Soaps

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.

A Session With The Pirate Lady

SOTD with Anne Bonny by Doctor Jons.

Continuing with my journey into wet shaving, not long after I had started enjoying my wet shaves with TOBS Sandalwood, I began looking around at other soap makers to try.  I soon discovered Dr. Jons and their soaps looked appealing so I first tried Hydra.  I found Hydra to be an enjoyable soap to use.  The original Dr. Jons formula was quite soft (although not like a cream) and I quickly found the best way to lather it was to scoop out a small amount and press it into my bowl.

Hydra is a very mild citrus scent which I enjoyed.  But, after finishing a sample tin, I decided to try another Dr. Jon flavor and the most obvious choice was Anne Bonny.  I was intrigued by what I had read about the tradition of bay rum as a shaving scent and Anne Bonny had taken it a step farther by adding black tea.  The first time I opened the tin and took a whiff I was quite stunned at the incredible aroma.  It is truly intoxicating!  Sweet but with that black tea added in to tone down the sweetness.  If you enjoy a good cup of tea you will no doubt love this scent as well.

Review

I think this is the third tin of Anne Bonny I have used.  The first two were in the half size which Dr. Jons has since discontinued.  That’s too bad because I enjoyed purchasing those sizes as a first attempt to sample one of their scents.  But no problem here as I am a huge fan of Anne Bonny.  Another thing I like about Dr. Jons is that their soaps come in a metal container (a real tin) and not plastic.  In my opinion there’s too much plastic being used by the artisan shave soap makers.  This latest version of Dr. Jons even comes with a threaded top so it’s a bit easier to get open.

Lather

All of Dr. Jons soaps are a vegan formula and do not use animal products (such as tallow).  But don’t let this put you off.  The lather of Dr. Jons is quite excellent and in my experience it is as good as or better than any tallow based soap.   The volume 2 version of their soaps are quite a bit harder than the original.  I quite like this and I have found it actually easier to work with.  I am able to bloom the soap with a bit of water right in the tin and then use that water on my face after finishing a shower.  Some reviews I’ve seen say the soap is thirsty but I have not found this to be the case.  In fact, I try to dry out my brush as much as possible before the first load as well as empty all the bloom water from the tin.  And if you use too much water I have found that the lather will thin out rather suddenly so add water very cautiously at first until you get a feel for the optimum amount.  It does take me about three or four thirty second brush loads to get the amount of lather I prefer.

Performance

I have found the soap once lathered on to be quite nice and slick. Cushioning is good as long as you get the water right.  One point where this soap excels is the post shave.  The feel after a good three pass shave with touch up is exceptional and one of the best I have experienced.

Another outstanding point is what I refer to as economy.  The soap just seems to last forever.  Even with my practice of loading and creating more lather than is typically needed, it lasts a long time and this is especially true of the Volume 2 version.

I should also add that the artwork on Dr. Jons products is really well done and very cool, especially Anne Bonny.

I have not tried Dr. Jons AS and this is something that is on my list.  For this week’s shave I tried using Clubman Virgin Island Bay Rum and this works to a fair degree although it is much milder than the Anne Bonny scent.

So in summery, great soap and lather with outstanding post shave feel, good economy for an average cost and an incredible scent which is without equal.

Details
Soap Dr. Jons Anne Bonny
Brush Semoge 1250
Razor Rockwell 6c, Plate 4
Blade Laser Ultra Triple Coat
AS Clubman Pinaud Virgin Island Bay Rum
Bowl Doug Smith Pottery

Solstice from Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements

This awesome homage to the South West with what I’d call the aroma of the locale is back, and ready for your shave dens. Available individually, A great Bundle Package (link below) to save some money, Royal Star Jelly !, an EDT, body soap, and bar shampoo, to name a few, Absolutely, take a moment to read about Solstice, and watch the product spotlight video’s from Douglas, and find out for yourself why Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements, and Crown King rule ! Shave on my friends, and stay smooth.

Solstice by PAA

Solstice product spot light 💡

Solstice Bundle SAVE here 💵

-Aaron

SOTD: 7/27/2018 Octavia Noir

Today’s shave was one of those shaves you didn’t expect, but you were damn happy afterwards. I love Gingers Garden soaps, and Irena couldn’t be a better person or, for that matter soap maker. Today I used for the first time Octavia Noir that was a Glycerin soap. That said a lot of traditional shavers, have been taught Glycerin based soaps don’t shave as well as tallow or, butter based soaps. In this case Irena knows what she is doing, the lather that ensued was not only dense, and protective, but had a wonderful aroma of deep amber and darker floral scents, while still being very approachable in these warmer months. Octavia Noir to say the least is a winner by a long shot. I used a vintage 1909 Gillette ABC Pocket Edition scroll razor, with a Wilkinson Sword by Gillette blade, as well as my favorite brush my 2016 WSR group brush with an ultra premium silver tip badger knot, by Envy Shave. This made quick work of my stubble, which always makes me happy. The glide, from the soap made for a simple true BBS shave. I finished off with not an exact match to the soap, but a favorite Floid Menthalado Vigoroso. When it’s 95 degrees out; this is the after shave you want to cool you down. To that I wish you all happy shaves, and a wonderful weekend. Here is a link to Ginger Garden which I highly recommend for any products she offers. Gingers Garden

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 🙏🏽

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.

Journey to Italy – Part 2

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.

Extrò

Me and my friend Claudio (smelling a bottle of Pirata AS) at Donato’s shop, October 2014.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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! 🙂