10-08-2015, 01:09 PM
#1
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So I've been testing creams and soaps for some time now. Originally I started with Edwin Jagger, then eventually moved up to Geo F. Trumper's, and recently have gotten a tub of Tabula Rasa which I am absolutely loving. I've also been trying a few samples over the past few weeks. The theme here seems to be that the pricier stuff seems to work better for me in that I get significantly more comfortable shaves with a better post-shave feel. I'm not trying to start an argument over price and the warrants of expensive vs. inexpensive products, so I figured that I'd phrase my question this way:

What are the very best soaps/creams that you have tried? Consider money no object.

I haven't tried many soaps and creams since I'm fairly new to wet shaving (started 3 years ago), but the very best that I have tried are Castle Forbes and Tabula Rasa. With Castle Forbes, I get a wonderfully moisturized post-shave, and with Tabula Rasa, I get a perfectly close and comfortable shave with a thick and creamy lather.

I've heard great things about three products in particular: Acqua di Parma (current formulation), Martin de Candre, and Santa Maria Novella (current formulation). I'm seriously considering skipping the middle price range (Trumper's and the like) and going for a rotation that will consist of these three plus Tabula Rasa and possibly Castle Forbes.

Your thoughts?

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 10-08-2015, 01:27 PM
#2
  • kav
  • Banned
  • east of the sun,west of the moon
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Money is the LAST indicator of either performance or user rational in shaving. Many of us returned to wetshaving to ahem 'save money'.
We have members who hunt old pucks of Williams tallow soap with the determination of feather merchants dodging cannibals circa 1900.
Anyone who uses a modern puck likely uses Lilac Vegetal ( I used both my first juvenile shave week). A product can be reformulated at the whim of an anonymous bean counter or  made by a third party who makes the same damned stuff for somebody else under a different label and we love one and hate the other. You can use the accumulated experience of others and read about products that work for 99% of us. that's the 'rub'.
We are individuals, and our own body chemistry can either Tango with or get it's toes stepped on by ANY soap regardless of price or reputation.

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 10-08-2015, 01:32 PM
#3
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(10-08-2015, 01:27 PM)kav Wrote: Money is the LAST indicator of either performance or user rational in shaving. Many of us returned to wetshaving to ahem 'save money'.
We have members who hunt old pucks of Williams tallow soap with the determination of feather merchants dodging cannibals circa 1900.
Anyone who uses a modern puck likely uses Lilac Vegetal ( I used both my first juvenile shave week). A product can be reformulated at the whim of an anonymous bean counter or  made by a third party who makes the same damned stuff for somebody else under a different label and we love one and hate the other. You can use the accumulated experience of others and read about products that work for 99% of us. that's the 'rub'.
We are individuals, and our own body chemistry can either Tango with or get it's toes stepped on by ANY soap regardless of price or reputation.

I do understand this concept, truly. While I can't quite explain why, it is typically the more expensive soaps/creams that have worked best for me. Or perhaps it is something peculiar about the ones I have tried. Either way, I'm interested in hearing what people consider to be "the very best" for them, in the hopes that it might inspire me to try a few things that just might work for me.

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 10-08-2015, 01:39 PM
#4
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Xpec is truly a great cream, though I wouldn't ever spend the money on it again. I couldn't stand the smell of the original scented but the unscented works extremely well for me. MdC original and Fougere both are fantastic, as is many of the old English vintage soaps if you can get your hands on them. I've got some old Yardley that is just sublime, as well as some really old Colgate pucks that whip up a lather that can stand with anything out there. 

Those being semi-expensive offerings, but none of them work any better than some of the excellent artisans. Barrister and Mann, Mickey Lee Soapworks, Chiseled Face, etc all work just as well if not better. In fact my B&M Black Label Lavender has me planning on selling my MdC original. Works better, smells better. Post-shave feel is another consideration, and in my world Haslinger Schafmilch (under $10) and Savonniere du Moulin (SdM - $25ish) leave me with absolutely the most supple and moisturized feeling skin I've found.

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 10-08-2015, 01:47 PM
#5
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My current stable consists of:

Mikes Natural Soaps - amazing performance, availability is so-so.

Barrister and Mann - just start picking scents and once you find one you like you're good. The performance is also stellar.

Mystic Waters - just learn how to make a good lather with it and be patient. You'll be rewarded with great shaves and post shave.

AOS tallow - made by Valobra, this stuff will eventually become hard to find. However there is a good amount in circulation at present. Great performer!

I don't think there is a correlation between price and performance. I've owned all the ridiculously overpriced soaps at one point or another, and most of them were fine. But all these soaps I listed here blow them out of the water IMHO and can be had at a fraction of the price. I'm not in this hobby to save money shaving, but don't overlook some of the relative steals you can get when it comes to domestic artisans!


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 10-08-2015, 01:48 PM
#6
  • Jovan
  • Banned
  • Traveling USA
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Meissner is my current 'Best' or favorite soap.  Second would be another German soap Klar Seifert.  Third would be C&S all are enjoyable.

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 10-08-2015, 01:49 PM
#7
  • kav
  • Banned
  • east of the sun,west of the moon
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MWF is a perennial front runner with a silly rep for difficulty lathering. I must be doing it all wrong. I ignore the various protocols and just lather up.
Anything German: Klars, Tabac, Dittmars are excellent. My personal caveat is most have NO scent and after awhile are about as welcoming as a
bran muffin and one of those Doctor Oz  ground up frog green superjuices for breakfast.
Savonerrie du La Moulin; inspiration for many members enjoying a second childhood of 'assmilk' jokes. Once we stopped hyperventilating in mirth
and understood the loufa pad Citroen suspension system the outstanding quality of this new product  found many converts.
You will receive many more suggestions in rapid succession.  These are the three I have embraced SO FAR.

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 10-08-2015, 02:08 PM
#8
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(10-08-2015, 01:27 PM)kav Wrote: Money is the LAST indicator of either performance or user rational in shaving. Many of us returned to wetshaving to ahem 'save money'.
*We have members who hunt old pucks of Williams tallow soap with the determination of feather merchants dodging cannibals circa 1900.
**Anyone who uses a modern puck likely uses Lilac Vegetal ( I used both my first juvenile shave week). A product can be reformulated at the whim of an anonymous bean counter or  made by a third party who makes the same damned stuff for somebody else under a different label and we love one and hate the other. You can use the accumulated experience of others and read about products that work for 99% of us. that's the 'rub'.
We are individuals, and our own body chemistry can either Tango with or get it's toes stepped on by ANY soap regardless of price or reputation.
*Guilty as charged. 
**This, my friend, I take issue with.  Nono
  Signs011

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 10-08-2015, 02:23 PM
#9
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Do yourself a favor and add XPEC to the rotation!

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 10-08-2015, 02:32 PM
#10
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Nuavia.

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 10-08-2015, 02:37 PM
#11
  • kav
  • Banned
  • east of the sun,west of the moon
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Primo, forgive me! I bought 8 Maria Callas CDs at a garage sale for .25 each and was listening to Tosca and lost all rational- Can you explain the plot?

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 10-08-2015, 02:54 PM
#12
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(10-08-2015, 01:32 PM)NeoXerxes Wrote:
(10-08-2015, 01:27 PM)kav Wrote: Money is the LAST indicator of either performance or user rational in shaving. Many of us returned to wetshaving to ahem 'save money'.
We have members who hunt old pucks of Williams tallow soap with the determination of feather merchants dodging cannibals circa 1900.
Anyone who uses a modern puck likely uses Lilac Vegetal ( I used both my first juvenile shave week). A product can be reformulated at the whim of an anonymous bean counter or  made by a third party who makes the same damned stuff for somebody else under a different label and we love one and hate the other. You can use the accumulated experience of others and read about products that work for 99% of us. that's the 'rub'.
We are individuals, and our own body chemistry can either Tango with or get it's toes stepped on by ANY soap regardless of price or reputation.

I do understand this concept, truly. While I can't quite explain why, it is typically the more expensive soaps/creams that have worked best for me. Or perhaps it is something peculiar about the ones I have tried. Either way, I'm interested in hearing what people consider to be "the very best" for them, in the hopes that it might inspire me to try a few things that just might work for me.

If youre not worried about the cash: 

Buy one jar of St. James of London ($25/jar) +

Xpec
Pannacrema Nuavia Rossa/Blu
Antica Barbieria Colla
MDC (overrated in my opinion, but lasts quite a long time)
AdP (overpriced but a very good cream)


In the Artisan Sector:

Barrister and Mann
Bufflehead Soaps
"Ass Milk"
Saponificio Varesino

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 10-08-2015, 02:58 PM
#13
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(10-08-2015, 02:37 PM)kav Wrote: Primo, forgive me! I bought 8 Maria Callas CDs at a garage sale for .25 each and was listening to Tosca and lost all rational- Can you explain the plot?
Biggrin

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 10-08-2015, 03:03 PM
#14
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My current rotation , I think it's one of the best


ADP
XPEC
SMN
Jabonman
CRSW
Mystic water




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 10-08-2015, 03:04 PM
#15
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What our friend kav was trying to say was that the higher the $$ does not always equal a proportionally better soap. He did correctly mention vintage Williams tallow, which I do buy on ebay at a premium. But nowhere near the price of xpec of MdC. Spend some sensible $$ on Mike's, MW, MWF and you will have everything you will need in a soap and MORE! BTW, finishing it off with a splash of Vintage Veg or Vintage Old Spice (Lime, Leather, Burley, Musk) will complete a TERRIFIC shave.  Biggrin

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 10-08-2015, 03:12 PM
#16
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Most of my favourites are quite reasonably priced:

Mystic Water
Cold River
Shannon's
Mike's
Haslinger

There isn't any need to buy anything overly expensive, in my opinion.

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 10-08-2015, 03:18 PM
#17
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(10-08-2015, 03:04 PM)primotenore Wrote: What our friend kav was trying to say was that the higher the $$ does not always equal a proportionally better soap. He did correctly mention vintage Williams tallow, which I do buy on ebay at a premium. But nowhere near the price of xpec of MdC. Spend some sensible $$ on Mike's, MW, MWF and you will have everything you will need in a soap and MORE! BTW, finishing it off with a splash of Vintage Veg or Vintage Old Spice (Lime, Leather, Burley, Musk) will complete a TERRIFIC shave.  Biggrin

I'm not sure if there's no relationship between price and quality of shave, but there are lots of mediocre soaps that aren't worth your money. 

I've never tried MdC, but there are very good shaving soaps - and then some special ones that are worth the investment. Mike's and Stirling are reasonably priced, but still have top-notch performance. There are subtleties that eventually play a role in your enjoyment, like aroma, slickness, and even value. I think it's fun to try out samples and find out which ones rock your boat.

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 10-08-2015, 03:19 PM
#18
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For around $35 you can get a tub of baume.be cream. It is my all time favorite. I recommend it to many beginners because it's super easy to lather, very forgiving with the water, lather is thick and slick. Provides great cushion and spreads well and stays in place when applying. Has a good clean scent and wonderful post shave feel. Next on my list would be Country Club vegan my 3 favorite scents are la habana, London skies, and yacht club you can buy these for about $20 I reccomend picking up some of their aftershave while on their site as it is great as well. Next would be LPL I love the Rose sent the most but others are good as well (I have the cedar patchouli and vet over bourbon). I have about 75 soaps and creams in my den and without thought to prices those are my favorites I own AdP, ABC , MdC, and other high dollars which are great as well, but if I had to choose 3 to use for the rest of my life they would get left behind. Everybody is different though, there are also sites where you can buy samples of artisans and sites where you can buy high end samples. That way you can try a few shaves with a soap or cream before committing.

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 10-08-2015, 04:30 PM
#19
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(10-08-2015, 01:32 PM)NeoXerxes Wrote:
(10-08-2015, 01:27 PM)kav Wrote: Money is the LAST indicator of either performance or user rational in shaving. Many of us returned to wetshaving to ahem 'save money'.
We have members who hunt old pucks of Williams tallow soap with the determination of feather merchants dodging cannibals circa 1900.
Anyone who uses a modern puck likely uses Lilac Vegetal ( I used both my first juvenile shave week). A product can be reformulated at the whim of an anonymous bean counter or  made by a third party who makes the same damned stuff for somebody else under a different label and we love one and hate the other. You can use the accumulated experience of others and read about products that work for 99% of us. that's the 'rub'.
We are individuals, and our own body chemistry can either Tango with or get it's toes stepped on by ANY soap regardless of price or reputation.

I do understand this concept, truly. While I can't quite explain why, it is typically the more expensive soaps/creams that have worked best for me. Or perhaps it is something peculiar about the ones I have tried. Either way, I'm interested in hearing what people consider to be "the very best" for them, in the hopes that it might inspire me to try a few things that just might work for me.

It sounds to me like you haven't tried many artisan soaps. Cost has nothing to do with the quality of soap I am certain. If you look at the ingredients of all soaps you will see that some expensive soaps have very basic ingredients and some have fairly complex ingredients and the same is true of artisan soaps and low price commercial soaps as well. In addition to ingredients a soap maker must know how to make a good soap, which means knowing how to mix the ingredients, when to mix, what temperatures, amounts, how to properly scent soaps, etc. I guarantee you there are plenty of artisan soap for under $20 that are every bit as good as the most expensive soaps. I have not personally used and very high priced soaps or creams but I know how to read ingredients and I know which companies know how to make quality soap. Barrister & Mann, Stirling, Reef Point, Strop Shoppe, Soapy Bathman, Tim's Soap, and Catie's Bubbles are only some of the many artisan soaps that are top notch quality and should be tried before writing off lower priced soaps. I do however own and use Creed Green Irish Tweed aftershave and while it is good it is no better in performance than Soap Commander or Stirling. However, the scent is amazing to me and why I might replace it when it is gone, unless I can find a very close match. 

I guess my thinking is what can a company that makes expensive soaps do that a smaller artisan cannot? I believe that answer is nothing. I hope you will try some of the brands mentioned in this thread and report back with your experience and opinion.

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 10-08-2015, 07:00 PM
#20
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My favorites so far are the italians:

SMN (New Formulation)
Valobra (Hard - Patchouli)
ABC (Soap)

And the Artisans:

Barrister and Mann (Black Label, Latha and Regular)
Mystic Waters
CRSW
Mike's 
Stirling

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