03-07-2018, 05:37 AM
#81
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This whole review thing has shifted my view of soaps and creams a bit. Today I shaved with Pacific Shave Co.'s Caffeinated Shave Cream. I bought it because of an online review (I think Sharpologist) that rated it highly, and I have commented in the past how I've enjoyed this cream. Now I find it just average. There's nothing wrong with average, mind you. It gets the job done, and allows this cream to land in a spot at retail where it's available at a great price to the general public. Is it worth more than the $5 price tag? Absolutely. It's a good cream. A bit drying (maybe the caffeine), but still a good shave, all in all.


So why am I willing to pay $20-30 for a soap, if this one is out there getting the job done for $5? I hate to admit it because it sounds kind of snobby, but after reviewing 50+ soaps, average doesn't do it for me anymore. Yes, it gets me from point A to point B without incident, but shaving has become more of a Zen thing for me now. It's been at least a year since I transitioned from the "save money on carts" phase and moved into the "maximize the experience" phase. Does this make me a soap snob? I dunno, one of my favorite soaps is Stirling, which will give you an outstanding 1 oz. soap sample for about $3 and will last you more shaves than most tubes of cream. It's not about finding a snooty soap (if such a thing really exists), it's about the experience I get when I use it.

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 03-07-2018, 09:31 AM
#82
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Couldn't agree more.  Too many excellent soaps out there to justify using a mediocre one.

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 03-08-2018, 05:57 AM
#83
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Today, after jettisoning some of my creams, I came to the last cream in the Den; Speick. I'm not sure if I automatically prefer soaps for superior slickness and protection, or if there are just so many soaps out there as compared to creams that the best performers (and some of the worst performers) just happen to be soaps. I'm curious what others think or have experienced about this. Either way, I expected to jettison my Speick after this shave, particularly after the first pass lacked a bit of slickness and protection. Adding a little water improved things, and by the third pass I'd gotten close to a BBS shave. I think I'll have shave it head to head against TOBS and/or Maca Root to see if the rest of the tube stays or goes. Hard to argue with the results, though.

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 03-08-2018, 08:35 AM
#84
  • Steve56
  • Senior Member
  • Knoxville, TN
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I don't believe that it really matters if it's a soap or cream, has tallow or another single specific ingredient or not, etc. I do agree that the spread from bad to good seems to be wider for soaps than creams.

My advice to people beginning their soap/cream journey has always been 'start at the top'. Don't get the cheap stuff and work up and you won't end up with a large box or closet of stuff to sell or PIF. Get some samples of Acqua di Parma, Antica Barbiera Colla, XPEC, Santa Maria Novella, all of which are non-tallow creams and you will not find anything that's better though some artisan soaps can be as good, but you have to buy and try to find them. Get enough of the good stuff to use them for a week or two. Pick up some AoS tallow hard soaps or other Valobra-made soap like Czech and Speake if you want a hard soap, or some I Coloniali Mango Oil soap if you can find it. Once you have some experience with these, you'll much more easily be able to judge cheaper options more critically. You could easily conclude that the top tier isn't worth the extra cost, and that's a valid assessment, but if you're truly honest, I think very few people would say that there are cheaper options that are as good for long term use.

I generally have two gripes about North American artisan soaps, which can have exceptionally good bases these days. One gripe is the scents are usually pre-made scents designed for candles and other non-shaving uses, which is not always bad, Strop Shoppe's Black Tie was one and quite nice. B&M Cheshire and Seville are nice too. But many are crude and unpleasant to use on a day-to-day basis, and are frequently overscented to the point that allergic reactions can happen. I feel for the artisans on scent strength though, it's a damned if you do and damned if you don't kind of situation. Still you would never confuse any artisan soap scent with one by Floris, Penhaligons, T&H, scents made by actual perfumers. The second gripe is that most artisan soaps are actually as expensive to use as the top tier options above. Sure XPEC was $65-70 but the tub was 250ml. ABC is almost $80 at US retail for 100ml, but it's so concentrated that a tub will last you almost a year if not a year. And all of the premium commercial products can be bought from vendors across the pond at considerable discounts. With a coupon or sale, there's no reason not to use the premium commercial products.

A third sort of gripe is that when you do find that perfect lovely artisan soap and run out, many times it's been discontinued or is a seasonal product and not available when you want to buy more. Or the artisan got tired and retired. Discontinued products happen with high end commercial products too, I Coloniali and XPEC are currently unavailable though generally speaking commercial products are more available over a longer period of time.

JMO

Cheers, Steve

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 03-08-2018, 01:54 PM
#85
  • bijou
  • Senior Member
  • Chicago Illinois
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(02-28-2018, 05:56 AM)Baylorgator Wrote: Today's soap was brought to you by a member of another forum who generously gave me his Lisa's Natural Herbal Creations - Black Velvet. Not knowing anything about the soap I wasn't sure if it was something he didn't like and wanted to pass on, or something he loved that he wanted me to try, so I really had no expectations going into this shave. Also, after reviewing over 50 soaps now, there are not that many that stand out above the pack to me, so maybe I should admit my expectations typically tend towards "most artisan soaps are a B". At this point in the game, very few stand out as being significantly better or worse than this , since I feel like I've reviewed most of the "heavy hitters". So, with that, my review:

Let me start with the bad - the name of this soap has way too many words in it for me to remember without looking it up over and over again. (Yes, I'm being sort of tongue in cheek here, but I had to find something negative to say). On the good side, I have a lot to say. This soap apparently flies under the radar, as I really don't see many comments or SOTD pics of it. Your loss, folks; this is a great soap. Maybe it was because I switched up to my Thater 2 band, but the lather was easily on par with my favorite soaps. Thick, rich and creamy. Slickness and protection was more than sufficient, and the scent was absolutely fantastic. I really thought at this point in the review process I was winding down, and would not be purchasing any more soaps. This one proved me wrong. I've only had one shave with one scent, so I may come back and change my mind, but right now, this soap gets an A and is a keeper for the den. I anticipate buying more of Lisa's Natural Herbal Creations in the future (if I can remember the long name).

I now have used Lisa's soap (which I purchased based on your review of the soap) Somali Rose 3x's and I agree with your assessment, it is a excellent top tier soap. As far as the scent I like it, it's a Spicy Rose that is very pleasant and not over powering. I knew nothing of this company and most likely would not have tried the soap if it wasn't for your review.

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 03-08-2018, 02:18 PM
#86
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Glad you like it, Stephen! This artisan was a surprise to me too!

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 03-10-2018, 07:20 AM
#87
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Wow. How many more soaps could possibly be out there? The just keep coming. They also are having a harder and harder time standing out. Today was a side by side shave between Castle Forbes (cream) and Dapper Dragon. Both provided great results. Although a bit expensive, I think castle Forbes is as good a cream as you can get as long as you like one of their relatively straightforward scents. Dapper Dragon Tiamat is a great barbershop scent. Both of these soaps rate a solid B for me, but depending on your scent preferences might be bumped up a bit as their performance is really solid.

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 03-11-2018, 08:19 AM
#88
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Today I squared off two old school shaving sticks against each other; La Toja vs Colgate. I gotta be honest, I’m not much of an old school shave sick guy, so I’ve gotta rank these just below Arko. Both provided a more than adequate shave; just not my thing. YMMV. I did, coincidentally, read a thread today discussing how well softer soaps perform as shave sticks, so I may make up a frankesoap from some extra Stirling soap I have on hand. I’ll be combining Pharaoh’s Dreamsicle and Orange Chill into “Pharaoh’s Chilly Orange Creamsicle”. We’ll see what happens.

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 04-26-2018, 12:27 PM
#89
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Sorry.  It's been a while since I posted.  Review catch up time for the last week or so with 6 more reviews...

#1
Wow. How many more soaps could possibly be out there? The just keep coming. They also are having a harder and harder time standing out. Today was a side by side shave between Castle Forbes (cream). Both provided great results. Although a bit expensive, I think castle Forbes is as good a cream as you can get as long as you like one of their relatively straightforward scents. Dapper Dragon Tiamat is a great barbershop scent. Both of these soaps rate a solid B for me, but depending on your scent preferences might be bumped up a bit as their performance is really solid.

#2
Box #4 has arrived, so today I lathered up La Pere Lucien vs Storybook Soapworks - Visions and Revisions. Despite being very different, both of these are really good soaps. The Storybook Soapworks lathered up nicely providing a good overall shave, not really standing out to me in any particular area, but also not lacking in any either. The Pere Lucien, on the other hand, lathered differently than any other soap I’ve tried. A shaken out (i.e. damp) badger brush was all that was needed to whip up a frothy lather. Although I did add a bit of water later, I’m not sure it was necessary. It also produced a bit slicker lather, causing me to rate it slightly higher in this duel. At this point in the game, my den is completely full, so in order to make the den, soaps need to unseat one of my current favorites. Despite being very good soaps that I think are absolutely worth trying for yourself, neither of them did.

#3
Maybe after 67 soap reviews I’ve become battle hardened. Maybe I’m getting old and curmudgeonly before my time. I dunno, it’s just getting harder and harder to make my den. Today was a battle between two soaps I was really interested in: Sapone Di Paolo and Turtleship. Both were of the coconut persuasion. I’d heard good things about both soaps, and for good reason, as both delivered an excellent shave. If I he’d to give the edge to one I’d go with the Sapone, as the lather was just a tad richer despite it being a vegan offering.. I rate both of these soaps as a solid B to B+, as they perform right up there with a number of other good soaps. Unlike my A soaps, though, nothing really stands out significantly ahead of the pack for me, and the scents are just OK to me. Clearly I’ve gotten spoiled. As a side note, Sapone Di Paolo is having an Arrivederci Sale as they are clearing out old inventory and rebranding to "Eleven", so all their soaps available for $10, and balms for $6.  FWIW, pretty tough to beat that for a good soap or balm.

#4
Today I pitted Lisa's Natural Herbal Creations (already a favorite, but I wanted to try the Coconut Oud) against Long Rifle (a soap I'd heard a lot of good things about). Long Rifle whipped up into a lather quickly and easily without almost any water being added. In retrospect, maybe I should have added some more, as it didn't turn out as slick as the Lisa's did, and I really think slickness is one of the key components to a great shave. Also, though many folks enjoy their scents, none of them really resonated with me. Subjective, I know, but I'm going to put long rifle in the B category. However, like I've said before, the B's and B+'s are good enough in performance to be a favorite soap to many. To me the A's really stand out in one way or another, and anything from B-/C+ and below just doesn't excite me. YMMV.


#5
Today I pitted Big Easy Soaps - Cafe Orleans against Tallow and Steel - Maya. From a performance standpoint, very few soaps measure up to T&S, so it’s a good measuring stick for the contender. I gave the soap a solid B. The soap provides very solid performance, but availability can be an issue here, as the artisan runs an Etsy shop that goes in and out of stock. The Café Orleans scent, though, is something special transporting you to a New Orleans café with chicory coffee and beignets. This scent makes this B one that could end up in the den if re-released.

#6
Finishing up box #4, I dedided to go another round with Big Easy Soaps and compare it directly with B&M (Soapmakers of Awesometown). I stand by my previous evaluation, but as always, YMMV. To me, it's a solid B (which is a good, denworthy soap that gave an excellent shave), but it's not quite up there with B&M. Having said that if Cafe Orleans is re-released, somebody PM me, because that scent is money! Anyway, I've still got a couple more TBD shaves with Passaround Box #4 and then I'll get to some more of my own samples (Oleo Soapworks, Rose Rock Apothecary, etc.) in the mix.

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 04-27-2018, 08:31 AM
#90
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(03-08-2018, 02:18 PM)Baylorgator Wrote: Glad you like it, Stephen! This artisan was a surprise to me too!

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 04-27-2018, 12:58 PM
#91
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Next review will be soap #70. Holy slick suds, Batman!

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 04-28-2018, 01:54 AM
#92
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(03-08-2018, 08:35 AM)Steve56 Wrote: I don't believe that it really matters if it's a soap or cream, has tallow or another single specific ingredient or not, etc. I do agree that the spread from bad to good seems to be wider for soaps than creams.

My advice to people beginning their soap/cream journey has always been 'start at the top'. Don't get the cheap stuff and work up and you won't end up with a large box or closet of stuff to sell or PIF. Get some samples of Acqua di Parma, Antica Barbiera Colla, XPEC, Santa Maria Novella, all of which are non-tallow creams and you will not find anything that's better though some artisan soaps can be as good, but you have to buy and try to find them. Get enough of the good stuff to use them for a week or two. Pick up some AoS tallow hard soaps or other Valobra-made soap like Czech and Speake if you want a hard soap, or some I Coloniali Mango Oil soap if you can find it. Once you have some experience with these, you'll much more easily be able to judge cheaper options more critically. You could easily conclude that the top tier isn't worth the extra cost, and that's a valid assessment, but if you're truly honest, I think very few people would say that there are cheaper options that are as good for long term use.

I generally have two gripes about North American artisan soaps, which can have exceptionally good bases these days. One gripe is the scents are usually pre-made scents designed for candles and other non-shaving uses, which is not always bad, Strop Shoppe's Black Tie was one and quite nice. B&M Cheshire and Seville are nice too. But many are crude and unpleasant to use on a day-to-day basis, and are frequently overscented to the point that allergic reactions can happen. I feel for the artisans on scent strength though, it's a damned if you do and damned if you don't kind of situation. Still you would never confuse any artisan soap scent with one by Floris, Penhaligons, T&H, scents made by actual perfumers. The second gripe is that most artisan soaps are actually as expensive to use as the top tier options above. Sure XPEC was $65-70 but the tub was 250ml. ABC is almost $80 at US retail for 100ml, but it's so concentrated that a tub will last you almost a year if not a year. And all of the premium commercial products can be bought from vendors across the pond at considerable discounts. With a coupon or sale, there's no reason not to use the premium commercial products.

A third sort of gripe is that when you do find that perfect lovely artisan soap and run out, many times it's been discontinued or is a seasonal product and not available when you want to buy more. Or the artisan got tired and retired. Discontinued products happen with high end commercial products too, I Coloniali and XPEC are currently unavailable though generally speaking commercial products are more available over a longer period of time.

JMO

Cheers, Steve

I think this is a great post with some great advice.

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 04-28-2018, 10:05 AM
#93
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I think @steve56 makes some very good points here, which I would agree is great advice. My approach has gone in a slightly different direction, but I’ve enjoyed the journey. Fortunately, sharing different approaches and thoughts is what this forum is all about.
A few thoughts:
1. Personally, I tend to not end up with the $70 soaps in the den. I’m not advocating this for everyone; it’s just my choice. Some of it is that, as mentioned, I don’t find the small incremental performance increases to be woth the price. More importantly for me, though, is that I’m a big “variety is the spice of life” guy when it comes to soap scents, and having different scents to choose from is a huge part of the enjoyment. For example, I have over 20 scents of B&M, and each one of them provides a totally different experience. Assuming a soap performs well, I’d rather own 4 $20 soaps than 1 $80 soap. Since I switch out soaps daily, I’d neve make a dent in one that lasted for 300+ shaves. I just don’t enjoy using the same soap (or small rotation of soaps) every day. I know others who will stick with one or two soaps and absolutely love them. Different strokes...
2. I agree that the ingredient does not make the soap. In addition to those outstanding vegan soaps mentioned I’d point to Grooming Dept. and Panna Crema Nuavia as other vegans that outperform 95% of soaps on the market. I’ve just observed that there are a lot of vegan formulas out there that underperform, and I tend to have better luck with tallow soaps in general. Again this is a generalization, not a thinking that tallow is some sort of secret sauce or magic ingredient that will automatically make a soap better.
3. I’m a fan of strong, bold scents in soaps since I have sinus issues, and I seldom have skin reactions. If I was wearing the scent all day, I’d agree that a more sophisticated scent would almost always be better, but since most soap scents don’t linger long I enjoy the experience of being transported to an orange grove, coffee shop, or open field on occasion. To me that’s part of the fun.

All those thoughts are just personal preferences, though. You gotta find your own path...

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 05-14-2018, 05:20 PM
#94
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#70 - Obsessive Soap Perfectionist. I found this soap name appropriate for anyone crazy enough to shave with and review 70+ soaps on the internet. Accordingly, I pitted the Neroli sample against the Rose Bourbon version of Eufros, another soap from “across the pond”. Despite my previous experience with it, the Eufros didn’t deliver the expected slickness, and a couple of weepers resulted. No such problem with the OSP. I’m still going to stick with my previous assessment of A for Eufros and give OSP a solid B or B+. However, the end result for me is that it’s probably not worth the trouble to order European soaps when I already have some really fantastic favorites made right here in the USA.

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 05-14-2018, 06:35 PM
#95
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I got a package in the mail today that I wasn’t expecting. Upon opening it up I found four tubs of a new soap that’s starting to get some buzz on the forums. It’s the end result of an 8th Grade Science Project conducted by a girl named Hannah and it’s called Soapy Science. I considered buying one online, but my Den is full of soaps and I don’t have a tub I want to scrap or PIF, so I held off. Who gifted me these? Then it hits me. I got a message a few weeks ago from a gentleman whose daughter had just come up with some soap she wanted to sell online, and wanted to get my opinion on it. Awesome! It’s Christmas in May.

Full disclosure: As the father to two grade school girls, so I really want to like these soaps and support Hannah. She also is giving 10% of the profits to charities that are important to her, so again, I really want to like these soaps and support Hannah. However, as a father of two grade school girls, I also know the best thing I can do for her is give an honest review, regardless of whether the results are good, bad, or indifferent.

Since she sent me four tubs, I am going to give them a few shaves against some of my favorites and give updates as I go. Unfair advantage to Hannah in the soap review thread? Nope! Any other artisan who wanted to send me four tubs would deserve the same due diligence as long as they, like Hannah, are willing to hear an honest review - good, bad or indifferent.

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 05-15-2018, 04:03 AM
#96
  • Steelman
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  • Delaware
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Will you please list your current “A” soaps & creams? Thanks in advance.

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 05-15-2018, 04:58 AM
#97
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(05-15-2018, 04:03 AM)Steelman Wrote: Will you please list your current “A” soaps & creams?  Thanks in advance.

The updated current listing and "grading" of soaps is on the second post of this thread.  It's listed two parts: 1. soaps in my den, 2. soaps not in my den.  I do this because what ends up in the den largely becomes a personal preference thing, and some outstanding soaps that I've tried haven't ended up in the den, but still deserve their due.  Thanks for your interest @steelman!

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 05-15-2018, 05:02 AM
#98
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Well shave #1 with Soapy Science is in the books. I shaved side by side against one of my favorites - Stirling. Lots of people don't put Stirling as one of their top soaps. I do. To me, Stirling differentiates itself from every other soap in my den on two characteristics: 1. Strong scent - this is very much a YMMV thing, but because of my "allergy challenged sinuses" I like soaps that are strongly scented. Like, punch you in the face and make your nose bleed strong. 2. Slickness and residual slickness. Different people report different soaps as being slickest. To me, Stirling has no competitors in this arena (YMMV). I've actually shaved a full second pass ATG without reapplying lather and experienced no irritation using Stirling. (I wouldn't recommend this method. It was more of a stupid shave stunt borne out of boredom and curiosity.)


Anyway, how did Soapy Science do in those to areas? Quite well, actually. Was Hannah's lollipop citrus scent as strong as Striling's Lime? No, but it had plenty of scent to it, and was not a "weak smelling" soap at all (which is a disqualifier in my book). Out of the tub, this scent was probably my favorite of the three scented soaps. It actually does smell a bit like a lime "dum dum" lime lollipop (as described on her website), or a cousin to lemonhead candy. I've tried other soaps that smell like candy that really don't come off well. This one is well done though. More citrus with a subtle candy vibe to it. Anyway, if Stirling is a 10 out of 10 on scent strength, soapy science is about an 8. How about residual slickness? As good as Stirling? Not quite, but much closer than I expected, and better than most of the soaps I've reviewed so far. This soap provided plenty of slickness to allow me to go back and buff and touch up after my third pass with plenty of glide and no irritation.

I don't know how Hannah fared in the Science Fair, but her project is holding up pretty well in my den.

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 05-17-2018, 04:32 AM
#99
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Shave #2 and #3 are in the books with Soapy Science shaving head to head against B&M and Jeeves of Hudson Street. The results? Overall, this is a soap worthy of anyone's den. Is Hannah's freshman offering the #1 soap in my den? No, but it is unquestionably better than most of soaps I've tried. In fact, there are a lot of artisan soaps that have major followings that aren't, in my opinion, as good as this soap. Is there room for improvement if Hannah wants to develop her chops in fragrance development, new product introductions, product portfolio management, incremental product improvements based on customer feedback, and all the things the experienced guys several times her age have learned? Yes, and if she chooses to do so I'm betting she'll be a force to be reckoned with. Or... she may be content with keeping it simple, selling what she's got, have her soap stand among some really well respected names, and use the profits to fund some great charities and build up a nice college fund. She could also leverage this experience to help distinguish herself from the crowd when she applies to college and to future jobs. (What a great story on the resume!) Either way, the bottom line is that I'd rank Soapy Science as a solid B+ (Great) soap alongside of some really highly respected soaps and above several others who many in the community count as their favorites. Cudos Hannah.

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 05-25-2018, 06:36 AM
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Back at it with Shannon's Soaps. I got this one as a PIF for my reviews in the scent of Grapefruit, Bay and Patchouli. I'm a fan of grapefruit, but not of bay and patchouli (at all), so I didn't expect much from the scent, but off the puck it smelled OK. (I remember Shannon's was one of the pass around brands that I didn't try because none of the scents jumped out at me off the puck.) Anyway, I lathered it up and the scent was really exceptionally good. Anybody who can mix bay and patchouli into a scent I like has immediate credibility and respect in scent making as far as I'm concerned. Having said that, I was not overly impressed with the lather of this soap. I shaved with it yesterday and it dissipated very quickly, and didn't last all three passes. Figuring I may have added too much water too early, I tried it again today with better results, but it never reached a rich, thick sustainable lather for me. I felt the blade a bit more than normal too. Could this be my fault? Maybe, but I typically don't have trouble creating nice lather with my best soaps, so that's definitely a downgrade in my book. Having said that, the scent is so nice and unique I may keep it in the den even though I'm rating the soap at a B or B- for now.

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