12-18-2018, 01:39 PM
#1
  • Mr_Smartepants
  • Senior Member
  • Cambridgeshire, UK (CONUS post address)
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Full review of Oatcake soap.

TL;DR:  Summary: Fantastic smelling shave soaps with above-average post-shave conditioning let down by average lather performance and excessive cost per gram.

Full disclosure: I paid full retail price for two tins of Oatcake soap (Signature & Overgrowth) but Edward included extra samples in the package.

I have used these soaps for over a week every day, so I am familiar with the performance.
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Soap performance:  It's not mentioned in the description, but I remember reading someone else's review that Oatcake soap was "thirsty" and needed a lot of water. I found the opposite to be true. The soap has a very narrow window of water capacity that I've found. I use the same method of evaluation for all soaps and creams. I scoop the same quantity of product and smear it in the bottom of my lather bowl. I then use a dry synthetic brush and add 1/2 tsp of water at a time until the lather is dense and glossy (the glossy sheen is important because it's a visual indication of water saturation.) Some soaps (like Tabac and Grooming Dept) can take roughly a full tsp of water AFTER the lather shows a glossy sheen and remain stable. I found after several tests that Oatcake soap would only take between 1/8-1/4 tsp of water after the gloss phase before lather-collapse. I'm not sure what the problem is with lather stability other than maybe one of the ingredients interfering with stability.
The other (related?) issue is with lather density. Getting the lather to the correct hydration level (just shy of collapse) results in lather that seems a bit "fluffy" and not really dense. As a result, the lather just doesn't have the protection I was hoping for. Protection/cushion is a delicate balancing act and it's tough to get it perfect so nearly all soaps are a compromise between protection and slickness.
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Slickness is OK with Oatcake soap, but residual slickness is really lacking. Which is a shame because the ingredients list mimic some high-performance soaps.
Now don't think that I'm slamming Oatcake soap as rubbish, far from it. The lavender melt soap is by far my favorite smelling lavender soap and I really regret not buying a full tin of it just for the amazing smell. The scents of all the samples were good (except Driftwood...bleggghh!) and the scents smell natural not synthetic.
Post-shave skin conditioning is outstanding and top of the charts probably due to the oats and butters.
Just to give you some perspective on my testing, Mystic Waters tallow soap is an outstanding shave soap and ranks #1 for me for slickness and lather density, but it requires a unique and specialized way to lather the soap or it turns to rubbish. As an example, Mystic Water soap would fail my lather test in spectacular fashion. My testing method is unforgiving.
So to summarize, I think Oatcake soap has some room for improvements in the formula to help with slickness and water stability, hopefully without sacrificing any post-shave conditioning.

I know some of you have already seen my opinion I posted about the tin size and quantity of soap provided and the cost analysis. I know from a business perspective that the packaging is a cost that needs to be paid regardless of the amount of product contained inside. But the perception of value to the consumer is in stark contrast to the price paid. I'm a firm believer of "price is what you pay, value is what you get."  I will say for the record that I really do not like small tins such as Oatcake (identical tins as Scheermonik) and I often transplant soaps into wide plastic tubs. For me, the tin is far too small to load the brush in. I don't use small brushes. The tin isn't steel; It's aluminum. So Yes...it won't rust. But it will corrode over time. All metals do (except for gold).  The Oatcake container is identical to the tins used by Scheermonik and a tiny bit smaller than the steel one used by WSP.
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My other issue with this soap is cost.
I'll use the WSP soap above as a comparative example.
WSP costs $15 USD (11.69 GBP) for 4.7 oz (133g). 8.8p/gram
Oatcake costs 12 GBP for 80g. 15p/gram
Oatcake costs nearly twice as much as WSP.

Another example with MdC.
MdC costs 37 Euros (32.72 GBP) for 200g. 16p/gram
Nearly the same cost as MdC? Something to consider.

Summary: Fantastic smelling shave soaps with above-average post-shave conditioning let down by average lather performance and excessive cost per gram.

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 04-25-2019, 11:10 AM
#2
  • Mr_Smartepants
  • Senior Member
  • Cambridgeshire, UK (CONUS post address)
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FYI, Edward sent me a small sample of his newly-revised formula and I'll be using it exclusively until it's gone and update my review with the new info.

Watch this space...

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 04-25-2019, 11:57 AM
#3
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(04-25-2019, 11:10 AM)Mr_Smartepants Wrote: FYI, Edward sent me a small sample of his newly-revised formula and I'll be using it exclusively until it's gone and update my review with the new info.

Watch this space...

I will be interested to hear your thoughts on the new soap formula!

Vr

Matt

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 04-25-2019, 12:19 PM
#4
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Thank you for a well done review.

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 05-05-2019, 12:18 AM
#5
  • Mr_Smartepants
  • Senior Member
  • Cambridgeshire, UK (CONUS post address)
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I got about 7 solid shaves from the sample (between testing), enough to form a good opinion of the changes.

Edward told me that this new formula is already in production and available for sale from his Etsy page.  He's also taken onboard our comments about the tin size and soap quantity and increased the soap volume to 100g.

The slickness is really improved with this new formula from the last batch.  Post-shave is just as great as before which I'm glad.
However, the lather just looks different from other soaps, something that I just can't explain.  I'd get the lather to a dense and glossy point, and then during the first pass the lather in the bowl would lose the glossy sheen and turn matte.  Maybe it's my East-Anglia hard water.  
The only way I could get a relatively stable lather was to load the brush really heavily (far beyond what I would use comfortably) which would widen the water content sweet-spot enough to help stabilize it. 
Overall, I got really good shaves from this new formula.  It's a bold step in the right direction.

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