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Working through a plethora of samples.

Several sample packs of soaps/creams arrived early this week so I will be working my way through them and collecting my thoughts/reviews here for anyone who care or might benefit. I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts (whether we concur or not) and even suggestions.

This week for me:

- Proraso green; this and TOBS Sandalwood (bowl) have been my only soaps for the last month; wife doesn't like sandalwood's scent, I think it is good (but not awesome); however, something in it irritates my skin. Proraso green is fine: light scent with good lather. Very safe choice, IMO.

Mon pm - SAMPLERS ARRIVE :thumbup:; lathered up Mike's Barbershop in my hand and was very impressed by the yogurty lather and the scent. Looking forward to shaving with it.

Tue - B&M Seville; what outstanding lather, slickness; a nice, clean but not overpowering scent. Post-shave face feel is awesome, almost buttery

Wed - TOBS Jermyn St cream; a 2 yr old could lather this up nicely; my favorite scent so far, very modern and lingers well; dull blade made this not the best shave, but I don't think Jermyn St was to blame. Must admit, left my skin just a little dry and tight hours later, which surprised me from a sensitive skin product. Anyone who thinks shaving soaps/creams have to smell like an old man? They need to get a tube of Jermyn St cream ASAP. I'll definitely be buying their scented aftershave balm.

Fri - Mike's Bay Rum; outstanding lather, slickness; still deciding if I am a bay rum guy or not, but I liked this; the post-shave face feel is off the charts; I keep rubbing my face and feeling this distinct buttery softness (but with no greasy feeling at all); must be the clay? I love it.

PS - My wife also tried out Mike's Unscented, B&M's Unscented, and HoneyBee Spa's Orange on her legs (using my Merkur HD). She found all three exceptional. Mike's and B&M's tallow based formulas were maybe one notch slicker than the non-tallow HoneyBee, but not by much. She loved the Orange smell.

VERDICT: Mike's and B&M seem very similar; they are my favorite feeling soaps thus far. They certainly take different paths scent-wise to me. I certainly favor the tallow and/or the other oils/clays in these two particular brands of soaps. Post-shave face feel is extremely important to me and these brands deliver on this regard.

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I concur about the TOBS, it was quite drying to my skin also. I experience the same drying effect with a Jermyn Street sample as well as a tub of Luxury cream I pif'ed to someone. Mike's barber shop is quite good.
I love the TOBS Jermyn Street scent but as far as performance goes it wasn't the best for me either. After smelling it I wanted to buy the soap but heard the soap isn't as good as the cream. I definitely prefer soaps but tried a sample of the cream and it was just about average for me at best. I think I'll just skip it.
Update (these were lathered up using my new Semogue 1305 Boar which I like better than my admittedly cheap escanti badger brush):

Sat - B&M Cheshire; fantastic, easy lather. Really liked the smells on these B&M's. They are quite complex, but not overpowering. Anyone who catches a whiff of you would likely say, "Hmmm, I wonder what that is?" (in a good way, it is pleasant and distinctive). Lather is an A+. Anyone working with a B&M, cheese-like sample "chunk" should press it down into a small bowl before lathering. It makes it much easier and you get a true sense of the latherability of their soaps. I face lathered and did get some irritation. I'm not sure if it's the oils in this soap or from something else since I used a new, artisan-made bath soap just prior to shaving. Will try again in and reassess in the irritation department. Great post-shave face feel.

Mon - Mike's Barbershop; not as easy to lather, but I didn't have an extra small bowl available and just held the sample in my hand to lather it. Because of that, I wouldn't call this a fair comparison to Cheshire latherability above. I really like the scent: very clean and medium-low on strength. I did a combination of bowl and face lathering. It seemed I couldn't get enough product on my brush but I suspect this was because I didn't press the sample down into a small bowl to maximize surface area for loading. This resulted in a lather that wasn't as creamy as Cheshire above but was still very good. I will reassess this aspect soon. Great post-shave face feel.
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Tue - Strop Shoppe Baker Street; This was an older can obtained off BST, so it was not the SE (but does say tallow on the tin). I like the scent, it's very similar to barbershop-type, clean scents elsewhere. As far as lather and shave, I guess I don't see what all the hype is about. It was fine, but not the all-world results that I've read about. It is a softer soap (firmer than than TOBS and Proraso bowls which I consider croaps, consistency about like chap stick on a cold day), and lathered almost immediately but was more foamy than yogurty. I may have had a slightly overwet brush, but due to time constraints I couldn't start over. I realize this was off of one lather/shave, so I will revisit it to reassess. If these results persist, I would not pay a premium (in terms of money or time, waiting to order) for SS over Mike's or B&M. Good face feel afterwards.

Wed - Stirling Sharp Dressed Man; First Stirling product for me. The scent is weak to medium-weak; I didn't care for the smell (reminded me of a can of painter's putty) although my wife liked it and she hasn't cared for too many of my sample scents yet. Stirling soaps have a unique consistency, almost like putty. B&M is firmer and Mike's is much firmer. Easily lathered for me, and produced a distinctive lather: not many "big bubbles" so the lather is more towards the yogurt side than whipped cream and this is exactly my preference. In fact, pulling back on the water a little will result in a slick, clay-like paste and I don't mean dry paste. Mike's and B&M can do something similar, but Stirling naturally leaned in this direction with my methods. I could make it puffier with more water, but I prefer a non-puffy super slick lather. I just wasn't jazzed about this scent or the other sample scents I got, but YMMV. Outstanding face feel for hours afterwards.

- Truefitt & Hill 1805 Cream; First shave with T&F. Am I a cream guy? I very well may be. A dab of this into a slightly wet badger brush and rich, slick lather exploded into my bowl. This is the experience I'd want for a potential convert to traditional wet shaving. The scent is awesome! Present, but not overpowering, and what I'd call gentlemanly modern. It resembles the scent of the widely available Every Man Jack Face Lotion (Signature Mint) to me, but don't let those words deceive you: I don't find it minty at all. Sort of modern, clean, with just a hint of floral. I'd still rank the scent of TOBS Jermyn St just ahead of 1805, but they are different and both excellent. A large almond size amount produced enough lather for easily 5 passes (although I only did 3). Excellent cushion and glide, great face feel afterwards for hours. I could easily use this every day and be happy.
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Thanks for the terrific comparisons! While I haven't yet tried Strop Shoppe or Stirling, Mike's and B&M are top-shelf within my rotation of 30+ soaps.
I have so many samples and only shave with the scents I like. But I thought it might be helpful to gather here information solely based on scent.

Here's my opinion and my wife's opinion (which are of course highly, highly subjective) on scents. I'll organize these by manufacturer and add them to this thread.

My opinion is listed first; hers follows the W.

Barrister & Mann
Cheshire: really liked, very distinctive and hard to describe, like a strong teabag/masculine vs bright/clean; W=okay
Seville: really liked, bright, clean smell but not perfume-y; W=not so much
Winter Spice: really liked, smells like Big Red gum to me; W=really liked
Unscented: fine, just a faint soap smell; W=fine
Roam: no thanks, smells like you stood by a smoky campfire; W=ugh
Bay Rum: very close to Mike's Bay Rum, not spicey/clovey, I like but am not a huge BR fan in general; W=liked to really liked
Lime/Lavender/Cedarwood: not overly powerful, smells like the name, just okay for me, wouldn't reach for it; W=just okay
Vetiver/Heather/Clary Sage: not overly powerful, light vetiver smells common to all B&M, wouldn't reach for it; W=not so much

B&M soaps are outstanding performers. Given that, based on scent I'd gladly order full pucks of Cheshire, Seville, Winter Spice, and perhaps Bay Rum.
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Very nice write-up. I'd encourage you to try the Special Edition of Strop Shoppe, as they are on par with Mike's and Barrister & Mann, whereas their other soaps are just average in terms of lather. Too bad you're not a Bay Rum fan, as Mike's and B&M are fantastic.
Very nice write-up. I'd encourage you to try the Special Edition of Strop Shoppe, as they are on par with Mike's and Barrister & Mann, whereas their other soaps are just average in terms of lather. Too bad you're not a Bay Rum fan, as Mike's and B&M are fantastic.

I've got a tin of the most recent batch of Alpine Frost SE (w/ tallow) on the way and look forward to seeing how it performs compared to this other tin of Baker St.
Here's my opinion and my wife's opinion (which are of course highly, highly subjective) on scents. I'll organize these by manufacturer and add them to this thread.

My opinion is listed first; hers follows the W.

Mike's Natural Soaps
Barbershop: really liked, crisp clean smell without smelling perfume-y or contrived; W=ok to good
Bay Rum: liked it, although not a huge bay rum fan generally; W=loved it; said it smelled even better on my face than in bar
Vetiver: did not like, don't know how to describe this, just not a scent for us; W=concurred
Rose & Cedarwood: strong to my nose, found out I don't like rose; W=concurred
Unscented: very slight pure scent, just fine by me; W=concur
Hungarian Lavender: I found this soft lavender pleasant, I wouldn't reach for it but some might; W=ok
Orange, Cedarwood, & Black Pepper: really liked this, quite complex, the orange arrives first and the cedarwood and black pepper follow gently later, would prefer a little more sweet orange but solid as is; W=really liked
Lime: simple lime smell, medium strength, okay by me; W=okay, just not a scent she'd want to smell on me
Peppermint & Rosemary: very interesting, intriguing scent, among the stronger Mike'e scents, but not overly strong, need to shave with this to see how the scent translates from the bar to my skin and find out if the peppermint will sting my eyes; W=really liked this, suspected people will either love or hate, no in between
Lemongrass & Eucalyptus: smells exactly like its name, just not for me; W=concurred

Mike's soaps are outstanding performers. Given that, and based on scent alone, I would order full bars/tins of Barbershop, Bay Rum, probably Orange, Cedarwood, & Black Pepper, and perhaps Peppermint & Rosemary.
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I really like B&M, Mike's, and the Proraso White. I was expecting to like B&M and Mike's, given that they were highly regarded artisan soaps. The Proraso White surprised me with how easily it lathered and what a good post shave feel it gave. I've liked almost all of the artisan soaps I've tried, but the commercial soaps have been hit or miss for me.
Here's my opinion and my wife's opinion (which are of course highly, highly subjective) on scents. I'll organize these by manufacturer and add them to this thread.

My opinion is listed first; hers follows the W.

Truefitt & Hill
1805: really liked it, modern mild scent, a little more powdery smelling in the container than when it is lathered; W=really liked

Trafalgar: really liked it, maybe even a tad more than 1805, similar to 1805 just less powdery and more bright scent, still a mild scent compared to the other manufacturers but I find it very nice; W=really liked

Grafton: really liked it, modern mild scent, similar to Trafalgar to me meaning a bright clean scent, slightly brighter scent than Trafalgar; W=really liked

No. 10: ok, smells more like a face cream or lotion than the previous two, less distinctive/modern to me; W=ok

I've shaved with 1805 and Trafalgar. A cream is a fundamentally different product than a soap, which is ok! Both shaved very well. An almond size portion of 1805 coupled with my (cheap) badger brush caused a bowl full of thick lather to explode. I lathered Trafalgar using my boar brush and about half as much lather came forth. I chalk that up to the boar brush rather than Trafalgar, but we will re-assess this later. Although both were good shaves, I'd say the 1805 was slicker, but again that could have been due to the brush and amount of generated lather. Both of these scents fully develop (not change!) nicely when lathered; keep this in mind when sniffing samples or containers in a store.

T&F's scents seem to all be modern (read: youthful, but NOT in an AXE bodyspray way!) and not overpowering. They aren't at all "cologne-y", and no one would accuse you of smelling like an "old man" with these. They would fill a different role for me than the previously discussed products in this thread.

Given that, then based on scent, I would order full portions of 1805, Grafton, and Trafalgar (in that order). I'd order matching aftershaves for all three since I'd love to smell like any of them all day long.
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Continuing with my impressions of samples after shaving with them...

Sun - Nancy Boy Signature Cream; Very mild peppermint smell which I found to be pleasant. Easy to lather, but the lather was slightly drier and much more foamy than the T&F and TOBS creams previously discussed. Provided good cushion, but subpar slickness (wasn't really slick at all) and I put a premium on slickness so I wouldn't purchase a full-size of this. Face feel afterwards was not like the tallow based soaps, but I don’t expect it to be.

Tue - Truefitt & Hill Trafalgar Cream; Very nice scent. This cream wasn't as slick at TOBS Jermyn St or T&F 1805, but I lathered those with a badger and I lathered Trafalgar with a boar so I won't blame it on Trafalgar yet. Very nice BBS shave but would definitely like to see if it produces lather as equally slick (and voluminous) as 1805 next time. If it does, definitely would buy a full size---with matching aftershave! Face feel was behind the tallow based soaps, but was adequate.

Wed - Truefitt & Hill Grafton Cream; Very nice scent as mentioned earlier in the thread. I'd rank it a little ahead of Trafalgar. I lathered with the badger and got just as much volume as with 1805. Creams aren't as slick as tallow soaps, but I don't expect them to be. Very nice shave. I would happily purchase a full portion of this along with matching aftershave.

Fri - Stirling Margaritas in the Arctic; This scent really stands out from all the others in my current collection. I've had a lime scent from a couple of places and they smelled ok, just nothing overly special. Anyway, the name is spot on: this is not just lime with menthol. This lime smells a tad different---really like a margarita!---which often means some splash of lemon and/or orange in there. The lather was incredible. It is more goopy than fluffy which is what I like and probably why it is so dang slick. I used a Semogue 1305 boar and it loaded up easily. This soap seemed to need a longer loading time but that's ok. In less than 60 secs I had bowl lathered a lot of great, slick, goopy lather. The face feel was slick and quickly you feel the refreshing menthol. I haven't had other mentholated soaps, but I would call this invigoratingly refreshing. Nice way to wake up in the morning! In summary, I really liked this soap and would absolutely buy a full puck which is an incredible value for the $5 or so (?) that they cost.
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Great thread, very enjoyable read. I know you are bouncing back and forth between badger and boar, are you also experimenting with wet and dry loading, or face/palm/bowl lathering, etc.?
Great thread, very enjoyable read. I know you are bouncing back and forth between badger and boar, are you also experimenting with wet and dry loading, or face/palm/bowl lathering, etc.?

Of late, I have been using boar for the soaps and badger for the creams (except for the one time above where I'd pre-soaked my boar but decided to shave with a cream and just went with it).

You bring up a good point that I should've included above: almost all of my shaves have been bowl lathers, with a few face lathers thrown in. All of my lathers have been with a brush that soaked while I was in the shower, then squeezed gently so that it is still damp but not sopping wet.

I have palm lathered some soaps (no creams), but have not shaved based off a palm lather.
Very nice write-up. I'd encourage you to try the Special Edition of Strop Shoppe, as they are on par with Mike's and Barrister & Mann, whereas their other soaps are just average in terms of lather. Too bad you're not a Bay Rum fan, as Mike's and B&M are fantastic.

Sat - Strop Shoppe Special Edition Alpine Frost (Mentholated); Yesterday, I received my tub of Strop Shoppe Special (or is it Limited?) Edition Alpine Frost (Mentholated) from the Feb production run of Strop Shoppe. This morning I intended to just do a face lather but I could not stop myself from shaving. All I can say is this very well may be the Holy Grail of shaving soaps. P-H-E-N-O-M-E-N-A-L in all aspects!


I loved the scent---very spring-y clean, not at all like a barbershop scent, just wonderful and the name suits it. But the lather? WOW. First, it is easy to lather: 10 second swirl with my cheap badger brush and straight to the face. Others may like a puffy, foamy lather, but I like dense slickness and that is exactly what this was. The lather had a paste-like consistency at first---not a dry paste, more like a gooey paste---but after adding several drops of water several times, it became that perfect, dense, slick consistency that I love. (I never like a soap that I can see my skin thru.) After the first pass (which I face lathered), I took the brush to the bowl, added a few more drops of water (but no product) and bowl lathered a nice amount for the second and third passes. I even had enough lather that when I was done shaving I lathered my face all up again and let it sit on there as I cleaned up my work area for a couple of minutes. The light menthol action is very nice and refreshing, not at all overpowering. It's only been an hour but the face feel is buttery. This is an absolutely incredible shaving soap in all aspects.

I love many of the other soaps and creams reviewed above, but they are sitting in second place as of now.

Really glad I've got two tubs of SS Barbershoppe S/E on the way, but I have a feeling I may be looking for someone who has an extra tin of this S/E Alpine Frost.
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