Focus on – Shave Soap
Once a staple of the Edwardian man’s toiletry collection, and a common sight in old school barber shops, Shaving Soap has come in and out of popularity over the last century. Somewhere in the 1950s-1960s this form of lather for shaving gave way to aerosol cans of shave cream… and gave way to quick and instant.
Shaving soap is not a cream, but rather a very gentle cold processed soap that has been infused with a small amount of bentonite clay to create that smooth and close shave.
Our soap is a blend of Coconut, Palm and Olive Oil that is cold processed with sodium hydroxide (Lye), bentonite clay and essential oil added, and the soap is then poured into a 3″ diameter mold. (we use a piece of PVC pipe that has been lined with freezer paper). Coconut Oil is noted for its great suds and rich later.
Once the soap is poured into the mold it is covered, and wrapped in a large fluffy towel to keep the batch warm. Heat is generated by the process of blending the oils with lye. The chemical changes that occur are known as saponification, or turning oils and lye into a solid soap. The molds are set aside for a week of curing in the mold.
When the mold is opened a 3″ diameter log emerges. Steve takes the log to his cutter, creating 1″ slices. Then I take over, wrapping each “puck” of shave soap, and packaging each in its own little gray box. The wrapping is known as french wrapping… which starts with a circular piece of deli wrap, the soap placed in the middle, and gently small pleats of the paper are wrapped over to the top center. This folding process continues until the entire bar is wrapped. A small sticker holds the wrapping in place. Each box also receives a small booklet titled “A Guide to Using Shaving Soap”. We realized there were questions about how to use the soap, and what methods are recommended… so we developed this quick card that offers recommendations for using the soap and getting the most out of it.
Why shave soap? Well, honestly it was not on our radar until we kept getting people asking if we carry it. We kept saying “No, not at this time” and realized how many times we turned someone away. Our research provided some interesting facts about the benefits of shave soap. It was so compelling that we began with our first recipe of Sandalwood scented shave soap. We packaged the soap, and put it out for sale… and it sold out. We have been using the product ourselves also. Steve reports that he is extending the life of his disposable razor blades by at least twice as long, which we attribute to the pure soap, free of chemicals that will break down the metal of the razor blades. Also, the clay in this formula makes the razor glide easily over the skin’s surface, reducing resistance and wear on the blades.
Currently we offer shave soap in two flavors:
Barber Shop – Our Barber Shop Shave Soap uses only essential oils to scent this wonderful cold process blend of olive, coconut, and palm oil, mixed with aloe butter, essential oil and bentonite clay. The essential oil blend is herbaceous and woodsy- a blend of bergamont, oak moss and basil.
Bay Rum – Bay Rum is the vintage fragrance of barber shops of the turn of the last century, however it remains timeless. Our shaving soap is olive oil based, and we add bentonite clay to give you the smooth shave you are looking for.
Lavender Lemon – The clean fresh scent of fresh lavender dance with a hint of rosemary, and a citrus note of Litsea Cubiba. Litsea Cubiba is extracted from a plant that is in the peppercorn family, but offers a rich Lemon essence.
Lime Ginger Peppercorn – Clean citrus of lime, ginger for a touch of spice, and black pepper essential oil for that pepper note. It’s masculine and modern. Lime essential oil is thought to be a cleaning and purifying oil. It is also associated with helping people with skin issues, such as acne. Lime is one of the most strong of the citrus oils, holding its fresh fragrance long after others dissipate. Ginger essential oil is said to be an analgesic, and antiseptic. While it is used more in cooking, and the perfume industry, ginger EO adds a spicy oriental note to any preparation.Black Pepper Essential Oil is noted to help with sore muscles… and unlike whole or ground peppercorn, the essential oil does not burn the eyes, or make you sneeze. The fragrance of this oil is earthy, and a blend of a green and floral spice.
Sandalwood – Sandalwood is a classic fragrance for shaving. Our shaving soap is olive oil based, but we add bentonite clay to give you the smooth shave you are looking for.
Tobacco Carmel – Tobacco Carmel shave soap is our newest offering. The scent is a tobacco with the sweetness of Carmel.
We also offer shave kits, consisting of a bar of shave soap, a shave bowl that is hand thrown by a local ceramic artist, and a brush.
Our shave soap bears the seal of the Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild because it conforms to their standards, and we are pleased to say we are members.