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Santa Maria Novella Crema Da Barba

Item Description

MBW and I are staying at the American Club in beautiful Kohler,Wisconsin and after visiting the Kohler Company showroom, which had a Crabtree & Evelyn shave soap dish glued to one of the displays, I set out to find some top quality shave soap. I could not find any C&E anywhere, but one shop had The Art of Shaving and after asking a few questions and looking around one of the clerks found a 250 ML tub of Santa Maria Novella, crema da barba. She said it was made by monks in Italy and this was the last one they had. I saw the price had been reduced to $19 from $38 USD, so I bought it.

I almost passed on it because the smell reminded me of Proraso (which I don’t like). But since there was nothing else in this town that I could find, (go figure, 5 star resort, golf course ranked #3 in America, top notch Water Spa and no place to get a shave), I went ahead with it.

Price:
This is the only negative thing I found with this product. Even though I only paid $19 the regular price of $38 seems a bit steep for me. Albeit a 250 ml tub is a pretty good size.

Quality:
The quality was misleading at first. The initial appearance is not that of a premium product, (i.e. plain package, very old styling, looks/smells similar to Proraso shave soap). The shave results proved otherwise.

Scent:
Thankfully it is not as strong as Proraso, but it does have that menthol eucalyptus smell. I am not a big fan of menthol scent but I will not lower my rating because of that, it’s still fairly pleasant and may even have a hint of lavender. Overall it is a pleasingly light menthol eucalyptus scent that I think most will enjoy.

Latherability:
I will have to update this when I get home, since I was using my old brush and the water seems a little on the hard side here. Even the spa soaps did not lather well here. It did do what it was supposed to do and after a little coaxing it lathered up quite nicely. It was rich & creamy and lasted for the entire shave.

Update from home: Now that I am home and the water might be treated different, (comes from the same lake I think), I have only noticed marginal improvement on lathering, even with my fairly new Art of Shaving pure badger brush. It does take a little effort to get a good lather. In whipping the lather it makes a transition from sudsy foam to a rich creamy lather after a minute or two of whipping. This is when I begin shaving. Once it gets to this point though it lasts the entire shave and one brush full is enough for my usual three passes.

Since this is a hard cream it has to be worked off the top with a wet brush. One nice thing about it, is it is not wasteful since you can’t accidentally smoosh the brush in too deep and get more than you needed. On one of my shaves I had to go over the top a second time to get enough to make a good lather.

Efficacy:
It is very hard for a cream, but not as hard as soap, so a little went a long way. The picture I took of the open tub was taken after I used it and you can still see the ridges from when it was filled.

Moisturizing:
This is not a property I pay a lot of attention to since I normally use an aftershave balm. However, it was not drying and left my skin feeling quite refreshed, soft and smooth. I could probably get by without even using any ASB.

Packaging:
The packaging of the tub was a plain card stock box. The tub itself is a modern plastic shave cream tub with a screw on lid that holds 250 ml of cream. It does what it is supposed to do and that’s about all there is to say about that.

The Shave:
This is what it all boils down to and it was wonderful. It provided excellent lubrication for the blade and left my skin irritation free. Using my Gillette travel DE and a red pack Personna blade, I was able to get a very smooth BBS finish.

Continued from home:
I have had two more excellent shaves using my 1962 adjustable and a Derby Extra blade. Overall I find this to be an outstanding product and if you happen to come across some in your travels I recommend it. The usual disclaimers apply, but next month, when I am in Italy I know what I’ll be looking out for.:biggrin:

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Here is a link to the discussion thread for this review.

Latest reviews

Pros: clean, fresh, long-lasting
Cons: price a bit steep
First of all, I live in Italy so I could get this soap for 35 euros ($38). I would not have purchased it elsewhere for a higher price.

Second of all, it is not a cream, it is a typical Italian soft soap.

The scent is indeed very close to Proraso green and Omega (camphor and eucalyptus), which I actually love, especially in summer. However, it is not as strong as Proraso and has a light warm body. The packaging says "light Tuscan Tobacco scent". I almost don't feel it at all.

I have shaved with this soap for 15 straight days so far and the results are fantastic. It provides great cushion and post-shave feel (whereas Proraso green lacks in this department, IMO).

I pair it with Floid Blue and my face feels so good.

It should last quite a long time (I suppose around 5-6 months of daily use).

In summary: it's a fantastic shaving soap in what a shaving soap should excel: providing you a comfortable shave.

- Buy it if:
1) you or a friend of yours visit Italy
2) you like eucalyptus / camphor / menthol scent and feeling

- Don't buy it if:
1) You prefer strong-scented soaps
2) You prefer shaving creams or hard pucks
Price
3.00 star(s)
Scent
2.00 star(s)
Quality
4.00 star(s)
Efficacy
5.00 star(s)
Packaging
4.00 star(s)
Latherability
5.00 star(s)
Moisturizing Properties
5.00 star(s)
I picked this up in Bangkok and paid a phenomenal 2,850 baht (US$92), ok, I didnt have to pay that much but based on the reviews here, I felt at the very least I had to give it a whirl.
Bad news first; I had travelled light and took with me a tube of Omega. I opened up the SMN and thought that I had been ripped off, like buying a fake pair of ray-bans or copy rolex watch. I placed the 2 next to each together and smelt them...The same smell, carbon copy almost the same. Blindfolded, I would have been hard pressed to tell the difference. It has the same look when you open the tub, those round lines. Omega, Proraso and SMN seem to have been spawned from the same mother.
Packaging was a flimsy paper box, the tub was of good quality.

So, is it worth it? is it worth paying 2 or 3 times above the odds for 250ml (note the cream is weighed in volume as opposed to weight) of cream? IMHO, No. I hate to play devil's advocate here but I must disagree.Not everyone is fortunate enough to reside in Europe where they can pick it up at a decent price.

The lather created was outstanding and it's moisturising properties are excellent, for this, SMN scores top points, absolutely no complaints on this side.

Summing up, I feel that it is an expensive form of proraso or omega, even allowing for the high prices of taxation and shipping I would rather spend my money on something more.
Price
1.00 star(s)
Scent
3.00 star(s)
Quality
3.00 star(s)
Efficacy
5.00 star(s)
Packaging
3.00 star(s)
Latherability
5.00 star(s)
Moisturizing Properties
5.00 star(s)
Price - $52 for a 7oz tub of cream is rather pricey. This stuff is more like a hard cream though so I imagine it will last longer than a typical cream so that may offset some of the high cost.

Quality - I'm sure some of the price you pay is for the name itself, as SMN is regarded as a high quality product. That said this stuff blows proraso out of the water.

Scent - Mmmmm....Menthol and Eucalyptus. Not as powerful as proraso, but I like the subtle scent better and the feeling on the face is second to none.

Latherability - This is where SMN distinguishes itself from proraso. I get loads of thick, cushiony and slick lather.

Efficacy - The lather produced provides plenty of slickness to allow straights to glide right through your beard.

Moisturizing - It is not MWF, but the added lanolin in SMN does seem to provide some added moisturizing properties over say proraso.

Packaging - For $52 I expect a little more than a plain plastic tub, but it seals well I guess :001_rolle

Overall - This is an expensive product no doubt about it. That said, I anticipate it to last a very long time due to the more soap like consistency it has. I couldn't stand proraso, but absolutely love SMN and am glad I found something that works for me that has that menthol kick. This is basically a top 3 cream for me joining the likes of Domenico Caraceni and Acca Kappa.
Price
3.00 star(s)
Scent
5.00 star(s)
Quality
4.00 star(s)
Efficacy
5.00 star(s)
Packaging
3.00 star(s)
Latherability
5.00 star(s)
Moisturizing Properties
4.00 star(s)

Item information

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OldSaw
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Reviews
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Rating
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