We all do it. All of us find a soap, or a cream, or a car, or whatever that grabs our interest from the first moment and then we proceed to build up that thing in our minds until it is so amazing, so spectacular that it could not possibly live up to our expectations. I’m more guilty of this than anyone I know. I’ll find a review for a really good soap, or pen, or giraffe biscuit on line and I’ll do what I usually do, research it to death. I’ll find out so much about the product that I could be called upon to act as an expert witness in a court case, and then I will, of course, buy the product only to find that the super duper giraffe biscuit may be pretty great at feeding your giraffe, but it’s still just a biscuit. We all do it, but I’m more guilty of it than most.
Every once in a while I will find something that catches my eye and I will resist the urge to obsess over it. Sadly, what usually ends up happening is that, in spite of my best intentions, this thing sticks with me and nags at my subconscious until I’m left a drooling fool with only one thing on my mind (rosebuuud…). This was the case with Bath House Spanish Fig & Nutmeg shave soap.
I initially encountered Bath House on Connaught Shaving’s web site. I was intrigued by the look, the interesting ingredients list, and the odd brand name. Everything about it made me want to try it out, but at the time I had just encountered several creams and soaps that left my nose cringing with horror, so I was reluctant to try something new and unknown. Months passed by and every now and then I would place this soap in my electronic shopping cart only to remove it later. Eventually I broke down and decided to buy a bowl of the stuff, but by then no one in the UK seemed to have it in stock any more and everyone who had some in the USA wanted $10-$20 MORE than they were charging for it in the UK. The refills were readily available, but the wooden bowl with the soap seemed to have disappeared. I don’t know if the soap was discontinued or if the demand required to stock the soap just wasn’t there, but for whatever reason, it appeared as if my window of opportunity in regards to this soap had closed.
Fast forward to yesterday. I was posting a B/S/T thread to see if I could eliminate some things from my “need to try” list. For some reason I decided to throw the Bath House soap on almost as an afterthought. I figured that if someone had a partially used bowl of the stuff that I might get lucky and be able to snag it for a decent price. Luckily for me a fine member of The Shave Nook shaving forum, Oscar (A.K.A. ojinsa), just happened to have an unused bowl of the soap, just happened to see my post, and just happened to live a short distance away. After a little logistical finagling we met up and I ended up with a nice, new wooden bowl of Bath House Spanish Fig & Nutmeg soap.
Let me just pause right here and say that Oscar is a great guy. He’s easy to deal with and has some great insights into life, the universe, and everything. If you ever get the chance to have any interaction with this bastion of traditional wet shaving goodness, then I highly recommend it.
So, now that I had the soap all that was left to do was to try it out. This soap is, in a word, Spectacular. The scent is amazing, it lathers easily, and it’s extremely slick. It was everything that I was hoping for and more. When I started on my preshave routine I noticed that I was still a little tender from yesterday’s shave, so to test this soap out I grabbed my ultra soft EMJ synthetic brush, some Shave Secret, and my cocobolo Schick G Type (with a Personna blade on its second shave). I did a three pass wtg/atg/xtg shave followed by a cold water rinse and some SAL Alum. The results were a DFS with zero nicks and zero irritation…and a new soap for my shelf-o-goodness. The Bath House smells earthy and spicy, but mild and unobtrusive at the same time. The scent lingers pleasantly for a while, but stays in the background where it belongs. The lather is typical of a veggie based soap in that it is a bit thinner than many tallow soaps, but it is also super slick and provides plenty of protection. Afterward my skin felt as if I hadn’t done anything to it. The soap isn’t as moisturizing as PdP, but it also isn’t harsh or drying. I wasn’t ultra soft, but I also wasn’t dried out. In the end, even with slightly tender skin, I managed to have a very pleasant shave with an unfortunately overlooked product. Bath House Spanish Fig & Nutmeg is an excellent soap and I would recommend that everyone stay as far away from it as possible…so that I can snatch up and hoard every puck still in stock.
Product Ratings (1-10, 1 being the absolute lowest and 10 being the absolute best):
Scent Quality: 9
Scent Strength: 6
Lather Quality: 8
Skin Care: 7