Pros: Super easy (face)lathering
Nice dense lather
Superb skin conditioner
Cons: Not the cheapest
I bought this Santa Maria Novella from their UK online shop. I loved the scent of the Razorock Santa Maria del Fiori and the matching after shave splash. But the SMdF's performance is -to say the least- below average.
The SMN comes in a 220 ml / 7.4 fl.oz. PP-container that some may call 'underwhelming'. However it is much lighter and safer to handle in a bathroom environment than the overly heavy glass container that its tribute-soap SMdF comes in.
I paid (incl. shipping) £52.00/US$64.40 for the soap, which I believe is very similar to the cheapest Martin de Candre Originale shaving soap. The MdC comes in a 200 g container, so it's not 100% comparable without knowing its specific density. The MdC is a hard soap while the SMN is a softish croap. I believe the MdC to be heavier per ml. than the SMN.
I have used several soaps over time: Proraso Green and White (IT), Arko, Master Soap Creations (SA), Bundubeard (SA), Simpsons (UK), Tabac (DE), Cella (IT), Taylor of Old Bond Street (UK), Martin de Candre (FR) and have reduced my rotation to Proraso, Razorock (IT/USA), Martin de Candre and this Santa Maria Novella. For some reason I may conclude that vegan soaps are outperforming the tallow soaps? Just to raise some controversy here ;-)...
After using de Razorock SMdF for quite a while what immediately struck me was the addition of camphor. I was not to wild about it for some time but now that I'm used to it, I believe it's a phenomenal scent!
Lathering (face) up is child's play. A few swirls of a wet shaving brush and off you go. Even with my smallest brush (21 mm Yaqi Sagrada Familia badger) I manage to pick up enough soap for my standard two passes. I just dip the brush tips in warm water and I'm off for a comfortable second pass...
After rinsing my face, there is more than enough residual slickness for some soapless touch ups if needed.
What really sets this soap apart from the competition is its moisturizing quality. Even hours after the shave your skin feels like it was treated with a good balm.
The highly praised Martin de Candre shaving soaps in no way leave the same after shave feel. Even during the shave I sometimes feel a soapy sting with MdC that I contribute to residual acid (?).
For this reason, I might not even renew my MdC soaps and stick to the SMN. Bold statement, but true...
This soap has two synthetic chemical components, one is a gelling-thickening agent, the other an antioxidant. I did some research and these components are judged as safe. I've used plenty of products containing coconut oil but I've never experienced similar moisturizing effects as with SMN. I'm not sure whether either of these two synthetic components have any impact on the soap's performance but I'm more than happy to use this soap as is!
For now, I pair this soap with my remaining Razorock SMdF splash. Once this is finished, no doubt I'll get myself the SMN matching after shave or cologne.