Stirling Glastonbury Shaving Soap Review

Discussion in 'Shave Soaps' started by Shaver X, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. Shaver X

    Shaver X Well-Known Member

    Stirling Glastonbury Shaving Soap Review

    There are a dizzying array of artisan shave soaps available nowadays. Some that I have tried in the past were very good, but is seems that an increasing number are now much less so. Given recent experience, I was a little reluctant to try another artisan soap. I knew that some artisan soaps totally rock, however, and decided to give Stirling a try. For one thing, it garners nearly universal praise on blogs and in forums. While that is not an absolute guarantee of quality, it has pointed me in the right direction more often than not.

    Stirling soap comes packaged in plastic shrink wrap. It is a soft soap, although not as soft as the putty consistency Italian soaps such as Vitos or Valobra. Even so, the puck was dented and distorted just by taking it out of the shrink wrap. It molds to the shape of the shaving mug somewhat, and so does not slide around after it is pressed in. It is also available in a tin, for those who prefer that option.


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    Overall: (9/10)

    Stirling shaving soap is proof that there are some very good artisan products available. The notion that “all artisan soaps suck”, as one poster opined on another forum, is proven false by soaps such as Stirling. Is it the perfect shaving soap? No, in my opinion the protectiveness could be just a tad better. Is it a very good shaving soap overall? Oh yeah, and then some. Ninety percent is an A.

    As I understand it, Stirling shave soap has gone through a number of reformulations. In my opinion, this is a very good thing. It shows the artisans – the Stirling folks being artisans as opposed to “artisans” – are really into making a great product. They obviously test their shaving soaps and incorporate the results and customer feedback into their offerings. This is what separates the shaving soaps from the wannabes.

    Ease of lathering: (10/10)

    This is an easy ten out of ten. Stirling is super easy to lather, as much so as any shaving soap I have ever used. A few seconds of swirling the brush yields copious amounts of lather, easily enough for five passes. The lather was slightly more thick and creamy when whipped up with the boar brush, but was very good when created with the badger brush. With the boar brush especially, Stirling soap likes plenty of water relative to most other soaps I have used. Stirling Soap Company’s attention to detail and formulation shows here, and in a very beneficial way. It is obvious that the proprietors tested this soap before offering it for sale, ensuring it is fit for purpose. I wish all artisan soaps lathered this well.

    If it looks like there is not a lot of lather in the brush, rest assured that there is plenty. I photograph the brush as it would be lathered when I shave, not lathered for 20 minutes to create a house-sized glob of lather.


    Life span of lather: (9/10)

    The lather lasts for a long time. It showed virtually no signs of deterioration or drying even when I waited a full two minutes before starting my shave. Add to that the minute or so it took to finish the first pass, during which the lather was still A-OK. Given that folks typically lather and then immediately start shaving, it lasts more than enough time for a leisurely shave. The lather longevity is the same regardless of the brush (boar or badger) or method (face lathering vs. mug lathering) used.

    General skincare: (8/10)

    Stirling soap has good skincare, and left my face feeling great after each shave. The slight astringency noticed during the shaves is much more slightly present afterwards. This soap might be particularly well suited for those with oily skin. Stirling leaves my face feeling somewhat sticky immediately after the shave, but the stickiness disappears after a minute or two. The skincare is moisturizing, but does not leave my face feeling greasy. That is as it should be. The skincare is still noticeable long after the morning’s shave, which is enough to put a smile on one’s face. :)

    Lubrication: (10/10)

    Stirling soap is super slick, and makes Teflon look like sandpaper in comparison. It also has an astringency that makes it seem less slick when shaving than is actually the case. It is much like L’Occitane Cade shaving soap in this regard, and that is a very good thing. These characteristics make for a great shave, and it is no problem at all to get a nearly baby bottom smooth shave with either soap. I had absolutely zero problems with the razor tugging or pulling.

    How protective: (7/10)

    I got a few nicks and weepers during the course of one week of shaves, but only a few. Although the soap is not ultra-protective, it is still OK in this regard. There was some irritation when making five or six passes, as I did on two occasions. There was no irritation when using three or four passes, which was sufficient to get a close shave.

    Scent: (10/10)

    This soap has the wonderful "Glastonbury" scent. It was quite strong for the first two days. The scent had a rather medicinal, eucalyptus smell, changing to an Earl Grey tea-like aroma after the soap was lathered. The scent lasted all day long on my face. Wow, that really is strong! The scent mellowed out considerably and settled down by the third day. Much better. After that, it was very pleasant and of moderate strength. It is just right as far as I am concerned. It has remained so ever since. It has an earthy, grassy and slightly cedar aroma. To me, this scent is most excellent, so it gets the highest marks. Of course, that is just me, and scent preferences are very subjective. Stirling also included a bath soap sample in almond scent (thanks Stirling!) and the almond scent was every bit as good as the Glastonbury.

    The Glastonbury scent is described on the Stirling website as "A gloriously earthy scent. For those who don’t mind Patchouli, this soap will put you in the middle of a field with a soft, grassy breeze blowing while Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page engage in an epic guitar battle in the background. For others, it might smell like 100,000 hippies standing in a muddy pit after a week with no showers." To me, it does not smell even remotely like the stereotypical hippie who needs a bath.

    One thing I did find amusing is that the back label contains the warning “For external use only”. Their gourmand scents must be extra good. Or maybe some folks say to themselves “I’m hungry. I think I will have a nice bar of soap.”? Stranger things have happened in the wetshaving world.

    Price: (10/10)

    At $8.25 for a 125 gram / 4.4 ounce, this is an excellent value for the money, especially considering the quality of the soap. This price is for the soap cake alone, not the soap in a tin.

    Would you buy again: (8/10)

    Stirling makes a very nice shaving soap indeed, so I would not hesitate to buy it again.

    I received an email notification soon after placing my order that the soap would ship in three to five days. It turned out to be one week, but that is certainly nothing to stress over. Just be aware that you might not receive the shipment within three hours of placing your order. It looks like the folks that make Stirling soap had just moved when my order was placed. If so, their shipping times are actully pretty fast.

    Shaving soap ingredients:

    From the label on the soap:

    Beef Tallow, Stearic Acid, Water, Castor Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Potassium & Sodium Hydroxide, Almond Oil, Lanolin, Shea Butter, Coconut Milk, Essential Oil, Clay, Sodium Lactate

    Brushes used:

    Dovo 918 052 pure badger
    Omega 50014 boar travel brush

    Note that although the Dovo brush is sold as a pure badger, the brush characteristics and cost indicate that it is actually a better grade than pure.

    My water hardness:

    53 ppm as CaCO3 (soft)

    The water hardness was taken from my utility's latest water quality annual report. The scale below was used to correlate water ppm to the soft/hard rating, and is from the US Geological Survey website.

    Water hardness scale (as CaCO3):

    0-60 mg/l: Soft
    61-120 mg/l: Moderately hard
    121-180 mg/l: Hard
    Over 180 mg/l: Very hard

    mg/l is milligrams per liter
    Some utilities give water hardness in parts per million (ppm)
    1 mg/l = 1 ppm (not exactly, but very, very close)
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
  2. WhiskerWhacker

    WhiskerWhacker Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the review. Looking forward to trying Stirling out soon. I just checked their store and the Glastonbury is one of their more expensive soaps and it's still a great deal.
    crackstar and Shaver X like this.
  3. PatrickA51

    PatrickA51 Well-Known Member

    I have some of this shaving soap.....I have to agree with the review. Well written, for that matter I would give the OP a 9+ on the review.
    In my thoughts I would give the Stirling Glastonbury a 10+ over all. JMHO
    SDK, crackstar and Shaver X like this.
  4. FatherofSquirrel

    FatherofSquirrel A right jolly old elf

    SWMBO likes the scent of this soap the best of all my soaps.
    Great soap.
    Shaver X, PatrickA51 and crackstar like this.
  5. Jostalli

    Jostalli Well-Known Member

    Great review - I like that you used the product for a week with both the boar and badger brush. You also went the extra mile going 5 to 6 passes. Most reviews are not that thorough. - Stirling stays on my to buy list.
    David Green, Shaver X and crackstar like this.
  6. crackstar

    crackstar Israeli Ambassador to TSD

    I have to stop being such a stubborn mule and buy some of Rod's non-mentholated soaps. I only know his heavily-mentholated ones like the Glacials and MITA, but even I realize that there's more to life than intense menthol. One day I'll do that.
  7. PatrickA51

    PatrickA51 Well-Known Member

    So does my "She Who Must be Obeyed" :happy088:
    FatherofSquirrel and crackstar like this.
  8. Theomatic

    Theomatic Member

    If the OP has a moment, I would love to know which soaps maintain protectiveness for 5-6 passes. I've not encountered anyone going that extra mile.
  9. FatherofSquirrel

    FatherofSquirrel A right jolly old elf

    Yeah Jeff. Uh huh. I hear ya talkin. ;)
    crackstar likes this.
  10. Shaver X

    Shaver X Well-Known Member

    • Art of Shaving shaving cream
    • CVS Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar
    • Kell's Original Hemp/Aloe shaving soap
    • Kiss My Face Unscented shaving cream
    • L'Occitane Cade shaving soap
    • Mike's Natural shaving soap
    • Prairie Creations Tallow and Lanolin shaving soap
    • Valobra Crema di Sapone Purissima shaving soap
    • Van Der Hagen Deluxe shaving soap
    • And probably some others I have forgotten about
    I usually don't go more than three passes unless I want a particularly close shave. The combination of the Edwin Jagger DE89 and Silver Star blades does that for me, and is not a particularly aggressive combination. If I was using Feather or Gillette 7 O'clock Super Platinum blades, I might not be able to do so many passes (and would not need to) without irritation. Bear in mind that I am re-lathering my face before each pass.

    I also do not lather my face and then stand there for a minute or two before starting my shave, but do so at least once when testing a soap. That is done to test lather longevity, but is unnecessary and skipped if lather disappears very soon after being applied.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  11. PatrickA51

    PatrickA51 Well-Known Member

    You will love this stuff. it's great. Lathers up great also.
    crackstar likes this.
  12. SDK

    SDK it's his fault

    Very well done and detailed review.

    I have tried about a half dozen Stirling soaps. All have been great performers. Just pick your scent.

    I even have a puck of their Scots Pine sheep tallow soap that I break out when the dry heat and cold winter weather start beating up my face.
    Shaver X and crackstar like this.
  13. Darkbulb

    Darkbulb Cookie Hoarder

    Great review, thanks
    Shaver X and crackstar like this.
  14. vpayne

    vpayne New Member

    I have only tried one Sterling soap, Tea Tree, and I did not care for it. I have several soaps that perform better. Hardness of the water (and amount) will affect results, of course.
  15. crackstar

    crackstar Israeli Ambassador to TSD

    Definitely I'm going to try this soap in the near future. :)
    Shaver X likes this.
  16. GDCarrington

    GDCarrington Burma Shave

    As usual a really solid review! Thanks!
    Shaver X likes this.
  17. mfrancis79

    mfrancis79 Well-Known Member

    Great review,I am a big fan of these products. I have to agree shipping could be a little better but if thats the only complaint than I can deal with a couple extra days. My favorite scent is Sharp Dressed Man.
  18. Primotenore

    Primotenore missed opera tunity

    Article Team
    Excellent review. Thank you. Indeed, I just ordered a puck. :git:
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015

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