I used this comb every day for seven days straight and loved every minute of it. Every time I got a chance to I was in the bathroom combing my hair and beard. The polyester coating provides a static free ultra smooth glide that’s very important. The last thing you want is to be out and about or at work with your hair sticking up from static cling. That’s just no good for anyone! Each stroke of this comb through my hair and beard felt good on my skin, like a mini massage for my scalp and face. This increases circulation helping to promote hair growth. I really enjoyed using ‘THE HEIR’ beard and hair comb and I know you will to, all you have to do is try it for yourself and you will be happy you did. Thanks for reading!

    -TheNaturalBeardsman-

    You can also find me on Thebaldnation.com and my new website Thenaturalbeardsman.com

    You can find Heircomb.com on these other social media platforms.

    (1.) Instagram
    (2.) Facebook
    (3.) Heircomb.com

     

     

     

    Love those Almonds !

    Today’s shave reminded me of a few general rules of traditional shaving. Firstly a great soap does not have to be ultra expensive. The second is that you need to enjoy every part of your shave, from the soap to the method of hair removal. Lastly your shave should be memorable !

    Today’s shave hit every one of those three simple criteria. Natura Essenziale alla Mandorla is a modest Italian soft soap that cost around €5 and has a wonderful sweet almond aroma, and ample glide and cushion. This is also a vegetable based soap.

    I enjoyed literally every moment of today’s shave, from the prep using hot towels infused with almond essential oil to my 6/8 Thiers-Issard Bison Straight razor, to my post shave of Chella Cool by Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements. I took my time, and overall I’d say the experience lasted one and a half hours.

    Finally yes it was memorable on many levels. The soap reminded me of my friendship with a great friend I proudly call my brother. About a half hour before I was able to add another wonderful author to our page, and to the shave itself the individual components of soap, brush, razor and post shave delivered a close, no super close shave that made me proud that I stuck with using a proven soap, a freshly honed razor, and a vigorous aftershave that left my face feeling great, and smelling like I was going to conquer the world.

    What I suppose I am getting at, is make your personal shave count. The art of traditional shaving is so much more than one part, but the sum of all the parts combined. On this wonderful Saturday I wish you all happy shaves, and as always stay smooth.