05-01-2017, 11:07 AM
#1
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After having used shaving cream/soap with a brush since 1997, and getting into collecting them in 100's since 2011, a thread about the favourite shaving creams I wrote 2 years ago and reposted in it last week, made me think about the current state of quality of shaving creams and shaving soaps.

I realised my top picks 2 years ago almost exactly are my top picks today.

Am I missing something here ?

Or are we at a standstill in the quality level of creams and soaps ?

Can there be done much more to add to the already top performing products to improve them even further ?

Are we at a point where the best products can only be improved by ever so slight microscopic improvements ?

If so this is a plus in my book.

Besides having to give up on MWF and Lea Classic hard soaps (after years of patient testing) most of my couple 100's remaining shaving soaps and creams in my collection now all give me that special top performance I always look for when shaving.

What do you think ?

Can the soap makers still improve a lot on the top products out there or are we at a stage in time where the room for improvement is close to being non existing ?

Personally I'm at a point where I now almost ignore the 'yet another new version alfa beta gamma DeLuxe Premium Ultra version 4.89764' soap'

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 05-01-2017, 11:38 AM
#2
  • Steve56
  • Senior Member
  • Knoxville, TN
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I believe that your assessment is pretty accurate Claus. People have been making soap, an inherently simple product, for centuries. How to make the best soap, even shaving soap, has been pretty much known for decades if not centuries, people's changing tastes notwithstanding.

My personal faborites are ABC, Boellis, MdC, XPEC, SdV, I Coloniali Mango Oil, AdP, Czech and Speake and other top tier soaps and creams. I enjoy some artisan soaps but I have encountered no soaps that exceed the performance of the ones listed. At the very best, new soaps can be equal in performance but not any better. When I see superlatives like 'hit it out of the park', 'blew everything out of the water' I know I'm seeing hype because I've tried so many soaps and creams.

So I do not believe you will see even incremental increases in performance over those I mentioned. You may see incremental improvements in a given maker's products if they haven't mastered their craft. Version x.xxx or new slick base means 'I haven't mastered my craft yet'.

There are 'recipes' or some general ratios of ingredients for different soaps, and you can't vary them too much. The properties of the fats are known. We crazy Americans keep trying to make 'healthier' cured sausage, like pastrami, saucisson, salami, etc but good dry cured sausage also has a certain ratio of fats to lean, salt, etc that has been derived over centuries to taste good and you can't get much outside these ratios for a reason, the final product doesn't taste good.

Thank you for an intelligent post sir!

Cheers, Steve

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 05-01-2017, 01:46 PM
#3
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Soapmaking has essentially plateaued a long time ago. Indeed, many of the old shaving soaps (e.g. Yardley) were as good as, or better than, the best of today.

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 05-01-2017, 02:05 PM
#4
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Once you find what works good, you can try to find what works different. I have some lines of products that are consistent enough to not need more and more testing. It's okay to buy and then use a couple products completely. Some like soft soaps, hard soaps, milled soaps, or a cream like consistency. 

I prefer to try more soaps over softer consistency products. Doesn't always feel right when "trying" to load off the surface of creams. That doesn't mean you can't use a tube of cream and skip loading. Chris, which creams work very well for you lately? Have you still been using unscented products mostly or can you used ones with natural derived oils?

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 05-01-2017, 02:08 PM
#5
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I honestly do not think any soap today is better than yardley was way back in the earlier days. The ingredients are a little different perhaps to some folks liking in today's soaps. I feel like it's the scent and modern marketing and presentation that have gents running out to grab the next items.

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 05-01-2017, 02:22 PM
#6
  • Mel S Meles
  • On the edge, ouch
  • 44.4899° south of the North Pole
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(05-01-2017, 11:07 AM)CHSeifert Wrote:   . . . made me think about the current state of quality of shaving creams and shaving soaps.

I realised my top picks 2 years ago almost exactly are my top picks today.

Are we at a point where the best products can only be improved by ever so slight microscopic improvements ?

Can the soap makers still improve a lot on the top products out there or are we at a stage in time where the room for improvement is close to being non existing ?

There are fads, of course, and some of the fads may have actual substance.  For instance, for the past two years, since Agravic introduced us to Ass Milk soap, there have been several introductions of shaving soaps that feature Donkey Milk as a prominent ingredient, and — generally — those soaps have garnered glowing reviews within the obsessive (that is us, gents) community; so I think we are likely to see more and more of those formulations in the near future, at least.  Argan oil, to a lesser extent, has become au courant for shaving soaps.  

More importantly (for some of us, perhaps a small minority of us), social consciousness relating to some specific ingredients used in shaving soaps has raised some issues.  For instance, many of the English shaving soaps have been reformulated in the past few years to eliminate animal tallow and replace the tallow with vegetable-based ingredients.  For another instance, one of the most prevalent vegetable oils used for shaving soaps (and other products made with oil, such as french fried potatoes) is palm oil.  While palm oil can be produced, and in some geographical locations (especially West Africa) is produced, with a small ecological footprint, and there is even an association, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) with a certification mark to designate environmentally sensitive production, the vast expansion of commercial palm oil production currently underway in Indonesia and Malayia is being fueled (no pun intended) by slash-and-burn deforestation, including the burning of the peat substrate of tropical forests built up over decades, if not centuries, and the destruction of habitat of some endangered species, including orangutans.  One imagines that if a Japanese shaving soap maker offered for sale a product made with whale oil, there would be protests against it among some shaving enthusiasts.

Some might argue — and have opined — that the reformulations that replace tallow with vegetarian ingredients are not “improved.”  Nobody yet has proposed banning palm oil based shaving soaps, or even boycotting them.  But in the realm of expanding the range of valid choices, including choices based upon conscience, some of us may find continuing “improvement” where others may not.

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 05-01-2017, 02:46 PM
#7
  • EricM
  • Senior Member
  • Encinitas, CA
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(05-01-2017, 01:46 PM)ask4Edge Wrote: Soapmaking has essentially plateaued a long time ago. Indeed, many of the old shaving soaps (e.g. Yardley) were as good as, or better than, the best of today.

+1

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 05-01-2017, 05:47 PM
#8
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This is my first and last ever post on this topic.  I view this boycott everything corporate-enviro propaganda as a political or religious discussion having little to do with shaving.  

It appears palm oil yields 35x as much oil as corn, 5x as much as rape seed, 5x as much as olive, 16x as much as hemp (remember hemp will save the world), 5.6x as much as peanut, 2.2x as much as coconut on a per hectare basis.  Source:  Journey to Forever 

1.) Why would it not make sense to use the most productive producer of oil to satisfy the worlds needs for vegetable oils?  More oil/hectare less land converted to production.  
2.) Are developing countries not allowed to progress as the rest of the world has, by developing resources?  
3.) As a percent of land base Malaysia has more land in preserves (and increasing) than the US and all but a very, very few European countries.  Terrestrial Protected Area

Showed my students a video from the WWF a while back that proclaimed the worlds rainforests would be gone by the year 2000.  Nice video, good discussion of ecosystems.  Yeah it was a little old. Even 6th graders had questions.  Why don't adults?

I realize I don't have long legs here, if I get banned so be it.  I find the proselytizing highly offensive.

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 05-01-2017, 06:27 PM
#9
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Gentlemen, Claus started an interesting thread.  Let's please keep it on point.  While the various environmental issues related to the harvesting of animal and vegetable fats to make soaps are a legitimate subject of discussion, this is not the venue for that discussion.  You can, if you wish, move the discussion to "The Parlor," where you can address anything unrelated to shaving.  Thank you.

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 05-01-2017, 06:47 PM
#10
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I share generally share Claus' sentiments, with the lone exception being the recent reformulation of the CRSW Select line. This is a good example of taking an already fantastic product and elevating it to heights I didn't think possible. This was more than an incremental step forward, in my opinion.

With regard to others, I think we often find ourselves chasing the eternal carrot. There is a new flavor of the month popping up all the time. I too, have fallen prey to this, oftentimes to great disappointment. My formula for success usually leads to a three letter equation. Give me ADP, SMN, MDC, LPL, SDM, AOS and toss in a spare letter for CRSW and I'm all set.

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 05-01-2017, 06:55 PM
#11
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(05-01-2017, 06:47 PM)nervosa1901 Wrote: I share generally share Claus' sentiments, with the lone exception being the recent reformulation of the CRSW Select line. This is a good example of taking an already fantastic product and elevating it to heights I didn't think possible. This was more than an incremental step forward, in my opinion.

With regard to others, I think we often find ourselves chasing the eternal carrot. There is a new flavor of the month popping up all the time. I too, have fallen prey to this, oftentimes to great disappointment. My formula for success usually leads to a three letter equation. Give me ADP, SMN, MDC, LPL, SDM, AOS and toss in a spare letter for CRSW and I'm all set.

This, as well as the original introduction of the Oliva line - which I still view as an incredible achievement.

*Note: fixed typo

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 05-01-2017, 07:11 PM
#12
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I agree with Mike  that the Oliva line was a significant  step in the evolution of shaving soaps.

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 05-01-2017, 07:15 PM
#13
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(05-01-2017, 06:55 PM)mike_the_kraken Wrote:
(05-01-2017, 06:47 PM)nervosa1901 Wrote: I share generally share Claus' sentiments, with the lone exception being the recent reformulation of the CRSW Select line. This is a good example of taking an already fantastic product and elevating it to heights I didn't think possible. This was more than an incremental step forward, in my opinion.

With regard to others, I think we often find ourselves chasing the eternal carrot. There is a new flavor of the month popping up all the time. I too, have fallen prey to this, oftentimes to great disappointment. My formula for success usually leads to a three letter equation. Give me ADP, SMN, MDC, LPL, SDM, AOS and toss in a spare letter for CRSW and I'm all set.

This, as well as the original introduction of the Olivia line - which I still view as an incredible achievement.

Larry has not been short on incredible achievements. While it gets lost in the shuffle in terms of the soap discussion, his post shave lotions are of fantastic quality. His recent essential oil efforts have been marvelous, and I sincerely hope there is more to come on that score.

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 05-01-2017, 07:15 PM
#14
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I don't see how much better shaving soap can get than what the top tiers are putting out today. We'll see, I have Nuavia in the mail, yea I bought into the hype and the cool packaging.

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 05-01-2017, 07:19 PM
#15
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(05-01-2017, 07:15 PM)nervosa1901 Wrote:
(05-01-2017, 06:55 PM)mike_the_kraken Wrote:
(05-01-2017, 06:47 PM)nervosa1901 Wrote: I share generally share Claus' sentiments, with the lone exception being the recent reformulation of the CRSW Select line. This is a good example of taking an already fantastic product and elevating it to heights I didn't think possible. This was more than an incremental step forward, in my opinion.

With regard to others, I think we often find ourselves chasing the eternal carrot. There is a new flavor of the month popping up all the time. I too, have fallen prey to this, oftentimes to great disappointment. My formula for success usually leads to a three letter equation. Give me ADP, SMN, MDC, LPL, SDM, AOS and toss in a spare letter for CRSW and I'm all set.

This, as well as the original introduction of the Olivia line - which I still view as an incredible achievement.

Larry has not been short on incredible achievements. While it gets lost in the shuffle in terms of the soap discussion, his post shave lotions are of fantastic quality. His recent essential oil efforts have been marvelous, and I sincerely hope there is more to come on that score.

Select V2 was good but not great imho, found Midnight & Two and Tallow & Steel out performed it but Larrys newest Select is awesome stuff! It's right there with the best soaps I've tried, and his post shave balms are equally as great, CRSW newest Select is some of the best stuff you can get. Also, I've never smelt a CRSW scent I didn't love... it's a staple in my shave den and likely always will be.

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 05-02-2017, 02:30 AM
#16
  • Mouser
  • Senior Member
  • Forest City, Florida U.S.A.
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(05-01-2017, 02:08 PM)ultra~nova Wrote: I honestly do not think any soap today is better than yardley was way back in the earlier days. The ingredients are a little different perhaps to some folks liking in today's soaps. I feel like it's the scent and modern marketing and presentation that have gents running out to grab the next items.

I agree with the Yardley comment.  Today though it seems a ceiling in "during the shave" performance has been reached and that ceiling is available in many mid-priced proucts. What the higher priced items can offer thats not available in lower groups is mainly, often only, proprietary fragances. In rare cases a better post shave feel as well.

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 05-02-2017, 03:47 AM
#17
  • Mouser
  • Senior Member
  • Forest City, Florida U.S.A.
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P.S. I have product in every price point and if I had discovered wet shaving while I still had my working income instead of what I get on disability,  I'd have every high end item available. I believe the very small differences and fragrances they offer are worth it if you have the means to acquire them.
I would probably be the New World version of Clause.

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 05-03-2017, 05:41 AM
#18
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(05-01-2017, 07:11 PM)TheLegalRazor Wrote: I agree with Mike  that the Olivia line was a significant  step in the evolution of shaving soaps.

Guys, this is a great soap, but the name of it is O-L-I-V-A, Oliva.  Not Olivia, which is a fairly common female name.  I'm pretty sure he called it OLIVA to highlight the fact that the first ingredient in the soap is olive oil, not Olivia's oil.  Rolleyes Wink

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 05-03-2017, 07:07 AM
#19
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(05-03-2017, 05:41 AM)kingfisher Wrote:
(05-01-2017, 07:11 PM)TheLegalRazor Wrote: I agree with Mike  that the Olivia line was a significant  step in the evolution of shaving soaps.

Guys, this is a great soap, but the name of it is O-L-I-V-A, Oliva.  Not Olivia, which is a fairly common female name.  I'm pretty sure he called it OLIVA to highlight the fact that the first ingredient in the soap is olive oil, not Olivia's oil.  Rolleyes Wink

I knew that.  Just a typo.  Thanks for pointing it out.

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 05-03-2017, 07:13 AM
#20
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I think Claus is right -- due to the recent surge in popularity of wetshaving there has been a proliferation of new entrants among soap makers, brush makers, razor makers, etc.

However, the essential technology of wetshaving is old -- DE razors are 100 years old, brushes older than that, and of all the elements, soap has been around the longest.

We are no doubt in a period of refinement, improvement around the margins.

I also think that as a wetshaver becomes more competent, she or he can get great shaves with a wider range of products.  Except for blades.  No one can overcome crappy blades with good technique.

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