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#1
(This post was last modified: 03-07-2016, 08:53 PM by NeoXerxes. Edit Reason: added disclaimers )
Howdy folks,

As some of you know, I've had a persistent interest in high end soaps and creams. Over the past few months I have been trying as many of these products as possible and reviewing them on another site. I have since been banned from that site (ya'll know the story), but many members on many sites have sent me messages regarding the revival of that thread. Evidently there is a lot of interest in the pricier stuff.

So here you go. In the unfortunate absence of a sufficiently expensive champagne bottle to smash against the bow of this new topic, I hereby revive the luxury soaps/creams thread. Consider this one the revised and expanded edition!

- NX

*****

For context, here's my history with the topic:

I have tried many soaps and creams in the lower price brackets without much result. You see, I have extraordinarily sensitive skin. No joke... Especially if cheap fragrance oils are used in a soap, I can smell it, and I can feel it - my face catches fire, becomes inflamed, and turns beet red for days. Having tried many of the smaller artisan products with little success and many allergic reactions, I decided to give the pricier options a try.

Before exploring the high end stuff (which I consider to be the "luxury" category largely due to the comparatively larger price tags) and the lower cost artisans, the products that worked best for me were the famous U.K. creams. In fact, Trumper's (and in particular Extract of Limes) was my staple for quite some time. Trumper's worked solidly for me, and I did enjoy the scent, but it never really impressed me in its performance. Though I didn't know it then, I can say now with confidence that performance is (sadly) mediocre. So it was that on an inspired whim, when walking the hallowed halls of Fortnum & Mason, I upgraded to Castle Forbes Lavender. Needless to say it completely blew me away with its performance. After that, and following another successful purchase - Tabula Rasa, another wonderful high end cream - I knew that I needed to try more.

And lo, the obsession began. I wanted to not only try the other high end soaps/creams, but I needed to find the very best. I searched the forums and watched many a YouTube video in my search for the greatest of soaps/creams. No obscure post was safe, no matter the language (Google Translate was my friend in this dark time). Thanks advice from forum posters and the kind generosity of a league of extraordinary gentlemen in providing samples (these gentlemen, incidentally, have since migrated to this forum as escapees from the proverbial North Korea of wet shaving), I was able to try most of the top soaps/creams on the market. This primarily includes luxury soaps/creams, but also includes a select number of artisan products that I have found to be especially meritorious in terms of performance.

Though my initial impressions were posted elsewhere, I have since been in the midst of a long process of refining and updating my reviews. Over the next few weeks and months, I hope to update this thread with my thoughts on what are the very best soaps/creams, money no object. In my reviews, I'll try to be specific enough in order for you to decide if an expensive product is worth trying or not, based on your own needs. In that regard, I hope they prove to be of use in some small way.

But first, a word on method: I am of the opinion that products ought to be compared in an analytical fashion. How can a reviewer know that a soap/cream is good, or great? In my view it is only by a comparative process that we can develop an opinion that may be considered reasonably useful to others. We can identify what is great only because we have experienced the good, bad, and the ugly.

Anyway, I hope these reviews prove to be helpful. My opinions are subjective, obviously, however they were formulated in a reasonably rigorous fashion involving weeks and months of testing. Footnote: For an excellent example of this style of reviewing, see the recent video on top artisan soaps by TSEvangelist.

Stay tuned dear chaps, and please be patient! The reviews are forthcoming.

*****

A few necessary disclaimers, before getting started on my reviews:

1. These reviews are my opinions, based on performance with my skin only. They are intended to be illustrative of the characteristics of the particular soap/cream based on my own testing, so please do not consider them recommendations or endorsements of specific products. Obviously these reviews are intended to be subjective.

2. You will notice that a lot of soaps/creams receive high scores on a ten point scale. Quite simply, this is attributable to selection bias. Many soaps/creams are present on the market, but I am only bothering to review the ones that are exceptional for one reason or another. If it is not lacking in any significant way, you can expect that a product will receive at least an 7.5/10 on my scale.

3. Do not consider the numerical ranking to be indicative of anything solid or even marginally objective. It is my epistemological belief that subjective qualities are not quantifiable. It may be that a soap/cream that receives a "fast and loose" 9/10 on my review gets ranked higher than a soap that receives 9.5 or even 10/10 in an overall ranking.

4. As always, these scores and rankings are subject to change.

*****

Below I'd love to hear about your own recommendations of the very best luxury soaps/creams, money no object. I evaluate what is "best" primarily through performance, but you are welcome to provide your list using your own reasoning and criteria (just please let us know what that is, else we will assume that performance is your primary consideration). This is the place to list and discuss your all time favorite products, without reference to cost.

When interacting with users on this thread, please keep in mind that these are our personal impressions, and our personal impressions alone, based solely on what works for us, individually. Also, please understand that these impressions are subject to change.

I welcome your continued participation Smile.

*****

Please check out the companion thread here, for the budget-minded shaver. Thanks to Marko for setting this up!
[+] 10 users like this post
#2
I'm heading in the opposite direction, having found that I don't get substantially better performance from pricey creams and soaps. But, of the pricey creams and soaps I've tried, Le Pere Lucien, though not astronomical, is my favorite. XPEC is the most expensive cream or soap I own, and it lathers beautifully, it's very slick, but I dislike the smell. I won't try the unscented since I do like fragrance when I'm shaving. Good as XPEC is, though, I don't find it significantly better than soaps that are a fraction of the price.

Please keep us posted on your findings!
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#3
(This post was last modified: 02-24-2016, 10:04 AM by NeoXerxes.)
stroppinglad that's a perfectly legitimate finding! My direction towards the high end was primarily due to my sensitive skin issues and desire for flawless performance. Of all the soaps/creams you have tried (expensive or not), what performs the best for you? Is LPL/XPEC the very best, ignoring price?
#4
NeoXerxes First off I would like to congratulate you on a wonderfully written introduction.

I am in the fortunate position of being able to buy most soaps and in my wet shaving time I have tried a lot. However for some reason I have never had the reason to push myself into the realms of luxury priced soaps and I will read you posts with interest to see if maybe I should pull the trigger.

For me, currently, luxury is the soaps that I think perform best and have quality scents this would include the likes of Cold River, Barrister & Mann and Mystic Waters. Like you I can smell the quality of the oils used to make the scent.

Good luck and I will look forward to the reviews.
Oli AKA Windsor Citrus
Surrey, UK.
[+] 3 users like this post
#5

Member
San Francisco
Ahhhh here we are at last. NeoXerxes's similar thread on That Other Site was the primary culprit (*fist raised in mock anger*) for my burst of luxury soap/cream buying last month. And yet, I have no regrets. In fact, I now have a new roster of favorites.

I've been in this eccentric wet shaving hobby for a bit more than a year now, but like many of you, when something catches my interest I dive in pretty enthusiastically. So I've tried a lot of soaps and creams in a relatively short period of time, including most of the most prominent artisans, and most of the classics. For me, it became evident that, well, the classics are by-and-large classics for a good reason. And the artisans, well, if you're wondering how there can be so many of them suddenly, and could they all actually be great? ... you may have answered your own question. Most are just okay. Most founder when it comes to scent (hey, great fragrance composition is a skill people spend decades learning and mastering; it's an entire profession).

I'm glad I tried a lot of this stuff, though, because now when a soap or cream is excellent, I have the context to judge.

Of the "luxe" products I've added, I'm most impressed with Pannacrema Nuàvia, Santa Maria Novella (v3), Tabula Rasa, and Martin de Candre (which will last for 20 years, seemingly, so is its price truly luxury? but anyway). I enjoy my Acqua di Parma cream, but it's not top-tier for me yet as I still haven't dialed in the lather just right. Eh. Love that light kick of menthol, though.

Of these august selections, Nuàvia takes the top prize just because it excels in every category, including its own special category of being able to be used as a post-shave balm. I have both Blu and Rossa. Don't make me choose.

That said, SMN and Tabula Rasa are just delightful. Rich, slick, great residual glide, great post-shave. And Martin de Candre is its own excellent experience; maybe not as moisturizing, but the lather comes quickly and I've come to really like the scent (Original, in this case).

Good stuff, indeed, but generally the above are pricier (maybe not Tabula Rasa, and Martin de Candre really is a bargain when you figure how long it lasts). But still, they'll be viewed that way. Which means it's time to give credit to the U.S. artisans that offer similar excellence and olfactory satisfaction at lower prices. Cold River Soap Works is up there for me, with a formula similar to B&M's classic white label line. But the big winner here is Barrister & Mann, in particular the new Glissant base, which quickly whips into a slick lather the oddly light-but-moist consistency of which reminds me of none other than Nuàvia. It's a significant improvement on a soap which was already one of the best. Along with Nuàvia, and maybe more so because it's priced accessibly, I think Glissant will be a game-changer.
David : DE shaving since Nov 2014. Nowadays giving in to the single-edge siren call.
[+] 3 users like this post
#6

Chazz Reinhold HOF
(This post was last modified: 02-24-2016, 11:02 PM by hrfdez.)
For ME,

Xpec
AdP
SMN
P.C. Nuavia

In no specific order.
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#7

Niche Fragrance Addict
Puerto Rico
ADP (new version). Amazing stuff, my wife bought it for my birthday. Best commercial Soap I have tried.
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#8
I am pleased to announce that Sartorial Cream in Tube has blown my mind. Better for me than XPEC, AdP, Musgo, Speick. It is pure luxury and no-compromise performance, as I have offered in a separate thread. If you like creams, and if you like the Sartorial fragrance, don't pass this one up. Kind of hard to believe they did such a good job on the performance side of this cream; I imagined it would be a mediocre cream with a great scent. It may be my best performer at the moment of anything, but I should wait another 30 shaves before i actually crown it.
[+] 1 user likes this post
#9

Member
San Francisco
(02-24-2016, 10:59 PM)shega Wrote: I am pleased to announce that Sartorial Cream in Tube has blown my mind. Better for me than XPEC, AdP, Musgo, Speick. It is pure luxury and no-compromise performance, as I have offered in a separate thread. If you like creams, and if you like the Sartorial fragrance, don't pass this one up. Kind of hard to believe they did such a good job on the performance side of this cream; I imagined it would be a mediocre cream with a great scent. It may be my best performer at the moment of anything, but I should wait another 30 shaves before i actually crown it.

Interesting! I remember liking Sartorial (the EDT) when I sampled it, but it's been a while. I don't hear Penhaligons creams mentioned very often. Is the Sartorial cream the same formula as the rest of their line, or is this a new version to go along with the scent?
David : DE shaving since Nov 2014. Nowadays giving in to the single-edge siren call.
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#10

Member
Vancouver, BC
(This post was last modified: 02-25-2016, 12:51 AM by celestino.)
The most 'luxurious', or rather expensive soap I have tried, which is excellent, is Panna Crema Nuavia.
Personally, I think it is extremely over-priced. Nonetheless, it is a wonderful soap.
Celestino
Love, Laughter & Shaving  Heart
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