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UK made "traditional" shaving soap comparison - incoming

For fun, I'm going to do a comparison of "traditional" UK made shaving soaps. Some of the soaps will be arriving this week with others to follow. This won't be a blind test, or an attempt to make a "scientific" comparison, but rather my own subjective opinion of my experience with these soaps. I'll use them in rotation for a couple of weeks, assuming I don't have any allergic reactions to any of them.

Note that this is not meant to be an exhaustive comparison, just a selection of some relative popular, UK-made, tripled milled shaving soaps that are mostly lavender scented (some exceptions).

On deck:

T&H Luxury
TOBS Lavender (discontinued Stearate formula, not the currently available refill)
Cyril Salter
Vintage Blades (traditional lavender)
Plisson (UK made)
Trumpers Rose (GFT doesn't do Lavender...I picked Rose b/c it is the most "classic" to me of the GFT scents)
DR Harris Lavender

Though not technically a part of this main grouping, I'll be testing out TOBS new Jermyn St. shave soap, as I've heard it is the best of TOBS current Palmate based, milled shave soaps.

Other than TOBS Lavender and GFT Rose, this will be my first time using any of these soaps.
 

syngent

Moderator
Wow cant wait to hear your results looking forward to seeing how it turns out, enjoy the soaps
 
Note that this is not meant to be an exhaustive comparison, just a selection of some relative popular, UK-made, tripled milled shaving soaps that are mostly lavender scented (some exceptions).

On deck:

T&H Luxury
TOBS Lavender (discontinued Stearate formula, not the currently available refill)
Cyril Salter
Vintage Blades (traditional lavender)
Plisson (UK made)
Trumpers Rose (GFT doesn't do Lavender...I picked Rose b/c it is the most "classic" to me of the GFT scents)
DR Harris Lavender
I'm interested in knowing what (if any) differences you can find between T&H Luxury, Cyril Salter and Vintage Blades. This goes beyond performance but also size, weight, shape, colour and scent. I've tried T&H Luxury and Shaving Shack Lavender and as far as I can tell the two soaps are identical in every aspect. I suspect they were manufactured by the same contract soap maker then branded (and priced!) accordingly. I suspect that Cyril Salter and Vintage Blades have come from the same manufacturer as well but will await your judgement.
 
The differences between those 3 are what started me on this in the first place. As far as size and weight, I bought the small puck from T&H. Also the ingredients are different than the Salter, and not just b/c T&H removed the paraffin from their latest factory run. I strongly suspect all of these soaps come from the same 1 or 2 manufacturers...however I'm not going to be able to prove that in this thread.

I'm interested in knowing what (if any) differences you can find between T&H Luxury, Cyril Salter and Vintage Blades. This goes beyond performance but also size, weight, shape, colour and scent. I've tried T&H Luxury and Shaving Shack Lavender and as far as I can tell the two soaps are identical in every aspect. I suspect they were manufactured by the same contract soap maker then branded (and priced!) accordingly. I suspect that Cyril Salter and Vintage Blades have come from the same manufacturer as well but will await your judgement.
 

djh

Moderator Emeritus
I'm looking forward to your thoughts and photos. Don't forget the photos!
 
I'm looking forward to your thoughts and photos. Don't forget the photos!
Haha. Yeah, it's an excuse to use the little digital camera. What I may do is post photos for the second round of testing since I already used the TOBS old formula Lavender today. Of course, I could just start with the photos tomorrow since the T&H and Plisson are supposed to be arriving today. We'll see. At the very least I'll get up photos of the pucks and packaging as I get them.
 
The company is French and we all know they make very expensive shave brushes. However, the shave soap they sell under their brand is made in England. It comes in a cool looking little tin, but you can't really shave out of it because the cylindrical part is made of cardboard. I took a picture of the ingredients listing...as you can see this is a palm-based vegetable soap. The scent is a mild baby-powder type scent out of the box. My guess is the scent doesn't open up much when lathered up. A refill puck of this soap will cost you around $24 in the U.S. No idea about overseas prices.
 

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T&H luxury shaving soap was praised a lot when I first joined B&B but I never got around to trying it...this is before tallow-fever hit the boards, by the way. Anyway, it is still regarded as one of the best triple-milled soaps available by some of B&B longtime members, but obviously flies under the radar now. Since I already have a good deal of soaps and creams, I thought it best to buy the 56g refill instead of the large 99g puck. According to T&H, the large and small pucks are the same formula. This smaller puck runs about $12 in the U.S. Mine arrived with no box, just wrapped in two layers of paper. The top layer is tissue paper with the T&H logo, and the inside layer is regular wax paper. The scent is a very light lavender cologne scent, perhaps similar to a very faint whiff of Atkinson's English Lavender.

These are the ingredients according to the vendor and T&H:

Sodium Palmate, Potassium Palmate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Aqua, Glycerin,
Potassium Palm Kernate, Stearic Acid, Parfum, Isopropyl Myristate,
Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Chloride, BHT, Tetrasodium Etidronate, Pentasodium
Pentetate, CI 77891


Yep, another palm-based vegetable soap.




$Picture 002.jpg $Picture 003.jpg
 

nemo

Cheaper than ink
Moderator Emeritus
I'm interested in knowing what (if any) differences you can find between T&H Luxury, Cyril Salter and Vintage Blades. This goes beyond performance but also size, weight, shape, colour and scent. I've tried T&H Luxury and Shaving Shack Lavender and as far as I can tell the two soaps are identical in every aspect. I suspect they were manufactured by the same contract soap maker then branded (and priced!) accordingly. I suspect that Cyril Salter and Vintage Blades have come from the same manufacturer as well but will await your judgement.
Don't they come from Culmak?
 
I got this soap a few weeks ago and have been using it in my rotation at least once a week. Note that this is the old,discontinued formula and is a completely different soap than the current TOBS refill pucks on the market. If you want a puck of this soap, you'll have to track down one that comes with a wood bowl and have the vendor double check the ingredients on the box. Note that I have not used the current TOBS Palmate-based refill so I'm not going to comment on its performance.

Anyway, back to this soap...


You'll notice that Potassium Stearate is the first ingredient...if you've been at this game awhile you also know that copious amounts of Stearate or Stearic Acid often means that the soap or cream is going to lather up nicely. Sure enough this soap lathers very easily for a hard, triple-milled puck and the lather produces above average cushion and glide IMHO. I shaved with it again today and continue to be impressed with it. Another thing about this soap that I've noticed is that I get closer than usual shaves from it. Not sure why, but I do. My SO even commented on it last week after I used this soap earlier in the day. The scent is fantastic...not as strong as Castle Forbes, but much more potent than the T&H soap when sniffing the puck. The scent also smells more like Lavender EO instead of a cologne scented fragrance oil, but it is not pure Lavender EO...there are some other elements in there I can't quite put a finger on.

A great soap and one that the other contenders will have a tough time beating out.
 

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Don't they come from Culmak?
Yeah, I've heard a persistent rumor that a lot of these soaps are/were manufactured by Culmak. I can't verify that though. Note that there are some variations on this theme that I will not be sampling in this thread, at least not for right now. The Culmak shave soap, Vulfix shave soap, and TOBS traditional shave soap.
 
Shaved today with the T&H for the first time. My high expectations were pretty much shattered after using this stuff. I do not know if the recent formula change that eliminated liquid parrafin from the soap has had any effect on the ability of T&H soap to make shave-worthy lather or if this just from a dud batch or what. What I do know is that it was very difficult to get shave-worthy lather out of this soap this morning. Despite heavy loading (over 1 minute of loading - I like to overload all my soaps) and adding very little water while face-lathering, this soap was a prime example of "disappearing lather syndrome". Within 45 seconds the lather would break down into a bubbly film. I started out with a T&H/Rooney 1/1 and switched to my New Forest 2-band after the first pass because I thought the stiffer bristles might do the trick. I'm sad to say they didn't do much good as the lather was still poor. Here are two photos from this morning. The first is the brush after aggressive/heavy loading. The second is after 1 pass of face lathering. As you can see, the second pic doesn't show any nice creamy lather in the brush...just soap paste and tiny bubbles. Definitely not what I'm used to. Also, managed to give myself a nice cut on the neck and a nick on the chin while trying to shave with this stuff. Not happy.



Not giving up on this soap quite yet. Tonight I will aggressively test lather it with a stiff Omega boar brush and post pics. From now on, all soaps will be test lathered aggressive with a boar brush before the first proper use. If I can't get shave-worthy lather out of this stuff with the boar brush, this soap will be taken out of the comparison and both the vendor and T&H will hear about my experience with this soap.

Note that I've been using a brush and soap for over four years and I know what I'm doing at this point. I've tried 30+ soaps and creams from all over the world and haven't had any real problems with lathering up most soaps save for a couple olive oil based duds that were made by crafters that had no idea how shaving soap works.
 

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And I got pretty much the same results I had this morning. Disappearing lather, nothing shaveworthy. Whatever has been done to the current formula of T&H shaving soap has rendered it absolutely useless for shaving. It is frankly mind boggling that a company with such high standards would allow such a poor product to come to the market with their name. Sorry guys, but this is garbage, and I simply cannot recommend it in good conscience. Due to the poor performance of this soap in the testing phase, I will not be shaving with it again.

Pics below.The first is the loaded brush. The second is after palm-lathering the loaded brush. The third is after letting the soap sit lathered in my palm for 60 seconds.
 

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Wow, what a huge contrast to the T&H we have here. This soap produces a thick, creamy lather with not too much effort. This is basically what shaving soap is supposed to do...stable lather that protects your face from your blade while shaving. I will actually look forward to shaving with this soap tomorrow. Oh, and in case your wondering, this is a hard milled puck and doesn't contain any tallow.

Pics below. 1) Loaded brush, 2) Palm lather, 3) Palm lather after 60 seconds of waiting to check lather stability.
 

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Shaved with the Plisson the first time today. Protection was excellent, as the 1.5 inch cut on my neck from yesterday's shave was not re-opened during today's shave. Glide isn't bad either, but could be a tad better. One weak point of this soap is that the beard softening properties do not seem to be quite as good as some other soaps in my den. I had several missed spots on my mustache and goatee area, and had to re-lather and re-shave them after my second pass, despite using a brand new blade in my razor (btw, I never re-use blades). The baby powder scent of the soap is gentle and pleasing and the lather was very stable throughout the shave. Post-shave feeling was quite good also. Splashed on some Pitralon Classic and there was no excessive burn.

The first pic is my loaded Rooney 2XL. Heavy loading here, as always. The second pic is my brush after one face lathering.
 

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The rest of the soaps arrived today. I got excellent test lathers out of DR Harris Lavender and TOBS Jermyn St. I will upload pics as soon as I get my digital camera working again.
 
This is a very interesting thread and I look forward to reading your next impressions.

My experience with modern british soaps is that they should just stick with brushes. Trumpers, Pens, Floris....all disgraceful
 
No test lather pics yet, still trying to get them off my little digital camera. These are Iphone pics from this morning's shave, my first with this soap. The first pic is my loaded brush, a brand new Simpsons Tulip 3 2-band Super. Second pic is the brush after 1 face lather application.

Despite only barely warm water coming out of the tap this morning, I got superb lather out of this soap and a great shave. The lather is very thick and creamy and has excellent glide. Not difficult to work into a lather either, and the lather is very stable. Great cushion too, no problems with the cut on my neck from Monday that is still healing. There is tallow in this soap, but also a good deal of palm derived ingredients...it is not a purely tallow based soap. The scent is very faint, even lighter than the T&H scent, but a little sharper as well. My guess is this is due to the inclusion of more real Lavender than the T&H. If you liked a mild, very lightly scented soap this would be a good choice. My personal preferences lean toward the old formula TOBS Lavender by a good margin...it's just a richer, more intoxicating scent and the DRH scent can't really compare. Not to say the DRH doesn't smell nice, because it does. Post-shave feeling was good and this soap required a lot less touch-up work than my first shave with the Plisson.
 

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Pic 1: ingredients

Pic 2: packaging

Pic 3: loaded brush

Pic 4: palm lather

Pic 5: palm lather after 60 seconds


I think the pics speak for themselves. Something has been done with this soap's formula or manufacturing process to make it impossible to produce a good lather with. I had a puck (veggie formula, btw) 3-4 years ago that worked just fine. This soap is truly awful though. I actually spent about an hour trying to get it to work using everything I know to make a soap perform, but no luck. If you doubt my ability to make good lather out of hard soaps, please see the pics of the Plisson and DR Harris lathers. Bottom line, this is a defective dud. GFT offered to send a replacement, but I'm am not optimistic that it will work any better. I will report back if does actually work. If you are thinking of purchasing a GFT shave soap, I would seriously reconsider whether that is a good idea.
 

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