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#1
Hey guys,

I have been looking back over some of the stuff I used to write for a blog and realised that DFS was created after so some of you may have not seen these random reviews I did.

So what I am going to do is post them in this thread. There is a few and they are quite long so I wouldn't try and read them all in one go.

Feel free to comment on them and post your thoughts.

Hope you are all well Smile
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.
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#2
Hello, I am Oli also known on some of the forums and Twitter as Windsor Citrus. I have written a review of Cold River Soap Works for The Path to Smoothness. A little about me, I started traditional wet shaving about two years ago. In that time I have shaved with Double Edge, Single Edge, Shavette and Straight Razors. I like to think I know a little about shaving soaps a I have probably tried around 100 in the past two years. I started traditional wet shaving for the same reason as many - cartridge razors gave me ridiculous irritation, razor burn and ingrown hairs. When I discovered traditional wet shaving - after watching that famous James Bond scene in Skyfall - I thought everyone was mad that this old fashioned way of grooming would save me a whole lot of trouble, little did I know I was the one that was mad for not believing it. Enough of me, enjoy the review.

Cold River Soap Works is owned by Larry and has been around for the past few years. Larry started with a couple of different lines of shaving soap, Classic and Original. I will admit I didn't try either of these lines, why? He brought his Select line out and stopped producing the other two lines when it came round to me buying some.

Cold River Soap Works Select Soap has probably one of the greatest line ups of ingredients known to shaving soaps. For me, and for those that have tried it I am sure you will join me in saying it is one of the best performing soaps in the market. Those top ingredients include, Tallow, Kokum Butter, Shea Butter and Lanolin. I am no scientist or expert in the field of explaining the facts behind these ingredients so I will not try, I will just say it is a well known fact that these ingredients make for a great post shave feel. This can be seen in other well known artisans with great soaps such as Barrister and Mann and Mikes Natural Soap.

The lather these soaps create is rich and creamy. It can stand up to a lot of added water making this a very slick soap. I have heard others say it's not as slick as some - that maybe the case but I have found that it is on a par with other soaps I consider to be very slick. Whether bowl or face lathered this soap is quite something, it adds a cushion that protects like a steel fortress. Pair this with a good pre shave such as Mickey Lee SoapWorks Pre Shave Butter and you will be laughing as your razor glides across your face like an ice rink while it mows down every hair in sight.

So what do I own, my current line up of CRSW shaving soaps is:
Citrus
Almond
Vetiver Moderné
Spring Limited Edition
Winter Limited Edition
Paradise Limited Edition (For the forum The Shave Nook)

As you can see I do not own loads of his soaps but I will not buy a soap just for the label, I need to like the scent. My take on the scents I have:

Citrus: A sweet citrus scent with a sharpness to it and a slight peppery scent. Mainly made up of oranges supported by grapefruit. Not like any other Citrus I know but my favourite scent of all time

Almond: Not the marzipan scent usually found in almond soaps. This is more nutty, dry almond scent with a slight floral backing. It's not a sweet scent.

Vetiver Moderné: This is my first ever Vetiver soap, I have never brought one because I didn't think I would like it but the scent description on this intrigued me. It has a sweetness to it with dark red fruit notes rounding it off nicely. It makes me think of red wine - don't ask me why.

The word refined comes to mind when having a good sniff of Larry's soaps. They are takes on very common scents but they fall into a different category to most, this makes them special and not all the same.

One of my favourite things about Larry's Select Line of soaps is that he bolsters it with exciting Limited Edition soaps. Larry's three seasonal soaps so far have been winners all around. He also released Paradise for the Forum The Shave Nook, I don't know the background behind this but I can say it's a great place with good people. My take on the limited edition soaps I have:

Winter: A true winter scent, minty pines rounded of with a sweet cranberry reminds me of Christmas morning walks with the dogs.

Spring: A green floral scent, with very slight lemon notes giving it a brightness. Similar to the Green Irish Tweed scent with a more refined touch than other interpretations on the scent.

Paradise: Straight out the blocks with a coconut scent, the coconut or something else gives it a slight sweetness. I find it bringing back memories of hot holidays on a sandy beach - wait a minute!

What else is good about these soaps other than great performance and scents? - lots I tell you! The standout other feature would be the presentation of Larry's soap. The tins/tubs are a gun metal grey colour with black labels, this gives the tins a sleek professional look which is my favourite type. Don't get me wrong other artisans such as Caties Bubbles and RazoRock have nice fun labels with bright colours and pictures relating to the scent but they do not shout class, sophistication and elegance like Cold River does. The size of the tub is a big plus too, It isn't a cheap soap at £25 or $25 in the US, however for 6 ounces of soap you can't fault the price for the quality you get.

So is there any cons to Larry's soaps, not really. It is hard to find anything wrong with his soaps but if I where to think outside of my perspective two things come to mind. Firstly there is no Vegan alternative and that does cut out a proportion of people. Secondly he doesn't do an unscented soap, which I am sure those who have super sensitive skin would love to see - I don't know why this isn't a possibility, I am sure there is a reason for this. In relation to the vegan soap, I am sure this is down to the fact Larry is doing very well with his Select line and this will be taking up all of his time therefore just doesn't need to produce a vegan soap nor have time. This being said I am not privy to Larry's business strategy, he may make those people hoping of the above two things very happy tomorrow and surprise us all.

I have spoken to Larry through email once or twice enquiring about bits and bobs. He has always emailed back promptly and politely, I have heard the same from many others. I have never had the need to test how far his customer service will go but again have heard great things. If you buy from Larry or from a CRSW dealer you are most likely in great hands.

So what would I like to see in the future from Larry and CRSW. I am always excited to see what seasonal scent he will do next. Winter and Spring were top class scents and I have heard that Fall was too. I am already looking forward to summer. What scent would I like the next seasonal to be?! I would like to see some menthol included, enough to be cooling but not enough to put those off that aren't fans of to much. The second thing would be to see a sweet desert like scent in his everyday Select line. I personal love those types of scents and I think Larry could pull it off without it being a novelty. I would love to see a refined (there's that word again) Banoffee Pie scent, mushy Bananas, caramel, buttery creaminess = drooling!

All in all Larry's Select line of soaps is the best I have come across beating other big names hands down. If you don't own any of Larry's soaps why not?! Go and grab some. Please feel free to reply or give you opinions on what I have said.
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.
#3
Today I finally finished my collection of Cold River Soap Works Shaving Soaps. The only ones I have missing now are a few that Larry has removed from the line up - Sandalwood, Lavender and Savon #1. These may return in the future but being more winter scents I think Larry has made the right decision to remove them for now.

There have been a few other changes going on at Cold River and I can honestly say I agree with them completely. The packaging and tin design have remained the same - thank god - but the amount of soap has decreased to 4 oz. A nice change in the price reflects the change and you can now grab yourself a tin for the bargain price of $16.50 (£10.60). This is good news for many shavers and now brings Cold River Soaps into their acceptable price bracket. The change in amount of soap in the tin has now left a really nice space to build a lather without throwing soap around the room and the missus getting upset.

Larry himself has released a small update, check it out here - http://shavenook.com/thread-cold-river-s...ks-updates

One of my main reasons for writing this is to give you a brief description on the scents. Remember this is subjective and it will be different for many. This is my take on the scents I have now received:

Bergamot and Bay - A scent I avoided for a long time because of the word Bay, I am not a fan of Bay Rum, usually because of the silly amount of clove going on in many variations. However after reading many a review and realising this wasn't the case I grabbed this in the recent sale before the changes came in. It really does have a blast of sweet bergamot at the beginning making it a refreshing start, it quickly incorporates the bay leaf that spices it up and removes some of the sweetness and rounds it out. In the background there is a subtle tobacco scent, it's quite hard to detect but brings the whole package together to make a truly spectacular manly scent.

Puro Fresco - I don't know why I haven't brought this sooner as the scent description is right up my street. There are many versions of this type of scent on the market, a mix of tea, ginger, bergamot etc. This is one that has caught me sniffing the tin several times in the last few hours. Opens with a blast of tea and lemon, straight way makes me think of iced tea on hot summer days lying around in the garden. It finishes with a beautiful understated floral rose scent, that envelopes the whole meaning of what Larry was trying to achieve. I personally cannot detect the ginger in this one maybe that Is something that will come out during the shave. If only Larry could add the scent of my dogs tongue then it would really remind me of TRYING to relax in the garden!

Fougère Moderne - This is slightly difficult for me to review as it is my first Fougère scent, I know it is Larry's Modern take on this timeless classic so will demonstrate characteristics not present in other Fougères. I must admit I might have to branch out into this world a little more because this is quite intoxicating. A real mix of many components but my nose is letting me down to single them out, please go to the Cold River's Website and check out Larry's description. I will add to this that if you are a Tabac enthusiast then be ready to engage in a love affair with this soap. It is a near match with a finish that is slightly different to Tabac and once again I will pull out that word 'refined' and bravely or foolishly say this is better - I leave it up to you to decide.

Jardin D'Orange - Larry's surprise new scent, if you know me you can imagine my excitement at reading the description of this soap because of my infatuation with orange based scents. I am going to tell you now that this soap will have you searching for tours of orange groves just so you can recreate the lush scent the emits itself from the tin. I would say the three obvious scents in this beautiful crafted soap are Orange, Lemon and a green scent that I would describe as the stem of a leaf - odd I know. All three pull together, and make Larry's quote of "like walking through a blossoming orange grove" a reality. I can sense that this is exactly what it would be like on a windy day in a grove picking up all the scents around you, with the orange and citrus upfront followed by the green of the orange trees - A great summer scent all round, buy it while it's about.

I would like to add a short line to say I haven't had chance to shave with the last three soaps and this may lead to changes in the scent when lathered. I have done this for the purposes of getting these initial comments out to you guys, if I feel that they change dramatically I will update you all accordingly.

Larry has mentioned his summer soap is on the way soon and I am looking forward to what cocktail of essential oils he has put together for us. Until then with my collection complete Audrey will have to wait to take my money for another time. Keep a look out for this, it promises to be another master piece. All of Larry's products can be found here - http://www.coldriversoapworks.com

Enjoy whatever you are up to in the coming weeks and stay tuned for some exciting bits coming up on Path to Smoothness.

Stay Smooth,

Windsor Citrus.

P.S I would like to take a quick opportunity to say I am not affiliated with Cold River in any way, I have recently been a very outward lover of the soaps and my reason for this is; They cannot be beaten for performance and being a super fussy scent person it is quite remarkable I like everyone of CRSW scents.
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.
#4
I am writing this review while sat in the garden on a hot English day, my face is baby butt smooth - as they say - and I feel a million dollars. Back when I shaved with a cartridge I would avoid the hot weather the best I could because sweating from a freshly shaven face would be like rubbing salt into a wound. Today my skin feels refreshed, hydrated and irritation free. Why is this?! Well to start with traditional wet shaving helps but today I feel good because of the effect one product has on my skin. That product is Mickey Lee Soap Works Pre Shave Butter.

Mickey Lee has not been around that long, they started developing soaps, moved on the balms and now they have possibly created one of the finest pre shaves on the market, in my opinion. If your a beard guy they do oils for your nest!

Remember pre shaves were created to prepare and protect to improve that post shave feel not to impact the shave glide or slickness. They can do this but it's not the main function.

So what is this pre shave butter? The ingredients are listed on the lid as, Coconut Oil, Glycerin, Avacado Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Jojoba Oil and Essential Oils. I think Mickey Lee thought they would throw together a bunch of great skin feeling oils and see what happened or they know what they are doing. This pre shave has been called a butter for a reason, it looks like butter in the jar and it melts in the warm weather. It appears in the jar like a cream but once you have scooped it up it turns into an oily substance.

This product is super easy to use, just wet your face prior to applying, scoop up a small amount the size of the end of your little finger, put it into your palm and rub it together. This breaks it down and then massage it into your face. Leave it on while you load your brush. Splash some water on to your face but not to much, you do not want to wash it all off. Lather over the top and carry on as normal. There should be no reason to reapply during the shave, it is already working its magic.

When you rub it between your hands it going to feel like an oil would do, massaging this into your face is one luxury of using it. It's at the end of the shave that this product shines. I could easily not use a balm when this is in play. Simply my face feels great, pair it with a good balm though and you will leave your face feeling like its spent the day at the spa - for a tiny fraction of the price.

There current line up of scents is Peppermint, Lime and Lavender. I only have Lime, Lavender isn't my thing but I will purchase the Peppermint once my Proraso Green Cream is gone. The Lime is such an amazing lime scent you want to eat it, in fact my girlfriend has tried to eat it, turns out the essential oils don't taste that great in the mouth. It is a real lime scent mixed with a slight creaminess which to me shouts key lime pie, happens to be a favourite of mine. It's a strange thing to say but the scent matches the product well and the way it appears. Now Mickey Lee if you could just make this lime in one of your amazing shaving soaps that would be great!

Does this pre shave have a down side, no but it can leave a small residue in the sink. Not as bad as a normal pre shave oil and its nothing a little hot water and a two second rub with your fingertips will not sort out - it's worth it. One other down side at the moment is that they only do the three scents but I am sure this will change.

This buttery goodness comes well packaged in a small tub. Larger that Proraso pre and Post shave cream and for that reason contains more product. Enough to last quite some time as long as you don't over use it. The tub is translucent with a with a white lid, Mickey Lee's logo and detailing, finishing it off nicely. The whole tub is currently $10 and in my opinion that is a good price. There is a lot of other pre shaves out there that don't work nearly as well as this and have a fraction of the product for more money.

My favourite bit, what would I like to see next. Well for this fantastic product it is only one thing - more scents. They have a citrus, a floral and a minty fresh scent so far so I would like to see a sweeter scent, such as Maraschino Cherries and Almond I think this would work well and then maybe an orange citrus, why? Oranges are different to your standard lime or lemon and they already have that.

Anyway, they are my thoughts, feelings and views on this fine product, what are yours? Do you currently own one? What would you like to see? Are your views the same or different to mine? If you want to give them a try follow this link - http://www.mickeyleesoapworks.com

Most of all have a great day and enjoy your shaves,
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.
#5
This is a very basic review of Soapy Bathman's Just Bananas shaving soap. Mike recently wrote a long and detailed review so I don't really need to write much more as I agree with nearly everything he has said. Before I start I just want to say a big thanks to Mike for sending this to me to try. So, time to crack on!

I thought the lather was really good, thick and creamy as expected. It took some time to build up but when it does there is nothing stopping it. I did find that it took on water quite well which is something Mike had that was different to me.

The post shave felt very good, my face didn't feel tight and I reckon I could get away without a balm. To be honest it's quite hard to choose which balm to use when you don't really have anything that goes with banana!

The banana scent was different, I did think it was a little synthetic at first. Once lathered and on the face I thought it was closer to the real thing. It has some similarities to a moist banana bread. I liked it as it reminded me of my mums cooking.

The only thing I don't like about this soap is the look of it. I know this isn't of extreme importance but I must say it looks like some sort of chemical warfare has taken place in the jar. The soap is speckled and I think it's a little unsightly.

Make sure you check out Soapy Bathman's full range of products. He has a great deal of scents, some look quite unique - I like the sound of the refreshing mint. I know he does bath soaps which also come highly rated and I will look to try at some point.

Overall to me this is a good performing soap, with fun packaging, in a tub big enough to last you a year.
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.
#6
A veteran and traditional shaving enthusiast turned full time soap maker, Eric is now one of the most respected artisan soap makers in the business. This being said, for the quality of the soaps this guy makes I sometimes wonder why it is not spoken about more. Hopefully this review will get some chins wagging for Reef Point Soaps.

With an all star cast of ingredients there is no wonder why the soap is this good. In these soaps you will find, Potassium Stearate, Potassium Tallowate, Sodium Stearate, Sodium Tallowate, Potassium Cocoate, Potassium Ricinoleate, Potassium Shea Butterate, Glycerin, Fragrance, Sodium Cocoate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Sodium Shea Butterate, Shea Butter. For me two of these main parts stand out - Tallow and Shea Butter. Probably two of the most desired ingredients to many wet shavers. I know this makes it a non veggie soap, alas, he has a vegan soap formula too - you have not been left out!

Been a convert himself Eric knew exactly what consumers would want from a shaving soap lather. Putting his fascination with chemistry to the test he created one of the most dense, creamy and explosive lathers around making his customers submit to its almighty power - something he must have taken from his days in the navy. Rivalled by very few this lather has some serious cushion and slickness to it making you feel safe enough to put a lethally sharp blade to your face. The post shave is something to remember leaving your face soft, supple and full of moisture.

With soap scents named Admiralty, Submariner, Aviator and Test Depth you know where you stand. I admire Eric for making some great scents with good strength and that are very different to others on the market. I have tried a fair few, many of them as samples and I recommend every single one. The full tubs I have are Espresso, Sublime and Admiralty, for your benefit I will describe them.

Sublime: Lime and Lemon combined with a light (very light) menthol feel. It smells like a sherbet sweet, refreshing on a hot day and pairs well with Geo F Trumper Lime Skin Food.

Admiralty: I will admit I PIF'd this recently as I liked it but it was not top of my list. I hoped it would be more of the Japanese Yuzu, which is a grapefruit/mandarin cross. I got more of the woody notes but all in all it is a light citrus scent with stronger sandalwood forefront. If you like the woody scents I ensure you will love this.

Espresso: The flag ship soap for me, described as coffee, caramel and burnt sugar. I can detect all of these with ease and they blend together to make what I can only describe as a scent similar to coffee cake - a great morning pick me up.

Coming from a veteran you will not be surprised to know that these soaps have a whole load of pride thrown into their design. The perfectly sized tubs are topped with good waterproof stickers bearing the Reef Point logo. The new blue tubs are finished with a great nautical design and colour scheme. Carrying 6oz of soap you can't go wrong at $17.99 (£11.90) for one. It will take one hell of a brush bombardment to get through that!

Any weaknesses? This is the Navy, hell no! Joking aside, I don't have any quarrels with this soap. I would however love to see a little more menthol in them. I am no menthol junkie but come summer there is a level I like to hit - take me to those deep dark and icy cold depths.

I have heard that Eric has not stopped serving the public and his customer service is quite something. I doubt that this man would settle for anything less than first place. If you have an issue then be sure to make contact, I am sure it will be resolved.

What would I like to see next, he has quite the fleet of products but I would like to see a pre shave. I know Eric created the soap so that a pre shave wasn't necessary but I think with his form so far a pre shave would be a knockout. I have already said that I would also like to see a slightly stronger menthol soap but sometimes you can't always have what you want.

Other than the soaps Reef Point do some cracking other products. Check out their balm, aftershave splash and bath soaps. The Espresso balm goes with nearly any sweeter scented soaps and I have heard that their Shock and Awe splash is amazing. Unfortunately due to shipping restrictions it's not available in the UK. Check out all the products at http://reefpointsoaps.com

Overall these are destroyer class soaps which shout Pride, Discipline, Boldness and Strength. I applaud the effort put into making them and all the other products. I urge you to get out there and get some. Even better, pair them with another veterans amazing shaving brushes (Peter - Wolf Whiskers) and you have a match made by Poseidon himself!

Keep what you have earned - a freshly shaven face,

Enjoy your shaves,
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.
#7
Hot summer days like today seem to inspire me to write about shaving stuff, it also inspires the use of mentholated shaving soaps and products, which I will be reviewing a top five in the near future. Today though I am going to review the legend that is, Barrister and Mann. Founded in March 2013 by the Albert Einstein of soap scents - Will Carius. Supported by his family Will operates out of Boston, creating a homemade soap that has touched the faces of many a wet shaver and is still one of the most recommended soaps to all newcomers. Fending off stiff competition from other artisans B&M has remained a staple in my den.

Here is the ingredient list for B&M soaps: Potassium Stearate, Sodium Stearate, Potassium Tallowate, Sodium Tallowate, Beer, Glycerin, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Ricinoleate, Fragrance, Coconut Milk, Potassium Kokum Butterate, Sodium Kokum Butterate, Unrefined Shea Butter, Potassium Cocoate, Sodium Cocoate, Lanolin, Allantoin, Silk Protein, Tocopherol Acetate. As per the other great artisan soaps you will notice the all star cast of ingredients included in that list, Tallow, Kokum Butter, Shea Butter and Lanolin - Four ingredients I rate highly. If you want to know what all of these ingredients are, then log on to the B&M website where there is some great descriptions. I have added the link - http://www.barristerandmann.com/pages/ta...ngredients . Will also has a vegan formulation that I have not tried and you can find the ingredients for this also on the website.

Have you ever grabbed double cream, whipped it up and put it on your face?!....No, I haven't either! But I am guessing it would be similar to what a lather produced from this soap would feel like. Thick and creamy is the name of he game here, with the above ingredients all playing a part I am not surprised. Will advises that this formulation is very thirsty and he is not wrong, it loves a drink and can easily with-stand an enormous amount of water. With patience and good practise you can make this lather shine above all others and because of the large intake of water this soap can be super slick - I am talking oil spill slick. A great post shave feel finishes off what is always a fantastic shave.

Will is known by many as creating some of the most incredible scents on the market, he seems to have a talent for capturing a scent that resembles the exact mood he was aiming for. Great examples can be seen of this with scents like Leviathan, Diamond and Adagio. As always I will try to give my impressions on the scents I have come across.

Cheshire - Like an earl grey tea, with a slight citrus fruit component. It's very bright and invigorating.

Seville - Very similar to Cheshire in a way but not as bright scented. It is the closest thing to a real barbershop scent that I have found. People say they get an orange hint in this, I do not but its still a great scent.

Adagio - I pick out cherry in the forefront with a backing of lime. It then settles into a floral scent and smells like a flower I know but can't remember the name. Very slight menthol in this gives it a mild cooling but it is not a face freezing frenzy.

Leviathan - My Dad's favourite, a smokey scent with a load of leather - A great man's scent. I didn't like this to begin with however it grew on me and now I love it.

Orange and Cedarwood - A great orange scent, one of my favourites. I do prefer Mike's Natural version very slightly because of the black pepper element. I find the B&M soap changes dramatically to which part is the stronger, orange or cedarwood.

Diamond - Made to celebrate the start of the baseball season with all the scents that would come from a game in this soap. Being British I don't really follow baseball but I do love many other sports and regularly go to watch them. This scent is so clever it reminds me of all of them, a mix of grass (the closest to that fresh cut grass smell), dirt and caramel. My favourite of all the B&M scents.

Rhapsody - I really can't describe this scent very well other than it's a darker fruit scent with a whole load of spice. It's ok in my opinion, it's another of my Dad's favourites.

When I first started writing small reviews I wrote a piece on the presentation of shaving tubs and tins. This is a big thing to me, appearance is important - something my father taught me. During that review Barrister and Mann triumphed gallantly to take the crown as King of the Tubs. This was down to the simple yet elegant design of the tubs, good water proof stickers and a great size for loading your brush. This hasn't changed, other than the introduction of the newer translucent tubs and colourful labels for some of the limited edition soaps. Not many soap companies compete with B&M in this department. You can pick up Wills soaps from all over the place and he has done a great job of spreading his wings opening up his product to new people. I will say for those of us in the UK Wills shipping costs are very competitive and I have no problem paying it for what you get. A tub will cost you in the region of $13-22 (£9-15) for 4oz of soap, the prices vary depending on the oils used. You can go a little lower and grab the cheaper Latha soap for $10 or grab a Fougère for $35 for the ultimate classy experience.

It's always difficult to think of a con to some of these great artisans and mine would have been that Barrister and Mann did not produce a few basic scents that are simple and easy to get along with, I was always buying hoping I would like it but not really sure because you just don't know how the scent mixes will turn out. This being said Will rescued some of my faith and created the Black Label Line, these four soaps showed that Will could create magnificent simplicity. Therefore I don't really have a con.

Will is quite the gent and will do anything for his customers. There was a bit of a taboo recently with US artisan soaps being sold in the UK because of EU laws. Well there is rumour Will jumped on this and found a loop hole which he is working on just so he can offer his soaps on the UK market, full credit to him for effort.

What would I like to see next, well a small expansion on his black label line would be nice just to offer one or two more normal scents. Other than that "keep doing what you are doing" is what I say.

Be sure to check out the rest of Wills products. He has several aftershave balms and splashes on sale, and do not forget his Latha range, great performing soap at a very affordable price. Samples of the soaps are available at Maggards. You can check all of Wills products out here - http://www.barristerandmann.com

As a conclusion to this I will say just this, if you haven't tried this soap you are missing out, to me it is only rivalled by one other artisan Cold River Soap Works - hmmm maybe a CRSW vs B&M thread should be done! Stop hesitating and go and buy yourself some Barrister and Mann....or another jar of this fantastic soap!

Have a great day and keep on shaving,
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.
#8
As many of you know I will shortly be writing a review of some great mentholated soaps. When I originally posted this on some forums to find out what mentholated soaps people wanted me to review it wasn't long before John of LA Shaving emailed me and asked if I would like to test out his new shaving soap which contained menthol. John was very generous and sent me a sample in the post all the way from the USA. As this is my first soap from LA Shaving this is only going to be a small review as I have only tried this one example but I would like to share my findings and talk about this very interesting soap!

When this soap arrived it had been mashed up by the postman, it wasn't a pretty site! I managed to save it and get it into a tub for testing. My initial thoughts were that is was quite a soft soap but after a few days it firmed up quite a bit and ended up being a similar consistency of Dapper Dragon Soaps. I am not going to lie and say I liked the scent straight away, it was quite pungent and to my nose, rough around the edges, this changed when it was lathered and I will speak about it shortly.

Before I go any further I want to discuss the most interesting thing about this soap - which is one of the main ingredients - Cabernet Sauvignon, yes! wine! Very little of you will know that I am a big wine lover so this soap intrigued me massively. Cabernet Sauvignon is an extremely popular wine and usually has black current notes and is a full bodied wine, this comes across in the soap scent when lathered as I would describe it as a full bodied and bold scent. Now if only John can make a soap that matches my favourite grape variety - a Zinfandel, particularly those from California.

As mentioned I wasn't a huge fan of the scent of the soap out of the tub. This all changed when lathered and it lost those rough edges and became a smooth and soft scent with a bunch of characteristics and a long finish. The deeper notes of the wine mixed with the new emerging fruitier notes was pleasant to the nose. It is described as being similar to a Sangria and it's not far off. I think John has captured the scent he set out to create. I have added the description from the website for your own reading:

"Beginning with a full bottle of cabernet, we blend a variety of vegetable oils (stearic acid, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and avocado oil), add a healthy dollop of vegetable glycerin and menthol, and scented it with sea buckthorn, rose, lime, bergamot, clary sage, orange, vanilla, jasmine, petitgrain lemon and geranium, for a wonderful almost menthol sangria scent, that makes for a rich and cooling shave."

You can't ask for much more than a good creamy lather. This whipped up really nicely and felt good on the face, It was stable and dependable and had a great shine to it. I felt it wasn't the slickest soap but still a great performer. As for the menthol levels they are subtle but present, it doesn't seem like the menthol is around to freeze your face off, rather give a slight cooling sensation. A nice touch to quite a dark soap and gives it that much needed lift making it a summer/Spring soap rather than a winter soap.

After the shave my face felt great, I will not go as far to say the best but it was close and I could have gotten away without having to use a balm with a slight tightness in the skin. I will add, my face seems to react very well Tallow based soaps and this is not one of those - It came close to being as good. As a veggie soap it performed well, above my expectations and left me feeling good all day.

As a conclusion I would say this is a really nice soap which should be a must buy for veggie soap users but also a good buy for others. Do not judge the scent straight out of tub, lather it up and then have a whiff. I am going to look forward to testing some more of LA Shaving soaps in the future. I like the look of the Eucalyptus, Mint and Vanilla!

Oh and if any of you Californians out there come the UK feel free to bring me a bottle of Cypher Winery's Anarchy wine it's a bottle I have been wanting to try for some time!
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.
#9
Over the coming week I will be releasing a review of the top 5 mentholated soaps on the market all chosen by you!

A couple of months ago, I asked people to tell me on the shaving forums what their three favourite mentholated soaps were. Having added up the results it was apparent I was going to have some fun trying these face freezing monsters. Many of you wanted me to include - the legend that is - Proraso Green as a base for my findings. I agree that this is a great idea so I will be comparing each to Proraso throughout.

The five lucky winners are:
Mystic Waters Prospect Creek
Stirling Glacial (I picked Lemon Chill)
Chiselled Face Groomatorium Cryogen
Mr Kramperts Frostbite
Queen Charlotte Soaps Iced Key Lime

(Some of the close runners up were, Caties Bubbles Mile High Menthol, Ingrams, Nannys Ice and Slice, Yeti Snot)

How is this going to work?! Well, I am going to talk about each separately. This will not be a full review of each as the main component we are looking at is the menthol levels and performance, I will use five categories to show my findings and come to a conclusion as to which is my favourite.

Categories:
Intro - A brief outline of the soap and initial impressions.
Performance - How it performs in the lather, shave and post shave.
Menthol - The level of menthol with a score out of 10.
Scent - Can a strong menthol soap have a great scent?
Proraso - Comparison to the famous Proraso Green.

Stay tuned over the coming days for each soap review and my findings, it is sure to be quite chilling! - ok that was terrible but I couldn't think of anything else, see you soon.

Stay Smooth,

Windsor Citrus


Mystic Waters Prospect Creek

Intro - I am not going to lie, probably one of the most recommended out of the bunch. Michelle is known for some cracking soaps however up until this point I had only tried one sample of her soap the week before. This soap comes in a simple white tub with a very basic but convenient water proof label. I pushed the soap down into the tub to increase the loading area. A tallow based soap, surely something I am going to like?!

Performance - People always moan about this soaps ability to produce a good lather, I am telling you now you will be rewarded for taking a little more time and treating it like a woman! With this in mind this soap will create a rich, creamy and stable lather. During the shave it is slick and protective building a real barrier between the blade and your skin. You can feel the slickness of the soap when you rinse and your fingertips glide effortlessly across your face. Where this soap excels is in the post shave properties, this one in particular doesn't even contain lanolin that Michelle includes in other soaps but still leaves your face feeling silky smooth and moisturised. I didn't detect any tightness in my skin and I could of easily walked away without using a balm but that would be no fun.
Menthol - I must say the menthol in this is relatively low. I have heard others say it's super cold, in my opinion I would say it's more than a slight chill but not an absolute face freezer. I liked it a lot and it was extremely refreshing but it didn't have the bite that some of the other soaps have. I would say a great soap for a menthol newbie, something to get your senses going but not leave you without any feeling in your face for the rest of the day. My menthol level for this soap is a 5/10.

Scent - A brilliantly superb Peppermint scent. I have come across some peppermint soaps prior to this and they are just to strong for my taste. This is well balanced and smooth, I wouldn't want to change this soap scent but it intrigues me to think what a small amount of cranberry would do to it! I am impressed by this scent I like it a lot.

Proraso - I will use this chance to say that I am not a lover of the performance of Proraso however I do like the scent and menthol levels. In my opinion if you were to compare these two Mystic Waters would win hands down because of performance. In terms of scent I think they are pretty even and I also think they are very even in the menthol department. Some will disagree with me but in my opinion I can't feel a lot of difference.

Stick around for Stirling Glacial!


Stirling Glacial Lemon Chill

Intro - What a difference a good tub makes?! It's nice to see Stirling upgrading and it's nice to see the change of formula which in my opinion removes the animal smell from the soap. I have tried this soap in the past and one of the reasons i never kept it was because I felt the menthol made it unstable- has that changed? Stirling is probably the best soap here in terms of cost to ounce ratio.

Performance - The improvement in the formula has certainly improved the soap. I did find that the soap held a lot of water and the soap really improved on the second pass. It was rich and slick, not as much protection as some of the others but enough to give a comfortable shave. Post shave was very good, I don't feel like I could have gotten away without a balm but It was close and certainly not bad. I am happy to report that I felt the lather was very stable compared to my last dance with this very popular soap.

Menthol - Everyone knows that the Glacial range has a lot of menthol. I did feel as though it wasn't as strong as the last Glacial I used and this may have contributed to improved stability of the soap. This is still a real face freezer and will make you weep a little. I wouldn't recommend this if your not sure on the menthol front. This soap really comes into its own when it's a hot day - unfortunately in the UK that is rare! On one of the days I tested it I came home from a run and it was a super hot day, the soap relieved my burning face and was quite refreshing. My menthol level for this soap is a 8.5/10.

Scent - I am not sure on the scent of this soap, don't get me wrong it is nice but it reminds me of Lemon Sherbets - a sweet I like but wouldn't smear on my face. If you like lemon then go for it, I would personally recommend getting the Orange Chill instead. In my opinion a better scent and nearly as cold. A nice scent but not the best, however if you don't like lemon then remember there are other scents in the Glacial line.

Proraso - There isn't much of a comparison in these two, the scents are ok and many people will really like them. The performance really separates Stirling from Proraso as the post shave is worlds apart. They are very different in the levels of menthol with Stirling being a considerably stronger - this will be very subjective to people's tastes which they prefer.

Look out for Chiseled Face Groomatorium Cryogen!



Chiseled Face Groomatorium

Intro - Said to be the coldest soap going, reviews have all come with the heading BEWARE! I have been looking forward to this one just to see if I can take it. Other than the soap it self the packaging is great with a large tub brilliant for loading the brush. However do not push hard if you load in the tub this is a very soft soap and you will get large chucks coming off in the bristles that will just devastate the lather.

Performance - This is one strange soap in the performance field. It has tallow so you would think of rich and creamy lathers but it has huge amounts of menthol that may compromise that thought. Unfortunately in my opinion the menthol levels did effect the performance and the lather would look amazing one minute and then I would look up and it would appear very thin. I have tried hundreds of soaps and never had an issue lathering them, I am not saying I am not getting this soap wrong but it is unlikely. On a plus to this the soap did leave one of the slickest residues ever and I never had an uncomfortable shave, I would have just preferred a thicker creamier lather. I have tried other chiseled Face soaps and I can assure you this is not the case with the whole range.

Menthol - Have you ever sniffed a soap and thought you may have singed your nasal hairs?! I have and it was this soap that did that to me! Oh my days, this soap has more menthol than anything I have come across. When it's on your face it feels like it's burning through you skin - in a good way if that's possible. It could put fires out this soap is so cold, leave the lid off to long and return to your bathroom half an hour later and expect to walk into an ice age of glaciers and polar bears. Not for the faint hearted - however do give it to your partner to sniff and not tell them what's coming, I did find that particularly funny. On a serious note this soap is strong and I cope with menthol well, I enjoyed using it in the few really hot days we had recently but since then I haven't felt like using it because it's so cold it's not even needed on a mild day. My menthol level for this soap is 10/10.

Scent - I can't say much about the soap scent as it doesn't have any scent as it only contains menthol. This itself does have a strong minty scent to it but it's nothing special in my eyes but others may love it. If you are looking for menthol and you are not bothered about the scent then go for this soap. Again I would add that Chiseled Face has a range of other soaps with some very intriguing scents, have you tried Redneck? - great scent for the bikers and car enthusiasts.

Proraso - Proraso trumps this soap for scent as I can't say Cryogen would win that battle with no actual scent profile. I would say Cryogen edges the performance as it did provide a comfortable shave even though the lather doesn't look as nice as Proraso's might. These two couldn't be more different when it comes to menthol, Cryogen is literally like standing on the surface of Pluto and Proraso like dipping your toes in the pool at a lido.

Next up Kramperts Frostbite!


Kramperts Frostbite

Intro - I love the tub - my favourite of the bunch - it actually makes you feel cold looking at it. A really great design and good size for lathering. The tub is see-through and as the soap is crystal white it reminds me of snow. This is a vegan soap made by the Soap Smooth company for Kramperts and has many great reviews all over the Internet. Across all the forums I asked for people's preferences and I received the most Private Messages about this soap telling me how much I was going to love it. Mr Kramperts himself even contacted me to say good luck and urged me to get the soap with the matching aftershave which I had every intention of doing until I found out getting it to the UK was a massive issue - so I apologise Mr Kramperts I didn't get the chance to use them together.

Performance - This soap is a stable performer I wouldn't say the best but by far the not the worse. I enjoyed using it and the menthol didn't seem to effect the lather in any way. I could whip this up in seconds and get a great shave. I did think the post shave wasn't as good as those with tallow but that may be my bias towards those types of soaps.

Menthol - This was another soap that people where saying "watch out its cold". I didn't find it was anything to be wary of and I could use this in the winter and not be bothered by the menthol - It is mild and nothing to get your knickers in a twist about. I have heard others saying it's the aftershave that really ramps it up to freezer temperature so if you get the chance please try that if you want the extra kick. It is a refreshingly cool soap that is very pleasing on a mild day or after sports when your face gets particularly hot. My menthol rating for this soap is 6/10.

Scent - This has a peppermint scent to it which is just within the acceptable levels of what I like a peppermint soap to be. I was a little devastated when I sniffed this for the first time to get a strong backing note of Frankincense as I thought this ruined the peppermint. I was relieved to find that this scent was not at all present during the shave and I really enjoyed this soap while using it.

Proraso - I am torn if I prefer the scent of Proraso or Frostbite, I can't make my mind up. The peppermint isn't as nice as Mystic Water in my mind. I would say Proraso and Frostbite are pretty level scent wise but if minty scents is not your thing I would choose Proraso. Performance is a no brainer as Frostbite is stable and very dependable soap that will not let you down. The menthol levels are close but Frostbite edges it fractionally.

Look out for Queen Charlotte Iced Key Lime!

Queen Charlotte Iced Key Lime

Intro - Will this Queen turn King or is it only fit for a squire?! A simple tub, not as large as the others and quite expensive in terms of pounds to ounce ratio. I am not a huge fan of the presentation I think it lacks something but can't put my finger on what. I am excited to try this as it is said to have a good lime scent and pack a great deal of menthol as well as having a tallow formula. Queen Charlotte also sells Vostock which is the peppermint version, both soaps contain maximum menthol.

Performance - There was something about the way the soap looked that made me think this is going to be good. As expected it didn't disappoint, it matched Mystic Waters creaminess and provided an excellent cushion during the shave. Easy to whip up and easy to use, top marks. I did feel as though the post shave was just as good as every other soap I sampled. I walked away pleased with an easy comfortable shave that left me with a hydrated face.

Menthol - This level of menthol is great, it sits somewhere in between the Stirling Glacials and Mystic Waters. It's a level of menthol that just hits the spot, you can really feel it but then it doesn't feel like you will have icicles hanging off your face towards the end of your shave. This to me is an amount of menthol I really enjoy. My menthol rating for this soap is 7.5/10.

Scent - Lime....that is about as far as it goes. I would add that it's not my favourite lime scent and I think it could be a tad stronger so that the menthol doesn't overpower it as much. It is present during the shave but for me it could stand to attention a little more. If your a lime lover I think you will like this but will agree it needs more lime.

Proraso - Smashes Proraso out the ball park for performance, Proraso could just not compete with this soap. Menthol levels are higher but not drastically like Cryogen, it's a nice level that in my opinion I prefer. If these two went toe to toe in a battle for my nose the Queen Charlotte would edge it. It really is the performance that separates these two.

Stand by for some final thoughts!

Final thoughts

My final thoughts on each soap before we conclude.

Mystic Waters:
Pros: Incredible performance especially in the post shave.
Cons: Hard to say but a tad more menthol would do a trick or two.
A quite spectacular soap, all round greatness in a tub. The scent is very nice for a peppermint soap but it doesn't entirely captivate me. I think this could be many people's favourite.

Stirling Glacial Lemon Chill:
Pros: Performance is really great and the menthol is going to be a menthol heads dream.
Cons: For me the synthetic lemon scent - this is subjective.
I am so happy that they have upgraded their tubs and taken away that awful animal scent. I have the orange chill scent and if it was included in the review this would probably be close to a win!

Chiseled Face Groomatorium Cryogen:
Pros: Hmmm I don't think there is anything stand out other than the strength of the menthol but some may see this as a con.
Cons: Personally for me it was the unstable lather but it still worked.
One word 'BEWARE'. If your looking for sultry face freezing action you know where to come just don't expect it to look pretty. Maybe have a drink or two first!

Kramperts Frostbite:
Pros: Stable and dependable a real work horse.
Cons: Please remove the frankincense and up the menthol content slightly.
If you want a cooling sensation with a good lather and good post shave this is your man. I would say it's more of a BMW than a Aston Martin, very good but will not knock you sideways in awe.

Queen Charlotte:
Pros: Creates one hell of a lather.
Cons: It needs more lime, like lots more.
This soap is an Aston Martin without doors it just needs that finishing touch. Other than that it is a great soap I could not fault the performance.

Standby for the final conclusion!


Conclusion

Well we have come to the end of my little journey. I had great fun testing the soaps and finding out their strengths and weaknesses. My analysis on the whole thing would be that menthol soaps are great if your in a hot country all year round or the summer months last a long time. Here in the UK they play a part but not as much as they would in America or parts of Europe. For me as good as some of them are I didn't come across one that made me think it was a truly great smelling soap that would rival other none menthol soaps I own.

What's my favourite? It's hard to say but I would go for Mystic Waters. I would like the menthol to be a little stronger but it is still a level that is acceptable especially here in the UK. It is finished off with a smooth peppermint scent that relaxes the senses and calms the mind and sends you to your favourite place while shaving. Top marks to Michelle. I will add that Queen Charlotte came very close, a change in the strength of Lime would put this top.

In relation to what I said above please remember there are some great soaps in the market that do have great scents but the menthol is more of a cooling effect rather than a face freezing frenzy. Honourable mentions would go to Reef Point Sublime, Dr Jons Frozen Hydra and Mickey Lee Paradise Frost. Mr G.I James would not thank me if I didn't mention Caties Bubbles Mile High Menthol and my good old Papa would disown me if I didn't remind you about the cheap but wonderful Ingrams.

There are a few Artisans in the soap making world that I am sure some of you are intrigued to see if they would make a menthol soap such as Cold River and Soap Commander. Maybe something we will see in Soap Commander's experimental 3oz Limited Edition Soaps?!

Am I going to keep any of the soaps I have tested? I will hang on to Mystic Waters and maybe Queen Charlotte for the summer months and I also have Stirling Orange Chill - The others I will make a decision on soon. I hope this has been an interesting read and may have helped you come to some conclusion as to what you might try. Please remember these are just my opinions and opinions vary from person to person, some people might think Proraso is king no matter what and others may say Cryogen is for wimps try X,Y and Z then tell me your a real man! What ever you think I want to hear about it so please feel free to comment.
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.
#10
B&M Latha

Created as a budget version of Barrister and Mann's standard range but looked upon by the majority of wet shavers who have used these soaps as just as good or if not better than most other artisan soap lines - I am not surprised at how much I like this soap.

Latha has one of the easiest lather's to build that I have come across, along with amazing protection, slickness and a great post shave. I would agree with others that maybe it's not as good in the post shave as the main range but it's not far away.

Nicely presented in a clear 4oz tub with professional clean cut label designs this soap appears more expensive than its price tag.

I liked the old range of Black Label soaps mainly because it offered a sense of simplicity to Barrister and Mann's range of Genesis but slightly different scent offerings, I was a little disappointed to hear they were going to be discontinued. However I was quickly relieved to know these soaps would be replaced by a new range sharing the same simplicity. I have used two of the few scents available - Limon and Sandalwood.

Limon is a fantastic creation, quite subtle but strong enough to hold your attention. I mainly get a smooth lemon scent and then the orange comes through. The rose is only ever so evident but pulls the whole thing together. I cannot see many people disliking this one and would recommend it as the first one you get if you haven't tried the soap.

Sandalwood had many people excited but seems to have disappointed a few as the Sandalwood is very subdued and the Blackcurrant is the stronger scent. I actually applaud B&M for this, although I feel for those that wanted this incredible soap in the traditional scent I think by adding another Sandalwood scent to the market would not attract that many customers. The Blackcurrant element is something different and adds some excitement to an ever to common scent. My perception of the scent is that the Blackcurrant is dominant but the sandalwood and amber come together to give the soap that clean smell that rounds it off nicely. I do not think it's overly sweet but a fruity clean soap that many people will like.

Overall I really like this soap and will look to pick up other variations as they are released. Priced at $11/£7 this is a soap hard to say 'no' too! I have never tried the first Latha scent, Oceanic or Lavanda so if you want to add your thoughts please do so. I would recommend this soap to everyone. I think you can grab a sample from Maggards if your not willing to commit to a full tub.
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.


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