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Choosing a first soap or cream

In that case, you’re in!

ARKO!’s blend of citrus, citronella, and that hint of patchouli/nag champa isn’t remotely like a urinal cake. It’s overpoweringly like a high-end ultra-posh urinal cake from a bistro diner just adjacent to the Taj Mahal with a scent that makes you grateful an uncomfortable bladder led you to such salvation.

Instead of some base, bodily function, ARKO! guides you to a refreshing, invigorating shave ready to face the day with no stubble between you and glory.

I strongly wish urinal pucks smelled as good as ARKO! and have read reports of washrooms with urinal pucks of identical scent with great jealousy.

Now get an ARKO! shaving stick and live your best life!

ARKO! You’re In For a Treat

WOW, what a conversation this is, I never once heard anyone once who got jealous for a unique smelling urinal cake. I can tell you one thing though, if all bathrooms smelled like our fancy artisan accoutrements, nobody would fear public bathrooms lol.

The hardworking little puck does its job so -you- don't have to smell something (maybe) worse.

And one day, those urinal pucks will take over the world, like Pinkie & the Brain. And then there will no longer be stink in the world, is that about the gist of it? HEHE

Menthol is one that really causes me problems

I think the PAA star jelly's contain menthol, well, some of them do I guess. So, I guess I will find out if they cause me any irritation. But I have to believe, that if one does a bad job shaving and nicks themselves with the razor, any alcohol or menthol, is going to let you know it. lol
 
Irritants:
Menthol is one that really causes me problems, and is recognised to be a potential irritant. Based on the severity of the reaction on my face, and that a basic search engine research will show it as a recognised irritant, I would exclude any products containing it for this exercise. Likewise, LaToja causes my problems, and I have noted that other shavers here have had issues with it too, so I would scratch that from the shortlist. I believe the almond scented ingredient in Cella is another repeat offender.

Erasmic is a very affordable, user friendly, and high performance cream, but sadly I do not believe it is freely available globally. I'm not familiar with a lot of other budget creams, but a lot of them do seem to have menthol in.

Haslinger and LEA sticks spring to mind as products which might tick all the right boxes.

Not sure about the sticks, but Lea Classic in the tube has menthol.
 
For UK based shavers I'd add the following that are all readily available on the high street:

- Body Shop Shaving Cream
- The Real Shaving Company Shaving Cream
- Boots shave stick
- Hawkins and Brimble Shaving Cream
 
Agreed. Local availability is key. Otherwise you pay through the nose in shipping.
The only soap that fulfills all those requirements and is readily available domestically
in Japan is Proraso. You need to buy it online and you still pay more than you would like.

Really? All those expensive feather razors and you can only get Proraso? Talk about an imbalance!
 
Irritants:
Menthol is one that really causes me problems, and is recognised to be a potential irritant. Based on the severity of the reaction on my face, and that a basic search engine research will show it as a recognised irritant, I would exclude any products containing it for this exercise. Likewise, LaToja causes my problems, and I have noted that other shavers here have had issues with it too, so I would scratch that from the shortlist. I believe the almond scented ingredient in Cella is another repeat offender.

Erasmic is a very affordable, user friendly, and high performance cream, but sadly I do not believe it is freely available globally. I'm not familiar with a lot of other budget creams, but a lot of them do seem to have menthol in.

Haslinger and LEA sticks spring to mind as products which might tick all the right boxes.

I hadn't picked up on it, but you seem to be right about La Toja and Cella red - it aggrieves me to have to take La Toja off the list because it is the best performed that I have found to date, but I can't deny that it does not meet the requirements I set out.

Presumably Cella blue would still be ok - it is not almond scented and I have not seen any complaints about adverse reactions to it.
 
I have 4 soaps, as I've mentioned..... the top two for me are tied: Acca Kappa Barbershop (very nice, subtle, clean smell) and ESC Citrus Kiss (again, not an in-your-face fragrance... but very nice)

The other two......... I'm not quite sure of them. I have the Proraso White... it's sort of non-descript. I've been adding a little bit of glycerin in my shaving bowl when I lather it and that has helped a Lot....

The last one is the RR Mudder Focker. I've only used it twice and it smells nice... on the subtle side too, I think. It seems to lather well. I'll have to use it a few more times, now that I'm semi-knowledgeable with the lathering aspect of shaving.

So, sorry.... no ARKO on the horizon. You folks need to work on your salesmanship techniques. And don't think by adding "citronella" to describe its scent is going to sucker me in.... We live in Florida... where the air can be filled with the smell of citronella candles burning from sunset until the wee hours of the morning. ;)
 

AimlessWanderer

Remember to forget me!
True. If I can’t convince someone to use a very slick, easy to use, long-lasting, and inexpensive shave soap, I’m definitely not a good salespeperson.

Don't be too hard on yourself, Thom. You were a good enough salesperson to not incorporate the words stinky, reeks or stench into your sales pitch. That's a good start, at least :thumbsup:

:tongue_sm
 
Baume.be shaving cream
Lightly scented, easy to lather, moderate price (shop around) and without much objection, the second highest performing cream on the market. I guess if you want to go cheaper, there are a half dozen European creams that you can find good recommendations for. By European, I don’t mean British!:001_tt2:
Baume.be was recommended to me by Tomo, so I put it on my list. When you said it's the "second highest performing cream on the market", I'll bet most people know which one you rate the highest, but I'm a newbie so... which one is it? ;)
 
Baume.be was recommended to me by Tomo, so I put it on my list. When you said it's the "second highest performing cream on the market", I'll bet most people know which one you rate the highest, but I'm a newbie so... which one is it? ;)
I wish I had it, it's out of stock at Gifts and Care right now. Acqua di Parma "for brush" in the yellow jar you will see in SOTD photos. You better hold your breath if you look it up at a well known US department store... :whistling:

Hint, about 4X the cost of Baume.be
 
I wish I had it, it's out of stock at Gifts and Care right now. Acqua di Parma "for brush" in the yellow jar you will see in SOTD photos. You better hold your breath if you look it up at a well known US department store... :whistling:

Hint, about 4X the cost of Baume.be
ouch.... thx for the reply... I'll take a look at it.... I did find it in several of the US department stores... and Amazon carries it as well. $90... not sure how to compare the actual cost as it states the content in grams. The Baume.be is $33 for 200ml. Since you've had both, if you had to guess... are they around the same size container?

My Acca Kappa Barbershop is 150ml and is $50 at their site. I got mine from ESC and paid $36, so just a tad more than the Baume.be... for 50ml less.

Tomo was advising me the other day... he said Acqua di Parma "for brush" had a stronger scent. Is that your experience as well?

I don't seem to get along with the heavier scented stuff on my face. I never use an aftershave for that reason... I do have a signature cologne I use from time to time.
 
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Nope, it's Acqua di Parma if I didn't mention that. There is a whole thread of testing creams, it was @Kennyg2019
cough, a well known perfume brand, cough :letterk1:
Definitely not for me, then. I'm learning so much here.... saving tons of money not buying things I'll hate. Thanks so much for the advice. I don't know if Tomo is reading this thread or not.. but thx to him as well.

Looks like I'll be getting Baume.be for my next soap/cream.
 
Looks like I'll be getting Baume.be for my next soap/cream.
It's a hard cream, just so you know. I didn't when I got it. You pretty much have to go into the jar with a damp brush and it takes more water(outside the jar) than other creams. It still has the advantage of not really needing any special technique to lather, just takes a little longer. I am currently on track to get 200 shaves out of the jar, just so you know. Try the pre-shave gel, I won't live without it.
 
Every so often I see a thread where someone asks for recommendations on the best soap or cream for a beginner to wet shaving. People provide their opinions. I shall take a different approach. Rather than recommending a soap/cream, I will provide the requirements that I believe must be fulfilled by a suitable candidate for a first soap. Although I will mention examples they are only that - the omission of a product from the discussion most likely only means that I have not tried it. An additional advantage is that if the beginner does not think that a requirement applies to them they can disregard it.

To specify requirements you must have an overarching objective in mind. My objective is this: that the beginner should reliably be able to produce a lather that gives them a pleasant shave. Notice the modesty of this goal: I do not aim to provide them with the best lather, or the best value lather. The key here is to identify products that are most likely to give an adequate lather for as many beginners as possible.

I wish to avoid the beginner being disheartened by a poor experience, thinking that a satisfactory experience is beyond them and giving up. My theory is that soaps and creams are consumable - as long as the beginner continues wet shaving there will be a second soap. And a third. Once the beginner knows what they can expect from a soap and has developed their lathering technique they are free to chase perfection in whatever way will please them.

So, to business.

The first requirement is that the soap be well known to the forum. This is important because should the beginner feel that their technique is lacking, or that the product seems a bit "off", diagnosis or reassurance can be provided by forumites with first-hand experience. In practice this means that the use of local artisans should be avoided for a first soap. I do not mean to discourage shavers from supporting local businesses - after getting the hang of building a lather I believe that the opportunity to use such local businesses is part of the joy of wet shaving. But I have seen too many poor reviews of products from small businesses that mostly make bath soap and try branching out into shaving soap without a firm understanding of the difference between the two products.

The second requirement is that the product must have been found to perform well (or at least adequately) by almost all who have tried it. No product can have totally unanimous reviews, but hanging around B&B reveals some products are more problematic than others. This is not about individual experience, but the aggregate experience of the board. Remembering the overall goal, I am quite willing to forego the chance of recommending the best possible product if it reduces the probability of discouragement and reversion to canned goo. I would argue that this rules out Mitchells Wool Fat and Williams. I know that "The Fat" has many adherents and it could make a fine second soap - but not the first. I would also avoid the hard soaps from Taylor's of Old Bond Street, Geo F Trumper, Truefitt and Hill and D R Harris due to various poorly-reviewed reformulations, although their shaving creams are generally well though-of.

The third requirement is that the product must be of low cost to acquire. I choose my words carefully because this is not about cost per shave. I am sure that according to your calculations your puck of Martin de Candre works out at a lower cost than Arko, but it is still daunting as a beginner to be told that you must pony up north of $50 for soap when there is a brush and razor to be purchased as well. You can get a perfectly decent lather for a fraction of the outlay. This rules out Martin de Candre, and also Saponificio Varesino and Acqua di Parma. This will also depend where you are in the world: for example, in the UK it rules out many US artisans because they are often marked up compared to more local products.

The fourth requirement is that the product must be of uncontroversial scent. I know that it matters not a jot to the physical act of shaving, but it is important to the shaving experience. A beginner who reverts to canned goo because they cannot stand the smell of the product they are using is as lost to us as one who reverts due to poor performance. Again, this is down to the aggregate opinion of the board, not individuals. This turns out to be something of a giant-killer, as Arko and (tallow) Tabac are frequently recommended for their performance but are unquestionably polarising on the issue of their scent (if indeed one can describe the odour of urinal cakes as a scent (just joshing...)).

The fifth requirement is that the product should not cause an adverse reaction to the skin. Doubtless you can find a story of someone having a bad reaction to every product on the market, but there do seem to be some repeat offenders out there. It is almost certainly to a minority of users (it would represent a major failing on the part of the manufacturer otherwise), but why take the risk when there are lass controversial choices? The two I see most often mentioned are people getting fragrance burn from soaps by Ariana and Evans, and bad skin reactions to Proraso white (the latter baffles me because it is supposed to be their "sensitive" formulation). I've also seen some people report that Sandalwood brings them out in a rash.

So where does that leave us? Still with lots of options. Proraso Green and Blue, Speick, La Toja, Cella, Haslinger. If you are in the US, Stirling. In the UK, Cyril Slater and the creams from the "big four" above. And that's only what I can name off the top of my head. Feel free to suggest any other products that meet the above requirements, especially for regions outside of the US and UK.
Hi Thefenlander,

Lots of good logic in your post that can work for many people and one critical thing to add is what the objectives/preferences are of the beginner who is requesting advice. This can range from someone on a budget seeking a basic and more economical shave to a well heeled newbie looking to explore a variety of options in a new hobby for a more luxurious experience. Other personal preferences in areas such as convenience, scent and desire for nostalgia may also be important. Also soap should not be recommended absent hardware considerations since it's important that the shaving brush be matched to the soap (e.g. a stiffer boar for hard soaps and softer badger or synthetic for softer soaps/croaps).

For a basic shaver who primarily cares about performance and not scent then something like Arko may be the best recommendation (or a puck of Van Der Hagen Luxury for a glycerine soap experience). At the opposite end of the spectrum a more well heeled explorer may want recommendations on a rotation of 2 - 4 soaps including luxury brand samples as they embark on their wet shaving journey. Agree that any soaps recommended should be readily available per a consistent formulation. In my case I was partially driven by nostalgia in my return to DE shaving. In college I used a DE with canned goop and went electric after 5 years. When I returned to DE I wanted to emulate what I remembered my grandfather doing with an old brush and coffee mug with a puck of Colgate. That meant starting with a puck of Williams that the closest option still on the market. Soon after starting I added Van Der Hagen to the mix and explored from there.

In summary starting with a quick overview of each beginners objectives and preferences and then applying your logical criteria will deliver more optimal experiences to new wet shavers.

P.S. Since Williams is discontinued I would no longer recommend it.
 
It took me a few soap purchases to find my favorite, I am just glad that it didn't take me too long. Stirling became an instant favorite for me. In the future, I will buy lots of scents from Stirling. Just so you know, there's a huge difference between Stirling soaps, and Proraso & Tabac lol.
 
It's a hard cream, just so you know. I didn't when I got it. You pretty much have to go into the jar with a damp brush and it takes more water(outside the jar) than other creams. It still has the advantage of not really needing any special technique to lather, just takes a little longer. I am currently on track to get 200 shaves out of the jar, just so you know. Try the pre-shave gel, I won't live without it.
The Acca Kappa is a hard cream too. I scoop out an almond shaped lump into my shaving bowl.... smash it thin and go from there. Should be a similar procedure.

I'll take a look at their pre-shave gel.... I made my own pre-shave oil based on the ingredients I saw in other products and it was a miserable failure.... just clogged up the razor and didn't seem to add anything to the shave itself. That was one of those "live and learn" things.
 
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