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Historical Retrospective: B&B Shaving Soap Perspectives from 15 Years Ago

tankerjohn

A little poofier than I prefer
Wow, great trip in the way-back machine. I started ten years ago, but a lot of this resonates. I think Stirling had just come on the market and blown everybody away with their combo of scents, performance, and value. THE gateway cream was the rebranded Proraso green you could get BOGO from Bath and Body Works. But some guys vigorously argued that the Nivea cream in the supermarket (which I haven’t seen in years) was better. Ah, those were the days…
 
I greatly appreciate this thread. Thanks @Lane101 !!

Fire up the wayback machine. I would still fit very well into a world of vintage Gillette, exotic Merkur slants, Personna blades, Williams Mug, a cheap boar, and occasional gifts of luxury soaps like Col Conk and Crabtree & Evelyn.

It's just, I'm not sure I would have had anything to say about it in 2006 or during my prior 30 years of Luddite/troglodyte shaving.

Suddenly, I find I've been blathering about lathering, etc, for 4 years. I think it is the size of this community, and the commercial universe it supports and observes, that pulled me in.

2006 was too soon for me, or for my young family for that matter. Now, shaving seems like an allowable and low-impact self-indulgence. And I have great stuff to gift to my sons and nephews.

I am sad I missed the Irisch Moos Campaign. :a48:
 
I mostly remember guys complaining about Williams. I gave up trying to tell guys that they really need to get that puck wet and pretty much use it daily to keep the puck somewhat hydrated but no one here ever uses the same soap daily lol.

I guess the other similar issue was guys crapping on drugstore/health food store type shaving creams because they wouldn’t lather. Even though they weren’t meant to be used with a brush.
 
I can remember Mitchell's being like a holy grail of soap when I first joined up. I also remember sending to a couple of members in Canada erasmic cream, as those days it was cheaper for me to send a whack of them than buying them in Canada, with postage in the UK nowadays that would never work now.
 
I mostly remember guys complaining about Williams. I gave up trying to tell guys that they really need to get that puck wet and pretty much use it daily to keep the puck somewhat hydrated but no one here ever uses the same soap daily lol.

I guess the other similar issue was guys crapping on drugstore/health food store type shaving creams because they wouldn’t lather. Even though they weren’t meant to be used with a brush.
I still think Williams is garbage after 16 years.

I’ve literally used over 500 soaps. Williams is the only one that won’t lather with my tap water.

Fwiw, i got it to work with bottled water, but that is unacceptable. Complete dealbreaker. It’s not worth it. Use good stuff.
 
I started posting in December of 2006, I think. I love to reminisce. There weren't so many choices.

In the old days, artisan soaps were made of mostly glycerine. Mama Bear, Honeybee, Gentlemen's Quarter, etc.

Artisan Hot process soaps (B&M, GD, DG, WK, ZM, GN, NO, etc. ) simply did not exist.

Creams ruled the forum because, in most cases, they worked better than soaps. They were usually European. TOBS, Trumpers, T+H, Crabtree + Evelyn, Proraso, Nivea, Erasmic, Speick, Florena, Omega, The Body Shop, etc.

There weren't tons of retailers. superlather.com. Tryphon. Smallflower. ebay. Westcoastshaving showed up relatively early considering it's still around. Italianbarber was definitely on the early side too.

Italianbarber was a gamechanger for me because I quickly became fond of Italian soft soaps. (P160, Valobra, Figaro, Fitness, 3P, Prep, Cella, etc) I bought 2 kilos of P160 back in '09 or so. I still have quite a bit of it. It still shaves great. IB also introduced me to milled steel razors which kind of ruined vintage DE razors for me.

Speaking of, Vintage razors were interesting back in 2006 because they were DIRT CHEAP, and they shaved better than modern razors. The only modern razors in '06 were Merkur. I really don't even remember Edwin Jagger being available until 2008 or so. Around that time, I had a "Goodfella" razor from New Zealand. I still have it, actually. It was a little, zamac, open-comb razor. Super mild, but great handle design.

Speaking of gamechangers, the second chapter of my shaving career that reinvigorated my journey was Mr. Fine. I 3017'ed 3 pucks in a row. I still like the pucks and the splashes. Simple, and perfect.


Overall, the quality has gone WAY up on almost everything. Prices have come down on quite a bit of stuff due to the abundance of choices. Blades used to be VERY expensive. I paid $40/100 for Gillette Platinum Russians without a second thought, and that was in 2009 dollars MUCH earlier in my career.

The biggest disappointments over the years:
P.160 going out of business.
Valobra going out of business
L'Occitane discontinuing Cade splash, then releasing the EDT that smells nothing like the splash. This store is shadow of its former self.
Floid discontinuing Blue
Proraso slowly reducing the menthol on everything with each reformulation.
Omega moving production from Proraso to somebody else.
Vito's aftershave splashes disappearing. Colonia, amber, Acqua, etc.
Fine discontinuing their hard soaps.
Gillette discontinuing Russian Blue 7OC blades

That's all I have to add right now. This was fun. Great thread idea.

BTW, my first soap post was on page 640 (the 7th page EVER in this forum)
Thank you. Great addition to this thread. Learned a lot from this and your other posts after joining B&B as you've got one of the broadest ranges of experience in this hobby of ours including 100's of shave soaps over the years. Your range is impressive from experimenting with Zote (tried it myself and agree with your perspective that it gave a passable shave, it was slick though the lather quickly dissipated. Problem was the strong citronella scent) through the examples above to premium soaps such as SV and MDC. Across the elements of this hobby I've found that soaps offer the greatest range of options for experimentation.

P.S. Saw your last post in this thread regarding Williams, sorry you could never get it to work for you due to your tap water in spite of many attempts. What kind of brush did you use? Was my first soap upon returning to DE three years ago as it was the closest thing on the market to the Colgate I remember my grandfather using when I was a boy. Changing to a boar brush was what worked for me. Moot point for many now that it's discontinued. Also the same for Mitchell's Wool Fat. My preference leans towards hard tallow based soaps.
 
Thank you. Great addition to this thread. Learned a lot from this and your other posts after joining B&B as you've got one of the broadest ranges of experience in this hobby of ours including 100's of shave soaps over the years. Your range is impressive from experimenting with Zote (tried it myself and agree with your perspective that it gave a passable shave, it was slick though the lather quickly dissipated. Problem was the strong citronella scent) through the examples above to premium soaps such as SV and MDC. Across the elements of this hobby I've found that soaps offer the greatest range of options for experimentation.

P.S. Saw your last post in this thread regarding Williams, sorry you could never get it to work for you due to your tap water in spite of many attempts. What kind of brush did you use? Was my first soap upon returning to DE three years ago as it was the closest thing on the market to the Colgate I remember my grandfather using when I was a boy. Changing to a boar brush was what worked for me. Moot point for many now that it's discontinued. Also the same for Mitchell's Wool Fat. My preference leans towards hard tallow based soaps.
I use boar, badger, and synthetics. In that order. I LOVE Boar brushes.

EDIT: Zote! I loved that experiment. I'm not sure people believed me.
 
Over the years I have scoured the soap fourm and have read all of the older posts from back then. As others have elaborated on, the choices were much more scarse and glycerin based soaps and old classics were the soaps of choice.

The number of options have increased over the years, as well as many favorites being discontinued and hard to find. The prices have tripled in many cases as Post Shave Feel (PSF) becomes the many hype train surpassing even scent for many people.

Some of the old standbys can still be found for roughly the same cost as back then, and a few that come to mind are Mike's Natural, Shannon's, and Mystic Water.

One thing I have learned from experience over the years is that most of those older soap bases can still provide a fantastic shave and have come to a realization that some of the exotic butters and fats added only increase performance very slightly and some I wouldn't notice unless reading the ingredient label.

The world has changed a lot since then and the further into the future we go the more I wish I had a time machine to go and never look back. Could only imagine how life was way back like in the 20's-30's or even further in time, the luxury and class of everything has faded out of existence. Just being grateful to have been a member of this wonderful community for a number of years has been a pleasure.
 

OkieStubble

The Men Who Sniff at Goats
You serious, Clark? Not sure if you’re being sarcastic.

Is there something wrong with almond scented shave soap that you would think I was being sarcastic instead of serious? I was being very sincere indeed.

I’m the guy who would buy Caswell Massey almond shave soap because it smelled so fantastic. And every old timer here knows, Caswell Massey gets horrible reviews on performance.

But their almond scent brought back grand nostalgic memories of the good ole’ days.
 
Is there something wrong with almond scented shave soap that you would think I was being sarcastic instead of serious? I was being very sincere indeed.

I’m the guy who would buy Caswell Massey almond shave soap because it smelled so fantastic. And every old timer here knows, Caswell Massey gets horrible reviews on performance.

But their almond scent brought back grand nostalgic memories of the good ole’ days.
I wasn’t sure since there are probably five currently available italian soaps that smell like almond. Gotcha.

I love almond. I just didn’t think it was unobtanium.
 

OkieStubble

The Men Who Sniff at Goats
I wasn’t sure since there are probably five currently available italian soaps that smell like almond. Gotcha.

I love almond. I just didn’t think it was unobtanium.

Yeah, Since the thread seemed more focused on ‘back when’ instead of ‘currently available’ before more products came out like the more ‘Ameretto’ almond Italian soft soaps, my mind was thinking the old skool hard soaps in wooden bowls. :)

The title of the thread even says ‘15 years’ ago. I think the only Italian soft soap back then that anyone cared to recognize was Cella.
 
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I joined B&B in 2013. (I changed my ID last year.) As a newbie back then, I checked posts like 'your favorite soap' frantically and counted the number of soaps mentioned.

At that time, Tabac, Cella, MWF got the most votes. Proraso Sandalwood and Arko were one of the member's favorites, too.

That observation decided my first shaving soaps. Cella, Proraso and Arko because they were cheaper than Tabac and MWF. :)


p.s. If I remember correctly, Personna Lab Blue and Astra Superior were the most popular DE blades. Weber, Ikon and ATT were very popluar razors.

But what most attracted me at that time was Cobra Classic and Gillette British Aristocrat. They were beauty itself to my newbie's eyes.
 
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Unrelated to soaps but am enjoying the trip back into the past. Joined in 2010 because I had concocted a bay rum aftershave formula. I asked for volunteers who wanted to try an experimental aftershave formula that I had developed. This place has been very helpful ever since, in large part due to behind-the-scenes work by dedicated moderators.
 
I think I joined in 2010. Remember a lot of chatter regarding the '3 Ts' of the UK shave world ( Trumper, TOBS, and T&H ). I got some Sir Irisch Moos based on feedback from here ( still using the one stick I bought way back then ... it only gets used for 'special' shaves now ). I also purchased Klar Kabinett shave soap because it had good press ( I don't regret that purchase either but I'm not sure I'll ever use up the half kilogram I bought way back then ).

Good times.
 
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