Theory on Skin-Type Impact on Shave Soap Selection

Discussion in 'Shaving Soaps' started by herbert7890, Feb 5, 2016.

    Hello Gentlemen. I bring you Today a new perspective on the old dilema of Tallow vs Vegan, but from another perspective, that is less subjective and more based on factual information.

    Background: There have always been the age old battle of why some people prefer non-tallow soaps vs other people prefering tallow soaps and it has long been attributed merely to users' preference. I will now provide another angle to this debate, which throws out the "user's preference" theory and in the other hand, focuses in the effect that Skin-type (Dry, Regular or Oily) has on the possible soaps you can use without causing irritation from dryness.

    Skin Types: There are 3 main skin types (and many other hybrid types, but I will focus my attention on the 3 main types for simplicity purposes). There 3 main skin types are:

    1. Regular Skin: This is the standard skin type for most individuals, which do no overly tends to neither end (Dry nor Oily). This is probably the best skin type for shaving purposes when it relates to soaps selections, as your skin would stand most soap formulations without a hassle.

    2. Oily Skin: People with this skin type are usually easy to identify, due to the oily (or greasy) completion of their skin. In my opinion, you have more soap options when having this skin type, compared to people that have dry or very dry skin (can use vegan soaps, tallow, etc). Nonetheless, user must be careful when using balms (adding more oils to the skin)

    3. Dry or Very Dry Skin: This skin type is easily irritated by any substances introduced to the skin that cause the skin to get even drier. The most common skin irritant to dry skin, is in fact, soaps (of all types). People with dry skin are in a disadvantage in terms of possible soap selections to buy, since their skin only allows certain moisturizing soaps or else the skin will get easily irritated from the drying aspects of such soaps.

    My Skin-Type Theory (Tallow, Vegan):

    My theory revolves in the different types of soaps a person can use, merely based on their skin type. When I use the term "types of soaps", I refer to all categories of shaving soaps. Nonetheless I understand this term is overly general and for that reason I will dissagregate the types of soaps in these categories:

    1. Simple Vegan (a Vegan Soap with no additional moisturizers); examples: MdC, Catie's Bubbles, Los Angeles Shaving Soap, etc)

    2. Fatted Vegan (a Vegan Soap with added mousturizers like Butters, Avocado Oil, etc) examples: Soap Commander, CRSW Oliva, Dr. Jon's Soaps, etc)

    3. Simple Tallow (A Tallow soap with no additional Moisturizers); examples: Razorock XXX, DR Harris, Valobra Tallow, etc)

    4. Fatted Tallow (A tallow soap with added mousturizers like Butters, Avocado, Lanolin, etc; examples: Barrister & Mann, CRSW Select, Mike's Natural Soaps, Reef Point Soaps, etc)

    In overall, the ones at the bottom (3-4)in the list tend to be more mousturizing (better for people with drier skin) while the ones at the top 1-2) are less mousturizing (better for people with normal or oily skin). Of course, there are some exceptions to this general rule, as there is some interlap, specially in categories 2 and 3 (sometimes a fatted vegan soap can achieve more mousturizing properties than a simply tallow soap, In my case Soap Commander would be one such exception)

    Now considering the 3 skin categories and the 4 Shaving Soap categories we can begin to try to determine which soaps are admissible for each skin type:

    1. Soaps for people with Regular Skin - People with this skin can probably use all 4 soap types without a problem (at worst, they might need a bit of balm for Simple Vegan Soaps, if any). You have almost the full market to purchase, making your purchase options limitless. The envy of all other skin types.

    2. Soaps for people with Oily Skin - People with oily skin can safely use Simple Vegan Soaps and Fatted Vegan Soaps, as they are usually a little bit drying on the skin, thus counteracting the oily skin perfectly. You may also use Simple Tallow soaps without too much problem, but have to be real careful with Fatted Tallow Soaps, as your skin might get overly greasy with these soaps. In my estimate, you will be able to use around 75-80% of the soaps without much problem, so you still have a big market for your purchase decisions.

    3. Soaps for people with Dry or Very Dry Skin - This is where I believe it gets more tricky. People with dry skin get easily irritated from drying agents in soaps. This really limits the type of soaps a user can safely use (continually), thus leaving a lot of frustration in the purchase making process. Simple vegan soaps are basically off-the-map for dry skin users, since the drying aspect of the soap is so great, no amount of balm will be able to counteract this effect. In addition many Fatted Vegans are still banned with people with really dry skin, due to the same factors. Some Simple tallow can be used (if user has dry skin, but not very dry skin). But the real pleasers for people with real dry skin is the Fatted Tallow Soaps. These soaps can easily counteract the drying qualities of soaps with the added mousturizers and tallow. Even though balm is still needed for people with dry skin, the soaps makes the skin feel fresh and moisturized after the shave. In overall, this means people with dry skin only have access to about 45-55% of the current market, since all other soaps will simply irritate the skin from their dryness.

    My conclusion: The Old Theory that dictates some people are tallow snobs or vegan snobs might not be correct after all, its just your skin is talking to each one of us, letting us know which kind of soap it can withstand on a long term basis. People with regular skin will have a hard time internalizing this, since they can use almost any soap and just feel a small difference in dryness. The biggest impact if for people with Oily and Dry skin, since they have to taylor their purchases to accomodate their respective skin types.

    I hope this provides another perspective into the tallow vs vegan, and demonstrate is not really a battle between tallow and vegan soaps, but a battle within our skin, that in many case can limit us to use only vegan soaps or only tallow soaps (or mostly vegan soaps, or mostly tallow soaps).
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2016
  1. Interesting analysis.

    For me, I just use whatever I feel like. I am not discerning enough to notice any significant difference between soaps/creams.
  2. You are probably one with regular skin!!! The lucky ones, as I call them. You will not feel much difference between tallow or vegan, or between fatter or simple. You have access to 100% of the market!! I wish I had that type of skin : (
  3. Well said Herbert. I too suffer from chronically dry, irritated skin and through natural selection I have learned that, with the exception of SoapCommander and SMN, my soaps need to be superfatted tallow. Squeaky clean is the enemy of my skin.

    Excellent insight.
  4. I think this is a great analysis, @herbert7890!

    I have skin that would probably be one of the hybrids. I have combination skin, but with the added fun of Rosacea(A fairly recent development in my skin. Within the last ~5 years or so. I'm 47.) I have somewhat sensitive skin with coarse whiskers. I find that soaps that are superfatted, tallow or vegan, seem to work the best for me. I don't know, maybe I'm the guy who messes up all of the data.

    My best/most effective shaving soaps are:


    Mike's Natural Soaps
    Barrister & Mann
    Mystic Water(many of them)
    CRSW Select V2 and Oliva

    I do use some other soaps and creams, but I find that I fare better if I continue to mix in the above list. As always, YMMV!
  5. Glad you liked it!!
  6. Wow! Odd coincidence perhaps but your list of favorite soaps is almost EXACTLY as mine!!! The only one that is not in my top list is Nuevia (probably because I havent try it yet). I see you do love superfatted soaps like me, I also have rosacea.
  7. I guess it is a good a theory as any. In my case I have had oily skin and a problem with pimples/blackheads all my life. I can and do use any shave soap/cream be it tallow or veggie. The biggest improvement for me was the use of alum post shave which I started 3 years ago when learning to use a straight razor. Somehow I no longer have a complexation problem. Wish I found this out 40 years ago in my teens.

  8. If you have dry skin, it's a simple matter to use a moisturizing product after the shave. (I like Lucky Tiger Aftershave and Face Tonic.) Then you can use whatever shaving soap you want. No need to avoid "drying" soaps.

    Among soaps that perform well, I don't much care what's in them; I just pick the scent I'd like for today.

    Impressive analysis. But it's just barely possible that we all overthink this. :lol:
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
  9. Not 100% True. I need to use balms even with Super Fatted Tallow soaps or I get extreme irritation (of course I can be an isolated cause, having extreme dy skin). Nonetheless, Balms are not enough to compensate the dryness from simple vegan and most Fatted Vegan soaps. My face won't let me use them at all. I really wish I could use all soaps like yourself, but in reality I can't. Be blessed that you have regular skin and not dry skin.
  10. +1

    After Shave balms are fine, but too light to do much good. On the other hand, preshave oil works very well to combat dryness and irritation.
  11. I'm thankful for the analysis. I'm also appreciative of the vocabulary which came with it as I now have more refined tools to help me along the path of qualifying and quantifying the soap offerings I have and will try. Most appreciated! Thx!
  12. Well, my list of top soaps isn't really an odd coincidence. I read a post you made about a year ago suggesting Shannon's and that led me to try Shannon's. Also, your thread about CRSW Select V2 and included posts about Oliva led me to trying those, because some of your problems with certain ingredients resembled my experiences. I have a tin of CRSW Select(V1) Sandalwood that caused a burning sensation for me.(It really sucked, because I loved the scent and performance of that soap)

    So, anyway, thanks for posting your experiences and for the soap suggestions. :thumbup1:
  13. Glad it served of help to you!!! Thanks!
  14. That's really awesome! You must have very similar skin to mine! Glad my posts have helped you!
  15. I enjoyed reading this summary. While I have neither dry nor oily skin, some soaps tend towards a dry post shave feel. This was a great post to assist us in what to look for.
  16. Good analysis, being the most help to dry skin types like myself. I've just began to realize a lot of what you said which will lead to my own experimentation with several types of soaps. Having well hydrated skin going into a shave is important because if your skin is dry going into a shave, even if you use a superfatted tallow soap, it's going to get even drier afterwards. In my personal opinion I don't feel it's possible for a soap to hydrate your skin, in other words, have dry skin before a shave and than moisturized skin after a shave, so it's also important like mentioned to have a good skin care routine outside of shaving.

    I think pre-shaves can help in this regard as well. Most people think pre-shaves are supposed to provide for a "better" shave, but I think moisturizing and/or protecting the skin is a big aspect of pre-shaves, not just providing a smoother or closer shave. So people with oily or normal skin might say pre-shaves do nothing for them and they are a waste of time/money, but those with dry skin might benefit greatly from a pre-shave.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
  17. I agree with herbert here. If you use the wrong Soap on very dry skin, there is no moisturizer that will help. Once the soap damage is done, it's done. You need at least a day or so for the skin to heal.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
  18. 100% True, but I also know only people with very dry skin will know what this feels like (the rest will wrongly say a balm will fix any drying soap, which is not true for people with very dry skin)
  19. DCRIII

    DCRIII Contributor

    Very cool. This better explains why I gravitate toward tallow soaps since I have dry skin. Since I started using tallow based soap, my skin and I have been much happier.

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