RazoRock Linea Officina Artigiana Artisan Shaving Soap RazoRock has brought another wonderful line of soap to market this year, the Linea Officina Artigiana artisan shaving soap. Say it with me one more time, Linea Officina Artigiana; I know what you're thinking I don't speak Italian. In simplest terms this line of artisan soap is hand-crafted in a work shop by one master craftsman in Italy. We here at The Shave Den have our very own master craftswomen JoAnna, who is responsible for creating some of the greatest hand-made products as well as running the TSD store. Given the care and attention to detail that artisan products entail especially soap, it was only natural that I broke down and tried the Linea Officina Artiana soaps, or LOA soaps as I will call them. Notably what stands out when you purchase a traditional Italian soap is the general nature that, they're tallow, soft, lather wonderfully and for some unfortunately smell like cherry. The LOA soaps are all of these, with the exception of the cherry scent as there are various unique and colorful scent options to choose from, they're however fragrance oil based (In this case a blend of essential oil and alcohol) which may or may not cause problems for some. I was fortunate enough to have Joseph Abbatangelo, one of the men behind RazoRock and proprietor of Italian Barber, take part in a question and answer session via email. This is the exact transcript from the email, and from our brief discussion I easily gathered Joseph, is as passionate about wet-shaving as anyone. Q: What was the inspiration for the Linea Officina Artigiana soaps? 1) Our inspiration for the RazoRock Linea Officina Artigiana came from the two legendary Italian shaving soaps, P.160 and Cella. Since I first started wet-shaving, my favorite soap has been P.160 Morbido (now discontinued) with Cella being a very close second. As many people know, we also run the shaving store ItalianBarber.com; the number one request since opening Italian Barber has been... "Why can't I get a soap like P.160 and Cella in a variety of different scents?" The more we thought about this inquiry, the more it made logical sense. Although, I'm a big fan of the classic almond (mandorla) scented soaps personally, the market can always benefit from some variety and choice. Q: Was the base formula for the soap, a product that's currently in production? 2) Yes, the base formula is similar to both P.160 and Cella, coconut oil and tallow, although the Linea Officina Artigiana has a slight twist. Also, the LOA soaps are hand-made by a single artisan in a small workshop in small batches; because of the love and attention given to these soaps, selection of ingredients and the production process is definitely more personalized then a massed-produced shaving soap. I'd like to note that the Muguet de France soap has no tallow but instead there is shea butter added. Q: Artisan products are generally small batch, or made to order, is the supply limited? 3) Yes, the Linea Officina Artigiana soaps are made in very small batches. Although there is room to expand production a little, these are still all made by one man, so there is a definite ceiling on production quantity. Q: You have chosen very colorful and unique scents, do you have official scent descriptions for them? 4) At first, I wrote some scent descriptions but admittedly this is not my strong-suit and I quickly realized that my descriptions were not very good. To be honest, it's very difficult to accurately describe non-traditional scents; for me it's like food, someone can describe how something tastes to me but the only way I really ever understand is after trying the food myself. For example, I described the Third Eye as sandalwood when it is not a traditional sandalwood scent that most shavers would expect; it's really a hybrid fragrance that appealed to our noses during the scent selection process. So, we decided to drop the scent description. Q: What is the one thing you would like people to know about these soaps? 5) The one thing we would like people to know is... These soaps are made with love and extreme passion! For my partner and I, this is truly a labor of love, not a pursuit of monetary riches. We have tried to price the soaps as low as possible because it's our belief that a luxurious wet-shave should be something any man can afford. What makes me smile is the numerous comments and emails I receive daily comparing our soaps to products which sell for 3-5 times the price. We have tried to trim all the fat out of the product (pardon the pun), by keeping packaging and labeling simple and doing a lot of the work ourselves. Also, the majority of our advertising comes from word-of-mouth by our satisfied customers. My personal belief is... in this industry, the large corporate business models don't provide a lot of value for the end consumer because the majority of the retail price doesn't go into the actually product but instead into marketing budgets and packaging. Although I'm a huge fan of Tiger Woods' golf game, I'm not convinced that paying him $10 million for a shaving commercial adds any benefit to the shaving products, lol. Time to take a look at the actual soap itself and break it down, as Joseph mentioned the LOA soap base is somewhat of a hybrid between Cella and P.160. Tallow Ingredients:Stearic Acid, Tallow, Water, Cocos Nucifera, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide, fragrance, Potassium Carbonate. Non Tallow Ingredients:Stearic Acid, Water, Cocos Nucifera, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance, Shea Butter, Potassium Carbonate. For reference purposes, P.160 Morbido and Cella ingredient lists. P.160 Morbido: Aqua, Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Tallow, Cocos Nucifera, Potassium Hydroxide, Parfum, Potassium Carbonate, Benzyl Alcohol, Tetrasodium EDTA Cella:Cocos Nucifera Oil, Tallow, Stearic Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide, Aqua, Potassium Carbonate, Parfum. Linea Officina Artigiana scent list:*Note: Scents are fragrance oil based. (Essential oil and alcohol blend) Napoleon's Violet (Violet) Third Eye (Hybrid Sandalwood) Mughetto di Bologna (Lily) Muguet de France (Lily) *Vegetable based* Chianti Lavender (Lavender) Mentolipto (Menthol and Eucalyptus Globulus Oil) Boston Tea Party (Green Tea) Caprician Lemon (Lemon) The LOA soaps come in a nice plastic container roughly 3 1/4 inches wide at the opening, allowing for ample room to load your brush. Each tub contains a 4.2 ounce (125ml) chunk of soap, cut from the master block. The soap itself has a putty like consistency; much like plumbers putty it forms easily when pressed into shape, it will also release moisture along with fragrance when squeezed. Fresh chunk of soap, prior to being formed into the tub. Being a man who likes exotic florals I decided to give Napoleon's Violet a go, while the LOA soaps use fragrance oils (Essential oil blend), I didn't notice much of a synthetic scent to the fragrance. The Violet is slightly brighter than say Trumpers Violet and more along the lines of say, Masters Lilac Vegetal. The scent is fairly faint, only once you press your nose into the tub are you rewarded with the scent of violet. Even though the scents are not based on pure essential oils, I didn't have any issue with irritation or skin sensitivity which some synthetic fragrance oils seem to cause. For illustrative purposes I choose to bowl lather a Penchetta Super Badger brush deemed "The Stubby Chubby" the brush features a 26mm Super Badger knot with a loft of 50mm; however in all actuality the brush measures 30mm wide past the collar. For regular use I prefer to face lather my Rooney Stubby 1 pictured at the top of the page.(Please visit this thread for further information regarding brush terms you may not know or understand) One of the beautiful things about this soap besides the price is the ease in which you produce gobs of luxurious lather; it almost feels like you're using a detergent based product till you have at look at the ingredients and realize its nothing but a true tallow soap. I however cannot comment on the latherability of the vegetable based soap as I have not used it. I followed the same simple procedure as I would with many other soaps, soak my brush in a mug for roughly ten minutes in mildly warm water, the only exceptions being I squeezed more water out of the brush than normal as I tend to use less water with soft soap products. I only swirled the brush on the soap for roughly thirty seconds, typically I would spend a good minute on a triple milled soap. After pressing and molding the soap into the bowl earlier, I began to swirl the tips of the Stubby Chubby for roughly thirty seconds without adding any additional water on the soap. The tub size is more than ample to accommodate the large brush; once completed I did slightly dunk the loaded tips back into the water in the mug. If you notice the picture below, not very much product was used, any worries of blowing through the soap fast are pretty much out the window, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your stash of soaps.... Stubby Chubby loaded and ready for the bowl; take note there's more than enough room for a 30mm knot. Once the brush was loaded, I hit the bowl and added a couple of drops of water to it before I began; when I lather a brush I admittedly don't like to beat up on it, no vigorous pumping or churning motions were used, I simply swirled the brush around the edges of the bowl. I didn't time the actual swirling motion, as I typically only time loading the brush; I will say though the lather came together quite easily and very quick. I did at the end pump the brush to see if it would stick upright, however its quite handle heavy and didn't want to stay upright. Face lathering the Rooney follows the same steps, except I swirl briefly on my face and then paint the lather on with paintbrush strokes. The large knot is completely saturated in luscious lather. As you can see in the picture above, very little product was needed in order to completely saturate the large knot in rich lather, a lather when applied to your face is almost unreal. For a product that's price range is slotted alongside Proraso and Cella in a tub, the quality of lather isn't something you would expect, its more in line if not better than traditional triple milled tallow soaps such as, Tabac and D.R. Harris; more than ample cushion and glide is present. Between passes minimal amounts of water were added; when I face lather the Rooney, I slightly dip the tips in my mug of water if needed, which is not atypical of other tallow soaps. I also find the skincare qualities of the soap to be quite good, my face was soft and hydrated after the shave. I and others like to covet my tiny container of P.160 that I have left, which is indeed a well balanced and awesome performing soap, however after trying the LOA soaps, I won't be entirely sad when its gone. Admittedly I don't foresee LOA soaps replacing Mitchell's Wool Fat as my favorite soap, mainly because I am one of the lucky ones who have no problems lathering it and my skin absolotely love's the stuff. I will, however have no problems purchasing more LOA soaps in the future, I just need to figure out which scent to try next! I would like to thank Joseph for taking the time to answer my questions and in summation its hard not to agree with him on many points; if you're looking for a great value, a luxurious shave and want a hand-made Italian soap that doesn't smell like cherry, this is definitely the line of soaps to try. The only negative aspect of the soap is the fragrance oil, as some individuals may be sensitive, pure essential oils would have been a better but costlier option; taking the soap for what it is, its really hard to complain. I have been told the fragrance oil is indeed a blend of essential oil and alcohol and have amended this article.