Product Review: Bath House Spanish Fig & Nutmeg Shave Soap

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
Slickness: 8
Skin Care: 7
Overall: 8

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Product Links:
http://www.bullgooseshaving.net/bahospfigand.html
http://www.bullgooseshaving.net/bahospfigand1.html

http://www.connaughtshaving.com/bhm9.html

Shave Of The Day (29 July 2013)

I felt like giving a neglected product a second chance.  It’s always good to revisit products because you never know when something will turn out to be a surprise upon second glance.  I love eShave creams, but I have found their soaps to be somewhat lacking.  They’re not bad, just not as good as the creams.  I always manage to buy their products for a fraction of the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, so I find them to be well worth what I pay, but I judge them based upon their actual retail price (would I buy this product at full price?), so I tend to be hard on them if they do not muster up.  I have the Linden soap currently and I love the scent, but feel ambivalent about its performance.  I found the lather to be too airy and somewhat thin the first few times that I used it, so it has been sitting on my shelf waiting for me to decide what to do with it.

I am using French soaps this week, so I figured that today would be a good day to give the Linden another go (eShave products are made in France) .  Having played with my vintage Gillettes and RiMei razors for a while now, I am also returning to my beloved disposable blade straight razors.  My Fromm still has a blade in it with maybe a shave or two, so it was the obvious choice.

I did a three pass with the grain/against the grain/across the grain shave followed by a cold water rinse and some T.N. Dickinson Witch Hazel.  A damn fine shave with no nicks (although I nearly had disaster strike when I was careless in placing the blade against my upper lip), and no irritation.  I was a bit aggressive and was certain that I would walk away with some redness, but the excellent skin care properties of the eShave soap and the astringent properties of the witch hazel saved me from myself.  The eShave Linden did really well.  I don’t know if I have the EMJ synthetic and face lathering to thank or if I just didn’t give it enough of a chance the first few times I used it, but it was a joy to use today.  I will use the Linden some more this week, and I may have to revisit the other eShave soaps if it continues to perform as well as it did today.  My skin is soft, smooth, and happy.

Pre: Hot shower and warm water splash
Razor: Fromm hair shaper
Blade: Fromm hair shaper blade
Brush: Every Man Jack Synthetic
Soap: eShave Linden
Post: Cold water rinse and T.N. Dickinson Witch Hazel

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Product Review: Every Man Jack Synthetic Shave Brush

A month or so ago, while looking for a nice mid-range synthetic shaving brush I happened to stumble upon the Every Man Jack Premium line of products.  The Every Man Jack Premium shave line includes a cedarwood preshave oil, a cedarwood brush/brushless shaving cream, and a synthetic shave brush.  The synthetic shave brush has a “woodgrain” handle and dyed synthetic bristles which are a step or two up from the first generation of synthetic shave brush fibres.  After doing some exhaustive research I discovered that there is virtually no information available about this brush.  Every Man Jack’s web site simply lists their advertising blurb without any technical data or reviews, and I could only find a single review of this brush on  the various shaving forums (the brush is mentioned a handful of times, but only one of those mentions is an actual review).  Normally I do not like to make purchases without at least some empirical and anecdotal data, but I like EMJ products and have already given the new cedarwood brush/brushless shaving cream a try.  After doing some digging, I managed to find a discount coupon so that I could buy the brush for an amazingly low $13.49, so I shrugged my shoulders and took a leap.

The brush comes in a basic cardboard package with the same wood grain designed as the rest of the Premium shave line packaging.  Unlike the rest of the Premium line, the brush also has a picture of its self on one side of the package.  I assume this is to help sell the brush in store, but it still seems like a superfluous sort of design.  Inside the package the brush is safely encased in plastic, without any other extras or junk.  The knot is a fairly tall loft and is dyed to look similar to a silver tip badger knot and is completely scent free.  The tips are quite soft, but the synthetic fibres have quite a bit of backbone.  The handle is a fairly plain ergonomically designed woodgrain handle with a little bit of heft to it.  I have seen a couple of comparisons of this brush to The Body Shop synthetic brush, but I absolutely disagree with this comparison.  The EMJ synthetic shave brush is taller, has a larger loft, and a much nicer handle than The Body Shop synthetic brush.  Overall the EMJ synthetic brush feels quite nice and looks pretty good, it left me with a pretty good first impression and a serious desire to see just how it would perform.

As I had already shaved when the brush arrived, I settled for a few test lathers.  At first I was quite frustrated, the brush seemed completely unable to produce any sort of lather at all from any soap or cream.  After a lot of frustration I discovered that the problem was the bowl.  For whatever reason, the EMJ synthetic brush does an excellent job of producing lather when palm or face lathering, but does not agree with bowls at all.  I don’t know if the synthetic fibres absorb product in such a way as to only work well on skin or if there is some other weird reason for this anomaly, but it’s worth noting.  The brush does have one issue that may bug some folks, the breech opens up when lathering.  Anyone who is familiar with the #6 Turkish Horsehair brush or some of the Vie-Long horsehair brushes will be familiar with this issue, but some wet shavers may find this annoying or unpleasant.  The opening is not as extreme as it is with the #6, but it is noticeable.

I used this brush for this morning’s shave and found that the brush performed pretty well.  I did a three pass with the grain/across the grain/against the grain shave using the EMJ synthetic shave brush, some Vitos Extra Super soap, my spiffy new RiMei razor, and a Croma Diamant blade on its second use.  I followed the shave with a cold water rinse and an application of SAL Alum.  I managed a baby butt smooth shave with no nicks and no irritation.  The brush felt nice, but also a little more stiff than I normally like.  The slight opening in the breech wasn’t too noticeable and actually helped me to properly lather up my chin.  It was a good shave with a good mid-range synthetic shave brush.  I enjoyed using the EMJ synthetic brush and look forward to using it again.

Product Aprox. Dimensions:
(There are no stated dimensions in any of the EMJ propaganda, so I had to take the measurements myself.  Without calipers these dimensions are approximate rather than absolute.)

Handle Height: 57mm
Loft: 57mm
Knot Diameter: 22mm

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Product Link:

Every Man Jack Synthetic Shave Brush:
http://www.drugstore.com/every-man-jack-shave-brush/qxp411981?catid=288501

Product Review: Every Man Jack Cedarwood Brush/Brushless Shave Cream

Like most traditional wet shavers, I am not a big fan of brushless shave creams.  They take away one of the nicer steps involved in the process: the shaving brush.  In spite of this I have managed to come across a few brushless shave creams that I actually like.  Every Man Jack’s line of creams is one of them.  When I discovered that EMJ had come out with a line of “premium” shave products aimed at traditional wet shavers, I took notice.  One of their offerings is a lathering shaving cream that can be used either with or without a brush.  Their EMJ Cedarwood Brush/Brushless Shave Cream intrigued me.  I found this product available at drugstore.com for the amazingly low price of $9.99/8oz. tub.

Drugstore.com is a great site, with excellent customer service, and fast delivery.  They often have sales and have some of the best deals that I have ever seen on traditional shaving products.  I use them regularly and get 5% back on everything that I buy from them.  Combine that cash back system with free 2 day shoprunner shipping (an excellent membership service which I also got through drugstore.com) and they just can’t be beat.  I had about $4 in “drugstore.com dollars” just waiting to be spent, and I found a 10% discount link, so I decided that now was the perfect time to buy a tub of this interesting EMJ cream.  I popped it into my shopping cart, applied my 10% discount and my $4 worth of “drugstore.com dollars”, and ended up paying $5.  Total.  With free 2 day shipping.  For 8oz. of shaving cream.  Awesome.

Today I was off and I knew that my tub of EMJ Cedarwood would be coming, so I bummed around the house while I waited for the UPS guy to show up.  When he arrived I snagged the package with a quickly mumbled “thanks” and tore into it as the door was closing.  Inside was my well packed prize.  The Every Man Jack Cedarwood cream comes in an extremely thin and cheap cardboard box with faux cedarwood grain and the usual “Our product is the most awesomest product EVER!” propaganda.  The tub is a large plastic tub with a metal top and some more of the faux cedarwood grain design.  My tub had a minor scratch down the front, but was otherwise fine.

I opened the tub and took a big whiff.  The scent is a “masculine” sort of scent with a woody undertone.  I do not usually like masculine scents, but I didn’t mind the EMJ Cedarwood, and I actually find the scent growing on me more and more with each whiff.  The cream has a sort of dry whipped cream texture that is fairly common among mid range shaving creams that come in tubs.  I scooped out a healthy large almond sized amount and did a test lather using my AoS Fine Badger brush.

The first thing that I discovered is that this cream requires a lot of product to lather properly.  I ended up using about two and a half almond sized portions in order to get a good lather.  This amount is still not all that much, but it was a bit more than I was happy about using.  Once I had enough product I found that it lathered quite well and was able to take on a good amount of water.  The scent remained strong while lathered, but did shift to a slightly more woody tone.  As soon as I had the cream lathered properly, I jumped into the shower, and then prepped for my shave.  I finished up in the shower, grabbed my Fromm hair shaper with a Fromm blade at the end of its life, added a little water to my mix, lathered it up, and dove in.  The cream provided a good amount of protection and was fairly slick, but did thin out a little during my second pass.  I added a tiny drop of Kiss My Face Pomegranate Grapefruit to my lather and the mixture thickened right up and also smelled fantastic.  After the shave I was left with a pleasant cedar scent lingering and an extremely smooth and soft face.

On the up side, Every Man Jack Cedarwood cream leaves my skin feeling great, is nice and slick, comes in a huge tub, and does not cost much.  On the down side, it requires a large amount of product to lather properly, can become anemic, and smells a little more “masculine” than I normally like.  In the end I found that with a little experimentation this cream worked very well, but it is not in the same league as TOBS or even The Body Shop’s Maca Root cream.  EMJ Cedarwood is worth the $10 price tag, but only because it comes in an 8oz. tub rather than the more common 4oz. to 5oz. sizes that most other shaving creams offer.  This is not a bad cream, but it’s not quite where it needs to be.  With some slight reformulation EMJ Cedarwood could become a great cream.  In the mean time I will continue to mix a tiny amount of the Kiss my Face Pomegranate Grapefruit in with it to get an amazing lather and a fantastic scent.

Ratings (1-10, 1 being the absolute lowest and 10 being the absolute best):

Scent Quality: 6
Scent Strength: 8
Lather Quality: 5
Slickness: 8
Skin Care: 8
Overall: 7

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Product Link:

Every Man Jack Cedarwood Brush/Brushless Shave Cream:
http://www.drugstore.com/every-man-jack-shave-cream-brush-or-brushless/qxp411980?catid=183788

Shave Of The Day (06 May 2013)

Today I decided to do something a little bit different.  I reached back and pulled out a product that I had abandoned without much of a trial, Every Man Jack Sensitive shaving cream.  I bought EMJ Sensitive when it was clearanced out at HEB a while back and only paid about $2 for a large 6.7oz. tube.  This stuff is available at many grocery stores and pharmacies for around $7, so I figured I was getting a good deal.  I took it home and tried to use it as I would any other shaving cream only to discover that it did not lather at all and basically just disappeared into my brush.  I immediately tossed it into a corner of my shaving gear drawer and forgot about it.  After reviewing the write up that I did for Billy Jealousy Hydroplane I decided to dig out my tube of EMJ Sensitive and give this stuff another go, this time using it as it was meant to be used–as a brushless shave cream.

I took my shower and afterward splashed some warm water on my face before massaging some EMJ Sensitive into my face and neck for my initial attempt.  The cream spread smoothly and had a pleasant, light scent to it that I had a hard time placing.  If I had to describe it as anything, I would call it a soapy vanilla scent.  I decided to go with my semi wedge straight, which I purchased in supposedly shave ready condition.  After a single pass on my left cheeck and neck I could feel the tugging and see redness popping up on my neck, so I wiped the razor down and set it aside for later honing.  My neck did not look too happy, so I decided to play it safe and pulled out my Edwin Jagger DE86.  I had a NOS Gillette Thin blade in there, on its second use, and was quite happy to give it another go.  The Gillette Thin may be the best blade that I have ever used, if all blades were like this one then the world would be a happier place. I rinsed off my face and neck and reapplied a thin coat of the EMJ Sensitive.  My first pass, with the grain, went smooth as silk and, much to my amazement, the redness on my neck even seemed to be disappearing.  I performed a second pass, this time against the grain, and marveled at how slick and smooth the razor felt sliding across my skin.  The redness on my neck was now entirely gone along with any remaining facial hair.  There was no point in performing a third pass, because after two I was left with a baby butt smooth shave, zero irritation, and zero nicks.  My skin felt silky smooth and had a nice pleasant light odor lingering on it.  I prefer traditional soaps and creams to brushless products, but EMJ Sensitive is truly a great cream worth mention.  It is the perfect solution for someone in a hurry or on the road and it’s an amazing product for anyone having issues with sensitivity or who needs something to help combat a lingering case of razor burn.  It has earned its self a permanent place in my collection.

I am constantly amazed by how great overlooked products can be.  If this cream had not been on sale I would never have given it a second look.  If I had not been going over a review of another product that I had initially written off then I would never have given Every Man Jack a second try.  Good products come in all sorts of different forms and it is always good to take a moment to try something that you might not have otherwise considered.  You never know what gems are out there waiting to be discovered.

Pre: Hot shower, warm water splash
Razor: Edwin Jagger DE86
Blade: New Old Stock Gillette Thin
Cream: Every Man Jack Sensitive
Post: Cold water rinse

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Product Links:

Every Man Jack Sensitive:

http://www.vitacost.com/every-man-jack-sensitive-skin-shave-cream-fragrance-free-6-7-fl-oz/?prSrching=0

This can also be purchased at CVS, Target, KMart, and Walgreen’s

Edwin Jagger DE86:

http://www.mensdirect.com/product/Edwin-Jagger-Double-Edge-Safety-Razor-Imitation-Ebony-DE86/Safety_Razors