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March Madness Soap Bracket

Hello everyone! Long time no see. I'm a fairly new shaver and member of this illustrious forum, active awhile back and now active again. I wanted to try something fun. Firstly, to encourage me to use different bases in my large soap collection, and two, to evaluate them against one another.

So, I'm going to be doing a little tournament over the next several weeks (it might take all spring) of pitting two soaps against one another, shaving with soap A one day, soap B the next, declaring a winner, and moving to the next matchup. Here is my current bracket, with seeding (I haven't even tried all these soaps, so seeding is my best guess):

Screenshot 2024-02-10 at 9.49.09 AM.png

Soaps are evaluated based on total performance (i.e. not performance per cost) both in-shave and post-shave. I define performance as:

1. Ease of use
2. In-shave performance (protection from the razor blade, which may be accomplished with lots of structure, or low-structure but higher density, or low on both but much more slickness) and slickness.
3. Post-shave performance (How does the soap moisturize and nourish my skin afterwards). Obviously, this is a very subjective criteria, and it also factors in the aftershave splashes and/or balms I'll be using with the soaps, so this is really a Soap base+aftershave set competition.

I would give most of the weight to in-shave performance (say 2 points) with the other two points going to post shave and ease of use, for a total of 4 points.

I'm NOT factoring in value (performance/cost) which would be another fascinating tournament; scent, or anything else.

The other pieces of equipment which will be kept constant for the whole tourney:

Bowl: CaYuen Abalone Shave bowl
Brush: DsCosmetic G7 synthetic 24mm brush
Razor: Karve Overlander Brass, 3" Argyle Handle. My standard razor, and one I can shave more often with.
Blade: Gillette Wilkinson Sword, new blade each shave. These are cheap and surprisingly good; nice and sharp.

Feel free to follow along with this thread, and also feel free to cobble together your own little bracket of soaps to try out; and post your matchups here as well. As with most things in this hobby, this is a silly, subjective, unnecessary bit of fun for me, nothing more!
Matchup: (24) Proraso Green Cream vs. (9) Stirling Mutton Tallow.
Today: Proraso Green+Green aftershave+White Balm

Had a good shave with this cream, although by my rankings it's the "worst" of my collection. The main takeaway is that even my "worst" soap is still absolutely good enough for me. But, it definitely doesn't lather as thickly as other, usually tallow-based soaps, it doesn't moisturize all that much, and dries out fairly quickly. Still got a very nice 2.5 pass shave with a couple of nicks.

Matchup: (24) Proraso Green Cream vs. (9) Stirling Mutton Tallow.
Today: Stirling Mutton Tallow+Aftershave Splash+unscented Menthol Balm

I actually shaved last night, but reporting today. I used Scots Pine Sheep–an essential oil-only scent that is very mild on my skin. It lathered up very quickly, provided a great shave, and easily beats Proraso Cream in all categories except perhaps ease of lathering/time.

I did notice something–Stirling Mutton is noticeably denser than the beef tallow version, and if I lather Mutton the same way I lather beef, Mutton tends to be too thick and not slick enough–I think that's what I did this time. I got more weepers than I usually do, more in fact than with Proraso cream. I think I lathered it too thickly without adding enough water–sometimes I feel like I need to do that with lesser soaps in order to produce enough protection.

Post-shave with mutton is really good, my face feels moist, plump, and skin feels really soft. Still feeling the effects overnight into this morning. If Stirling can make mutton in more scents, it would be a home run. I understand if Mutton tallow imparts a "gamey" smell that is tough to pair with many scent profiles, however.

Winner: Stirling Mutton Tallow.


Updated Bracket:
Screenshot 2024-02-12 at 1.51.34 PM.png

Next up, #23 (Proraso Soap) vs. #10 (House of Mammoth).
Matchup: #23. Proraso Soap (White) vs #10. House of Mammoth Soap

This matchup went about as you would expect. Proraso soap was better than the cream for me, and the white version coupled with the aftershave balm is very gentle on my skin. For $10, not much beats it in my opinion.

36 hours later, I shaved with House of Mammoth, the "beloved" scent (a straightforward and pleasant lavender/bergamot) from a sample-sized puck. It was exceptional. The lather (picture below) was both slick and thick. It looked and felt a lot like Grooming Dept soaps, and that is high praise. The shave was wonderful. I wonder if HoM might upset Zingari man in the next round. The post-shave of HoM was noticeable as well.

Winner: House of Mammoth.


Screenshot 2024-02-15 at 10.08.21 PM.png
Matchup: #22. Razorock Vegan Soap vs. #11 Gentleman's Nod Tallow Soap

I shaved first with Razorock, "Acqua." Sort of a basic-smelling aquatic that I got on sale for $4.99 from ItalianBarber. Considering the price, I can't complain. I think the structure of the lather is about on par with Proraso Soap, and maybe the slickness is a touch below. I will say this about Razorock soft soaps: You can't judge the scent profile or strength based on smelling it off the puck. You must actually lather it up to get even a basic sense of the scent, which in this case is inoffensive but very simple and uninteresting. Decent shave, no nicks. Lather pic below: kinda airy.

36 hours later, this morning, I shaved with a sample puck of Gentleman's nod, in the Zaharoff Signature scent. Very cologne-ey, can't pick out any distinct notes, but more pleasant than Razorock. I feel like Genteman's nod put their money into scents, I mean, I hope they do, cause they are expensive! Lather was top-tier, maybe just below HoM I used last week, though.

I'm thinking of changing my standard blade for the next round, top-16. If you have any recommendations for the Overlander, let me know. I feel like the Gillette Wilkie lacks smoothness, but it's hard to tell because it's been so many shaves since I've tried another blade!

Winner: Gentleman's Nod Cardinal Base.


And then this morning:


And the bracket as it stands now:
Screenshot 2024-02-17 at 12.02.53 PM.png

Next up: #21 Razorock Tallow vs. #12 Noble Otter
Matchup: #21 Razorock Tallow (Mudder Focker) vs. #12 Noble Otter Lonestar. This is from last week.

I took the liberty of switching up my blade and razor, just for fun. I shaved with the Aylsworth Apex with a German Wilkinson Sword Blade. I need to post my full thoughts on the Apex sometime, but suffice it say, it was a close shave.

I also decided to try shaving with BOTH soaps at the same time–both to speed up the analysis but also to more acutely notice differences in the slickness, protection, and post-shave moisturization of both soaps.

It was a lot of fun, but messy and time-consuming. I don't think I'll be repeating it.

Shaving with both soaps side-by-side revealed a stark difference in performance, with NO winning handily. The lather was far more dense, yogurty and slick than Razorock, although I think the latter would be better than Arko or the Razorock vegan version. But, it does demonstrate that there is, for me, a big difference between many artisan soaps and the cheaper alternatives.

NO is, for reference $20 for 4z. Razorock Tallow is $10 for 5 oz. Razorock prices do fluctuate a bit with frequent sales down to $5.99 or so. At either price, I still think Razorock Tallow soaps are a good deal. Noble Otter, given recent price increases by other artisans, is becoming a better deal.

I love the bracket challenge you started here, and it inspired me to do my own! I don't want to hijack your thread, so I wont post mine, but I did want to than you for the inspiration, and comment with the following.

Only significant differences in my bracket are:
I started out using one soap for each side of my face. I think it is easier to compare and contrast the two soaps when you use them just a minute or two apart rather than a whole day. Also, you get that direct comparison of post shave feel afterwards. (I think you are now going in that direction also)


I went with 16 contenders in a double elimination bracket, with randomized seeding by the computer. This kinda sucks when you get two really good soaps matched up, but that's what the looser bracket is for....see what battles back up to the top.

Otherwise its pretty much the same, and I am trying to keep variables the same also...same razor, blade, brush, etc.

A couple of my matchups are the same soap bases that you have, and it's interesting to compare what is winning on your bracket vs mine.

Keep up the great work!
I love the bracket challenge you started here, and it inspired me to do my own! I don't want to hijack your thread, so I wont post mine, but I did want to than you for the inspiration, and comment with the following.

Only significant differences in my bracket are:
I started out using one soap for each side of my face. I think it is easier to compare and contrast the two soaps when you use them just a minute or two apart rather than a whole day. Also, you get that direct comparison of post shave feel afterwards. (I think you are now going in that direction also)


I went with 16 contenders in a double elimination bracket, with randomized seeding by the computer. This kinda sucks when you get two really good soaps matched up, but that's what the looser bracket is for....see what battles back up to the top.

Otherwise its pretty much the same, and I am trying to keep variables the same also...same razor, blade, brush, etc.

A couple of my matchups are the same soap bases that you have, and it's interesting to compare what is winning on your bracket vs mine.

Keep up the great work!
Thanks for posting! Please post your journey (or, at least your results) here or on a new thread!
Matchup: #13 Seaforth Sea Spice Lime vs. #20 Arko! Shave Soap

Went back to my normal setup of the Karve Overlander, but will continue to use a fresh German Wilkie for each shave. This was a close one–Arko is a known quantity with everyone here, very slick, decent cushion, not much moisturization. Seaforth, at least whatever base they are using for Sea Spice Lime, was more cushiony, but noticeably LESS slick than a typical artisan soap; in fact, less slick than Arko. I still think Seaforth won, but it barely won. Almost upset. The Seaforth Aftershave is equally disappointing–pretty basic, nothing special. Not much in the way of skin-food ingredients, etc. For what it costs, I think Seafroth Soaps are overpriced. I can get a discounted A&E soap and splash set for about the same as Seaforth on the Shave Shop Club website.

Winner: Seaforth Sea Spice Lime.
Screenshot 2024-02-24 at 10.24.03 AM.png

Next up: #19 Stirling Beef Tallow vs. #14 Sudsy Soapery Beef Tallow
Matchup: #19 Stirling Beef Tallow vs. #14 Sudsy Soapery Beef Tallow

I shaved with my standard setup of Karve Overlander, one-done German Wilkinson Sword blade, CaYuen medium shave bowl, and DScosmetic G7 Synthetic brush, for both shaves.

Shaves were about 48 hours apart, prep was a warm shower.

First up was Stirling, in the Coniferous scent. The scent is distinct from their other evergreen scents in that it is a pine-forward scent without any sweetness or vanilla so often paired with an Evergreen-type scent. A very pleasant scent, especially as the aftershave dries down–it transitions to more of a cedar/pine box smell rather than a fresh-cut pine tree.

Lathered up fine, felt slick, had decent volume, and I thought it was fairly thick as well, but the shave was sub-par; a few nicks. Lather felt like it lacked density. I've been lathering Stirling for a while so I don't think it was user error.

Next was Sudsy Soapery in the "Ten" scent. I don't recommend the scent, its citronella-forward, smells unpleasant to me. The performance, however was really good. The lather was denser and slicker than Stirling. Perhaps not as thick as better soaps like Noble Otter, A&E, etc, but very good nonetheless. At around $15-17 for 5 ounces (they fill their 5.5 ounces a little light) it's a pretty good deal. Also, it's hard to argue with results: my skin felt better, I didn't get any nicks, and the aftershave had a sticky feel that "locked" in moisture for several hours.

I'm biased towards the underdogs a little bit because I want an upset! not happening today, though.

Winner: Sudsy Soapery Tallow Shave Soap

And, our updated bracket:

Screenshot 2024-03-02 at 9.53.07 AM.png
Matchup: #18 Pedro Fiasco Cream vs. #15 Murphy & McNeil Aon Base Soap

Setup: Aylsworth Apex razor, German Wilkinson Sword blade, synthetic brushes. I anticipated that this would be a close matchup, so I shaved with both soaps at the same time–MM on the left, PF on the right side of my face.

Both lathered up beautifully. PF is a cream, so it lathers up very easily. You have to take care not to add too much water up front, or it will get too fluffy and airy. The scent, Santorini, is very cologn-y, can't make out distinct scent notes, but it's very fresh, I love it. the MM soap's scent, Bad Mor, is a variation of a Bay Rum, but with a distinct metallic-smell that I don't care for.

Both soaps are very good, slick, dense, etc. and provide good post-shave feel. Murphy and McNeil Aon base wins by a tad. the left side of my face had noticeably less alum feedback, slightly more stubble (I take this to mean the soap was more protective, but I could be wrong). Neither side of my face had any nicks or irritation. MM resembles Noble Otter in my opinion–a yogurty, low-structure lather that maintains a thickness to it despite adding water. PF imitates more expensive soaps the best it can, but it is more of a budget base by Ariana and Evans, and it can't compete with the flagship stuff.

MM Aion has exceeded my expectations. I haven't tried the Kodiak base, but I have tried Slainte, and I think Aion beats Slainte any day. Given that the "standard" Aion has been reduced in price by MM to $14.25 for 4oz. That's not bad when you compare it to NO at $20/4 oz., or, say Seaforth at $22/4oz.

Winner: Murphy and McNeil AON base Soap.

Matchup: #17 Crowne and Crane Tallow vs. #16 Murphy and McNeil Slainte (Tallow+beer) base.

It’s been a good 6-7 months since I shaved with my only tub of CC. Shaving with it again reminded me how good it is for the money-I got this 5-ounce tub for about $17 last summer. The lather is more fluffy/airy than an elite base, though, even if I’m careful not to add too much air to it. It definitely has enough structure. Good shave.

On the other side of my face was Slainte. Slainte is interesting because it’s supposed to be a more premium base than AON, but I like AON better. Slainte is often too running for me-it can’t take water, and if I lather it drier than it’s not slick. The best compromise yields a very slick product that just doesn’t have the density I like. However, it barely nudges CC out in my opinion.

Winner: Murphy and McNeil Slainte Base.

I've been falling behind, so I'll quickly summarize the last few matches, since none of them have been particularly close. All matches have been one soap per side-of-my-face, so I can make sure I'm rating the soaps accurately.

Matchup: #16 MM Slainte vs #1 Grooming Dept. Maxima Base.

Grooming dept. (now Aion Skincare) easily won this round. I cheated a bit, because when I began this bracket my Maxima Base soaps hadn't arrived yet. Ironically, I may actually prefer Kairos SE more than Maxima. Maxima has less superfats, less structure, and is very, very, runny and sticky, kind of like Milksteak. It's very slick, don't get me wrong, and I'm still learning how to lather it perfectly, but I just think I prefer the older formulation.

Matchup: #15 MM Aon base vs #2 Ariana and Evans K2E base.

A&E is the bomb.com, which is impressive considering that Kaizen-base in its various iterations has been out for awhile. I haven't yet tried ultima, but many people here on B&B and other forums/discords actually prefer K2E. Great soap, easily wins.

Matchup: #14 Sudsy Soapery Tallow vs. #3 Barrister & Mann
BM took this one as well, but Sudsy soapery got fairly close. SS is very slick, even though it lacks a heavy, dense protective lather. Matches like these make me want to do a losers bracket like @akh223 to give a soap like this one a chance to climb back up. Maybe next year!

Matchup: #13 Seaforth! Lime vs #4 Macduff's (v4?)

I don't know exactly what base either of these soaps are currently in, but I picked them up recently. I assume for Macduffs it's the most recent tallow base, and for Seaforth, I have no clue if it's Highland or 20.1 whatever.Either way, Macduffs wins easily.

And, our current bracket, with the top four confidently ready for the next round:
Screenshot 2024-03-12 at 8.41.32 PM.png

Next up: #12 Noble Otter vs. #5 Ethos F Base. Haven't decided whiter to do soft (cream) or firm (soap). I think I'll do soap, which will make it harder for NO, but NO could still upset.
Matchup: #12 Noble Otter vs #5 Ethos F Base (Soap).

I decided to pit the better version of Ethos F base (Firm; soap) rather than the cream.


This bracket has been quite illuminating. When NO went against Razorock Tallow (see bracket above) and I lathered the soaps each on a side of my face, NO was so noticeably better than Razorock it was surprising. However, when I lathered NO next to Ethos, Ethos was so noticeably thicker than NO it was surprising again. I should have taken a picture of both lathers, but Ethos is ridiculously dense, without sacrificing slickness. I thought it would be close, and was actually rooting for NO because I want an upset, but Ethos Firm base walked away with it.

Winner: Ethos F Base Soap

Next up: #11 Gentleman's Nod Cardinal Base vs. #6 Declaration Grooming Milksteak Base.
Matchup: #11 Gentleman's Nod Cardinal Base vs. #6 Declaration Grooming Milksteak Base.

Note: I've switched to using Gillette Perma-sharp blades, still limiting to only their first uses, unless I do a rematch with the same equipment. I have been rotating razors, though, since I still shave with both soaps during my shave. For this shave, I used the Aylsworth Apex in Stainless Steel.

This was a touch matchup, because I don't have the aftershave products for GN, and I feel like that would have put them as the clear winner–DG aftershave is pretty standard, it almost feels as if the splash is just there to carry the scent further. GN is a sample puck I got from TRC.

In terms of in-shave performance, I think Gentleman's nod wins by a hair. it was more runny than DG, and noticeably slicker. DG always gives me a dense lather with lots of cushion. That's not to say that it can't be slick, and I'm not ruling out that I might have lathered it too dry, but for this instance of the shave, GN actually did a better job protecting my face and providing for a smoother shave, with less alum sting afterwards on that side of my face. Both soaps are top-tier in my opinion. I think I ranked GN too low at #11. But, we finally have an upset!

DG, top, GN, bottom.


I realize that it would be best to have two identical bowls. Perhaps I should face-lather to eliminate those variables.

Winner: Gentleman's Nod Cardinal Base.

And, our updated Bracket:

Screenshot 2024-03-15 at 5.31.43 PM.png

Next up: #10 House of Mammoth Tusk Base vs. #7 Zingari Man Sego Base.
Matchup: #10 House of Mammoth Tusk Base vs. #7 Zingari Man Sego Base.


Today's matchup was also very close–it should be repeated that with good technique, any of these soaps will perform the task of lubrication perfectly well. This is especially true once we get into the top 10–differences in performance are minor.

For todays's shave, I switched it up by using my Henson+++ Aluminum razor that I haven't shaved with since last fall. Plopped a fresh Permasharp in a went to work.

To adjust for a possible performance boost from one of my shave bowls, I swap putting the underdog in different bowls to make sure it's not the bowl determining what lather is thicker, better, etc. Last time, Declaration Grooming was lathered in my CaYuen bowl (see pic above) and it lost. This time, House of Mammoth was lathered in the same bowl, and Zingari Man in the Captains Choice Copper:


Right off the bat, House of Mammoth (top) looks "smoother" and not holding large air bubbles. It kind of looks Merangue-y (airy, light) but that is a deletion probably caused by its white color. It is actually very dense. Zingari Man is very similar to DG in that it is very slimy and sticky. Aion Skincare Maxima base is like this as well. ZM falls shorter than those two, though, in that the latter is more insubstantial. It also dissipates more quickly on my face. Perhaps I could have loaded heavier from the tub? I've been doing a standard 20-second load with the same brush for all tub-loaded soaps in this bracket, however.

Both felt good on my face, there were no nicks or cuts, little alum sting–both are great soaps. House of Mammoth won though, as it was appreciably denser than ZM. I will say this–I haven't tried HM aftershave products, but Heather's aftershave splashes and balms are out of this world (Zingari man).

Winner: House of Mammoth Tusk Base.

Next up: #9 Stirling Mutton vs. #8 Lothur Grooming
Matchup: #9 Stirling Mutton vs. #8 Lothur Grooming

This was a very close matchup. Ultimately, I think a well-lathered Mutton tallow (it's very easy to lather it like Beef tallow, which will result in a very thick, but draggy lather) is very, very good. This time, I made sure to give it enough water, and it was as slick as Lothur, but had more density to it. Post-shave was identical.

I'm giving Stirling Mutton the win. It didn't help that although I love the Lothur scent I have, "Dave" always gives me frag burn.


Winner: Stirling Mutton Tallow.

Updated bracket:

Screenshot 2024-03-18 at 11.38.32 PM.png


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Matchup(s). Fell behind again this week posting some matchups. I'll quickly summarize them:

B&M Omnibus vs. Gentleman's Nod Cardinal base: Winner: B&M Omnibus. This one wasn't particularly close. GN had a good run; it upset DG, but Omnibus was simply slicker with more of a sticky, yogurt feel to it that easily forgives adding too much or not enough water. The post shave is also really good; Omnibus is stuffed with all kinds of superfats.

House of Mammoth Tusk Base vs. Ariana and Evans K2E: Winner: House of Mammoth. This one was very close, but House of Mammoth continues to surprise me, upsetting now Zingari Man and A&E. The lather is just so dense that you can add lots of water to it without fear of watering it down. I've since purchased a full tub (or 3) for the final round, since my sample is almost gone. I did it for science, guys. In addition, and unlike A&E, I haven't gotten any frag burn from "Beloved" like I've gotten from about half of all A&E scents!

Stirling Mutton Tallow vs. Grooming Dept. Kairos: Winner: Grooming Dept. Kairos. I'll clarify here that I've stopped interchanging Maxima and Kairos/SE; I actually think Kairos SE is the best of the bunch with Kairos and then maxima. I'll use Kairos from now on. This one was really close; Both Stirling and GD produce a very thick, slick lather. I think Stirling may have even made a thicker lather, but that was probably user error. I'm still giving the win to GD, because their post-shave is better, and their aftershave is better. Stirling's aftershaves are very basic, their alcohol splash is very hard on my skin, whereas GD is known for their aftershave (and pre-shave!) products.

Bracket, as it stands now:

Screenshot 2024-03-22 at 3.06.51 PM.png

To complete our final 4, Ethos vs. Macduffs! Should be close.
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