Reviews of 85+ Soaps

Discussion in 'Shave Soaps' started by BaylorGator, Sep 2, 2017.

  1. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    OK, I know some folks want to skip to the ratings, so after a few shaves, I rated Sudsy Soapery (Tallow) as an A, The Holy Black as an A- and Eleven as a B. All three are really good soaps.

    I also shaved a few times with Hendrix Classics soap. What is that, you ask? It’s a relatively new company that makes custom scales and customized straight razors, knives, etc. I ordered a custom knife from Pete Hendrix, and after discussing with him how cool I thought some the straight razors on his site were, he thoughtfully sent along one of his soaps with my knife. Honestly, since soaps aren’t his main business, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it has a great barbershop scent and holds its own with many good artisan soaps out there. It’s a solid B.
  2. Paul Turner

    Paul Turner outside the quote(s) now

    How are your daughters doing? Oh yeah, right....thanks for the soap report. :).
    brit and SHAVEWIZARD420 like this.
  3. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    They started at a new school this week, Paul, and are doing really well. Thanks for asking.
    brit, Edison Carter and Paul Turner like this.
  4. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    Today's shave was with Tcheon Fung Sing (TFS) - Neroli & Bergamatto. I was not familiar with TFS prior to shaving with it, but since then I've done some research that makes me feel like my assessment and review are on track. (I don't like to research any soap I'm unfamiliar with ahead of time, since I like to review and judge them on how they shave, not on their reputation. So, for background TFS is an old school Italian soap company named by the founder, a Chinese immigrant who moved to Italy in the 1930s. The company has been making veggie based soaps in the italian tradition ever since. For reference, a number of Razorock soaps are made by TFS.

    Although I grade out Razorock as average, they have soaps manufactured by several companies, some better than others. Therefore one of my main knocks on Razorock is that as a result of this you're not sure what to expect from soap to soap. Also many Razorock soaps lack in scent strength. These two knocks do not apply to TFS. Overall, I really enjoyed the scent and scent strength of Neroli & Bergamatto. The soap gave good overall performance and a drama free shave, so I can see why it has fans. It just didn't stand out in any particular way to me. Again, I may be in the minority on this, since two of the soaps that I rate as slightly above average (Razorock and PAA) both are some of the most popular soaps out there and have TONS of fans. I just tend to lean towards stronger scents, creamier lather and more slickness. After reviewing more than 70 soaps so far, I'm finding those three qualities to be my "holy trinity" for a great soap. Net net, I put TFS in the B category along with a large number of respectable soaps.
    brit, Keithmax, Screwtape and 3 others like this.
  5. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    I’m winding down my soap samples in my reviews shortly, as there are just too many good soaps out there to review them all, And the differences between the well respected soaps I’m shaving with are not enormous, so I think these reviews are starting to have diminishing returns. Be that as it may, here are three more:

    Phoenix & Beau - Really nice lather and well crafted scents. Albion was’t one I’d gravitate to, but my wife commented on how good it smelled, so I may have to re-evaluate.

    Meissner & Tremonia (Dark Lime) - Despite creating a rich, thick, luxurious lather, I got no smell and no trace of limes out of this one. If you are all about lather and not one for strong scents, this one may be right up your alley.

    West of Olympia - This sample was sent to me by a friend from Washington state as a local artisan who is getting a lot of buzz in that region. I can see why. Great lather, decent slickness and some really unique and outstanding scents. Another dark horse.
  6. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    Wow. I just can't help myself. I just ordered a bunch of samples from Maggards, including some Noble Otter, the new Declaration Grooming Icharus formula, and a couple of others. Winding the thread down may take a little time...
    brit, Drygulch, Shadow Shaver and 3 others like this.
  7. Tiredricefarmer

    Tiredricefarmer Well-Known Member

    I've looked at Noble Otter a few times but never tried it, Squadron Soap is another. Looking forward to your review!
    brit, Shadow Shaver and BaylorGator like this.
  8. Drygulch

    Drygulch Snowballs

    Supporting Vendor
    I'd be interested in your opinion on soaps from Ginger Garden, if you have tried any. If you haven't, I could probably send you a sample or two....
    brit, jason koonce, RyX and 1 other person like this.
  9. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    Sure, Adam. If you send em my way I’ll give em a shot. Take your time, as my pace has slowed a bit and I probably won’t get to many samples until my September SR focus is over.
    brit, RyX, Drygulch and 3 others like this.
  10. Paul Turner

    Paul Turner outside the quote(s) now

    Wasn't there something from Ginger's as a raffle prize once?
    brit and RyX like this.
  11. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    Tried the new formula for Declaration Grooming - Icarus, and I definitely prefer it to the regular formula. It's a harder soap, which eliminates the one thing I find really annoying about DG - the croapy, soft consistency. Having said that, I didn't find the "shore" scent compelling enough to buy a whole tub. It's an incremental improvement, so I'd still opt for the original in a scent I liked, but I think if they used this base on their Chatillon Lux collaborations they'd have a big win.
    brit, Keithmax, Frijolero and 4 others like this.
  12. wristwatchb

    wristwatchb wristwatch "danger" b

    Randy, what are your top 5 (or so) shave soaps, and what makes them stand out for you?
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  13. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants


    The best way to answer that is by asking myself what do I want to buy more of, despite the fact that I need an intervention, and have no business ever buying any more shaving soap ever again. Here’s the answer:

    Grooming Dept. - Each new release of soaps gets better and better. This artistisan has raised the bar for all shaving soaps. As with most makers, scents can be a bit hit and miss, but the rich creamy lather, skin conditioning properties, and slickness make this one fantastic, luxurious shave. I don’t think there is a better soap out there, so when he releases more I will undoubtedly buy more.

    Wholly Kaw - Although some scents don’t appeal to me because of their fu fu vibe, the ones I like I really, really like. I put this soap neck and neck with Grooming Dept. in terms of the best most luxurious soaps out there. In particular I think King of Oud and Cuero Oscuro (leather) are great scents. For some reason, I’m a bit less rabid about acquiring new releases - probably the lack of scents that vibe with me is the issue here.

    Barrister and Mann - This soap is really good, but not as creamy and luxurious as the previous two. Having said that, I own significantly more of it than the previous two because I’m a sucker for the fantastic, complex, unique scents this maker puts out. I almost always have to get samples of new releases from Maggards, and almost always buy at least one of them each season. The Hallows release next month is next. If you want a soap to be an experience that transports you to a different place (the ball field, the rodeo, a tea room, a graveyard, you name it) this is absolutely, hands-down the best soap in the market for that. I just can’t get enough of this soap... it’s a serious problem.

    Stirling - Again, not as creamy and luxurious as the first two soaps I mentioned, and probably not the fourth best soap I’ve ever used, but great performance, great lather and slick, slick, slick! I love the variety of strong standout scents and think that particularly in the citrus, summer, and fruit scents that absolutely no one does them better than Stirling. Not even close. That also goes for menthol. Again nobody is even close to Stirling in this area.

    There are a ton of other great soaps on my list, and I would even say that there are several that may be better soaps than the second two, but I guarantee I have not bought my last tub of any of the above four artisans by any stretch of the imagination!
    brit, wristwatchb, Keithmax and 7 others like this.
  14. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    Well, it’s been a while since my last review, as I’ve taken some time off from DE shaving to work on my straight shaving technique. Anyway, back with the Fatboy on badger brush to test out Noble Otter. There is a lot of buzz going on around this soap and some folks are putting it up there with WK, GD and the likes. While I agree it’s a really good soap, I can’t quite get there as it being absolutely top tier. I'd put it in the same class as Oleo... which I've updated my review on below:

    Oleo Soapworks - This is a duck fat soap with great performance and really strong, enjoyable scents. I've become a sucker for the creamy slick quality that duckfat can give a soap (either that or the soap makers using duck fat are just good at what they do). Anyway, the scents are not too complex but still pleasant to my nose. Some find them "artificial" smelling, but I just find them to be unique - for example the Melonade has a "sweet tart" vibe to the scent. The Montrose Beach has a suntan oil smell mixed in. If that's not your vibe, I get it, but I think it's a "fun" soap with really good performance. (By the way, the sensitivity I thought I had to is ended up being caused by my first "defective" blade. I'd heard of such a thing but never experienced it.)

    Anyway, I'd say Noble Otter is equal to or slightly better than Oleo in performance, but their scents aren't quite up my alley. Their Lonestar is a really unique one though, and they all definitely have a bit of a Texas scent vibe. I also found their pine scent to be more of an East Texas pine forest vibe than the typical pine scent that smells like fir trees and Christmas. If you are turned off by the "artificial/playful" scent vibe and want to go a bit more in the direction of the Lone Star State, Noble Otter may be for you. Honestly, at an A- it's worthy of anyone's den.
  15. Briscoe

    Briscoe Well-Known Member

    I want to thank you for this thread, I have used it for my soap purchases, and you are spot on!

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
  16. Paul Turner

    Paul Turner outside the quote(s) now

    Thanks for the W of O report.
  17. Briscoe

    Briscoe Well-Known Member

    I bought Wholly Kaw and Grooming Dept from a lot on the bay, definitely good as advertised .

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
  18. Paul Turner

    Paul Turner outside the quote(s) now

    Replying to myself, I just noticed the West of Olympia Barbershop soap is sold out.
    brit likes this.
  19. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    Well it has been some time since I've posted to this thread, but I do have a couple unreviewed samples and one potentially inbound soap coming. Stay tuned...
  20. BaylorGator

    BaylorGator MISTER Fancypants

    Before going on to do a few more reviews, a bit up an update. Several months back I paused (and considered stopping) my soap reviews in order to focus on my skills with a straight razor. Surprisingly, this exercise resulted in my now getting significantly closer shaves with a DE than ever before, and changed my preferences of favorite DE razors to much more aggressive razors and aggressive blade settings. It also ended up pushing the envelope of soap hydration more than I had before. For those not familiar with "the dark side", many straight shavers (myself included) like to hydrate their soaps a lot more when using a straight razor in order to increase the amount of slickness and glide they get from the soap. Some soaps don't handle this all that well; others drink up water and get slicker than snot. So going forward, that's one of the parameters I'm testing with the next few (or however many) soaps that end up in this review. I'm doing one DE shave with a bit more "santa beard" looking lather, and one straight razor shave with a more hydrated, slick version created with the same soap. Is this one additional testing parameter going to mean that the following reviews are "apples and oranges" compared to my previous reviews? Maybe, but I have 2 thoughts on this: 1. I'm not going back to review all 84 of them again, and 2. After several months of straight shaves with my "Keeper" soaps, they have performed extremely well for both types of lather. If I find something that changes my mind about a previously reviewed soap, I'll post it, but the soaps I've rated highest seem to excel in all circumstances. I would expect some "mid grade" soaps to be slightly upgraded or downgraded based on how well they handle additional hydration, but I've kind of lost my interest in "mid grade soaps" anyway. My goal now is less to find new soaps I haven't tried, and more to whittle down my excessive collection to the ones I like the very best. So, with that said, off we go to soap #85...
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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