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My soap opera

Discussion in 'Razors, Scissors, & Personal Grooming' started by Gollnick, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. Gollnick

    Gollnick Musical Director

    Mar 22, 1999
    I am NOT and do NOT want to become a "hobby shaver." I don't want to collect hundreds of razors. I don't want to scour to globe for every brand of blades and try them all. And I don't want to collect and try every kind of pre-, shave, and after- product. I'm not interested in experimenting with every new shaving technique.

    I throughly understand and respect those who do choose to make shaving into a hobby. If I would let myself go there, I easily could because I understand how rewarding a good shave is. (Keep in mind that I am also a man who owns about 800 knives, so I understand what collecting is.)

    But, right now, I am limiting myself: I just want a good shave at a good price.

    So, I have my Merkur Futur. I've got a couple of older Gillettes courtesy of Steve; they're nice and I do use them every now and then. But, I mostly use my Futur. I know exactly how to maneuver the Futur into every place on my face. I'm comfortable with the handle. I think I've got this part of my shave dialed-in.

    I've got my Futur-style brush. It's my only brush. It works fine for me. I see no reason to experiment further with brushes. I think I've got this part of my shave dialed-in.

    I've got very oily skin. As a result, I need no moisturizing aftershave product. In fact, using one would be a bad thing for me. I experimented early on with a few aftershave products, but I have found that, for me, nothing betters a cold-water rinse and a splash of rubbing alcohol. It's dirt-cheap and seems to fit my skin just fine. I think I've got this part of my shave dialed-in.

    I've never tried any pre-shave products. A hot shower is best for me. Failing that, I just wash my face with hot water and soap taking my time to do so over about three minutes. I think I've got this part of my shave dialed-in.

    I spent about 18 months trying blades. Personally, I think you've got to try six or eight pieces of a given blade brand to really get the feel for that blade. And I think you really do have to shave with a blade brand for at least a few weeks before you can reach a conclusion (In most cases anyway. There can be cases where a blade just clearly doesn't work for you and, after a few shaves with a few blades of that brand, you can reach a conclusion about that blade. I have, for example, said of Crystal-brand blades that they gave me a greater sympathy for the Palestinian cause because I too have now experienced Israeli violence and aggression. But I did shave ten times with five different Crystal blades before issuing that condemnation. Oh, and let me say this: if you like Crystal blades and they work for you, then that's great. I'm glad for you (especially since it will mean that you're not competing with me for the blades I do like)). Anyway, after all of these 18 or so months experimenting with blades, I determined that: 1) Dorco 301s are a bargain; a great price for a good shave. 2) Derby blades are great. 3) BIC Chrome Platinum blades are excellent and an excellent value. 4) Feather blades are best, but they're expensive especially when you consider that I typically get only about four shaves from one. I think I've got this part of my shave dialed-in.

    I experimented early on with several lather products, but I was very, very fortunate to be introduced early on the The Gentlemen's Quarter. Wow! The prefect soap at a very reasonable price. I thought I had this part of my shave -- and, therefore, the entire shave -- dialed-in.

    And then the world collapsed. Well... maybe not the entire world... that's a bit melodramatic. But my shave collapsed. On that fateful morning, I finished the last bit of my TGQ cake of soap, so I fetched another from my stock and realized that there was only one left on the shelf. Time to order more. So, I went to the web with my charge card in-hand and was shocked to find The Gentlemen's Quarter... gasp!... closed! The horror of it.

    She promised to re-open in the spring, but two things became very clear: First, my remaining TGQ soap wouldn't last through spring; and, second, the spring "date" was likely to not be met. I had to launch anew my exploration of soaps.

    I'm a face-latherer. I load the soap onto the brush and then build the lather up on my face. This is the fastest and easiest method short of shooting the lather out of a can. And you don't have to do the dishes when you're done. I allocate about two minutes for the making of the lather. Yes, I know that this doesn't necessarily produce the optimum lather. If I would put more effort into it, I might get a better lather. But why? With TGQ soap, I could, in about two minutes, have a very pleasant and entirely adequate lather. That's what I'm after.

    When it comes to evaluating lather products, I take the same approach as blades. You usually can't say anything after one or two uses. Each product works a little differently and you need to dial-in (a favorite expression of mine) and it's just not fair to judge a product unless you give it that chance.

    Remember, my goal is an inexpensive shave. So, some of the exotic imports were not on my list.

    The shaving soaps from Momma Bear's Soaps are widely well regarded.

    Before I talk about the soap, let me get this off my chest: I HATE THE PACKAGING OF MOMMA BEAR'S SOAP! I am not a raving environmentalist whacko. But I do think there are some simple things we can all do to help the environment. One of those which I practice is to seek out products which are recyclable and which are less packaged and which have recyclable packaging. This is one thing I love about DE shaving. Multi-blade cartridges are a commingled recycling nightmare; they really aren't recyclable at all. And they come in huge cardboard packages with metallic inks and plastic coatings. Inside of the box, cartridges are then in plastic trays. This is all so unnecessary. Bic Chrome Platinum blades are made of high-grade stainless steel and entirely recyclable. You can collect them up in a steel blade bank box and, when it's full, just toss the whole thing in your recycle bin. An electromagnet will pull them out of the recycle stream. Recyclers LOVE what comes off those magnets because it's highly-recyclable, high-value materials for them. This stuff goes off to become new steel parts at a tiny fraction of the cost of making virgin materials. I love it! But, even before that, these blades come wrapped in waxed paper which is perfectly recyclable. Five blades are put into a small cardboard box which is fully recyclable. And 20 such boxes go into a larger cardboard box. The packaging is minimal and 100% recyclable. Perfect.

    Now comes Momma Bear's Soap. The only way you can get it is in a plastic tub. The tub is too small to load a brush in it without making a mess (watch the video on their site to see what I mean). And I don't want to use it out of a plastic tub; I want to use it out of my polished stainless-steel soap dish (a dish likely to last me the rest of my life).

    Getting the soap out of the tub is tough. Yes, it can be done. You bang on it enough and it comes out. But, I really don't want to engage in any boxing sparring with my shaving soap; I prefer people for that. Unwrapping your shaving soap shouldn't count as an aerobic workout.

    The empty tubs can be repurposed, true. But shaving is something you do everyday and eventually you run out of things to do with the empty tubs.

    Some plastics can be recycled. So, I turned over the Momma Bear's tub and was pleased to find a recycling mark... until I realized that the number in it is seven; seven means other or unknown plastic type. In other words, not actually recyclable. This thing is headed to a landfill.

    Anyway, on to the soap.

    I started with Lime and Bergamot 100% Natural Shaving Soap. I like a citrus scent early in the morning. (Bergamot is an especially-fragrant type of orange). But, while I shaved probably 35 or 45 times with this soap, I was never able to get dialed-in on it. I could eventually get an adequate lather out of, but never great. It was either runny or dry. And the scent was disappointingly weak.

    I next tried Momma Bear's Extreme Clean Glycerin Shave Soap. This is supposed to smell like Bulgari Extreme which is a favorite summer cologne scent for me. I have a bottle of it. And so I can tell you that there's only one word for the scent of Momma Bear's Extreme Clean: FAIL! It's not unpleasant, but it's not Bulgari Extreme. The soap was quite good. The Glycerin formulation seems better than the 100% natural product.

    I moved on to Black Code Glycerin Shave Soap. This is supposed to smell like Armani's popular Code cologne. This is another cologne which I like and own a bottle of. TGQ has offered a Code smell-alike version too and I have found it close, but weak. There is only two word for Momma Bear's copy of Armani Code: nearly-perfect. The smell is perfect and the lather is the same as the Extreme Clean soap which means quite good.

    I found with both of the Glycerin formulation products from Momma Bears that the lather is short-lived. Getting a second lather for a second pass takes a lot of work. Even taking a second stroke can require relathering.

    I was pleased to find at the Sherwood, Oregon Farmer's Market a vendor selling locally-made, artisanal soaps including shaving soap. This area is famous for its lavender which we grow as a crop. So, I opted for the Lavender version of di Orto shaving soap. This is the worst lathering product I have used. I've tried and tried dozens of times and could not get dialed on this product. The lather is runny or dry. You can't even get through a single pass without having to relather because the lather just collapse. Forget about it.

    Next, Williams Mug Soap which can be purchased locally from Walgreens. This stuff smells... well... soapy and not pleasant at all. After a few dozen tries, I was able to get an adequate lather from it. But it's very dry.

    Finally, Van Der Hagen Glycerin soap which I got at the local grocery store, 2.5 ounces for $1.19. It took only a few tried to get dialed-in on this soap. It's easy to use. The scent is pleasant enough. The lather is not in the TGQ league. This lather suffers rinsing issues: it's difficult to rinse it off both your face and out of your brush. I had to make two or three more rinse passes to get it all off my face and it clearly took longer to rinse out the brush. But, even so, it's nice to know that such an adequate soap is readily available for such a low price. This is a good thing to know about.

    Where to go from here? I don't know. I'd welcome your suggestions.
  2. David Martin

    David Martin

    Apr 7, 2008
    I don't know. What was the original point? DM
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011
  3. jacketch


    Dec 18, 2003
    That post was really dialed in.

    ETA sounds like you're on the right track.
  4. David Martin

    David Martin

    Apr 7, 2008
    O--I thought he called it 'my soap Box'. DM
  5. unky_gumbi


    Aug 28, 2009
    Despite the plastic packaging Proraso green is one of my favorite soaps TGQ Code Black was my favorite:( While a little pricey at $10, L'Occtaine's Cade soap, not the cream, would rank 3rd on the list of soaps I have tried. It has a nice scent to me and lathers well with all of my brushes. You can also get it as just a puck and use your stainless dish.
  6. Will Power

    Will Power

    Jan 18, 2007
    Very interesting post, I agree particularly with your comments on blades-that area does take a lot of experimenting.

    You prefer soap to cream then? I'd have thought cream face lathers better (I always use a cup to whip up soap or cream, you spend under 2 minutes on that and you get a first class lather you put straight on your face.But, if you prefer face lathering, OK. You might be surprised though...)

    Don't know about TGQ as I live in Europe and was never able to get them, but I believe they were excellent soaps. Momma Bear's stuff I haven't tried either but I'm a bit suspicious of the vast range, it smacks of gimmick, all those odd flavours. One European soap/cream I'd strongly recommend you try is CELLA. This is long established and is so slick, if you dislike Almond smell though it's not for you. A tub of this gear will last an immense time as you need very little. I think there are sellers of this in the US I know of a British outlet and postage costs are not high either. L'Occitane Cade is also very good and a fresh Juniper smell too. But what of US domestic soaps? Well, I've been very pleased with Colonel Conk soap, Amber, Bay Rum and Almond. They do a Lime one as well. I find they lather well, smell decent and for you in America they won't be expensive. Modest soaps but effective and pleasant.

    Good luck!
  7. unky_gumbi


    Aug 28, 2009
    I completely forgot about Col. Conk soaps:eek: I had a puck of the Bay Rum and loved the scent and lather from it, but I was allergic to it. Just walking into the bathroom would cause my sinuses to clog up for a couple of hours:(
  8. Ron Hanz

    Ron Hanz

    Aug 26, 2001
    I'm new on this forum, but have gleaned a lot of good information already. Have too many razors, brushes, soaps, creams, balms, etc. on the way, but have been using FortyTwoBlades cedar soap for several weeks now, and am really loving it. Lather is terrific, like meringue, and the subtle white cedar scent is great. Comes in a reusable metal cup, not much packaging, $9.00 plus shipping.
  9. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Glad you're enjoying it! I'd just like to chime in on that note to say that refills are available separately for those that already have a bowl--you just have to drop me a line. Glycerine soap melts in the microwave, allowing you to get a custom fit to the bowl of your choice. For this reason, the refills are bar shaped and you cut them up and heat them for a couple of minutes before pouring and allowing to cool. Refills are only $5 like my normal hand/body soaps.
  10. mantic59


    Nov 24, 2010
    Speick. Easy to lather, available as a cream in a tube or a soap "stick" in a foil wrapper (which would appeal to your "green" concerns), pleasant mild "peppery" scent, inexpensive (<$5 for the stick or tube). This is actually one of my all-time favorite creams.

    You should also note that Mamabear soaps are available in stick form (and I believe you can re-use the stick container).

    Emsplace/Shaveplace shaving soaps. They come without container. All I've tried have performed really well (I like their "skindicinal" version myself).
  11. T. Erdelyi

    T. Erdelyi Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 3, 2001
    I can see collectin' for collectin's sake but I've been sportin' face hair of one type or another for over 45 years, I've only been clean shavin' 3 times in my life, 1st job interview, 1st time in front of a judge and to get married.

    I'd never do it again for any of those reasons, so I don't get the close good shave thing, how much does an old fashion shave at a barber cost?

    Do they still have barbers?
  12. wintermute


    Oct 18, 2007
    Cella Crema da Sapone - you can buy it in big honkin' 2lb blocks of it for cheap, mill it, and put it in whatever container you want. Nice faint bitter almond smell. Great lather, ridiculous protection and glide. I'm a face latherer and this lathers so well, I find it to blow Tabac out of the water.
  13. David Martin

    David Martin

    Apr 7, 2008
    Erde, Yes, Barbers still give razor shaves in my area. I can get a straight razor shave and haircut for 17$ plus tax. DM
  14. Gollnick

    Gollnick Musical Director

    Mar 22, 1999
    In Oregon, a barber needs a special license to give straight-razor shaves. This was, I think, done to accommodate young ladies who want to be "stylists" and do ladies hair and didn't want to face the men's shave part of the exam. There are actually two shops that I am aware of in Portland that do them (doubtlessly more). I've gotten mine at The Old Tonsorial Parlor. (A barber who specializes in shaving is traditionally known as a Tonsorialist.)
  15. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    In many states they are no longer legal due to sanitation laws. :(
  16. holygoat

    holygoat Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 25, 2004
    I was all ready to make some recommendations&#8230; then noticed that you were going for affordability. The last soap I bought is $18 for a refill puck. Granted, it's really good, but I wouldn't call that cheap.
  17. timsclips


    Nov 27, 2007
    Arko. I am not sure if you have tried it, but if you have not you should. Best of the cheap soaps.
  18. BasiliOS


    May 11, 2011
    My favorite soaps in order:

    Any of the D.R. Harris line(love the lavender one)
    Truffit and hill
    G.F. Trumpers.

    All of those can be bought as just the soap puck or with a wooden bowl. They all smell great produce a great lather.

    I have them all with the bowl because they are easily replaceable that way. Just pop a new puck in when you are done and you're ready to go.
  19. Gollnick

    Gollnick Musical Director

    Mar 22, 1999
    I have reluctantly had to conclude that it is more-likely than not that TGQ will not come back. Even if she does get back on her feet, and I hope she does, and even presuming that she has all her formulas and notes, restarting the process in a new location after a long break may very likely have delays and issues and never recreate the same product. This is what we in my business refer to as a "lost process." Recovering a process can be difficult and slow.

    So, with that realization, I reluctantly placed an order with my friends at West Coast Shaving.

    Gold Dachs Shaving Soap 75g, Sandalwood $15.00... yes, fifteen bucks is more than I would like to spend, but for a trial run, it's ok.

    Geo F Trumper Extract of Limes Shaving Soap Refill $18.00... eighteen bucks! This stuff better be good.

    D.R. Harris Arlington Shaving Soap Refill, $15.00. Another expensive soap.

    Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Soap Refill, Lavender, $14.50. Fourteen and a half bucks... well, that's less than $15.

    Col Conk Shaving Soap, Amber Large 3.75 oz $5.50. I have high hopes for this one.

    Anyway, this should prove an educational experience. Hopefully, this is upwards of a year's worth of soap.
  20. BasiliOS


    May 11, 2011
    I think you should be fine. Col conk doesn't always lather the best but the trumpers, taylors and Harris are all some of my favorite soaps.

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