Pros: Comforting, stable lather with the best skin conditioning I have encounetered.
This review is for Mystic Water Soap company's Lily of the Valley shave soap.
I was first introduced to Mystic Water Soap products when I used a sample of their shampoo bar. I was more than surprised when in 2011 I received an invitation from Michelle at Mystic Water Soap to participate in trials of a new shave soap she was formulating.
Suffice it to say that after a number of incarnations and several months of testing Michelle sent me her retail product to evaluate. I have to say I was taken completely by surprise at the result. I have used many home crafted shave soaps and honestly, I never used most of them beyond initial testing.
It is not as if the soap makers did not know what they were doing or used poor quality ingredients. It was more like they simply had no understanding of how shave lathers should work. They concentrated on emollients and skin conditioning ingredients. Unfortunately the typical result is a non-stable lather and poor shaving qualities. This is not the case with Michelle's efforts.
Mind, I am not speaking on behalf of Michelle nor Mystic Water Soap. This is only my opinion. Michelle has done a great bit of research and test development to reach the level at which her shave soap exists. She uses top quality ingredients and more than that, she understands how to formulate shave soap. And the results speak for themselves. Lets move on to the individual rating details.
This is the easiest conclusion I have come to regarding shave soap pricing. Shave lathers typically give cost per shave ratios so low it is not even a bother to worry about the price unless it is a poor performer. Mystic Water gives much more than its cost.
Another easy choice. Mystic Water is made with hand rendered tallow and mostly other organic ingredients and is hand made down to the label on the package.
The most subjective category of all. To me Lily of the Valley is a home run. It hearkens back the Edwardian era when floral scents were the bailiwick of men. Most think of floral as the ten cents quart Honeysuckle perfume our fourth grade teachers put on. Nothing of the sort with this one. Though it is fragrance oil it is quite natural smelling and while heady, the scent is not overpowering and dissipates to the background after the shave. I quite like it.
I found this easy to make a voluminous, stable lather with. I know some report a bit of trouble getting a stable lather at first but once sorted, it garners almost universal praise.
Another easy rating choice. Once lathered to a good dense stability the whiskers fairly flew to the edge of the Feather razor blade. Very smooth, comforting shave with a superb mix of cushion, glide, and closeness. This is what separates the men from the boys. It is why I use soft shave creams so sparingly anymore. They make easy, voluminous, stable lathers. They glide easily but have so much cushion it is almost like they hold the blade off the skin a bit too far and a close shave is not garnered unless some forced pressure is used on the blade. Conversely, many hard soap lathers do not provide as much cushioning leading to some razor rash if not careful. Mystic Water realises a wonderful medium. Truly one of the best.
This was another wonderful surprise. I am used to artisan made soaps leaving a great skin feel. I always attributed it to the over abundance of emollients in the formula which also led to the lather efficacy problems. Michelle has hit on a magic combination for my skin. It was evident in the trial versions and happily, as the refinements came forward, the fabulous skin conditioning did not suffer. I had essentially tiered my shave soaps by moisturising and comforting effect like this; Franco soaps were absolute tops. It is not even close to their next competitors. Institut Karite and Provence Sante are the gold standards for me. I would not wager the difference on the thickness of a new Feather DE blade between them as to which is best but they sit alone at the top. Or rather did. Second would have been the various AOS soaps and I suppose some other Italians I have not tried. Very good but not quite to the level of the Franks. Then I would have went with Tabac. Mystic Water is better than all of them. There, I said it. Mind, it is not far ahead of the Franco soaps but it is fully the equal on any day I use it and most days it is honestly better. I have never, EVER used an aftershave product after shaving with Mystic Water other than for scenting. As a relief aid it was unnecessary.
So there is my review. I realise the rating numbers are quite lofty. After nearly a decade of traditional shaving and participating on several forums going back to The Wet Shavers on MSN groups. After trying a great number of shave lathers, I can say I have found the best shave product I have ever used. A perfect 10 to me. Realise, this is my rating and opinions. I am not trying to tell you what yours should be. Your experience may be lessor. But I would be less than honest if I rated it any other way. Michelle has hit a home run in my estimation and you can be assured that more Mystic Water shave soap will be in my toiletry locker in the future.