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Charismata Barber Shoppe

Item Description

I received a puck of Charismata's Barber Shoppe soap as a PIF from a forum member, for which I promised to submit a review of the soap. So here it is.

This is a small-production artisanal soap whose major claim to fame at the moment is that it features Sodium Tallowate as its primary ingredient. This puts it in a rare and dying category of shaving soaps - the vaunted "tallow first" arena. Over the years, tallow-first soaps have slowly been phased out, either pushing tallow down the ingredient list or removing it altogether. Tallow, as you might know, has a very loyal following who believe it to be essential to the shave experience, and I would agree. My favorite soaps are all tallow-based - Penhaligon's old-formula English Fern, Tabac, MWF - the list goes on.

It goes without saying, then, that I was keen to try this handcrafted tallow-first soap. Sadly, despite its promise, proclaimed so proudly in the ingredients list shown on the website, I am left a bit underwhelmed by the whole experience.

I shaved four consecutive days with this soap, using two different brushes and three different razors. Each time, I found it to produce a thin lather which does not provide as much efficacy as one might expect from a tallow-first soap. The lather has little staying power, and tends to dry quickly, disappearing from my face in the short time it takes to strop my straight prior to the first pass. By comparison, I do not have the same problem with Tabac, MWF, or Pen's.

The scent, also, leaves something to be desired. The Barber Shoppe smells a bit synthetic, with no prominent note that might normally be associated with a barber shop (powdery-talc comes to mind, but is not present in this soap). It does fade quickly and did not interfere with my daily scent.

My face never felt torn up after the shave, so I know it was working, but it never quite felt moisturized, either. It was just kind of ... meh. Functional, but not superlative. It's a shrug of the shoulders soap, and life is too short to a) drink mediocre beer and b) use middle-of-the-road performing soaps.

Latest reviews

I received a half a puck of this product as part of a PIF on the Great Southern Land group (thanks Luc), so it didn't cost me anything.

Initial impression was the scent - the whole package smelt strongly of it to the exclusion of everything else despite it being mummified in cling film. The scent is pleasant - slightly spicy, a little bitter fruit (cherries presumably) and a hint of sweet tobacco. It reminds me a of a hippy bookstore. The puck, or rather half puck in my case, is a sort of raw hemp cloth brown, which reinforced the hippy feeling, and quite hard. Scratch a bit with your thumbnail and rub it between your fingers and it's smooth and slightly creamy.

Now before I completely bag Charismata for it's lather, a disclaimer: I have hard water, doubly so in summer which it is now. Having said that, I could not get a good lather from this soap. Thin, watery and dried before the first pass is really done. I tried varying the amount of water, working time, loading - it made no difference or got worse. What lather was usable was very slick but totally lacking in cushion. I suspect if I could get a decent lather, it would be a really good shave. As it is my shaves got worse the longer I used this soap.

All in all, I'm disappointed - I wanted this stuff to be good because of it's scent and having a soft spot for artisan manufacturers in general. Charismata Cherry pipe tobacco hard soap failed to perform for me, I hope it is my hard water and others might have better results.
Price
4.00 star(s)
Scent
4.00 star(s)
Lather
0.00 star(s)
Quality
2.00 star(s)
Efficacy
1.00 star(s)
Moisturizing
3.00 star(s)
I purchased this soap about a year ago and was ambivilent about it at the time. It worked pretty well but not great. I set it aside and recently decided to try it again.

Evidently aging helped this soap alot.

After soaking my brush, I drain/shake it till there's very little water left in the bristles and have a go at the soap. Not much water is needed. Addressing the puck for approximately 30-40 seconds and applying it to my face (I face lather) easily produces enough lather for 3+ passes.

I now easily get great lather that has good cushion and glide. The scent is mild but I like it. After the shave, my face feels very nice and I have no need of a balm. An application of A/S produces no burn either.

I will now say that this is a fine soap that has made it into my rotation. And the size of the puck is huge, should last a long time. Lots of good shaves left and I feel they will really nice ones.
Price
4.00 star(s)
Scent
3.00 star(s)
Lather
4.00 star(s)
Quality
3.00 star(s)
Efficacy
4.00 star(s)
Moisturizing
4.00 star(s)
My review of Charismata soaps is for both Barber Shoppe and Cherry Pipe Tobacco.

A few months back when Charismata first appeared on B&B I purchased their initial product. Well, it was not a very good shave soap. Slick but no lather structure at all. The next round of their product saw some improvement but still not a usable product. So I was a tad hesitant to try their "final" batch.

But I did.

I am happy to report that the Charismata Soap folks have been able to figure out how to produce a soap that no only lathers well but is still quite slick. The only difference I have found in creating a lather with these soaps is that I spend more time loading the brush. If properly loaded on the brush, the soap creates a nicely structured, dense and slick lather. My skin feels great after using Charismata.

The scents are okay, on the mild side. I much prefer the Cherry Pipe Tobacco to the Barber Shoppe.

The price is good for the quality of the soap and the size of the puck.

Overall, I would say the the soap is a good value and a decent performer. Not top shelf but nice.
Price
4.00 star(s)
Scent
2.00 star(s)
Lather
3.00 star(s)
Quality
3.00 star(s)
Efficacy
3.00 star(s)
Moisturizing
3.00 star(s)

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davecmu
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