PRICE: Xpec Original Shaving Soap retails for 22.50 GBP for 150ml of product. As such, it is certainly aimed at the higher end of the market, but given the overall quality of the product and it's ingredients it is in no way overpriced.
Whilst it is certainly beyond the point of diminishing returns when it comes to the price/ performance ratio, it is an exceptionally good product, and while you may find products that cost less this particular Soap has a character all of it's own, both in the way it behaves and the scent.
Xpec Original Shaving Soap contains a good number of quality skincare ingredients, such as: Jojoba Oil, Rosehip and Sweet Almond Oils, and may also include Shea Butter (it's mentioned on the back of the box, but not in the ingredients list.) The fragrance is composed of 100% Essential Oils and contains: Citrus notes, Tuberose, Wild Thyme, Fennel, Ginger, Pepper, Cedarwood and Oakmoss. As you can see, the company certainly hasn't skimped on the ingredients.
This particular Shaving Soap is sold as triple-milled, but in actual fact Xpec is much more like a Shaving Cream than a Soap. It is softer than most Soaps, but more dense than many creams. Initially, I could only make a small indentation on top of the product when I pressed down with my thumb, but with use it has absorbed more water and softened up somewhat, it is still very dense however.
Obviously, a Shaving Cream isn't going to last as long as a triple-milled, hard soap, but Xpec Original is very concentrated and as such only a very small amount is needed, therefore, longevity should still be good. QUALITY: As already mentioned, this product contains significant quantities of quality skincare ingredients and the 100% EO fragrance is certainly very strong. It comes packaged in a high quality frosted hard plastic case, which doubles up as a handy travelling container. It is also a very concentrated product, so the quantities of the various ingredients listed is certainly high. There is no way that this could be considered a cheap product.
In terms of character and performance, this particular product is most easily compared to the likes of Acqua di Parma and Castle Forbes Shave Creams and Martin de Candre Shaving Soap, and it certainly holds it's own in such distinguished company. SCENT: The scent is described as, "... a warm and sensual blend, featuring top notes of Tuberose and Thyme interwoven with Ginger, Pepper and Fennel oils, and the richness of Cedar and Oakmoss."
I have seen this soap compared to Antaeus by Chanel and Czech and Speake no. 88. I have no experience with the Chanel product, but the comparison to no. 88 should given one an idea of how this scent works.
It is a dramatic and powerful fragrance, which is very masculine. The citrus and floral notes do little to lighten the blend, it is a very dry and earthy scent, but the Pepper also gives it some warmth.
For people who like their fragrances to make a bold statement about their own personalities, the Xpec line is certainly one to consider. It is a strong, singular fragrance with a great deal of character. That being said, I think that this is going to be a love it or hate it type of scent. The scent left by the lather is very strong, and even without the matching edt or A/S, use of the Shaving Soap is probably best left for formal events. It has a complexity and depth that is rarely found in other cologne scented soaps or creams. LATHER: When working out the rating I'm going to give a product for the lather it produces there are a number of factors that I like to consider. Among them, the ease with which the lather is produced, the stability and lifespan of the lather itself and most importantly of all, how ell the lather shaves. The lather from Xpec Original isn't the easiest to start with and until you have it figured out the lifespan suffers. However, when you finally hit your stride with this soap, the quality of the lather, the protection it provides and above all the quality of the skincare are second to none.
When I first used this soap, I did what I normally do with most other soaps (even though this is more like a cream) and swirled my nearly dry brush on the surface of the soap until it was completely loaded. This was a big mistake as I eneded up using far too much product. This is where the lather suffers initially, it is very easy to use too much of this, and because it's a water loving cream it takes a long time to get the lather where it needs to be to shave well. This soap really does like a lot of water, even when you think you have the lather optimally hydrated, you still need to add more water, otherwise it will dry out on your face. Once you have these little wrinkles ironed out, you can really start to appreciate just how good Xpec Original really is.
As already mentioned this is a very highly concentrated product, as such the lather itself is never overly airy. Whilst it increases in volume dramatically, it never becomes fluffy and the lather is probably best described as a heavy paste or emulsion. Consequently it is a very protective lather, but when you have the product/ water ratio sorted out it is also remarkably slick. It feels wonderful on the face and the skincare is first-rate.
In use, this product is much more like a cream than a soap, once you have it lathered up and are shaving with it, any pretense about this being a shaving soap is gone. Whilst it is denser than any other cream on the market, it certainly isn't a soap, despite being sold as such. EFFICACY: In light of the fact that the Xpec company itself is realatively new to the market, the performance and overall quality of their Shaving Soap, is doubly impressive.
It may take some experimentation and time to figure out how to use it optimally, but once you do, Xpec Original, produces a wonderfully rich and thick lather, that is both lubricating and protective.
The lather itself is somewhat softer than what you would normally expect from a cream, so it cuts closer, but with the protection afforded by the lather, it never cuts too close. The end result of a shave is certainly very smooth, without even a hint of irritation. MOISTURIZING: As has already been mentioned, this particular product contains a number of moisturising ingredients including Jojoba Oil, Rosehip, Sweet Almond Oil and maybe Shea Butter, so it is very moisturising. Once you have the water ratio down, the lather feels great on the skin and is never drying. Overall, the skincare is top notch, and there isn't anything I can think of that is better than this product.
For most people, a balm or any other type of moisturiser used after the shave would be entirely superfluous. OVERALL: Xpec have really hit the ground running with this particualr product. In terms of it's efficacy and the overall quality of the shave this is a fantastic buy. Certainly, it is an expensive product, but it is in no way overpriced. When compared with similiar products, like Acqua di Parma, it is actually cheaper, and compared to the AdP cream, it offers superior skincare.
The scent is going to be the deciding factor when it comes to trying this product out. If you like Pepper, or you are looking for a characterful and singular fragrance then I would certainly recommend this. Others, I would advise to proceed with caution.
Initially, the Pepper scent is almost overbearing, in fact, my wife (who has never displayed any allergic reaction to Pepper before) had an alarming sneezing fit when asked for her opinion of the fragrance. Thankfully, it has died down with use and the other components in the scent have come through nicely. Still, it is a powerful scent, with a very strong presence, which may require some confidence to wear.