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First Stroll Down Bond St

Last week my son arrived home on leave for his best friends’ wedding. It’s always good to see him even if it’s only for a few hours here or there when he’s home, but this time we took a whole day and spent some quality time together visiting a couple of local shave shops, cheesesteaks for lunch, and finally attending the Dbacks vs. Braves game.

I must confess up front that I need more shave soap like I need a weeper—but once in a great while you have to take one for the team, ya know? Ever since my first solo trip to WSP in Chandler (and the subsequent samples I sent my son) he’s wanted to visit the store as well . . . who am I to argue?

We got there and met the owner, Lee—really nice guy, clearly passionate about what he does, and we chatted for a bit and took a tour of the facility with their social media guru, Mel, sweet as can be and well versed on WSP’s products. But the big draw for me this time was to have my son twist the lid off this baby and take a mortal whiff of heaven . . .


I knew I’d be having an affair with this beauty when I first smelled it at The Big Shave S’West. Most scents (for me) elicit statements like “Ooooh, that’s really nice” or “Thank you sir, may I have another.” I took my first gentle whiff and thought Whoa!, then emptied the lungs and really took a manly draw in. Mel was at the Big Shave, standing behind the table when I took the second sniff. I looked at her and said “Are you kidding me?!”

“Right?” she replied.

“That’s incredible!” I gush. She’s beautiful, intriguing, made me a little fuzzy headed. I had to have her—the soap, not Mel. But at that point my son wasn’t here yet, and I knew he wanted to see WSP’s shop, so I set the tin down and discussed taking a tour with Mel and got it set up. It would only be a week later, so I’d wait and put off the inevitable unnecessary-but-gotta-have-it purchase until then . . .and it was only week, they’d certainly still have it in stock. I really wanted to see my son’s reaction to it. Lemon, lime and orange slap you in the face right off the bat, but you can detect strawberry and a hint of black currant in there, too. I have read elsewhere that Lee’s inspiration for Citrus Blast was Martin de Candre; I’ve never experienced MdC so I can’t speak to its likeness.

My son and I walk in the door at WSP and are greeted by Lee and a few moments later, Mel. About two minutes pass before I feel my jones kick in. “I really wanted him to take in Citrus Blast” I blurt.

“We sold out of that one” Mel brutally tells me. I try to hide the fact that I’m crushed. “You don’t have a teaspoonful left in a sample somewhere?” I want to ask, “I’ll even sniff it off the floor.” Clearly I don’t do desperation well. Instead I muster a pathetic “I am so disappointed!” Pffffttt . . . lame.

I felt a sense of betrayal that didn’t actually exist. “How could you?!” I wanted to shout. I quickly came to my senses and realized this is shave soap not a spurned lover. Fortunately we were in a place with lots of other soaps to smell . . . C’mere boy! Want a treat? What dog wouldn’t?

We spent about ten minutes lost in our lust for scented shave soap. We find out they now make Olympus in Formula T, a tallow-base. Damn, now I’m conflicted. I’ve never smelled Aventus, but I do like the scent of Olympus, although I’ve only used their vegan base—I really enjoy tallow-based soaps.

Lee walked out of his office on his way into the back and tells Mel there’s a dented tin of Citrus Blast left. She looked genuinely surprised. “There is?” A minute later he strolled out of the warehouse area with my latest crush in hand. Lee is my freaking hero.

It seemed an eternity before Mel handed it to me. I wasted no time in unscrewing the top and handing it to my son. “You gotta smell this” I say, perhaps with a tad too much boyish enthusiasm. He follows good soap sniffing etiquette, raising it for the initial whiff, lowering it to both clear his senses and briefly consider the smell, then raising one more time and breathing deeply. He nods and says “That’s nice.”

That’s nice? For a nanosecond I question our genetic bond. I didn’t say anything, opting instead to replace the lid and return to coveting this jewel for my own self-centered enjoyment.

He winds up getting a tin of the Olympus Formula T and I elope with Citrus Blast. Overall, a great visit to WSP and a great time with my son. But there was another stop to make.

We made a stop nearby at ForeFathers and had some tasty cheesesteak sandwiches then eventually headed out to Razor Emporium in downtown Phoenix. Matt Picarsik wasn’t there but we got to talk shop with a gentleman named Patrick and again got lost in a whole slew of soaps: Arko (foil wrapped so I didn’t get to smell it—curious because of its seemingly controversial scent), Castle Forbes, Elvado (good stuff that doesn’t get much love around here), Fine Accoutrements, Geo F. Trumper, MWF, Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements, Proraso, RazoRock, and Taylor of Old Bond Street, as well as RE’s new in-house produced soaps.

As an Arizona native Fine Accoutrements Snake Bite looked intriguing; the name is well placed. A little menthol works for me, but that stuff would be like shaving with Vicks Vapo Rub. I’m guessing it just melts the stubble, no need break out any hardware.

TOOBS had an interesting avocado scent, but my son handed me one named Cedarwood—wow! Woodsy without being overbearing, a little floral and fruity. Supposed to have notes of lily and cucumber but I can’t say I pick those up. I do detect a slight musk note, though. Between the Big Shave S’West and my prior collection I’m already at 13 full size soaps, and that doesn’t include all the samples from Big Shave. My good buddy Rationalization makes a guest appearance on my shoulder.

“Dude, you can’t have 13 soaps!”

“Triskaidekaphobia is little more than hysterical superstition” I counter.

“You ever notice some buildings don’t have a 13th floor?” This is a little jarring because I have actually noticed that before. I ignore him.

“Okay, play it your way,” he hisses. “I’m sure the universe can find a black cat to cross your path later.” Rationalization doesn’t just play to win, he plays for keeps. Try as I might I can’t seem to shake the black cat crossing your path thing. Besides, it’s not like I have 666 soaps, right?

And I know Taylor of Old Bond Street is a traditional/wet shaving classic. I should experience the classics. There it is . . . experience the classics. Done.

My son purchased RE’s new Citrus soap. To-date he hasn’t tried it.

I, however, have tried both Citrus Blast and Cedarwood. Great lather on both, but I have to say TOOBS started out with a healthy amount of beautiful lather . . .


Then on the second pass it just kept making wonderful, creamy, protective lather even though I was just painting it on . . .


I cannot possibly overstate how blown away I was by TOOBS performance. I’m not a seasoned wet shaver . . . yet. I still have room for improvement in my lathering technique, but TOOBS made it so easy, and the subsequent shave borderline glorious. Fantastic post-shave feel, too. Didn’t use a AS balm either.

I’m up to 14 soaps now . . . when the hell is the next Gentlemans Restraint?! I am fully convinced I have entered my personal shaving Shangri La now, so I won’t be needing anything for quite some time.
As an Arizona native Fine Accoutrements Snake Bite looked intriguing; the name is well placed. A little menthol works for me, but that stuff would be like shaving with Vicks Vapo Rub. I’m guessing it just melts the stubble, no need break out any hardware.
If snake bite smells like vapo rub to your nose. Just try once in your lifetime; Chiselled Face cryogen shave soap. Apply lather on face first time and immediately you are pinned to a large pool of liquid nitrogen mixed with ungodly amount of menthol and your freeze beyond numb, you then run out of house like a Bat out of hell; into sub zero snow and dive into a soft mound of fresh snow. Your face feel normal after couple of minutes and come back to bathroom and finish your shave in menthol fumes all around and tears in your eyes.
How is that for a little menthol if you live in Arizona.
I read your description of Cryogen and immediately Raiders of the Lost Ark springs to mind--the scene where Indy tells Marion "Don't look, Marion! Keep your eyes closed!". Then the Nazi faces begin to melt.


Lunatic Fringe
Staff member
Unless mistaken, the two TOBS products you mention are shaving creams, not soaps. Just sayin'!
WE really did enjoy it. Baseball was something we cold always bond over, but shaving and all its ancillary products has provided another warm dynamic to our relationship, one which I hope he carries with him long after I'm gone.
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