#1
Just for fun I was wondering which soaps have some exotic and fun ingredients in them on the market today? I know murphyandmcneil's Kodiak base contain bear tallow which is super fun. Not sure if it holds any different technical properties from beef and mutton tallow, but very interesting nonetheless.
#2

Just Here for the Shaves
Williamsburg, KY
Areffa Soaps from Ukraine also have a bear tallow which has great antiseptic value from what I've read and other benefits. I enjoy it. They also have some Badger Tallow soaps.

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This post by Dave in KY mentions views and opinions expressed and makes it known that they are "those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DFS or any other member, agency, organization, employer or company."  Big Grin
#3
I was so intrigued I bought a couple samples. The shipping from Ukraine is super reasonable!

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#4

Member
Chicago Suburbs
Zantetsuken

You have asked a lot of great questions lately. This is another one. Although my recent evaluations have been of about 70 different razor blades, in the years before that I evaluated soaps. Over the past 10 years i have evaluated over 250 shaving soaps and creams, everything from bar soap, to canned foams and gels, to traditional hard pucks, creams and croaps, to the latest formulations from some of the top artisan soapmakers. However, there are still hundreds of additional soaps I have not tried. I keep the results of my evaluations in an Microsoft Access Database which also includes scent notes and formula ingredients.

Soaps can be made from a variety of different animal and vegetable fats. These include such things as: beet tallow, manteca (pig fat), bison tallow, duck fat, bear tallow, lamb tallow, olive oil, palm oil, castor oil, rapeseed (canola) oil, avocado oil, argan oil, Jajoba oil, coconut oil, babassu oil, emu oil, illipe butter, cupuaco butter, shea butter, cocoa butter, tucuma butter, murumuru butter, kokum butter, mango butter, cow milk, donkey milk, water buffalo milk, goat milk, sheep milk, etc. A complete list will be far longer.

As you might suspect, soaps that contain a lot of exotic ingredients tend to be somewhat expensive, but I have found the performance of many of them to be superb.

Some shave soaps are made with a few ingredients. Some shave soaps contain as many as 50. Most are somewhere in between. Some shave soaps are made of natural ingredients, Some shave soaps and many shave creams and gels contain a bunch of synthetic surfactants/detergents. Some creams are non-lathering and cannot rightly be called soaps at all.

If you do a search of my posts in the soap section, you can find the list of the soaps I currently consider Top Tier. However, not everyone agrees with my listing. My beard is very tough and my skin is quite sensitive. My water is soft and I tend to have dry skin that needs moisturizing. The soaps in my top tier satisfy all those needs.

Once you get the minimum number of posts to allow you to use the private messaging system, feel free to send me a PM if you think my input might be helpful to you.

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#5
Thank you Ray! I think that would be incredibly valuable to my shaving journey. I will also be sure to make proper use to of the Buy/Sell/Trade section as I would love a proper two band badger brush.
#6
Not sure if this is off topic, maybe it is counter-topic? But, many of the mass produced tallow soaps have gone the way of the Dodo bird. Williams, Surrey, Tabac, Lea (arko?) and many others used to be tallow based and are now vegetable based. I think that Cella may be the last of the mass produced tallow based soaps. So, there is an ingredient that used to be common, but is now exotic? Is that correct?
#7
I see your point as something that was considered commonplace yesterday can now be considered exotic today due to shifting trends and growing scarcity. I still see beef tallow being used a lot from artisanal soapmakers.

Other exotic ingredients could be what is used to scent the soaps. In the fragrance world there is also a cult following behind artisanal perfumers who use rare natural and high cost ingredients (real oud and musk) rather than synthetic accords in opposition to the profit driven big name perfumers out there. As you know fragrances is the lowest cost, highest profit margin product in the luxury world, nothing can even come close in economic viability. It is probably not a realistic expectation to expect real oud and ambergris in shaving soaps as that would cause the price to skyrocket but I am still curious what is out there.

Also not too related but would it be wise to use a synthetic brush for the first few lathers when loading darker soaps? I heard they can discolor natural brushes.

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#8

Member
Chicago Suburbs
(03-21-2024, 04:47 PM)Tedolph Wrote: Not sure if this is off topic, maybe it is counter-topic?  But, many of the mass produced tallow soaps have gone the way of the Dodo bird.  Williams, Surrey, Tabac, Lea (arko?) and many others used to be tallow based and are now vegetable based.  I think that Cella may be the last of the mass produced tallow based soaps. So, there is an ingredient that used to be common, but is now exotic?  Is that correct?

Just because a soap is not tallow based does not make it a poor quality soap. It all depends upon the producer. However, you are quite correct in your assessment of mass produced soaps. Their formulations tend to be designed to make the production cost low rather than the quality high. One example of this is the substitution of palm oil (largely palmitic acid) for tallow and stearic acid.  Stearic acid is a C18 carbon chain while palmitic acid is a C16 carbon chain. Since both of these fatty acids are saturated, this might not seem significant, but it can be.

It is interesting that olive oil is high in oleic acid which is a monounsaturated C18 carbon chain. Thus, a vegan soap can be designed using olive oil as long as it is balanced with stearic acid and other fats. By itself, olive oil can be a lather killer. The important factor in soap making is the type of fatty acids used, not the source of those fats. For example, while tallow is a good source of stearic acid, it actually contains more palmitic acid than stearic acid. On the other hand Shea butter is very high in stearic acid, yet it is sourced from Shea nuts. 

If you ever see a label that says the soap might contain several different vegetable oils, but does not specify which ones are used, run away as fast as you can. This description tells you they are using whatever oils are available at the lowest price. This practice is quite common in bath soap bars, but is best avoided for shaving soap.  The thing about palm oil is that it makes a soap extremely slippery, which some shavers like, but it you are looking for a rich, stable, protective lather, look for high amounts of stearic acid or fats that contain stearic acid.

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#9

Member
Chicago Suburbs
(03-21-2024, 06:13 PM)Zantetsuken Wrote: I see your point as something that was considered commonplace yesterday can now be considered exotic today due to shifting trends and growing scarcity. I still see beef tallow being used a lot from artisanal soapmakers.

Other exotic ingredients could be what is used to scent the soaps. In the fragrance world there is also a cult following behind artisanal perfumers who use rare natural and high cost ingredients (real oud and musk) rather than synthetic accords in opposition to the profit driven big name perfumers out there. As you know fragrances is the lowest cost, highest profit margin product in the luxury world, nothing can even come close in economic viability. It is probably not a realistic expectation to expect real oud and ambergris in shaving soaps as that would cause the price to skyrocket but I am still curious what is out there.

Also not too related but would it be wise to use a synthetic brush for the first few lathers when loading darker soaps? I heard they can discolor natural brushes.

I would not call any mass produced soap exotic. It might be difficult finding older tallow versions, but  that does not mean the tallow versions were great. They might have been great in their day, but like many things we purchase, they have been superseded by newer products. If you were in need of a new television set today, would you be shopping for a cathode ray tube TV with standard resolution or a flat panel TV with full HD, QHD, 4K or even 8K resolution and Dolby Vision. 

There were two traditional soaps that I considered worthy of recommendation. They were Tabac and Mitchell's Wool Fat. However, that was back when they were tallow based. Both soaps have been reformulated to eliminate tallow. I have not used either of the new formulations, so I do not know how they compare to the older versions.

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#10
I think that we all got a little off track here. I did not say anything about the relative merits of tallow v. tallowless soaps. I merely noted that an ingredient in mass produced soaps that used to be common, is now uncommon in that class of soaps.

I purposely avoided making any assertions about the relative merits of tallow v. tallowless soaps so that we would not go down that rabbit hole (although I do have an opinion).

Nevertheless, thank you RayClem for the chemistry lesson that followed. I learned something.

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