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Stirling Varen Shave Soap Review

JCinPA

The Lather Maestro
Holy Smokes,

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To understand today's review, you have to read this from my first use yesterday.

JCinPA said:
I have to say, this lathers easily, as I expected it to, but it did not have a Tabac/Cella/Williams slickness WOW! factor, that's for sure. However, and this is weird to me, at times I had the sense that the razor may not have had a blade in it. Seriously. Yes, the vintage Schicks are super smooth, but I'm in my 11th year of DE razor shaving, and this feeling surprised me. I knew I was shaving, but there was almost no feel of the blade. I can't say I got a better shave than normal but I got as good a shave as I normally get with any of my top tier or excellent tier lathers. I strongly suspect I got here with less irritation, but without an alcohol splash I can't know that, but based on how my skin feels right now, I'm almost positive that is the case, and it is supported by my sense of almost not using a blade. My face feels really great right now.

Now, @Hannah's Dad who graciously supplied me with my sample, said to me the face feel after the shave is the best he has ever experienced. He suggested I not use any aftershave yesterday to experience that, and I did not. That's why I said this.

JCinPA said:
I'm going to use this for the next couple of days, and tomorrow I'm using much more of it, and I'm going to finish off with a liberal splash of The Veg, because The Veg reveals all shaving sins!

Well, here's what happened. I got a true BBS shave. But instead of the normal extreme concentration and 30 minutes it takes me to get it, I got it just being mindful in my shave, and in about 20 minutes. I was aiming for it, but got there much more quickly than normal, and I still felt like I was shaving without a blade at times. And I expected The Veg to light me up, but good. Splashed on a ton of The Veg, and ...

Almost no burn. At all.

What the heck is this stuff? Sterling makes great soaps with beef tallow. Why this stuff is so different, I have no idea, maybe the chemistry expers can enlighten us. But this soap was amazing, and completely unique in that I got a true BBS with less irritation than I get with other soaps in a normal daily shave. And no Veg burn after a BBS? Unheard of! I don't get it. But you should. Get it, I mean.

The Varen, I don't know how to describe the scent, but it's mild. Just a clean soapy scent to me, not very strong at all. Maybe Dan can tell us what it is, I'm not good at describing scents. As I said, it is not the slickest stuff around, but I got a closer more comfortable shave with this than I ever have with any other product. Any. Other. Product. Tabac, Haslinger, Noble Otter, SMdF. This was a close, easily-achieved BBS, with no discomfort, and no Veg burn. I cannot explain it.

I can hardly believe it.

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JCinPA

The Lather Maestro
@macintoshBR That's a good point you make. I've been fiddling with different razors lately, from a FatBoy to a Schick Injector Type E, and trying different blades, as well. Simply because I've been very present and focused in my shaves lately, and changing up the hardware and software a lot, my technique has probably improved in the last 90 days or so than in the previous 5 years.

What I'm impressed by lately is how many good products there are out there that I had been missing. Stirling is great, but so is Barrister & Mann, so is Noble Otter. I typically won't ever have more than two products from one maker, I like to mix it up too much. But if you have not tried Stirling yet, put them on your radar. Noble Otter is one I was recently really, really impressed with, too, if you have not tried anything of theirs. Still having fun after many years! :D
 

JCinPA

The Lather Maestro
@Atlantic59 Hey, you're a really knowledgeable soap guy, and you enjoy a lot of different soaps, both tallow and not tallow, hard and softer. Do you know what is special about sheep fat versus beef fat? I always enjoy your chemical discussions. I'm also not a tallow die hard, I enjoy any soap that performs well. But I am really curious about this sheep thing, I have not seen it before. Thanks!
 

JCinPA

The Lather Maestro
BTW, it just occurred to me that my shave experiences improved a bunch when I started using vintage blades, too. They make a big difference. But between NOS 1960's-1970's razor blades, classic razors like the Gillette Tech, Super Speeds, and FatBoys, and soaps like Stirling, B&M and NO, my morning shave experience has really risen.
 
I need y'all's help... I want a tub of Stirling mutton, but I'm torn between Varen, Scots Pine and Electric Sheep scents. Which of these is the least grassy? I hate grassy scents like Port au Prince
 
I wonder if the mutton tallow has a higher percentage of saponifiable fats than beef tallow? Or the specific fats that matter are higher percentage. Isn't that all you are doing with tallow is turning fatty acids into glycerin?
 

Hannah's Dad

I Can See Better Than Bigfoot.
I need y'all's help... I want a tub of Stirling mutton, but I'm torn between Varen, Scots Pine and Electric Sheep scents. Which of these is the least grassy? I hate grassy scents like Port au Prince
Of those 3, the least grassy is Electric Sheep. But Scots Pine is a ‘safer’ scent, IMHO. Electric Sheep is very citronella-forward. And I agree with you about Port-au-Prince — it is very, very grassy. It’s my least favorite of the 6 scents. But, I still use it (for performance and post-shave).
 
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I need y'all's help... I want a tub of Stirling mutton, but I'm torn between Varen, Scots Pine and Electric Sheep scents. Which of these is the least grassy? I hate grassy scents like Port au Prince
I’ve tried the Scots pine sheep and it’s up there with Valobra stick for me, (my Favourite soap ever).
from now on I will always have at least 1 puck in my shaving cupboard. I’ve even grown to like the smell, very pleasing pine. It works really well with a Razorock Plissoft.
 
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Esox

I didnt know
I've always liked Stirling soaps. Frozen Tundra is my favorite, or maybe Iced Pineapple, or Margarita's In The Arctic... Their samples are great.

That said, the right soap for your skin can make a difference. I used Feather blades for a year and always found them harsh and sometimes nearly unbearably so. That doesnt make for a nice, or close, shave. Then I tried PdP 63 and my eyes opened.
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I've just had my most satisfying shave yet. If it gets better than this, I dont know how.

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Brit clone. Fresh Feather.

Pre de Provence 63.

Maggard synthetic.

I cant remember when I shaved last. Well over 50 hours ago.

N-S. S-N. ATG. One clean up.

I shook out my brush and started loading. This soap is different from others I've used. I usually go by my brush getting harder to move over the puck as it loads up with soap. That didnt happen with this soap.

I loaded about as long as I do Stirling soaps, which isnt long, 15-30 seconds max. Into my bowl to build the lather and it seemed very thin and I almost went back to the puck but I didnt. I just let it build, and build and build. It never got thick. I didnt add any more water. It never got heavy like Tabac or even Stirling can.

Lather up and the scent hit me literally in the face. Its a wonderful light yet deep and smoky scent. Even lathering my face it seemed thin, but it was glistening like no other soap I've used. In my bowl under the LED lights in my bathroom the lather was almost pearlescent as was the wet puck after I rinsed it.

This razor I quite like. Its always given me a very nice, close and comfortable shave, but it takes 3 full passes and clean ups.

This blade I havent really liked, until tonight.

Start N-S. Smooth, so smooth, and the slickness was surprising. No issues and a nice, close, supremely comfortable first pass.

S-N more of the same, with buffing ATG under and up my chin, both cheeks and sides of my mouth. This slickness was very telling while I was buffing.

ATG and more buffing, but not a lot needed really. More of the same. Wonderful scent, incredible slickness.

One light clean up at a downwards 45° over my swirls and done.

I have that "I dont feel like I've shaved" feeling. My skin has no warmth or redness. Its cool and supple and feels like I've had a good rub of CC balm, but I didnt even rinse my face. Just a quick wipe with a damp hand towel.

I dont know whether it was this razor that took the harshness out of these blades for me or the soap, but I felt none at all.

This soap is slicker than Tabac with a thin lather. Its slicker than my Stirlings. Its even slicker than my CC creams. One thing it is not, is thick and heavy. If you like a soap with loads of cushion, this isnt a soap that offers that.

As it turns out, it was the soap that made the difference. Since my discovery of that, all new to me soaps get 'The Feather Test.' If the shave is harsh, they fail.

Wickham 1912, CRS, SV, Vitos Extra Extra, Cella Bio all pass. Arko does not. Proraso does not. Southern Witchcrafts does not. Stirling and Phoenix & Beau both pass but I need a thicker lather to mask the harshness but that can sacrifice blade feel.

The nicest things about Stirling are, the price, the amazing variety of scents and the sample sizes. For me, its a good soap but not a great soap. If it works for your skin, buy a bunch of samples. I kept mine in screw top tubs from the dollar store, 3/$1.

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Of those 3, the least grassy is Electric Sheep. But Scots Pine is a ‘safer’ scent, IMHO. Electric Sheep is very citronella-forward. And I agree with you about Port-au-Prince — it is very, very grassy. It’s my least favorite of the 6 scents. But, I still use it
I’ve tried the Scots pine sheep and it’s up there with Valobra stick for me, (my Favourite soap ever).
from now on I will always have at least 1 puck in my shaving cupboard. I’ve even grown to like the smell, very pleasing pine. It works really well with a Razorock Plissoft.

(for performance and post-shave).
Is Scots Pine a straight pine scent?
 
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