10-20-2015, 11:51 PM
#1
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I have about 20-25 soaps in my collection currently and about half of them are artisan soaps. Of said artisan soaps, most of them contain tallow and lanolin... And all of them perform nearly identically...

I'm really beginning to appreciate products that break this mold with different ingredients and different attributes. Saponificio Varesino, for example, has a very different feeling consistency when lathered that I can tell apart yet still performs wonderfully. Nuavia feels almost like a fluffy lotion when lathered and is noticeably different in the shave and provides an amazing post shave using different types of ingredients compared to tallow and lanolin soaps. I'm starting to wish that more artisans would experiment with formulas that are more different from the rest that are already on the market.

Mike's, Barrister & Mann, Cold River Select, Mystic Water, Queen Charlotte, Stirling, etc... If I were shaving blindfolded and tried each of these one by one on a shave by shave basis, I could be fooled into thinking they were all the same soap. I'm sure I could rank these if I really compared them quite a bit and took notes but it would be hairs separating them all on the list. I don't have any problems with their performance, but I'm starting to feel like it was redundant to buy and keep all of them. Is this just me?

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 10-21-2015, 01:02 AM
#2
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I only use vegan soaps and they are wonderful. I agree about the Nauvia it's super. Along with Baume.be, Xpec
St James, SMN, SdM, Saponificio Varesino. So many to choose from.

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 10-21-2015, 01:03 AM
#3
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(10-20-2015, 11:51 PM)IMightBeWrong Wrote: I have about 20-25 soaps in my collection currently and about half of them are artisan soaps. Of said artisan soaps, most of them contain tallow and lanolin... And all of them perform nearly identically...

I'm really beginning to appreciate products that break this mold with different ingredients and different attributes. Saponificio Varesino, for example, has a very different feeling consistency when lathered that I can tell apart yet still performs wonderfully. Nuavia feels almost like a fluffy lotion when lathered and is noticeably different in the shave and provides an amazing post shave using different types of ingredients compared to tallow and lanolin soaps. I'm starting to wish that more artisans would experiment with formulas that are more different from the rest that are already on the market.

Mike's, Barrister & Mann, Cold River Select, Mystic Water, Queen Charlotte, Stirling, etc... If I were shaving blindfolded and tried each of these one by one on a shave by shave basis, I could be fooled into thinking they were all the same soap. I'm sure I could rank these if I really compared them quite a bit and took notes but it would be hairs separating them all on the list. I don't have any problems with their performance, but I'm starting to feel like it was redundant to buy and keep all of them. Is this just me?

I get your points.

This is why I have limited myself to only buying from 4 US artisans (B&M, Caties, CRSW Select and RazorRock) and 2 Euro artisans (Tabula Rasa and Castle Forbes)

I also feel the constant pushing of new artisan names is getting a bit boring and uninspiring for me these days.

I stick to these artisans, unless someone can convince a new artisan maker has reinvented the wheel.......

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 10-21-2015, 01:33 AM
#4
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When looking at the complete product, concentrating on hardness, scent, cushion amd slickness, in a blind test I could probably tell apart B&M, CRSW, CB and a few others. I think you are right in that lather can be similar, but I wouldn't say they are nearly identical IMO.

MW is more slick than CRSW, which in turn has less cushion than SV IMO. I do agree that its being over marketed with the presence of the new best thing popping up continually. Some just take this level of choice as a good thing. Another issue is rotating, its harder to learn the true characteristics of a soap without continual use.

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 10-21-2015, 04:02 AM
#5
  • VTMAX
  • Banned
  • Woodstock, Vermont
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Nishy mentioned rotating and I have really come to enjoy, over the last year, using a soap from start to finish.  
I used to rotate all the time and when I stopped and just used one soap everything improved.  Got to know a soap, its characteristics, better lather and shaves.

Another non artisan is the I Coloniali.  Great creamy lather...really have grown to love this soap (and scent.)

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 10-21-2015, 04:16 AM
#6
  • Johnny
  • MODERATOR EMERITUS
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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What is this Nauvia you speak of?  I am not familiar with this brand.

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 10-21-2015, 05:29 AM
#7
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I disagree somewhat.  Although they are similar, the artisans soaps I have the most experience with (Stirling, Soap Commander, Mike's, Mystic Water, Shannon's Soaps) do have different qualities and perform differently.  The one that stands out most to me is Mystic Water, so much so that I've sold all my other soaps and now only use it.  Stirling, Mike's, and Shannon's do perform very similarly, but I can still tell subtle differences between them.  Soap Commander, being the only vegan soap in that lineup, is also similar but noticeably different, mostly in the post shave and cushion departments.

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 10-21-2015, 06:22 AM
#8
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Well, Nick. I don't think I can be of any help as I only use one soap, now, but for me, I can easily detect a noticeable difference in scents, and with some, a difference in lather and post-shave.
All of the ones you have mentioned are excellent soaps and I would suggest just using those you prefer the best, especially, with scents and just rotating them because, for me, scent is an extremely important element.
Good luck. Smile

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 10-21-2015, 06:43 AM
#9
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I think it may be asking a bit much for somebody to come up with something so different that it could reliably be separated from the others in a blind test, given that they are all soaps and produce soap lather.  

The ideal soap lather for shaving has certain qualities, and everybody making soaps is aiming to capture those qualities.  My feeling is, ultimately, that most really good shaving soaps currently on the market approach a superb shaving soap lather as an asymptote.  Therefore, even fairly major differences in soap ingredients lead to only minor differences in shaving performance; that's the nature of asymptotic functions.   So, from my point of view, the overwhelming similarity of so many of the artisan soaps now on the market is a major plus, not a negative.  

I also fear that if anybody tried to go too far in another direction (in terms of attempting to make something "different,") that it would most likely end up being worse in some aspect.  

Mystic Water is the only one that is kind of fundamentally different, because of the exclusion of saponified coconut oil.  This approach has produced a soap that has many admirers (some of them ardent), but also many detractors.  



On the other hand, maybe I'm completely wrong and somebody will come up with something radically different that is clearly superior.

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 10-21-2015, 08:15 AM
#10
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When lathered properly, I cannot tell the difference between a 2 buck stick of Arko and a 35 buck tin of SV.  It is all in making good lather.  Granted, some soaps are easier with which to make lather but, in the end, lather is lather.

Ed

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 10-21-2015, 09:07 AM
#11
  • leonidas
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  • Jerez de la Frontera
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.......i get great shaves from my Lord L6, Arko, and a boar brush................

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 10-21-2015, 09:17 AM
#12
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I agree that most tallow + lanolin artisan soaps are very similar.  The exceptions for me are B&M and especially Mystic Waters, as others have mentioned.  MW can be difficult but once you figure it out, a properly lathered MW stands by itself at the top in my opinion.

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 10-21-2015, 09:52 AM
#13
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Chemistry is chemistry so there is only so many ways to make soap. Each vendor can tweak the recipe a little, make it harder or softer, but in the end if they want a product that lathers well and gives you a slick shave they are going to have a lot of similarities. 
 
That said I have my favorite soaps and many of them do have some of the same attributes but I got them more for the scent and that is the hook.  Make a scent I like and I may make it the next soap I buy.

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 10-21-2015, 10:03 AM
#14
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(10-21-2015, 01:03 AM)CHSeifert Wrote: I get your points.

This is why I have limited myself to only buying from 4 US artisans (B&M, Caties, CRSW Select and RazorRock) and 2 Euro artisans (Tabula Rasa and Castle Forbes)

I also feel the constant pushing of new artisan names is getting a bit boring and uninspiring for me these days.

I stick to these artisans, unless someone can convince a new artisan maker has reinvented the wheel.......


Great reply! I'm with you completely. Out of the US artisans I've tried, I haven't had all that much success. Barrister & Mann provides very solid shaves for me, and the scents are way above average, but they aren't spectacular when it comes to performance (at least for me). Same with Razorock, except that the scents are noticeably inferior and more synthetic compared to B&M. 

Euro artisans seem to work much better for me. Castle Forbes and Tabula Rasa (in particular) are among my all time favorites, and give spectacular, smooth, and comfortable shaves every time. Martin de Candre is my favorite new discovery. I'll for sure be trying new artisans, but it will be hard to get me excited about US artisans unless there is something truly special on the horizon. 

On the other hand, US artisans like B&M and Canadian artisans like Crown make FANTASTIC aftershave splash products that seem to moisturize like a good lotion.

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 10-21-2015, 10:36 AM
#15
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It is true that there is a basic chemistry to it. There are slight differences that can be made by changing the percentages of ingredients or adding adding some different ones. 

The performances are going to start being close, and I have noticed this. There are differences in how fast to get to lather, range of tolerance of water, etc., but overall close. Even though I prefer tallow soaps, I have not seen a large difference between artisans in this area either (example: Tim's soaps).

I personally love the breadth of scents. So when I am buying my hoard of soaps the decision really boils down to scents and price as performance is so close. I have recently decided to keep myself down to only a few artisans for a while. They have the scents I like and the performance is great.

Sitrling, Tim's, Reef Point.

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 10-21-2015, 10:40 AM
#16
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(10-21-2015, 04:16 AM)Johnny Wrote: What is this Nauvia you speak of?  I am not familiar with this brand.

Nuavia is PannaCrema's newest soap formula. I consider it a must-have, it's a great product.

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 10-21-2015, 10:48 AM
#17
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(10-21-2015, 06:22 AM)celestino Wrote: Well, Nick. I don't think I can be of any help as I only use one soap, now, but for me, I can easily detect a noticeable difference in scents, and with some, a difference in lather and post-shave.
All of the ones you have mentioned are excellent soaps and I would suggest just using those you prefer the best, especially, with scents and just rotating them because, for me, scent is an extremely important element.
Good luck. Smile

Nothing to help with so to speak. It's really just an observation. I don't think I'll purchase another tallow and lanolin artisan soap until I've used up more of my current stock simply to avoid redundancy.

Of course difference in scents is apparent. I don't have any scents that are redundant between these soaps which keeps all of them in rotation. I am a big fan of quality scents as well.

Looking at other responses, I think I can agree that if any soap I listed stands out as different from the rest by a bit it's Mystic Waters. It actually seems to me like the medium between the other soaps on this list and Mitchell's Wool Fat. Slicker than most of the soaps by a bit, not quite as thick a lather, but not quite as light a lather as MWF. At least that's my evaluation of it so far. Appreciate your help dialing it in, by the way, Celestino!

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 10-21-2015, 11:06 AM
#18
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I have tried many of the soaps said here in this post. I get much more difference between the tallow makers soap. I do not care for some tallow makers soap because of the little slickness or bad scents. CRSW is the best of the tallow and Mikes Naturals. Those good ones have slick, thick heavy lather and the best after shave feelings.

Most of the vegetarian soaps all seem the same, fluffy lighter lather and drying face after shave. For me I must use a lotion after shave on these soaps. For vegetarian soaps I will think the difference is best in MW and Sapono Varesino. But being fair to these vegetarians soaps I have to try more but like the tallow better so it is slow for me to try them all.

I can say that maybe it is not that easy to see but if you are honest and try, how can you not see the difference in the lathers and the way they shave and aftershave feel?

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 10-21-2015, 11:46 AM
#19
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(10-21-2015, 11:06 AM)stephengilley Wrote: I have tried many of the soaps said here in this post. I get much more difference between the tallow makers soap. I do not care for some tallow makers soap because of the little slickness or bad scents. CRSW is the best of the tallow and Mikes Naturals. Those good ones have slick, thick heavy lather and the best after shave feelings.

Most of the vegetarian soaps all seem the same, fluffy lighter lather and drying face after shave. For me I must use a lotion after shave on these soaps. For vegetarian soaps I will think the difference is best in MW and Sapono Varesino. But being fair to these vegetarians soaps I have to try more but like the tallow better so it is slow for me to try them all.

I can say that maybe it is not that easy to see but if you are honest and try, how can you not see the difference in the lathers and the way they shave and aftershave feel?

Just FYI, MW is not a veggie soap.  It's a tallow soap.

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 10-21-2015, 11:52 AM
#20
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(10-21-2015, 11:06 AM)stephengilley Wrote: Most of the vegetarian soaps all seem the same, fluffy lighter lather and drying face after shave. For me I must use a lotion after shave on these soaps. For vegetarian soaps I will think the difference is best in MW and Sapono Varesino. But being fair to these vegetarians soaps I have to try more but like the tallow better so it is slow for me to try them all.

Just to make a correction, here; MW soaps are tallow and not vegetarian. I agree, though with the drying effect of many vegetarian soaps which is pretty much down to the coconut oil, and the reason why Michelle doesn't add it to her soaps.

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