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Mama Bear's Iceberg Ice (Mentholated)

Item Description

Almost under the radar as the introduction of the fabulous B&B limited Oakmoss & Lavender soap got the most air time, Mama Bear brought out the Iceberg soaps (formerly labelled as Iceburg).

I got the regular unmentholated version as well as the mentholated which I got for a test drive. This review is for the mentholated one, as I think that one is the most special.

Price. Excellent value for the money as with all Mama Bear soaps. Not the cheapest soap on the block, and most certainly not the most expensive.

Quality. A very well balanced glycerin based soap with good consistency, nice scent, well packed and labelled. What's not to like?

Scent. A nice cologne fragrance. It is a fresh scent, with small sweet, citrus and powder notes. A touch of peppermint also. Scent is a very personal thing. I like it, but I won't put this soap in the ranks of Ye Olde Barbershoppe, Chypre Rose or Oakmoss & Lavender.

Lather. Just looking at it makes lather. Either with a boar or a badger this soap produces ample lather, which is protective, slick, stable.

Efficacy. Solid performer. The menthol is a true addition to this soap and makes it stand out from the crowd. On Facebook, Sue mentioned she went back to supermentholating and it works wonders. A very nice, cooling kick that adds to the shave without being obtrusive. Nothing to freeze your face off, but an effective use of menthol. Very nice for the hot summer days.

Moisturizing. I don not expect my soaps to be moisturizing but as with all Mama Bear this Iceburg Ice also does not dry out your skin. Glycerin soaps in general might be a bit 'drier' than lanolin or tallow soaps, but then again glycerin provides a nice slick lather - and this soap certainly is nice. It's very good and leaves you with a nice, clean well groomed feeling.

All in all, a very nice addition to the Mama Bear range.

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Pros: Lathers well
Cons: No cooling effect, MB's infamous burn/irritation, poor service
I ordered a 4-pack sampler of Mama Bears's shaving soaps, being particularly interested in their claims about their Ice line of soap's powerful menthol cooling (I'm a menthol shaving products junkie). I ordered the Grapefruit Ice and Iceberg Ice soaps as well as two non-mentholated soaps, a pine-scented Christmas Forest one and a Christmas-y scented one called Sleigh Ride. While they lather up well, I was disappointed with my order, won't buy from this company again, and don't recommend them.

PROS:

The positive part of the review, first: As a newcomer to wetshaving, I don't have a lot of experiences with topical shaving products specifically designed for wetshaving. I've used the two brands of soaps I've been able to obtain locally, Van der Hagen and Williams, and find that the VDH soap is slow to lather and does not have either slickness or much cushion, whereas the Williams soap has a pleasant, almost citrusy scent, lathers up quicker, is fairly slick, but also does not have much cushion and doesn't last long on the face. Mama Bears soaps lather up significantly quicker, give a thicker lather that provides a smoother shave than either of my other soaps and does not feel like it dries out the skin like the Williams soap does. I would say that it gives a similar shave to the Bigelow (Proraso) shaving cream I bought at Bath & Bodyworks, but lathers up much more quickly than the Bigelow cream.

HOWEVER...

CONS:

The two allegedly mentholated soaps, the "Ice" soaps, did not perform as billed. I use "allegedly" because I could detect no evidence that the Grapefruit Ice soaps contained any menthol whatsoever and maybe can detect the very faintest traces of cooling from the Iceberg Ice; if I get any cooling from it, it is so minimal as to be virtually a non-issue. Now I've been using menthol shaving creams, gels, and oils for years, so maybe my skin is descensitized to some degree to menthol's cooling effect, but I'm still able to detect that cooling sensation in my King of Shaves menthol gels and oils, and I feel a bit of cooling in the Bigelow cream. But I could detect no cooling sensation in the the Grapefruit Ice soap and maybe a tiny bit of cooling (might be my imagination, though) on the Iceberg Ice (supposedly one of the strongest mentholated soaps they make). I consider the representations that Mama Bears made about these so-called "mentholated" soaps to be less than accurate and I never would have placed my order if I had known they provided basically no cooling effect at all.

The infamous Mama Bears burn. After making my purchase, I had read many other people's complaints about a burning sensation after shaving with MB soaps (supposedly caused by excessive levels of essential oils or essential fragrance in the soaps) but had not given it much consideration, since I did not have the experience during the first weeks that I used the soaps, albeit somewhat sporadically. However, this week (after my correspondence with MB Soaps had concluded - I didn't even raise this issue with them) I started feeling a burning or chafing type irritation shortly after I had shaved and initially I figured it was simply irritation from having scraped my skin while shaving. But the next day, it was worse and I experienced it not just on my neck, but high on my cheek, too, above where I shave, but where some lather had been. I also noticed that my skin was a bit red, as well. And then it dawned on me that this was probably the third straight day I had shaved with MB soaps and I had never previously gone more than two days or so with their soaps before switching to a different product. It is inexcusable for MB to use so much fragrance in the soap when they have been hearing complaints about this burning effect for years here; Mama Bear Sue actively participates in this website and surely has seen dozens of people complain about the near-caustic reaction her soaps have on the skin of a lot of her customers.

Packaging is inadequate. Each individual soap is wrapped in cellophane with a relatively crudely printed (generated in an ink jet printer, or so it appears) label on it telling what soap it is and the four pucks came in a little cardboard gift box. But what are you supposed to do with the soap puck after using it? Return it to the original cardboard box, which will soon become a soggy mess? Mama Bears provides no container to hold and store this soap, so I had to improvise with open-topped disposable plastic containers that formerly held my daughter's single-serving applesauce snack packs. Mama Bears should have included a plastic container with each puck. While these soaps are not ultra high end products, at $20 for a 4-pack of relatively small (1.5oz, I believe) soap pucks, they aren't cheap, either and should have come with their own containers for storage after use. The crappy VDH soap I bought for under $3 at Walgreens (nearly twice the size for that price, too) has its own container so these should too. It's not like they aren't making a tidy profit on them, either, since they are supposedly using Brambleberry shaving soap base, which goes for something like $2.30 a pound in bulk.

Here's the big Con: Poor service. Mama Bears advertises on its website that it has free "used" soap containers/tubs available that it will include in one's order upon request, if only one tells them how many one wants. I requested five of those containers (one for each of the soaps I ordered from Mama Bears, one extra). However, my order shipped without the containers and no explanation was provided. Since it was a flat-rate box, it would not have cost any more to ship them to me. If they were out of them, it would have taken all of 10 seconds to write a quick note "Sorry - we're out of the soap tubs." If the missing tubs were the only problem with service, I wouldn't have too big of an objection and would have just forgotten about it, but that was only part of the issue.

I e-mailed Mama Bears about the lack of any menthol effect in their two Ice soaps and also noted that they did not provide me with the requested free used soap containers. Mama never responded. So five days later, I e-mailed them again, saying I was not pleased that they were ignoring me. Then I got a very pleasant and apologetic response from Mama Bear Angie, who appears to be an employee or a junior partner of the business. She not only offered to replace the two Ice soaps I ordered with new ones, she also offered to ship to me a puck each of their Awakenings soap (which she said had the most menthol of any of their soaps) as well as their Rose Ice soap, which she personally had verified had significant cooling effect. And she offered to ship me the five empty soap tubs they forgot, at no cost, taking responsibility, saying "Your missing tubs is 100% my fault!!!"

I wrote her back and thanked her not once but twice for taking care of things. I asked only for one each of the Awakenings soap and the Rose Ice soap, instead of all four soaps she had offered (I'm not trying to gouge or scam anyone, I just want to receive what I ordered and I could not be sure that the Iceberg and Grapefruit Ice soaps wouldn't be identical to what I already received).

Rather bizarrely, I then got an e-mail back from Sue, who apparently is the Head Mama Bear. Sue tells me that I need to ship back to them, at my expense, the two allegedly mentholated soaps that I didn't like before they'll do anything for me. And she tells me I have to pay for shipping for them to send me replacement soaps and the soap containers. I politely responded by balking at paying to ship back to them a pair of used soap pucks that they will only throw in the garbage (at least I assume they'll throw them away - if they didn't, that wouldn't be sanitary at all, would it?). And I told them it was unreasonable to expect me to pay for shipping on the return package to me when they were the ones who forgot to include the containers in the first place, plus they would have to pay shipping anyways on getting the two replacement soap pucks to me.

Sue responded by irrationally saying "We didn't forget the containers - You seem determined to avoid having to pay for shipping them!" And then she said she was going to issue a refund "and ask you not to come back here again."

Wow. They want me to pay the cost to return their defective products (which they will simply toss in the garbage) and to pay to ship something they forgot to include in my order, and then when I tell them that's not reasonable, they tell me, in essence, "Get lost, jerk and don't ever come back." It's not as if I'm going to waste my time trying to cheat a little family-owned business out of a few bucks worth of product - treating me as if I was a scam artist is insulting. Mama Bear Sue essentially acted as if I had not only slept in her bed but had then poured porridge into it, all by my "dreadful" act of simply politely asking to be put in the position of a happy customer as I should have been upon the original receipt of my order.

And two weeks later, they have not, as promised, issued a refund. I had to start a credit card dispute. It appears that Sue tried to wait until my 60 days to perform a dispute expired before reneging on her promise to issue a refund, not knowing that her promise to refund suspends that 60 day deadline.

What a stupid thing to do, instead of the fairly minimal extra cost it would have taken to make me a happy customer who might have at least said good things about them if not bought any more products (I try to avoid skin irritants, not seek them out and pay money for them, so I wouldn't have bought any more soaps, but would have tried some after shave products), they instead have thrown away $20 and pissed me off with poor, rude service. Dumb, dumb maternal bear.

So we have Mama Bear Sue, who is penny-wise-pound-foolish, stubborn, arrogant, and rude, and we have Mama Bear Angie, who is polite, smart, and understands customer service, but who apparently doesn't wear the Bear Pants at their business.

So other than shipping my order (or part of it), I would have to say that customer service from this business is flat-out poor.

Years ago, I bought a refurbished computer motherboard from Newegg.com (one of the biggest, and certainly the best, electronics and computer parts retailer online) for something like $24 and it was DOA. I called up to get an RMA and the Newegg CSR told me "OK sir, I've credited your account, is there anything else I can do for you?" I asked, wait, what about returning the motherboard - what address should I send that to and do I pay for return shipping or can you send me a prepaid return shipping label? She responded: "Sir, you don't need to return it. We feel bad enough that we sent you a defective product - we certainly do not want you to have to incur an extra cost to ship something back that we'll only throw in the garbage. You're a valued customer and we trust you on a small ticket item like this." Now that's true customer service. That's why I've ordered from Newegg dozens of times since then and spent thousands of dollars there over the years, as well as referred at least a dozen friends and family to buy there. And even if Sue hadn't "banned" me from buying from her company again, her extremely poor treatment of my legitimate issues - essentially the opposite of how Newegg treats its customers - insures that I will never recommend MB Soaps to anyone.

CONCLUSION: I like how Mama Bears soaps lather easily and provide a thick, rich lather that has very good lubrication and cushion. I may try buying a pound of the Brambleberry shaving soap base at $3.30/lb + S&H in small quantities and adding my own menthol, having purchased some menthol crystals from Amazon, and see if it lathers as well as the MB soaps. However, almost every other aspect of Mother Bears products are inadequate and service from the business's owner was terrible. I can't think of any reason to do business with this company.
Price
1.00 star(s)
Scent
1.00 star(s)
Lather
4.00 star(s)
Quality
2.00 star(s)
Efficacy
0.00 star(s)
Moisturizing
1.00 star(s)
Almost under the radar as the introduction of the fabulous B&B limited Oakmoss & Lavender soap got the most air time, Mama Bear brought out the Iceberg soaps (formerly labelled as Iceburg).

I got the regular unmentholated version as well as the mentholated which I got for a test drive. This review is for the mentholated one, as I think that one is the most special.

Price. Excellent value for the money as with all Mama Bear soaps. Not the cheapest soap on the block, and most certainly not the most expensive.

Quality. A very well balanced glycerin based soap with good consistency, nice scent, well packed and labelled. What's not to like?

Scent. A nice cologne fragrance. It is a fresh scent, with small sweet, citrus and powder notes. A touch of peppermint also. Scent is a very personal thing. I like it, but I won't put this soap in the ranks of Ye Olde Barbershoppe, Chypre Rose or Oakmoss & Lavender.

Lather. Just looking at it makes lather. Either with a boar or a badger this soap produces ample lather, which is protective, slick, stable.

Efficacy. Solid performer. The menthol is a true addition to this soap and makes it stand out from the crowd. On Facebook, Sue mentioned she went back to supermentholating and it works wonders. A very nice, cooling kick that adds to the shave without being obtrusive. Nothing to freeze your face off, but an effective use of menthol. Very nice for the hot summer days.

Moisturizing. I don not expect my soaps to be moisturizing but as with all Mama Bear this Iceburg Ice also does not dry out your skin. Glycerin soaps in general might be a bit 'drier' than lanolin or tallow soaps, but then again glycerin provides a nice slick lather - and this soap certainly is nice. It's very good and leaves you with a nice, clean well groomed feeling.

All in all, a very nice addition to the Mama Bear range.
Price
4.00 star(s)
Scent
4.00 star(s)
Lather
4.00 star(s)
Quality
4.00 star(s)
Efficacy
4.00 star(s)
Moisturizing
4.00 star(s)

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