12-16-2013, 02:57 AM
#1
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based on my experience I have come to a small conclusion

European artisan soap makers are better than American artisan soap makers.

this is not to say american soaps are not good, you guys have some great ones and i enjoy them as much as any of my other favourite soaps, but on balance and weighing up all the options and performance differences out there, i think that Europe consistently puts out some of the best soaps on the market. some of which have massive following and huge reputations, others are lesser known but just as good.

Discuss.

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 12-16-2013, 03:04 AM
#2
  • Agravic
  • Emeritus
  • Pennsylvania, USA
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A rather bold statement you make.

I disagree, though, and will say that there are superb artisan soap offerings from both sides of the Atlantic ... access and pricing may play a role however, IMO, in terms of what's favored regionally ...

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 12-16-2013, 04:24 AM
#3
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I have to side with Ravi - there are good and bad (and some downright horrible, if online reviews are to trusted) artisans on both side of the pond...

There seem - at least to me - that there are more of them in the US, which may give the impression that there are more of the bad ones over yonder.

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 12-16-2013, 04:43 AM
#4
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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Based on my experience I would disagree. I would say they are about equal, both good and bad.

But based on my experience I would say we have better oranges and watermelons.

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 12-16-2013, 05:14 AM
#5
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I would also disagree, I find them comparable in quality, with the American soaps possibly being a bit more inexpensive.

A few American soaps you should try if you haven't already:

- LA Shaving Woody Lavender or Toupanga Fougere
- Hardy Shaving Citrus Basil
- Barrister & Mann Lime, Lavender, Cedarwood
- Mystic Water Marrakesh

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 12-16-2013, 05:59 AM
#6
  • ben74
  • Administrator
  • Perth, Australia
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I can honestly say that I've never encountered an artisan soap maker in Australia that could even come close to the quality being produced in the US (for example from the likes of MW and Mikes's) or from Europe (for example Jabonman and Tabula Rasa). While I can count more favourites from Europe than the US, I wouldn't declare one region as necessarily producing better quality than another...

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 12-16-2013, 06:12 AM
#7
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I have both European and US artisan shave soaps in my den...

I tend to prefer the European ones, mainly because the shipping is less expensive, as I live in Europe. Customs and delivery times can also be a big issue, and frequently a deal breaker for an European guy shopping in US webshops. But there is good and bad on either side of the pond, and I do not believe that there is a significant trendline towards differences of quality.

There are a lot of European artisans (with excellent quality) that are pretty much unknown in the US forums - and the contrary is also true, a lot of the US based ones are also pretty much unknown in Europe.

So, the best thing to do would be trying all of them... right? Biggrin

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 12-16-2013, 06:16 AM
#8
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I would love to try some B&M Roam soap.

Never been a fan of mikes soaps, their good, but they just did not live up to the hype.
PPF soaps are probably my favourite US artisan currently, and i am also partial to neumanns. both their soaps and balms are excellent.

but razorock, MdC, Calani, pannacrema to name a few all have the americans beat on overall performance. of course this is just my opinion so please dont feel like this is an attack on the good yanks Smile

I have yet to use jabonman but weirdly i dont have much desire to try it.

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 12-16-2013, 06:16 AM
#9
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I think this is pretty clear case of "YMMV" and that your whichever side your answer comes down on is because your preferred products are produced there.

I think the breadth of European traditional shaving products (from razors to soaps/creams to aftershaves) and the space they occupy in the neighborhood pharmacy or grocery story has the US beat. But that's not to say that what they make is any "better" or "worse" objectively-speaking than what is produced in the US. Or Asia or Australia, or Africa, for that matter. I think they have Antarctica beat, though!

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 12-16-2013, 06:31 AM
#10
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I was immediately caught off guard to the title because I could not think of any European artisanal soap makers off the top of my head. Thinking more of someone in their kitchen stirring a pot on top of the stove. Somehow Calani does not seem to fit that picture, nor do I think MdC does either after looking at her site. Pannacrema never seems to produce anything in enough quantity to have it available, so I suppose he does fit the picture. I do see Mike stirring a pot in his apartment in New York. Guess I am at somewhat of a loss as to who/what artisanal are. Huh

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 12-16-2013, 06:35 AM
#11
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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John, I think Mike has left the kitchen in NY and is now in the kitchen in MO.

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 12-16-2013, 06:38 AM
#12
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(12-16-2013, 06:31 AM)john parker Wrote: I was immediately caught off guard to the title because I could not think of any European artisanal soap makers off the top of my head. Thinking more of someone in their kitchen stirring a pot on top of the stove. Somehow Calani does not seem to fit that picture, nor do I think MdC does either after looking at her site. Pannacrema never seems to produce anything in enough quantity to have it available, so I suppose he does fit the picture. I do see Mike stirring a pot in his apartment in New York. Guess I am at somewhat of a loss as to who/what artisanal are. Huh

ahh that is indeed an interesting question. what constitutes as an artisan soap?

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 12-16-2013, 07:00 AM
#13
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typo? I think he is in MI.

(12-16-2013, 06:35 AM)Johnny Wrote: John, I think Mike has left the kitchen in NY and is now in the kitchen in MO.

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 12-16-2013, 07:03 AM
#14
  • slantman
  • Expert Shaver
  • Leesburg, Florida
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Seems pretty equal but price wise the European soaps cost more because of shipping and Euro prices.

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 12-16-2013, 07:06 AM
#15
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never gave a deep thought on what continent or country my soaps come from. however - europe consist of lots of countries - and the states are united - therefor it is impossible to determine anything in this matter.

that said: all my favorite de razors are made by us company gillette - although the top-of-the-pops of those where made in uk Biggrin

ymmv & yfmc (your favorites may change)

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 12-16-2013, 07:10 AM
#16
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(12-16-2013, 06:31 AM)john parker Wrote: I was immediately caught off guard to the title because I could not think of any European artisanal soap makers off the top of my head. Thinking more of someone in their kitchen stirring a pot on top of the stove. Somehow Calani does not seem to fit that picture, nor do I think MdC does either after looking at her site. Pannacrema never seems to produce anything in enough quantity to have it available, so I suppose he does fit the picture. I do see Mike stirring a pot in his apartment in New York. Guess I am at somewhat of a loss as to who/what artisanal are. Huh

Well, as I said before, the majority of European artisan soap makers are pretty much unknown in US forums... and your words seem to confirm it. Smile

From the top of my head, I can recall some, all with excellent quality:
- Nanny's Silly Soaps (UK);
- JabonMan (Spain);
- Jabones Mé (Spain);
- Calani (I don't really know why Calani doesn't fit in your picture, but oh well, have a chat with Cathy, the artisan, and take all your doubts);
- Savon des Volcans (France);
- Le Père Lucien (France);
- Tabula Rasa (Germany - hey, here's someone stirring a pot! Smile);
- Haslinger (Austria)
- StoBa Rasierseife (Austria)

...and many, many more, I don't even went into the Italian ones like Pannacrema. So there ya go, there's some of them for you to investigate. Wink

With that said, I'm not saying that Europeans artisans are better in quality than the American ones, or the contrary.
You may prefer one to another, but that is not a matter of quality (or lack of it), is a matter of personal preference. There is a plethora of quality artisan soap makers in both sides of the Atlantic, for all tastes and wallets. Wink

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 12-16-2013, 08:44 AM
#17
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Thank you, Emanuel! Appreciate the link to Tabula Rasa; that is certainly "stirring a pot" and exactly my mental picture of an artisan! I remember some pictures from Calani a few years ago, and I recollect that as more of a production line; perhaps my memory is bad. Jabonman I knew about. Haslinger, too, just hits me as a production line. But that is all probably due to my ignorance. Still, it seems to me that the line between artisans and "commercial producers" (for lack of a better definition) is not distinct.

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 12-16-2013, 09:36 AM
#18
  • Teddyboy
  • Guilty, with an explanation
  • NYC
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In general I believe that Europe has a much richer tradition for skin care compositions, cosmeceuticals, etc., than the U.S. Perhaps it can be traced to having a "true aristocracy" that has historically searched for ways to pamper and treat themselves in the finest manner known. Thus, there should be no surprise that there are more superior artisan shave soaps made in Europe. In fact, the non-artisan, mass-produced soaps are also superior to what is made in the U.S.

I guess I'm suggesting that the OP's premise is not all that surprising.

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 12-16-2013, 09:45 AM
#19
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When I consider my D.R. Harris shaving soaps, I certainly must agree with your thoughts.


(12-16-2013, 09:36 AM)Teddyboy Wrote: In general I believe that Europe has a much richer tradition for skin care compositions, cosmeceuticals, etc., than the U.S. Perhaps it can be traced to having a "true aristocracy" that has historically searched for ways to pamper and treat themselves in the finest manner known. Thus, there should be no surprise that there are more superior artisan shave soaps made in Europe. In fact, the non-artisan, mass-produced soaps are also superior to what is made in the U.S.

I guess I'm suggesting that the OP's premise is not all that surprising.

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 12-16-2013, 10:01 AM
#20
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(12-16-2013, 06:31 AM)john parker Wrote: I was immediately caught off guard to the title because I could not think of any European artisanal soap makers off the top of my head. Thinking more of someone in their kitchen stirring a pot on top of the stove. Somehow Calani does not seem to fit that picture, nor do I think MdC does either after looking at her site. Pannacrema never seems to produce anything in enough quantity to have it available, so I suppose he does fit the picture. I do see Mike stirring a pot in his apartment in New York. Guess I am at somewhat of a loss as to who/what artisanal are. Huh

I think its trickier because many of the "established" soap-makers in Europe started off artisanal but through history and market availability have become more "commercial." Traditional shaving is more nascent in the US (or I guess a re-birth) so guys like Mike's Naturals or Barrister & Mann have had a lot less time to become Proraso or Claus Porto.

I can't remember exactly where I saw the "making of" photos, but Tabula Rasa seems pretty artisanal. I think I saw it being made in a Crock Pot, in very small batches.

EDIT: I just saw Emmanuel's list with the reference I was talking about re: Tabula Rasa.

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