Farewell to Mitchell's Wool Fat (MWF reformulation)

Discussion in 'Shave Soaps' started by PLANofMAN, May 24, 2023.

  1. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Nothing like a good reformulation thread to liven up the forums, and generate discussion.
  2. Hembree

    Hembree Not as pretty smelling

    Reformulated our soap is like taking a pacifier from a baby.
  3. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    This is a post from @goblin over on B&B. I felt it was too good to be buried, so I'm reposting it here:

    "I tend to bang on about this, but I really do feel like the artisan movement is killing off a lot of the old everyman shave products by creating a massively fragmented market. There may be an explosion in the number of people taking up wet shaving, but they all seem to want Henson razors and £25 artisan soaps with enough fragrance to knock out an elephant. Traditional razors and products don't seem popular with new shavers, and I guess the cohort that is loyal to the traditional products is continually er...let's say aging out of the market!

    So many of these old products have disappeared in the past couple of years, despite the fact they survived through a couple of decades when traditional wet shaving was considerably more niche than it is now. Granted, some have been reformulated, so the bean counters must have thought there was enough of a market to support the reformulated product, but there must also have been instances where the cost of reformulation was considered too high so the product has just been retired. Presumably that wouldn't happen if sales were still as strong as they have been historically.

    As a free marketeer I guess I can't complain too much, but I also don't like seeing good products die off. In this instance it also means that if you enjoyed the performance and value combination offered by more traditional shave products (probably one of things that appealed to a lot of older wet shavers in the first place) you are pretty much screwed. People are welcome to pay their money and take their choice, but I personally don't want to live in a world where my only options for a shave soap as good as the ones I cut my teeth on necessitate spending £25 on a single tub.

    I too have come to the conclusion that DR Harris is pretty much the only traditional tallow soap still standing - maybe VITOS too if you want to count croaps. I completely failed to lay down enough Palmolive and Wilkinson Stick but my spidey-sense started tingling late last year on MWF so I wasn't caught out this time. I reckon a few pucks of Harris will also need to be added to the stash, and I reckon I am going to ship a kilo or two of VITOS over from the continent too."

    He brings up a good point. The artisan market is killing off the old 'good' soaps. Either by forcing them to reformulate to cut costs, or killing them off entirely. Sad to see products that survived the lean years dying during a time when wet shaving is popular again. It has less to do with how good the product is, than by how saturated the market is. As Bilbo Baggins said, "...like butter scraped over too much bread." It's a big market, but the pie just keeps getting sliced thinner and thinner.
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  4. BamaT

    BamaT Well-Known Member

    I know exactly zero about government regulations involving tallow and personal care products. Is it possible governments are making it harder and harder to utilize tallow in shave soaps? And that is a contributing factor, in addition to the artisan soap issue?
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  5. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Yes and no. The tallow that was being used in MWF was grade 3 tallow, made from bovine and porcine by-products. Regulations coming into effect, require the use of grade 1 tallow (food grade), which is more expensive. (Edit: or certified free of disease grade 3 tallow, also expensive).

    However, there are also regulations coming into effect in 2030 that will ban and/or sharply reduce the import of palm based products, including oils.

    So they switched from a product that was about to become more expensive to a product that will shortly be banned. Makes perfect sense, right?

    Edit: they will certainly be reformulating the soap again in 6 years or less. They won't have a choice.

    Edit: these are based off EU regulations, which are copied by the UK regulators.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2023
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  6. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Ready for the shaveacolypse.
  7. Rahul

    Rahul Member

    IMG_20230603_142602.jpg GUYS...!!

    I posted 2 days back in this thread that I found my 5 years old Mitchell Wool fat bowl and was hoping to find Tabac which too I had ordered along with it...

    Today after looking at every nook inside my house I found it stored in a bag.

    As a bonus, I also found a D.R. Harris ARLINGTON soap...!!!
    fhalden, wristwatchb, BamaT and 4 others like this.
  8. ChrisB

    ChrisB Well-Known Member

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  9. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Unfortunately, no. MWF is a near exclusive soap for me. That's a 5 year shaving stockpile. Gives me enough time to find other options.

    I hear Haslinger is good.
  10. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Turns out, Kent has also been reformulated, and is shipping with old stock labels, but is definitely the new palm oil formula. :(
    Hembree, Frijolero and Lancre like this.
  11. Lancre

    Lancre Well-Known Member

    Thanks for posting that. I had been thinking of buying some. Now I won't have to.
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  12. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Talk about a blast from the past.

    Bullgoose announced that they still had pucks and bowls of old formula MWF left, and so I snagged one of the bowls to have as a backup. Got a coupon code for signing up for the email list. While waiting for it to come through, I noticed that my last purchase from Bullgoose was in Aug of 2012...
    ...and now this order.
    They were out of the pucks, so I added a puck of Dr. Selby. Been meaning to try it for ages. Just happy to score the ceramic bowl for basically $10+shipping... and add another tallow puck to the stash.

    I must say, I will be disappointed (okay, not really) if the new formula is actually good and I went through the panic buying for nothing.

    I am curious if the ceramic bowls and vintage style labelling will stick around. It's going to be pretty hard for them to maintain the pretence that the soap is still based off an 1893 formula.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2023
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  13. ChrisB

    ChrisB Well-Known Member

    Wow, OK, you like your MWF then!

    Is there a list of soaps somewhere that do include tallowate? Stirling is another I think.

    My latest arrival, delivered from Mens Biz com au took less than a week to get to me. Rotating MWF with my other soaps that should be enough 'for now' but then again who knows what the future brings?

    Happy to report it is tallowate based as they said it would be.

    Haul Jun 2023 Border.jpg
  14. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Yes. I like my MWF.

    There are lots of manufacturers still producing tallow shave soap. What there isn't, is a lot of manufacturers producing 'hard' tallow shave soap. These are who is left:

    Cyril R Salter
    D R Harris
    Capt Fawcett
    Heinrich Boker Baumwerk

    Note: D R Harris, Cyril R Salter, and Capt. Fawcet are all essentially the same soap base, all made by Culmak. When one goes vegan, so too will the other two.


    Not exactly hard tallow soaps, but not soft either.

    Ten years ago, the list would have been three times as long. 20 years ago, the "short list" would have been for vegan soaps, not tallow ones. The hard tallow based soap is dead, what we are seeing now is basically just it's death rattle.
  15. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Update: If you have received any Kent pucks from batch 9265, please contact Kent for a replacement tallow puck.

    Edit: Kent, BTW, is very upset with Mitchell's at the moment.
  16. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    "Good morning everyone,
    I work here at Kent Brushes, and we are looking into this issue with our SB2 Shaving soap immediately. We contacted Mitchells on 31st May 2023 to confirm the rumours of the formula change in their own product and confirm the formula they were using for our branded soap still included Tallowate; they confirmed our soap was not yet affected as they did not have the ingredients in stock yet.
    We are now sending the current batch away for testing, and I will update you with the results as soon as soon as we have them.

    We appreciate your patience whilst we look into this problem,
    We are disappointed that we may not have been given an honest reply when we checked this out last week,

    Thank you for your understanding,

    "Hello again,
    Mitchells have just replied and confirmed that, in their error, they had not informed us that batch number 9265 had been involved in the new formulation; they have not updated the labelling they provide on the product to us or informed us that this change would be happening, they also mentioned that they did not expect that there would be such disappointment with the change of ingredients [in] our product and their own.
    We are very sorry that this product has been sold with incorrect ingredient information, please do contact us directly if you would like to arrange to return any recent orders from batch 9265.
    We are updating our website as we speak,
    Thank you,

    "So good news! I have just been down to the warehouse, and we have approx 1000 of last year's batches of soaps (tallow). It seems the newest stock from this year's order is the 9265, and only one box has been sold of this (annoyingly, this shouldn't have happened, but I'm glad in a way as we are now aware of the situation with the formula) this means I can exchange soaps for those of you who have received 9265 from us and those of you who might want to stock up before they are gone now have the opportunity,
    Thank you to all of you who have been so kind whilst we got to the bottom of the issue, and I really hope Mitchells take note of the change not being for the good of the shaving community!
    Best wishes,
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2023
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  17. Frijolero

    Frijolero Well-Known Member

    Probably needs its own thread, but I'm pretty sure Derby has exited the soap business.
    Hembree and PLANofMAN like this.
  18. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    From a different forum:

    "Good morning,
    Thank you for your message,
    We contacted Mitchells on 31st May 2023 to confirm the rumours of the formula change and confirm the formula they were using for our branded soap was still including Tallowate, and they confirmed this as below:

    ‘The rumour is true, the base (soap noodles) used in the creation of the shaving soap will no longer contain tallow (made from Bovine and porcine bi-products), but that isn’t the wool fat element of the product, and absolutely will always contain Lanolin, the Wool Fat, which is intrinsic to the brand.
    Our delivery of the new Ingredients is due into us this week, and so any further orders that you place with us from now will be the ingredients as attached which we will need to have new labels prepared for.
    The quality and consistency remain at the forefront of all we do, and the change in base formulation, brought on in part by changes in the use of some common preservatives, will not detract from performance or the feel whilst maintaining a more consistent availability of supply and stability of the market.’

    We currently have over 4000 units in stock, we have not recently placed and will not be placing any further orders for some time, so we were happy that our current stock, based on Mitchell’s reply, was made using Tallowate.
    Kent Brushes are feeling very let down by Mitchells, and we are now sending the current batch away for testing. You are welcome to return the product for a refund, or if you would like to wait for the results before returning, I am happy for you to do so; the full results will be available to all of our customers.
    Rest assured; we are doing our best to find a new supplier that will use Tallowate in the formula,
    We appreciate your frustration in this matter and thank you for your understanding whilst we obtain the facts of our current batch,
    Kind Regards,

    What we are seeing here is that Mitchell's considers Lanolin to be 'the' intrinsic ingredient in the shave soap. They don't really care one way or the other about the actual formula of the soap, and had no idea that the shave soap formula might be valued for what it was.

    This is a clear indication that MWF is either clueless on what its customers actually value, or that we, as customers, are clueless about what Mitchell's considers important.
    Keithmax, wristwatchb, ChrisB and 4 others like this.
  19. wristwatchb

    wristwatchb wristwatch "danger" b

    I'm working with Kalie at Kent Customer Service to replace the soap in my original order with the old stock that she located in their warehouse. She is a rock star.

    My local Postmaster said that I can refuse the original shipment once it arrives, and it will be returned to Kent at no additional cost.
  20. Paul Turner

    Paul Turner outside the quote(s) now

    Oh no, it's THE SAME BABY
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