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My review of Oaken Lab - Sanctum (V3)

Hey everyone!

Been using this soap for almost two months now and feel ready to give my thoughts and review on it. It is an excellent soap and currently my favourite soap base (not that I've used a lot of the artisanal soaps but still). For me, it edges out A&E K2E by being easier to load and lather and the face feel of it is just more to my preference. The soap is typical of tallow based 'artisan' soap and is a relatively hard croap with a beige-brown colour to it. It lathers up white and has mid-level scent strength.

The soap is interestingly made in Jakarta, Indonesia which I think is pretty cool. The scents they make are original blends and designed completely by them. They make lots of products but I've only used the soap in the V3 base and their aftershave splash. The formulation of the soap is excellent, featuring a slew of high quality, natural ingredients with the only synthetic ingredient being Tocopheryl Acetate which is just Vitamin E. Unrelated, but I also really like the splash and its face feel. (I got a different scent and opted for Conservatory but I know lots of you like to buy sets. At least from a performance perspective it is good, though I can't comment on whether it is a match or complimentary scent).

As before, it is an amazing performer. The lather is dense, silky, slick and protective. Low structure but not 'sticky' or 'cloying' as I find some others in this category to become. It is somehow both dense and light and does not leave me feeling that I've really got something I've got to wipe off my face ASAP. This soap is not difficult or finicky to either load or lather. 10 seconds with a wet brush for me is more than enough to make at least 3 passes worth of lather. The lather applies quite pasty but adding water and lathering quickly generates a very nice, silky and dense lather. I don't really get a very airy froth. If you apply to much water it just becomes sloppy and loses some slickness. Too little water and it is obviously not hydrated enough. Very simple and intuitive waterband and behaviour which makes it easy to work with. Slickness is more or less best in class for me. Effortless glide which is passed down to its residual slickness. The post-shave is excellent. No drying or irritation at all on my skin. Everything is smooth and protected. I always use post-shave products but this is easily one where they could be omitted if that is important to you. Overall, just really fantastic. The best soap I've used thus far. Can very easily recommend.

The scent of Sanctum is a dry oriental and woody scent that I find to be very well blended. It is mid strength and leaves lingering scents behind in the bathroom after use. I get forward notes of Jasmine and Rose followed by a very creamy sandalwood which is backed up by a sharper ashy cedarwood with hints of the resinous benzoine adding sweet-undertone to the scent. It also features patchouli, bergamot and 'paper' notes but elements of these kind of come out generally for me as part of the blend as opposed to something I can pick out. Its a dry woody and floral scent but not ashy. Invoking the essence of a prayer room where flowers are given as offerings, incense is lit and books and texts are read. Its werid to say but to me, the imaginary notes they list on the lid are spot on. I really do get the notes of dusty light, paper and stillness from this scent. Its quite similar to Noble Otter Two Kings though I find it to be much stronger, more floral and not ashy at all. I really like this scent. An inoffensive oriental-woody accord. Nice.

The soap comes in an elegant brown translucent plastic tub with an aluminium lid. There is some abstract art or photography on the lid alongside some imaginary scent notes. Quite interesting, instead of saying the scent notes that are in the soap, these imaginary notes attempt to capture and convey the essence of the fragrance. In the case of Sanctum, I would say they accomplished this objective. I know reading these notes would bias my nose but still, I like that they try to convey the scent using a method other than listing the notes (which we all know can be quite misleading at times). The circumference of the tub is a narrower than most other brands and is more in line with TOBS or Proraso tubs as opposed to the tubs of typical US artisans. Its very elegant and durable and certainly conveys the essence of their brand and protects their product. No complaints.

Overall, I think this is a fantastic soap that is easy to use, makes a great lather, lasts a good while and has an amazing, originial scent that I also enjoy. It sits comfortably as the best performing soap I have used. Im curious to hear your thoughts on OL!
Oaken Lab V3 is one of my highly recommended, elite soap formulas. However, there are several artisan soaps that I believe are slightly better than V3. While V3 will provide just as good as shave as A&E Kaisen 2e, I have a slight preference for the post-shave performance of K2e. My skin is highly sensitive and I place a high level of importance on the post-shave feel and longevity. K2e beats out V3 by a few hours of longevity in post-shave feel.

Oaken Labs V3 often flies under the radar of many shavers as it is produced in Indonesia. It is a worthwhile addition to the shave den.
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