Here, we have a battle between two heavyweights of my shave den. Hailing from Turkey at 75 grams, a dovometer* of 10mm, and a cost of $2.00, the $0.0026/dm/g value champion Arko presumably needs no further introduction. Hailing from Portugal, at 90 grams, a dovometer of 18mm, and a cost of $6.00, the $0.0037/dm/g, Ach Brito Mogno is less well known, but a rising star in the world of high performance value shaving. Both of these venerable soaps are produced by century old soap manufacturers, and have been enjoyed by wet shavers throughout the world since the 1950's.
Before we begin, we should perhaps first address the elephant in the room: scent. The scent of Arko is controversial to say the least. It has been likened by some to that of a urinal puck; to others it is merely a clean soapy smell reminiscent of the Ivory bars of yore. I find myself in the latter category. For it's part, Mogno has been variously described as "Arguably the most exquisite barbershop scent yet conceived" all the way to Sir Bertrand Russel's assessment: "A scent so divine, it is scarcely within the limits of mortal comprehension; Mogno is a priori evidence of the existence of God". I find myself squarely in the middle of these two claims.
With introductions out of the way, let's move on to the format of the present battle: The Konomi Code Challenge. Those of a certain age will recall the original Nintendo Entertainment System (circa 1985), and the universal cheat code of one of it's more prominent developers, Konomi. The eponymous code was as follows: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. The Konomi Code Challenge is essentially an 8 pass shave in the directions proscribed, followed by a Bar of Alum to evaluate discomfort before starting the day. The shaves are done in a split-face format, with one side of the face lathered with Arko, and the other by Mogno. The shave is done on a daily basis, alternating the soap applied to each side of the face (left vs right) each day. The razor will be a RazoRock Game Changer .68, loaded with a Perma Sharp Super. The plan is to continue the shaves until a champion has been crowned.
The lathering methodology is worth discussing in more detail, as it is designed to truly push these soaps to their limits. Each stick is applied directly to the beard, and lathering is done by hand. I spent the first 9 days this month comparing these soaps by alternating my trusty Shavemac Badger (had it for 20 years) vs RazoRock Monster with each soap and side of the face, but found the results tended to favor the Monster irrespective of soap. Next I tried alternating hand lathering vs the Monster with each soap & side of the face, but found that lathering tended to favor the hand lathered soap. Thus, on day 9 of this challenge, I have settled on lathering both soaps by hand. To further highlight the performance of these two soaps, although both soaps will be relathered by hand between passes, no additional soap will be added from the sticks. Thus, only the soap on the hands from the initial lathering will will be used for relathering the seven subsequent passes. This lathering format is the most severe test I can think of for both the initial slickness, and especially residual slickness that I can imagine, and it is residual slickness that I believe is the most important performance characteristic of a comfortable and nick-free shave.
With all that preamble out of the way, let's begin.
* Dovometer is a measurement of soap density/hardness on a linear scale. It measures the millimeters of compression of a coil spring applying force against a fixed surface area necessary to penetrate a given sample of soap. For more detailed discussion see:
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