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Working through a plethora of samples.

As others have said, great thread. This sort of cross comparison is really useful. After Strop Shoppe SE, is there a clear order of preference for the rest?
As others have said, great thread. This sort of cross comparison is really useful. After Strop Shoppe SE, is there a clear order of preference for the rest?

Keeping in mind that my particular criteria are (1) performance (I want dense, slick lather rather than puffy foam), (2) post-shave face feel, (3) scent, and (4) price, the leader board looks like this for me right now based on what I have discussed in this thread up til now:

1. Strop Shoppe Special Edition only; the non-S/E was good, but noticeably inferior to the S/E; Alpine Frost ($4/oz); GRADE: A+
2. (Soaps) B&M, Mike's (tie); B&M's Seville, Cheshire, and Winter Spice ($2.67-2.93/oz) vs Mike's Barbershop ($1.89/oz) just comes down to what your nose and mood prefer; GRADE: A
2. (Creams) T&F; 1805, Grafton, Trafalgar ($4.48-$5.17/oz); these are creams so they aren't as slick, but what I give up in slickness and post-shave face feel I gain in more modern, youthful scents and the availability of the matching scent in after shave balm; GRADE: A
2. Stirling; Margarita's in the Arctic, Black Cherry ($1.39/oz); keep in mind I haven't sampled nearly as many of these as I have B&M and Mike's and I need to find more scents that are in my wheelhouse mission accomplished; this "sour cream" type lather is eactly what I like; excellent face feel and extremely good value; GRADE: A

After that, I'd grade TOBS a solid B (good but not great lather, but is affordable with a wide variety of scents), Proraso as a B- (similar lather to TOBS, but less range and distinction in scent). Nancy Boy would be a C/C-, but that was off of one shave.

All of these will be continuously re-evaluated as I get more shaves in and exposure to more scents (and vendors).

EDIT: After now my third shave with Stirling, I just have to move it up into that same category as B&M and Mike's for soaps.
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Mon - Stirling Black Cherry; Third shave with a Stirling. I am quickly coming to the conclusion that I just got a little unlucky that I happened not to like the first Stirling scent I tried (sharp dressed man), because the last two have been awesome!

I liked the scent, although initially I thought it smells more like a delicious dessert than something I want to shave with. But I would wait to see how it was on my face. I puck-lathered it super easily, without too much water to keep it at a "sour cream" lather as someone else very accurately described it. This is precisely the type of lather that I am after. YMMV of course.

The scent was fabulous on the brush and my face and the shave was the ultimate of buttery slickness. My wife hasn't raved about hardly any of the 30+ samples I've obtained thus far, but she emphatically said she loved this scent (both on the puck, on my lathered face, and post-shave face... yes, I ask her opinion at each stage). The lather is in the same vein as Strop Shoppe before I add that second, third, and fourth set of water droplets to SS. Not dry per se, just a little more of a sticky paste consistency.

This soap is right at the top with the ease of BBS shaves. I think it is because of the distinctive type of lather it yields. The post-shave face feel is at the very top of everything I've tried. All that, and Black Cherry is 4.5 oz for only $5.75 = $1.28/oz. That's significantly less than some of the other (IMO) comparably performing products, so it boils down to whether the unique scents are worth that premium.
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Here's my opinion and my wife's opinion (which are of course highly, highly subjective) on scents only. I'll organize these by manufacturer and add them to this thread.

My opinion is listed first; hers follows the W.

Nancy Boy Creams
Signature: mild, slightly minty smell scent with a subtle floral back end; liked it but wasn't wowed by it; W=liked it

Blossomwood: also mild, this is a very interesting scent; a slightly spicy-woody smell that for lack of a better terms almost smells like you are whiffing a spicy pepper (jalapeno, etc.) but only gently and that part of the scent is in the background; I liked it and would reach for this scent as a change of pace; W=didn't like it

Replenishing: stronger than the others but probably only medium strength scent compared to most others, all I got was a face full of a powdery scent, like a clean, old lady; no thanks; W=didn't like it

Having shaved with the Signature (but not the others), the creams were somewhat dry so at best a C performers for me. Given that, none of these scents was good enough to convince me to buy a full portion of any of them.
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Tue - Stirling's Margaritas in the Arctic

This is a fantastic scent and performer that I reviewed earlier in this thread, so I refer you there for a more full review. Simply put, I love everything about this soap. A cold rinse at the end of this one makes me literally say, "Wow!" out loud. The menthol is invigorating, but in no way irritating to my skin or my eyes. The scent is very natural---not chemical-ly or artificial at all. Excellent "sour cream" type lather and buttery post-shave face feel for easily a half day. And, you won't find a better bargain: $6.25 for 4.5 oz = $1.39/oz! I'm a fan. I would absolutely buy a full puck of this.

Thu - Strop Shoppe Barbershoppe (Special Edition with Tallow)

As with the previously discussed Strop Shoppe product, this is an absolutely first rate performer. A quite soft soap, they are easy to lather and produce the type of lather I value: thick and slick rather than puffy and stays that way for three passes. The scent on this is quite mild and pleasant/clean, but not distinct, IMO. It smells like many other barbershop scents: reminds me of a much weaker scented version of Mike's Barbershop. The post-shave face feel is very good and lasts for a few hours. I was working from a full puck, and would gladly use it up. But at $18.39 for 6 oz = $3.07/oz, for that price point, everything about the soap needs to wow me. The scent, while pleasant, isn't wowing. I wouldn't order a full puck of this again.

Fri - Mitchell's Wool Fat


It took a while but I finally got to try this celebrated soap! First off, I was most curious about how it would smell. It is not a strong scent; I'd say medium to medium-low strength, but it is there and different than anything else I've encountered. My immediate impression is that is smells like good, all-natural, somewhat "earthy" soap, but that follows quickly with a slight woodsy/musky scent. That latter part is there but subtle rather than strong. Interestingly, this wasn't a scent that I said, "Wow, I love this!" but neither did I say, "Ugh! This is unpleasant!" Rather, I'd day I found it pleasantly intriguing. I didn't think my wife would care for it (she has very particular preferences on scents), but she approved this one. As for performance, this is a very hard soap but I had no trouble whatsoever lathering it with my Semogue 1305 boar brush after letting some warm water soak the top of the puck while I was in the shower. It lathered for me about as easily/fast as a Stirling or Mike's soap, only with a little less water. Either all these tallow soaps lather similarly, or I am only choosing soaps whose descriptions match what I am after, because once again this produced a slick, dense lather without puffy airiness, just like I like. Great three pass shave. I was really impressed how for the touch ups I could just grab some lather with two fingers off the brush, and rubbing it on my face gives that super lubricity needed for those stubborn touch up patches on my chin or neck. However, I was probably most impressed by the post-shave face feel. I suppose that is due to the lanolin. That face feel lasted at least as long as anything else I've tried, but probably with more moisturizing than others. The scent does linger gently. It is $13 for 4.4 oz = $2.95/oz, so not among the cheapest but also not out-of-line for excellent soaps. Personally, I would buy a full puck of this and put it in the rotation, but would likely reach for it when I wanted a change-of-pace away from my usual bright, springy-clean, smelling soaps. I do, however, now understand and sympathize with those who belong to "The Order of the Fat"!
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Here's my opinion and my wife's opinion (which are of course highly, highly subjective) on scents only. I'll organize these by manufacturer and add them to this thread.

My opinion is listed first; hers follows the W.

A box from HTGAM/Synergy arrived this afternoon and I couldn't resist, so here goes...

How to Grow a Moustache/Synergy Soaps
Cavendish: what a heavenly scent! It is very gentle, but I get hints of vanilla, tobacco, slight cherry. It is so different than anything else in my stash and I love it. My only critique would be that I wish the scent were stronger because it is so, so good. W= loved it, and she is highly critical of scents. This is tied for first for my favorite scent now.

: I found the scent description amazing, and really want to like this scent, but it's just not for me. I expected something more exotic: Persia, Turkey, something, but instead got slight orange-vanilla with floral tones... reminiscent of an air freshner. W=didn't like it.

Coconut Bay Rum: Exquisite, unique take on bay rum. I like how the coconut scent (which is muted, but there) complimented the bay rum rather than suffocating it, and vice versa. W= really liked this one as well.

"Like" Spell (Lady's Scent): Smells exactly like you buried your face in a Victoria's Secret shop. A sensual, feminine, slightly fruity elixir. If your lady wants to smell like Miss Vickie, this is for her (and you!). Excellent. W=loved it.

Peach Seduction (Lady's Scent): Smells like what you'd expect a peach-based sensual scent to be marketed primarily at the twenty- and thirty-something crowd. Similar perfume undertone as Like Spell, but all peach rather than the can't-put-your-finger-on-it-fruitiness of Like Spell. I enjoyed this one just as much as Like Spell. Having both is not at all redundant. W=liked it, although she thought the peach here came across as a little more synthetic. Still found it pleasant.

I test-lathered the first two, but haven't shaved with them. However, based off of that and scent, I'd gladly purchase another puck of Cavendish and probably Coconut Bay Rum, but would not do the same for Meta-Nectar. As for the lady scents, I'd gladly enjoy the scent of either. My wife would also enjoy both, but if she had to choose only one, would pick Like Spell over Peach. (And asked if they sold candles in both!)
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Sun - How to Grow a Moustache/Synergy Cavendish
As described above, the scent is delightful, very gentlemanly and understated sweet pipe tobacco. It is quite different than anything else in my collection. My only criticism is that I wish the scent were stronger (2x or 3x). However, I do see that HTGAM offers after shave lotion and splashes (maybe even cologne) in Cavendish, so that is one way to make the scent stick around longer and stronger. As evidenced by this thread, I am a fan of tallow so I was genuinely curious if this vegan soap would meet my lather standards. Well, those fears can be laid to rest. I face lathered with my badger brush quite easily, adding about half as much water as some of the thirstier soaps. Initially, the lather is of comparable quality to the other highly regarded soaps I've reviewed here: it's slick and dense, but it does have a slightly different texture than those tallow soaps (it's fine, just different). Protection during the shave was fine, although I did need to add some water to the brush to liven up the lather on the second half of my face on the second and third passes. The post-shave face feel was good and seemed to last a couple of hours. At $9.95 for 4oz = $2.49/oz (or, if you order the huge puck, it's $15.95 for 8oz = $1.99/oz), it is either right in line with others (or cheaper than most in the larger puck). I need more shaves to see if this is a tad drier than my tallows in the later passes or if it's just me dialing in the water, but the scent is tied for #1 for me. The fact that there is a matching aftershave is a big plus. I will feature this in my rotation and would definitely buy another puck.

Mon - Mike's Peppermint & Rosemary
I already reviewed the scent. I face lathered with my Semogue 1305 boar and was reminded that Mike's soaps need more water and more swirls (which is no problem). The peppermint is medium-strength---it's there, but it's not going to knock you down or make your eyes water. Perfect strength, IMO. Note that it is peppermint, not menthol, so I could smell it but not feel it. I didn't get much of the rosemary (nor did my wife). The shave was prototypical for a Mike's product: dense, slick, (very) non-puffy lather but very protective. I did three passes, cold rinsed (could slightly feel the peppermint), the scent was mildly lingering. The post-shave face feel is also classic Mike's: in the first 30 mins, the face tightens a bit, feels extra slick (quite different than others; is that the clay?), and then in 30-60 mins the skin relaxes having soaked up all the nutrients. The lanolin/clay feel lasts half a day easily. At $8.75 for 4.5 oz = $1.94/oz, it is a solid value. The performance is first rate and the scent was interesting and pleasant, but not one I'd buy a full puck of. I'd grab other Mike's scents first.
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Wed - Barrister & Mann Cheshire
Wanted to cycle back and give this one another shot (see previous review in this thread) since I had a decent amount of chin irritation after shaving with this before. I used the badger brush this time and face lathered. The lather wasn't as dense as I remembered but was good. I did, however, experience a little more irritation on in the goatee area. I suspect it's some of the oils that make up this scent. I'll give it one more shot, with a bowl lather. Maybe the EOs directly to my face are just too much for this soap?

Fri - Barrister & Mann Cheshire
First time shaving with the same soap two times in a row! I used my recently-acquired-off-the-BST-forum Whipped Dog Silvertip Badger brush (24x48, resin handle) and bowl lathered. The lather was good, but again not as knock-your-socks off as I remember from the first time. I suspect I am just becoming jaded with all these great soaps. The shave was very good and post-shave face feel was nice. I got a minimal amount of irritation in the goatee area, but nothing at all serious. I like this scent. I'm going to shave out the rest of this sample and if I am at today's level of irritation or less, I would buy a full puck. In terms of value, Cheshire is at the higher end of the spectrum: $11 for 3.75oz = $2.93/oz.

Side note:
With so many excellently performing soaps out there, I suspect I will narrow my long-term choices to only those excellent soaps which also have a matching aftershave lotion, balm, or splash. I say this because when I find a soap with great performance and a great scent, I want that scent to last for more than a half hour (but also not smell like I swam in perfume when I enter a room). I am glad to see that B&M has (what sounds like) a high quality, all natural aftershave splash in the Cheshire scent. Gotta try it out...
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Sat - Strop Shoppe Black Tie Special Edition w/ Tallow
As mentioned before, SS soaps are A+ performers in terms of lather and this edition of Black Tie was no different. Bowl lathered with Whipped Dog Silvertip badger. IMO, all the SS scents I've experienced are very light out of the tub, but they blossom somewhat while lathering. Even then, none of them are strong; I'd say medium-light to medium strength at best. I don't know how exactly to describe the scent of Black Tie, except to say it is in the clean, very light cologne-y family. I really liked it, probably tied with Baker St for scent with both behind Alpine Frost yet both in front of Barbershoppe. It was $18.49 for 6 oz = $3.08/oz so it is at the high end of the artisan soaps I've tried. I bought two tubs when I ordered so I'm set so far as Black Tie goes.

Mon - Barrister & Mann Winter Spice
Face lathered with SOC Boar. I only had half of a standard size sample (shared the other half with someone else), so after mashing it down in my plastic bowl there was not much surface area on which to lather. Not a big deal, just took some extra swirling but this is not the soap's fault: I have lathered enough B&M soaps to know they are solid "A" latherers. What I like most about B&M is that they are bold with their scents: love 'em or hate 'em, at least they are aren't playing it safe by trying to be some middle-of-the-road-nothingness. I absolutely love this scent---it is my favorite B&M scent out of the sampler (and I really liked both Cheshire and Seville). It's just very different than anything else in all my samples: cinnamon is a main player (reminds me of Big Red gum at first), but once lathered that gives way to some other fragrances in there that I cannot put my finger on. The scent strength is perfect for me: strong enough to get a nice whiff during and after the shave, but not overpowering. Perfect for winter, but not limited to that. Although B&M does have matching after shave splashes for Seville, Cheshire, and Bay Rum, there is not a Winter Spice splash at this time. I'd certainly like to see them add that, at least in the winter. B&M always leaves that slick, noticeably clay-ey feel on my face afterwards which I enjoy. Winter Spice is $10 for 3.75oz = $2.67/oz, thus on the higher end, but worth it to me. I would order a full puck of this and use it year-round (but especially in winter).
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