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Moon Soaps | Amaretto Speciale

Moon Soaps | Amaretto Speciale
DrivenLegend Red & Black | APShaveCo Tuxedo 30mm
The New Improved Schick Injector Razor | Personna 74
The Holy Black for The Club | Decadence


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Recently, I was approached by a third party asking if I would be interested in trying a relatively new artisan's soap in exchange for an honest review. The artisan didn't directly contact me, but rather the third party was passing on the opportunity. I declined the generous offer for a couple reasons: Given this is a release-level soap from a vendor completely unknown to me, I prefer to evaluate the entire process from website navigation, retail purchase price, shipping, customer service, packaging, label execution, to finally product performance. Secondly, I just don't like samples regardless of the size. That's just my own weirdness.

Intrigued, I immediately checked out Moon Soaps' website and discovered they have quite the selection of bath soaps as well as body creams, scrubs, and lip balms. The shaving section has a selection of shaving brushes made by the artisan and 3 shave soaps. This is obviously where I focused my attention. These 3 soaps represent 3 different tallow bases. "Old School" is described as a "soft formula" incorporating shea butter, mango butter, and glycerin. "Havana" is also described as "soft", but touts the inclusion of coconut and palm oils. "Amaretto Speciale" is the focus of this review and it's described as "extra soft". The complete ingredients list is as follows: water, beef tallow, stearic acid, shea butter, almond oil, castor oil, potassium hydroxide, coconut oil, sodium hydroxide, glycerin, and fragrance oil. It should also be noted that the tallow is "locally sourced" and "rendered in house". My reason for choosing this particular soap was for the scent profile. I really enjoyed Cella, but it's no longer in my den. I just found the performance wasn't up to the level to which I've become accustomed. Additionally, the scent strength of Cella was a bit light for my taste. I anticipated Amaretto Speciale to be a cream replacement of Cella.

The retail price of the soap was $17 for 6 oz. "Shipping and handling" charges were $9.03 to ship from California to Texas. I did note the package arrived with an actual shipping cost documented to be $5.53. I guess the "handling" accounts for the $3.50 disparity. I placed the order at 9:47 p.m. and received a shipping notification just under 48 hours later. I received the package 4 days after placing the order. It arrived in a cardboard box perfectly sized for the single tub of soap and it was well packaged with adequate padding. An elegant business card and invoice with a personal message were included. The tub was artfully wrapped with tissue paper and craft tape that matches the website's motif.

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The tub is a standard black 8 oz. plastic jar with 89mm neck. The professional labels are perfectly executed, straight, and completely devoid of bubbles or defects. They have a satin sheen, and I confirmed they are water-proof. The art suggests someone with a professional design background had a hand in it. Again, the packaging aesthetic is flawless.

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The scent strength off the tub is quite bold with the expected almond/cherry liqueur fragrance. The consistency is quite simply what you would expect from Italian-style cream: very soft, but not pourable. You will not be loading from the tub.

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For evaluation purposes, I bowl and palm lathered several times. Despite its cream consistency, it requires a fair amount of water. I included a photo of the lather when it's clearly under-watered. That same lather session yielded a very good lather when I titrated in a bit more water. I also discovered that for my purposes in order to accomplish at least 2 passes for a head and face shave, I needed about 1/3 more product than what I would need for Catie's Bubbles' Luxury Cream to cover the same ground. Perhaps that's the reason for the generous 6 oz. offering.

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With the actual shave, I applied the product directly to the tips of the well-saturated 30mm synthetic knot and proceeded to face lather. Given the amount of water, it was a messy but fun foamy beginning. However, with very little effort, I achieved a luxurious, lustrous, dense, paint-able lather. The primary and residual slickness were both above average with the residual slickness approaching that of some of the upper tier soaps. The scent strength when lathered remained strong throughout. Amaretto Speciale, while having the same marzipan/cherry/almond profile of Cella, offers a bit more depth with an interesting twist. When the up-front cherry is rinsed away between passes, my skin smelled like warm baked shortbread cookies with hints of vanilla, only to be overtaken once again when the lather was re-applied. I experienced some warmth but no redness or irritation. There must be something in the fragrance oils that my skin alerts on, and this is consistent with what I experience with Cella and Decadence. Post-shave was adequate, but nowhere near that of my favored soaps.

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I finished with The Holy Black's "Decadence" splash and immediately recognized the difference between the two scents. Both are certainly almond liqueur at their respective cores, but while Decadence takes a spicy, chocolate, boozy direction, Amaretto Speciale is warmer, softer, and closer to that of a fresh-baked pastry.

A little background on the creative team behind Moon Soaps: Via their FaceBook page, I inquired (PM'd) about the possibility of a post-shave product in the future. I received an almost immediate response from "Melody" confirming they're still in the planning stages with respect to aftershaves. While an alcohol splash is usually my preference, I anticipate this artisan at least starting out with a balm given they already offer body creams and lip balms.

While I had her ear, I pointed out their "About" page claimed they never use animal products which obviously contradicts the inclusion of tallow in the shave soaps. The response was that the statement was an oversight on an outdated page. I note the page was corrected less than 24 hours following my query. This is a good indicator that responsiveness and customer service are a priority.

I then received a message via one of the fora from Zack Kent who clarified it was his wife Melody who had been making vegan bath soaps for 10 years under the Moon Soaps brand. As of a year ago, Zack began making tallow-based shave soaps. Zack has a screen-printing shop and does graphic design in addition to his full-time job as a meat cutter. Interestingly, he states all the tallow used in his soaps is rendered by him from rib fat that he cuts himself. They operate out of Corralitos, California.

By all indicators, this is one busy couple, yet they've managed to churn out a very respectable product. With a year of producing shave soaps, albeit on a small-batch basis, I don't know how this company is just now coming up on my radar. I think I will try their "Old School" soap next as it appears to be their flagship. Keep your eye out for this artisan.
 
Just picked up a tub of this. Mrs. Picturerock took one whiff and demanded to know if I was shaving today, and if so, would I use this soap? Excellent scent.
 
Man, can’t believe I didn’t see this earlier. I love amaretto tastes/scents! Thanks for the very detailed review.

Great pics btw!
 
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