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Using Amazon reviews to judge "Mainstream" shaving soaps?

My curiosity led me to questioning this. Since Amazon has such a huge market share (in sales), how accurate would the reviews be in order to judge a soap?
I imagine that most Amazon reviews for shaving soaps come from shavers who are simply just normal everyday shavers?
The bulk is definitely not from shavers like us that have a deep interest in every little detail of the products?
So I filtered my search on Amazon to strictly include shaving soaps and sorted the results by "average customer review".
Note that these are mostly mainstream brands that don't include the specialty/artisan stuff that we also look for!

What I found is that the following brands/soaps top the list (Top 20) based on Amazon reviews:
1. Arko (I found this amazing that it's #1 considering that here on B&B it usually has a 50/50 opinion. Some people love it and some people don't and it's usually because of the scent and not because of the actual performance of the soap)
2. Cella (This seems to be loved by everyone. The only occasional complaint I have read is because of the scent. Some people don't like Almond)
3. The Art of Shaving Lavender (I guess when you are owned by Procter & Gamble, you have the financial backing to massively grow as a brand and be on the top of lists. I had no idea that people love these products so much. Are they really that good?)
4. Proraso Green (The only brand of all of these that I've personally tried. People love this stuff based on what I've read)
5. Van Der Hagen Luxury shave soap (Apparently it's good. But is it really? It's $12 for 3 pucks which I think is very influential)
6. Proraso White (I guess it's good too. I have my first tub of this on order)
7. Williams mug shaving soap (Still holds the #7 position even though it's history. Cult status on this one!)
8. Henry Cavendish Himalaya (A top luxury brand but I can't see how it has this many sales/reviews from regular shavers. I guess lots of shaving forum members buy this on Amazon, LOL!)
9. Proraso red (Considering the following this one has, I don't know how it isn't #1 on the list. I personally love this stuff!)
10. Colonel Conk Bay rum (All I can say is that it's a popular product with it's own unique ingredients)
11. Men's soap company shaving soap (How did this get to #11. Has anyone even heard of this? I did a search for it here on B&B and nothing came up)
12. Mitchell's Wool fat (I can definitely see this in the top 20 because people love it)
13. Henry Cavendish Lavender (Luxury brand with a luxury scent can get you high up in the ranks)
14. The Art of Shaving Sandalwood (See #3's explanation and just replace the scent with Sandalwood)
15. Barrister & Mann Seville (Another one that I assume gets bought & reviewed by forum shavers)
16. Colonel Conk Almond (Read #10 and the last sentence of #20
17. Muhle Sea Buckthorn (I don't know what sea buckthorn smells like but it must be good if it sells this well!)
18. D.R. Harris Sandalwood (Great luxury brand and probably the most popular shaving scent)
19. Colonel Conk Amber (Only Colonel Conk & Proraso show up 3 times each on this top 20 list. They both must be doing something right!)
20. Van Der Hagen Mango Chocolate (What? Mango chocolate, are they serious?)

So that's the list!
I find it strange that Taylor of Old Bond Street isn't in the top 20. I see many people discussing it, especially here! Probably as much as Proraso!
Do you think that these are the best mainstream brands/soaps in the order that they are reviewed on Amazon? What do you like most?
 
I dont know of they are the best. Of course, best is subjective. Im assuming that a lot of these are bought as gifts or in case of the proraso and arko, its relatively inexpensive. I have personally used Barrister and Mann, The Art of Shaving, and proraso green .
 
I dont know of they are the best. Of course, best is subjective. Im assuming that a lot of these are bought as gifts or in case of the proraso and arko, its relatively inexpensive. I have personally used Barrister and Mann, The Art of Shaving, and proraso green .
Which of those 3 did you like most? Did your preference match Amazon's order?
 
Probably the peppermint art of shaving cream. Left a really cool feeling and smelled great. No my order was a little different. The barrister and man is way better then the proraso in my opinion. I currently have their full measure of a man and I have Seville on the way.
 
I would NOT go by Amazon reviews. There's many reasons for that. Just look at the most popular razors, for example. If you go by reviews, you'll end up with something overpriced and mediocre.

Most of the "normal" people just use one or two shave soaps/creams. Can you imagine? :letterk1:

If you only know of two products, then of course they are the best! But there's an entire universe of products you don't know anything about, so what is the basis for the comparison?

Many people just want the most economical choice they can tolerate until they can get this blasted chore over with. Blasphemy!

Maybe the wife or partner shops for them, so they get what somebody else thinks is best.

Amazon reviews tend to lead to a snowball effect. Highly rated reviews convince people to buy, they they leave highly rated reviews, etc., etc. There are some excellent products on there with zero reviews because hardly anyone's heard of them. Therefore, no one tries them!

Take reviews with a grain of salt. Try to find someone on the forums with similar tastes as yourself and see what they like (as a starting point). But think for yourself, please. Many products are surrounded by an aura of hype, or pushed by some You Tube shill.
 
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I would NOT go by Amazon reviews. There's many reasons for that. Just look at the most popular razors, for example. If you go by reviews, you'll end up with something overpriced and mediocre.

Most of the "normal" people just use one or two shave soaps/creams. Can you imagine? :letterk1:

If you only know of two products, then of course they are the best! But there's an entire universe of products you don't know anything about, so what is the basis for the comparison?

Many people just want the most economical choice they can tolerate until they can get this blasted chore over with. Blasphemy!

Maybe the wife or partner shops for them, so they get what somebody else thinks is best.

Amazon reviews tend to lead to a snowball effect. Highly rated reviews convince people to buy, they they leave highly rated reviews, etc., etc. There are some excellent products on there with zero reviews because hardly anyone's heard of them. Therefore, no one tries them!

Take reviews with a grain of salt. Try to find someone on the forums with similar tastes as yourself and see what they like (as a starting point). But think for yourself, please. Many products are surrounded by an aura of hype, or pushed by some You Tube shill.
I wholly agree with you. And that's the precise reason why I made this thread. I wanted to see everyone's opinions and choices here to compare to what other people see on Amazon as "The best ones".
 
I own 6 or 7 of the top 10 and none of them are even close to being in my own top 20. MAYBE Cella would sneak in.

Keep in mind that Amazon doesn’t sell a lot of higher end soaps like DG, MDC, Southern Witchcrafts, SV, Wholly Kaw, etc. and most wetshavers are not as far down the rabbit hole as us crazy buggers. 🤪
 

nemo

Cheaper than ink
Sorry, I don't rely on Amazon reviews for anything. So many buyers leave a good review without putting the product to the test and many just don't have enough experience with that type of product to write a review.
 

Rhody

I'm a Lumberjack.
Great research very interesting. I usually read A reviews by filtering to most recent. I find the default setting always front loads 5 star reviews. I haven’t noticed this with shave soap but many reviews are associated with free products or vine reviews which I disregard of course. A reviews can be a black hole too. Many negative reviews focus on shipping or broken items or package or scent. I’ve never heard of number 11 either so interesting that makes it there.
 
Presumably Amazon top sellers are worldwide total sales. Many of those soaps I have never seen and I guess are not easily available in many countries. To avoid being overwhelmed with choice I limit myself to using soaps which are or were long established even if they are now discontinued. I avoid soaps which have been reformulated to have tallow removed even if the general consensus is that they have been improved in the process. Of course most soaps have probably been reformulated in some way at during their history, even MWF. Product longevity is the best review I think, and the only one that interests me.
 
Can I just point out how overpriced Amazon has been getting on some things like shaving soap & aftershaves? They are asking over $14 for a tub of Cella Bio, give me a break! I got two of them on sale at Connaught Shaving in the UK for around $3.50 each! Shipping was free with a fairly large order, but I am probably set for the next few years with soap, blades and a nice shave brush.
 
The average Amazon shaving soap shopper is not likely to be someone who spends a lot of time thinking about shaving soaps.

It might be better to research on various shaving forums where the consensus regarding a particular product lies after discarding (positive and negative) obvious outlier comments.

Having done that, it might be a good idea to see then whether a given product is available on Amazon and can be found there cheaper than elsewhere.



B.
 

Rhody

I'm a Lumberjack.
I read about 20 recent reviews for cella in brick form and surprisingly they all seemed reasonable and from actual users. So I guess it depends on the product. I do wonder about item 11 on the op list. Here is one gem I found in recent reviews not far down. So you all be the judge.

“My hubby loves this shaving soap. He says it makes shaving easier and smells really good too!”
 

musicman1951

three-tu-tu, three-tu-tu
I always assume a healthy number of Amazon reviews are done by professional review writers, as I've read about people who do this sort of thing. But if there are a great number of reviews for a product I know little about I take those into account.

I don't currently use any of those 20 soaps, so you can imagine how much stock I put into those reviews. Not that I think they are poor products, just that I've found others I like better.

I put a great deal of stock in B&B reviews, Amazon - not so much.
 
I've tried a bunch of the soaps in that list. I'd say they are all going to give you a good shave. If you're reading reviews on Amazon you're just looking for a soap to shave with and that is a very different ball of wax than the hobbiest side of things on B&B. Just a few years ago I thought art of shaving was the best you could get. I had no idea there were options until I discovered Stirling. It was eye opening.
 
For some products, reading Amazon reviews can be useful. However, when it comes to shaving soaps and creams, razors, and razor blades those reviews are not so useful. For many who make such purchases, pricing is far more important that quality. That is why Arko shows up as the top soap. Arko is usable for many shavers and it is cheap. That makes it attractive to those who cannot or will not purchase more expensive soaps.

The other thing you have to be careful of is products that have just a few reviews, all of them good. It is certainly possible that it is a new product on the market and it really is good, but it is also possible that the supplier has asked friends to purchase the product and post a favorable review.

Like others have mentioned above, sometimes reading the lowest rated reviews can be revealing.
 
What I found is that the following brands/soaps top the list (Top 20) based on Amazon reviews:

1. Arko (I found this amazing that it's #1 considering that here on B&B it usually has a 50/50 opinion. Some people love it and some people don't and it's usually because of the scent and not because of the actual performance of the soap)

2. Cella (This seems to be loved by everyone. The only occasional complaint I have read is because of the scent. Some people don't like Almond)

3. The Art of Shaving Lavender (I guess when you are owned by Procter & Gamble, you have the financial backing to massively grow as a brand and be on the top of lists. I had no idea that people love these products so much. Are they really that good?)

4. Proraso Green (The only brand of all of these that I've personally tried. People love this stuff based on what I've read)

7. Williams mug shaving soap (Still holds the #7 position even though it's history. Cult status on this one!)

12. Mitchell's Wool fat (I can definitely see this in the top 20 because people love it)

18. D.R. Harris Sandalwood (Great luxury brand and probably the most popular shaving scent)

19. Colonel Conk Amber (Only Colonel Conk & Proraso show up 3 times each on this top 20 list. They both must be doing something right!)

Apologies, I did not comment on your list in my earlier reply.

I redacted your list based on my own appraisal of shaving soaps and would not hesitate to recommend to a beginner to try items 1., 2., 3., 4. and 18. In case of 2., 3., 4., and 18., other shaving soaps by the same manufacturer perform equally well.

7. is clearly a below average soap and the fact that some people can shave with it does not mean it has to be good.
I have had impromptu shaves with bath soap, but the fact that I could, does not make bath soap a good shaving soap.
Luckily, this product appears to have been discontinued, which hopefully will bring an end to debates about this mediocre product.

12. seems to popular in the US while in other (European) countries take hardly any notice of it. It is a glycerine based soap, which is uncommon for a shaving soap, but it gets the job done. An outstanding product it is not.

Based on the results you found, I suspect you did your research on (US) amazon.com as neither 7. and 12. nor van der Hagen is much talked about outside of North America. Which illustrates one of the problems of using your Amazon method. This method is heavily biased towards non-concerning average buyers in one particular Amazon region who may have little idea about some of the excellent products from other regions that discerning shavers with more experience swear by.

You should try Arko and at least one of the Proraso soaps. I have long outgrown them, but it is almost a rite of passage to try them and form an opinion for yourself. Once you have become an accomplished shaver you might very well move on to products that appeal to you more, but fact is they get the job done, are not overly expensive, and are kind of a benchmark for an acceptable shaving soap standard.

D.R. Harris is universally liked and produces excellent triple milled (hard) shaving soaps. A bit pricey, but good.

Similarly, Art of Shaving. Generally good products (e.g. Lavender and Sandalwood), made to order for Art of Shaving and sold with a mark-up, but fairly easy to find in North America. Sometimes they switch suppliers.

Italian Cella is a very good product available in a small tub and huge 1 kg (2.2 lbs) block. I have it no longer in my rotation as I already have too many other soaps in my bathroom that I used more often. A better example of a semi-soft Italian shaving soap than Proraso IMO, but others may disagree.

Lastly Mitchell’s Wool Fat, a great product with a cult following - if you can get it to lather.
Whether you can depends partly on your skills and partly on your water, as Mitchell’s does not like hard water.
If your technique is well developed you can even use it with hard water, but it is more work.


If you have issues getting a good lather with a particular soap, using a good synthetic brush (e.g. Mühle Silvertip Fibre® or a Shavemac Synthetic) can make live easier. I have a few synthetics in my stable for obstinate soaps.


Lastly, talking all about shaving soaps, do not forget shaving creams.
There are some excellent ones out there.


I hope this helps…


B
 
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