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"Must owns"

Sounds like you are on the right track. In my mind, "classics" includes Tabac, MWF, Proraso, Cella, D.R. Harris, TOBS, Haslinger, Pre de Provence, and La Toja, and in my mind and in my den, all of those are "must haves". All of those have been around for a while, and were popular on here when I joined this site over 10 years ago, so they've stood the test of time. There are too many newer, fantastic artisan soaps to name, and I have a lot of them in my den, but a lot of folks would consider some of them "must haves" as well.
 
I am always looking for the next product. If I like a soap, I enjoy it and then try something else. There are four soaps that I re-purchase when they run out: Cella, Proraso Red, Arko and Tabac. I will probably always keep a Stirling and a DR Harris soap on hand, too, but with them I am flexible on scent. For me each of these soaps represents an excellent combination of performance and price.
 
Although you probably couldn’t classify it as a “classic”, per se, I would highly suggest you look into Murphy & McNeil. Fantastic soaps and free shipping always from their website. Can’t beat that.


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BigJ

Ambassador
Depending on which sites you check, other 'classics' include Speick & Palmolive Stick and Vitos Red. The Palmolive Cream is very popular in Europe as well.

Another classic is Martin de Candre.

IMO, trying to get Valobra could be tricky as it is kind of discontinued (brand was bought out by Proraso who are yet to making it again and with things in Italy being like they are I wouldn't hold my breath for new stocks). FWIW, I find Valobra's lather to be very similar to MWF which is much cheaper and easier to get hold off.

I myself have gravitated towards using just the classics as they seem to be ones my face can tolerate and the ones I use most of the time are Palmolive/Tabac Stick, Proraso Green, Vitos Red and MWF.
+1! MdC is definitely worth trying! Favorites are the original and fougere. A bit pricey to purchase, but it lasts a LONG time!! :thumbup: :thumbup:
 
I don't know your purchasing habits or plans, but I do recommend trying samples before committing to a tub (they last a good chunk of time). Just because something is popular doesn't mean you will like it.

With that now said, Martin de Candre is a serious must have. I smelled all the scents in a shop and Agrumes was my favorite. I also think Murphy and McNeil is one as well (they have a limited number of their usual scents in their rarer Kodiak base right now--St. Patrick's day drop).
 
I would say for classics:

Valobra
Cella
SV
Haslinger
MWF
MdC

Are probably a good start. As for artisan must haves, I haven't been paying attention for the last couple years so I don't know what's the latest and greatest but I found the following to be very good:

Tallow and Steel
Declaration Grooming
Grooming Department
Barrister and Mann
Catie's Bubbles
Wholly Kaw
Stirling
 

pbrmhl

Contributor
I've got a lot of classics that I like a great deal. The only "must haves" in the bunch, to me, are Tabac and MdC.
 
Only classics I’ve tried were brut and English leather aftershaves.
Must try would be barrister and Mann. I’ve gotten hallows(cocoa) and gothique(Smokey fougere). The smell from the products is crazy to me
 
I'd add Mitchell's Wool Fat also.
This shaving soap is made with the same formula since 1893 if I'm right. Definitely a classic 🤣
Somebody spoke about Zingari Man's soap in Sego base, and I have to said that I'm a big fan of them. Must try for me !
 
I have evaluated 175 soaps and creams representing 75 formulations and 50 different soap makers, both traditional and artisan. There are NONE of them that I consider "must haves". I can shave with every one of them, but some are far more enjoyable to use than others.

There are soaps that I wish I had never purchased due to poor to mediocre performance.
There are soaps that irritate my face.
There are soaps that have scents that I do not enjoy.

However, I probably have about 80 soaps that have both a pleasant scent and performance that is excellent to superb. Any of them will give a great shave.

Although I have tried many of the "classic" soaps and creams: Williams, MWF, Tabac, Arko, VDH, SV, PdP, Proraso, TOBS, T&H, Trumper, Cremo, etc., none of those products would make it into my top 80 soaps as I find they are lacking either in scent or performance or both. One reason for this is that I have sensitive skin and like a soap that provides excellent skin moisturizing and conditioning. I have found that the classic soaps are not quite as good as the best modern artisan soaps in this aspect, although Mitchell's comes pretty close due to its lanolin content.

Although any of my top 80 soaps would give a wonderful shaving experience, there are a number of them whose scent and performance I consider to be superb. These are the soaps I would choose if I had to pick a top 10. They are:

Ariana and Evans Sandalwood & Oud and L'Orange Verte
Cold River Soap Works Winter (Glide)
Declaration Grooming Massacre of the Innocents (Milksteak)
Murphy and McNeil Claddaugh, Garda Siochana and Trinity (Aon)
Wholly Kaw King of Oud (Donkey Milk) and Fougere Mania (Siero)
Zingari Man Magician (Sego)

I have two new soaps from Grooming Department next week. I know the performance will be superb, but I do not know if the scents will be good enough to replace one of my current top ten.
 
I have evaluated 175 soaps and creams representing 75 formulations and 50 different soap makers, both traditional and artisan. There are NONE of them that I consider "must haves". I can shave with every one of them, but some are far more enjoyable to use than others.

There are soaps that I wish I had never purchased due to poor to mediocre performance.
There are soaps that irritate my face.
There are soaps that have scents that I do not enjoy.

However, I probably have about 80 soaps that have both a pleasant scent and performance that is excellent to superb. Any of them will give a great shave.

Although I have tried many of the "classic" soaps and creams: Williams, MWF, Tabac, Arko, VDH, SV, PdP, Proraso, TOBS, T&H, Trumper, Cremo, etc., none of those products would make it into my top 80 soaps as I find they are lacking either in scent or performance or both. One reason for this is that I have sensitive skin and like a soap that provides excellent skin moisturizing and conditioning. I have found that the classic soaps are not quite as good as the best modern artisan soaps in this aspect, although Mitchell's comes pretty close due to its lanolin content.

Although any of my top 80 soaps would give a wonderful shaving experience, there are a number of them whose scent and performance I consider to be superb. These are the soaps I would choose if I had to pick a top 10. They are:

Ariana and Evans Sandalwood & Oud and L'Orange Verte
Cold River Soap Works Winter (Glide)
Declaration Grooming Massacre of the Innocents (Milksteak)
Murphy and McNeil Claddaugh, Garda Siochana and Trinity (Aon)
Wholly Kaw King of Oud (Donkey Milk) and Fougere Mania (Siero)
Zingari Man Magician (Sego)

I have two new soaps from Grooming Department next week. I know the performance will be superb, but I do not know if the scents will be good enough to replace one of my current top ten.
Dear @RayClem,
Your valuable inputs are highly appreciated.
Do any brands have great performances but mediocre scents?
Thank you very much.
 
I'm building out my shave den with the " classics" and "must owns". The ones that are loved or hated, scented or unscented, tallow or vegan, but unanimously agreed by everyone to be well known, widely used, staples in every den...What else am i missing here
The problem you will run into is there are too many good soaps for you to ever use them all. Chasing all the "best", "classic", "must have", etc. is ultimately a bit of a waste. What you need is soaps that perform well, they don't have to be the "the best" and you don't need all of them to have a good den.

Mind the rabbit hole! It is very deep!
:lol1:
 
Czech and Speake is great, but made by valobra I believe

I wouldn’t rush out and buy it all according to lists by others, try a classic or 2, dip into the older artisans, try the newest one. Try the summer scents and then the darker ones
my suggestion is to try every purchase at least a few times, at different times of the day, and with different tools if you have the option. I am sure you will surprise yourself and find what you like. Taking this time can be enjoyable too
 
I'm building out my shave den with the " classics" and "must owns". The ones that are loved or hated, scented or unscented, tallow or vegan, but unanimously agreed by everyone to be well known, widely used, staples in every den.

So far i have MWF, Cella, Proraso, Haslinger, Tabac. I am also aware of Arko and Williams but don't yet have those. I also plan to get Barrister & Mann, Stirling, TOBS, DR Harris, Valobra, SV

What else am i missing here
By the time you've used all "Must Own" soap you'll be 10 years older than you are now and probably only be using 2 or 3 soaps that you really like. My suggestion is, Don't fall deep in the rabbit hole,use what you have now pick the ones you really like, use up the rest or dispose of them, then try out other soaps. There are some great soaps like Cella that can go bad after long periods if not refrigerated. Example: I buy Cella by the Kilo. I cut off a piece, wrap and put in fridge, I only use 3 soaps, Tabac and Arko needs no refrigeration, 2 years worth of Cella does. Just know that what we say is great may not be what you like. For me personally, too many soaps in rotation is confusing.
 
Palmolive shave stick or cream seems like a qualifying candidate. I love Declaration's Massacre of the Innocents, but I couldn't comment on how widely used it is, so I am unsure it would classify as a staple.
 
My two favorites currently are by Ethos Grooming, Dragonsbeard. They are releasing new soaps later this week, so be on the lookout. My other favorite is Martin de Candre, Fougere.
 

shavefan

I’m not a fan
The only thing you "must own" are the things you like the best. So much of this hobby is YMMV. You just gotta try lots of stuff.

^^^This. As others have pointed out, skin type, allergies, scent preference all play a role in what will work for YOU.

MdC is a classic with simple ingredients and great scents (IMO) and would recommend highly.

Other's that come to mind are Cella, Vito's, Valobra, ABC, Proraso, PdP, SV, Wholly Kaw, Mike's, Barrister & Mann.
 
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