05-04-2012, 01:26 AM
#1
  • GreekGuy
  • Not saving money yet....
  • La Jolla, CA
User Info
I had read about Mike's Natural soaps here, and to be honest, I usually joke about "artisan" makers as there are a lot of bad ones out there, and I've had some less than good experiences. Then I heard that one of the my top 3 soaps, Calani, was actually an artisan maker. This got me thinking. After reading some of the reviews, and having 1 too many Gin and Tonics I decided to order some samples of Mikes Natural Soaps. And I'm glad I did.

For my tests, I used a Hart Steel 7/8 Square point razor. I did this for 2 reasons. 1) I'm a predominantly straight razor shaver, and 2) Straights require a better lather than a DE. That is my personal opinion, but while in my experience I can get away with a lesser lather using a DE, a straight requires the best. And there are a number of products which are highly regarded here but are no longer in my den for that reason alone.

The scents have been described elsewhere, so I'm not going to go into that. The samples are 1 oz. I haven't weighed them, but for $1, they are a nice size that let you get an accurate idea of how it performs. I smashed one into my lathering bowl, which I use for any soap samples that I'm testing out. Its not a soft soap, but its somewhat pliable. Nowhere near a croap, but a tad on the softer side of hard soaps. Think Arko, or a tad softer.

For lathering, I used a Simpson's Manchurian Chubby 2, which a member so graciously loaned to me. The soap lathers very easily, and produces a very thick and creamy lather. It has good skin properties too. In fact, while I normally use AS, so I don't consider moisturizing to be important, I didn't use any after my shave and I didn't really feel any dryness until a couple hours later. I can tell it has tallow and lanolin in it. To me, tallow has a characteristic feel, and its evident in this soap. That being said, most of my soaps, and all of my top soaps, don't contain tallow. So I'm not a tallow fanatic by any means. The lanolin is the real star here, and I think thats what adds to its moisturizing properties. I had a BBS shave with it, and was quite pleased.

As an extremely picky soap user, I can thoroughly recommend this soap. I'm a huge skeptic, but I'm really glad I decided to give Mike's a try.

Here are some photos in action:

   

   


Mike also recently came up with a new veggie formula of one of his soaps for people to test. Since most of my soaps are veggie soaps, I thought I would be able to give an accurate review.

The first thing I noticed about the soap is it seems harder than the tallow version. Not triple milled hard, but certainly much less pliable than the tallow version. I used the same Manchurian CH2 for my shave, and the same Hart razor.

I wasn't given an ingredients list, but I don't think it contains lanolin. And I'd be willing to bet it contains a LOT of clay. It took quite a bit more time to load some soap. I normally face lather, but I had trouble getting the lather when I like it. Normally with a dense brush like a Chubby, there is too much water, but as I went back to loading I found myself having to add more and more water to get the lather where I like it, which tends to be on the more runny side, as slickness is much more important for straight shaving than cushion.

Anyway, I finally got it where I liked it and received a very nice shave. Also BBS, with no irritation. The skin care properties were not quite as nice as the tallow version, but by no means bad. I would rate it average. Considering the soaps I use, I'd say thats still above average, but it didn't strike me as being particularly moisturizing the way the tallow version was. I'll get to the photos in a second, but what struck me most about the lather was its density. If you're the type that likes clouds of lather, I don't think this soap is for you. But the only lather I care about is that between my skin and the blade, so having a 1 cm thick pile of lather on my face means 90% of it is just getting in the way and requires me to rinse the blade more often.

I'd rate this just about as slick as the tallow version, but the density of it was something that I, as a straight user, highly appreciate. It reminded me of Calani in many ways. Probably because it contains a high amount of clay, or at least I suspect so. For DE users, you may require more water, or a more voluminous brush to get a suitable lather, as I imagine lather this dense would clog the razor in no time flat.

Here is a photo of the lather produced with the Manchurian CH2, followed by one produced by a semogue 1305. Perhaps I didn't load the semogue long enough, but being a harder soap I think its best suited for a badger brush, and preferably one with backbone at that. Although I'm admittedly a backbone brush snob in some ways, and generally stay away from brushes without that. Boars do better with croaps than badgers, IMHO, but for a soap like this, I think a badger is where its at.

   

   



I don't know what Mike's intent is with this formula, and it may still require a little tinkering, but these are my initial, un-edited impressions. All in all, I highly recommend these soaps. While price isn't a factor I consider in soaps, they are certainly budget friendly. And if you're a vegan or don't get along with tallow and/or lanolin, then hopefully this is one that you may enjoy.

9 541
Reply
 05-04-2012, 04:13 AM
#2
  • oscar11
  • Senior Member
  • North Dakota
User Info
I've only tried the tallow version, it's a good soap.

12 743
Reply
 05-04-2012, 04:56 AM
#3
User Info
Nick, thank you for the in-depth and relevant review. I am looking forward to my veggie sample from Mike.

47 1,270
Reply
 05-04-2012, 08:22 AM
#4
  • mikeperry
  • Senior Member
  • St Louis via the UK
User Info
(05-04-2012, 01:26 AM)GreekGuy Wrote: I had read about Mike's Natural soaps here, and to be honest, I usually joke about "artisan" makers as there are a lot of bad ones out there, and I've had some less than good experiences. Then I heard that one of the my top 3 soaps, Calani, was actually an artisan maker. This got me thinking. After reading some of the reviews, and having 1 too many Gin and Tonics I decided to order some samples of Mikes Natural Soaps. And I'm glad I did.

Hi Nick

Excellent write up Thumbsup

Thinking I'll have to order a few samples sooner, rather than later...

Take care, Mike

23 1,872
Reply
 05-04-2012, 09:36 AM
#5
  • Teiste
  • Moderator Emeritus
  • Salt Lake City,UT
User Info
Great review and excellent photos,my friend.
I'm testing the Natural Science shaving soaps (with tallow and vegan version) and they seems to be the same than these Mike's Naturals Shaving soaps too.
We are lucky than here in USA we can enjoy so many good artisan shaving soap makers.Biggrin

86 7,123
Reply
 05-04-2012, 10:24 AM
#6
  • Dave
  • Moderator Emeritus
User Info
I got my sample from Mike today in the mail, and I have to be honest, I prefer the veggie to the tallow. I wanted to give it a test lather before I used it for a shave. The Veggie seemed to load a bit quicker and I had better lather than with the tallow version. I loaded for about :30 and swirled for close to a minute and here are my results

[Image: 7142232577_a73d43035c.jpg]


[Image: 7142235379_9282416460.jpg]

My only question is, when can we buy a whole puck of this?

116 3,804
Reply
 05-04-2012, 11:15 AM
#7
User Info
Received a sample of Mike's Vegie soap. Thanks Mike.

I test lathered it yesterday with a Omega boar and shaved today using a silver tip brush to work up the lather. It is a very good soap - slick lather, not copious but really thick consistency. The blade just seemed to glide with ease. It did not require much work to get it to lather (thanks to Greekguy's review) when you add sufficient water. It is one thirsty soap for sure. A 30 second loading produced enough, and stable, lather that lasted 3 passes. A nice shave to start the day. The fragrance - I just can't seem to be able to describe it. It is pleasant but nothing I seem to relate it to. Good soap. I do not have a baseline to compare with his tallow soap...perhaps an order in the near future...

0 41
Reply
 05-04-2012, 12:50 PM
#8
  • freddy
  • Senior Member
  • San Diego, California, U.S.A.
User Info
I received my sample of Mike's veggie shave soap yesterday so used it for this morning's shave. I found making lather with it just a bit more difficult than I did with his tallow and lanolin version but not by much. The skin care properties were very good but, again, I preferred the tallow and lanolin version. Do not get me wrong, the veggie version, overall, is very good and much better than a lot of other soaps out there, both artisan and commercial. However, I would choose the tallow and lanolin version because it was a real eye opener when I used it and truly stood at the head of the pack of most soaps I've tried.

2 11,211
Reply
 05-04-2012, 04:06 PM
#9
User Info
Great review, sir.
i just tried Mike's soap this morning and, wow, was i impresed! i got three of Mike's pucks of Lavalin tallow based and it is amazing!

75 20,883
Reply
 05-05-2012, 06:25 AM
#10
  • slantman
  • Expert Shaver
  • Leesburg, Florida
User Info
Great review. Thank you so much. I have been using only the Mike's tallow and lanolin version and extremely am pleased with the results. I find the soap to be somewhat on the soft side which makes it easier to lather.

100 12,437
Reply
 05-10-2012, 07:58 PM
#11
User Info
I thought I'd add my thoughts on this comparison here as well...

Head-to-Head: Tallow (May 8) vs Veggie (May 10)

2 shaves, both on 2-days growth. Same razor (Gem OCMM) & same brush (Semogue OC boar). 

I think it will be easier to state the differences between these as for the most part they are very similar. The biggest difference for me is the way these leave my face feeling after the shave. The tallow version gives me a supple & smooth finish to my face even before any AS. The veggie version doesn't dry me out at all; it just doesn't give me as nice of a finish as the tallow. The only other noticeable difference to me is that the tallow loaded easier, but I attribute this to the greater surface area to work with out of the full-size tin as compared to the sample size. That's about it for the differences, besides scent of course. 

Brush loading: Mike's soaps are not soft, nor are they triple milled hard. Think of a stiff putty consistency. This allows you to load easily as you can get some good concentrated soap on the brush relatively quickly. 

Ease of lathering: One of the easiest to lather soaps I have. With my hard water & desire for a slick lather I need a soap that can hold a lot of water in its lather. Mike's does this well. Don't be afraid to add water to get a nice & creamy lather that is also super slick. 

Lather Stability: I never got an over aerated lather from either of these soaps. The lather holds nicely in the brush & even when the lather is rinsed from my razor it doesn't break down easily in the sink water. 

Cushion: This isn't a quality that is super important for me. That being said I found both soaps to have plenty cushion for me. 

Glide: This is where these soaps shine. I get a very slick & hydrating lather from both versions. I think this is due to the soap's ability to hold a lot of water. It is very easy to make multiple passes over the same area without relathering. This is especially important during blade buffing ATG for me. 

Scents: Mike has a great ability for combining scents and keeping them well balanced. I did notice a little tingling on my face with the veggie version when I lathered for my 3rd pass when the soap was new to me. After letting it air out a bit I didn't notice this tingle sensation again. 

Would I purchase? Yes. I've already purchased a tin of the tallow version. I would be very satisfied with the veggie version as well. I personally prefer the tallow for the final finished feeling but if only the veggie is available then I'd still make sure to keep it in my Nook. This is another proof of how a well formulated veggie soap can easily be as good as a great tallow soap. 

31 7,912
Reply
 05-10-2012, 08:39 PM
#12
  • GreekGuy
  • Not saving money yet....
  • La Jolla, CA
User Info
Brian, great review. It sounds like you and I had similar experiences.

Was your veggie sample scented? Mine doesn't appear to have any scent

9 541
Reply
 05-10-2012, 08:43 PM
#13
User Info
(05-10-2012, 08:39 PM)GreekGuy Wrote: Brian, great review. It sounds like you and I had similar experiences.

Was your veggie sample scented? Mine doesn't appear to have any scent

Yes, mine was Oakmoss & Sandalwood. I really enjoyed the scent; masculine & woodsy.

31 7,912
Reply
 05-10-2012, 09:16 PM
#14
  • GreekGuy
  • Not saving money yet....
  • La Jolla, CA
User Info
(05-10-2012, 08:43 PM)SharpSpine Wrote:
(05-10-2012, 08:39 PM)GreekGuy Wrote: Brian, great review. It sounds like you and I had similar experiences.

Was your veggie sample scented? Mine doesn't appear to have any scent

Yes, mine was Oakmoss & Sandalwood. I really enjoyed the scent; masculine & woodsy.

Hmm. Strange. Mine just smelled(s) like clay and soap

9 541
Reply
 05-20-2012, 10:13 PM
#15
User Info
I've had the chance to use Mike's unscented veggie soap with badger, horse, boar and synthetic brushes in a face-lathering fashion. In short, I like the soap a lot and will probably buy some when I reduce my soap stock. I have not tried his tallow soap so I cannot compare. I think the soap could improve in the skin care department; it's decent just not as good as MWF to my face.

Ease of lathering: 8/10.

Lather Stability: 9/10.

Cushion: 8/10.

Glide: 10/10. Even with buffing.

Scent: 7/10. And I do like unscented.

47 1,270
Reply
 05-21-2012, 04:37 PM
#16
User Info
(05-20-2012, 10:13 PM)kentclark Wrote: I've had the chance to use Mike's unscented veggie soap with badger, horse, boar and synthetic brushes in a face-lathering fashion. In short, I like the soap a lot and will probably buy some when I reduce my soap stock. I have not tried his tallow soap so I cannot compare. I think the soap could improve in the skin care department; it's decent just not as good as MWF to my face.

Ease of lathering: 8/10.

Lather Stability: 9/10.

Cushion: 8/10.

Glide: 10/10. Even with buffing.

Scent: 7/10. And I do like unscented.

Thanks for the review!

6 315
Reply
Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)