First, let me say that I've been perfecting the art of traditional wetshaving for two years, both straight razors double-edged safety razors. In that time, I've used a broad cross-section of shaving soaps, from Art of Shaving's high-quality but extortionarily priced soaps and creams, to D.R. Harris's lovely hard pucks, to Proraso, with many soaps and creams in between. You might say I'm in this game for the soaps, and know a thing or two about good shaving soaps.
That said, I learned about Petal Pusher Fancies' soaps through errant but glowing references I found in reddit.com/r/wicked_edge. After some digging into the various online reviews at wetshaving forums, I grew intrigued, and decided to dive right in. An order was placed on a Thursday, and the soaps arrived that Monday.
The 5" pucks of these soaps come in these lovely broad, flat containers with purple tape sealing the edges. I eagerly ripped off the tape to take a whiff.
(I was surprised to initially find that the soap had the consistency of a shaving cream, as I had not noticed the warning on the product description that the soap "will harden with use". This was a disappointment, albeit short-lived, as I immediately worried how long these soaps would last, given that I tend to burn through creams at an alarming paste. Of course, by the time I arrived at home, the puck had mostly hardened, and I can gladly report that my soaps are now as firm as most any other puck of soap I've seen. And seeing the effects of repeated shaving with three-pass lathers, I can safely say there will be no burning through these soaps.)
Those initial whiffs proved to be, and I cannot stress this word enough, delightful. First, the Oakmoss and Sage. The scent is full-bodied, warm, earthy, and only slightly sweet. The best way I can describe it is it smells like I'm shaving in a sunlit forest glen on a warm spring morning. This may very well be my new favorite scent for shaving soaps, and I say that as a man who previously reserved that title for D.R. Harris's Marlborough and Art of Shaving's Sandalwood. This Oakmoss and Sage soap is godly stuff.
Second, the Sandalwood. While the scent here is a more subtle sandalwood than I normally prefer, the sandalwood musk blends wonderfully with what I assume is the Kokum Butter scent to yield a manly, woodsy, strong scent that is also only mildly sweet. This isn't the soap for you if you're looking for something that absolutely screams sandalwood, but it is a great scent that will definitely be part of my regular rotation.
Now, and most importantly, let's talk about how the soap performs. Spoiler: Quite possibly, this is the best-performing soap I've had the pleasure of using.
I lather by first loading a pre-soaked horsehair brush on the puck. I purchased the 5" pucks, and when it came time to build my lather, I was thrilled with that choice. Unlike 3" or smaller shaving pucks, where you often have to deal with spillage, the 5" pucks easily accommodate the full splay of my 25mm knot horsehair brush. I simply don't understand why 5" pucks aren't industry standard, it's just that much better. More importantly, my horsehair brush easily loads off of the now-hardened pucks, and it only takes a few seconds of swirling before I have more than enough soap for a three-pass shave plus touch-ups.
Once my brush is loaded, I then transfer to bowl of my hot-water shaving scuttle, where I build my lather by adding water incrementally. Sometimes, I have a lot of trouble building a thick lather with vegan shaving soaps; too often, the lathers seem to turn out bubbly and airy despite even the most judicious use of added water. But not so with these soaps.
Almost from the start, you can tell that these soaps are going to give you the thick, meringue-like lather we all dream about. Swirling away in my scuttle and adding only a few dabs of water here and there, within perhaps a minute I find the banks of my large scuttle bowl spilled with a thick, creamy lather replete with the peaks that I associate with a properly luxurious lather.
Just to be sure I'm not dreaming, I pinch off a touch of the lather and rub it between my forefinger and thumb. Yeap. That's some slick, slippery stuff right there. Time to go to work.
My brush now fully impregnated with lather, I set to painting my beard with this slippery goodness white as driven snow. I then grab my razor, and begin. First pass with the grain, my razor glides over my skin, with the lather providing perfect lubrication. The second and third passes, first across then against the grain, were equally smooth, with no problems with nicks whatsoever. And with each pass, the lather held up on my face throughout the entire pass, with no drying or flaking.
Impressed, I clean up, wipe my face with a warm wet towel, and dry it with another towl, which is when the true surprise with these soaps hits.
You see, normally I find my skin to be a bit dried out after a three-pass shave. However, perhaps because of the Kokum butter, with these soaps I had none of the usual dryness. Instead, my skin had the sort of smooth and moisturized feel that I normally associate with an application of my go-to aftershave balm. Very impressive.
Finally, and perhaps most critically, I find these soaps provide so much lubrication and glide that even when I do a second three-pass shave of the day (post-gym, prior to a date), I still walk away free from any razor burn or irritation.
To briefly conclude what is a very long story, these are amazing soaps. I give them 5 stars overall as well as in every category, and only perhaps wish the Sandalwood soap smelled more strongly of sandalwood. Otherwise, these are now my go-to soaps, and I look forward to the day when I need to restock, so I can give some of the other scents a go. The only question will be, can I wait that long before shelling out the cash for Briar, or Neroli? Time will tell.
PPF - Do me a favor, keep making these soaps well after I'm dead and gone. I'm 24, so hopefully that's a long time. If you guys stop making soaps, I'm growing a beard, and that's not a good thing because my beard grows in scraggly and makes me look homeless and it will be all your fault.
Oh, and you guys really need to make a menthol soap that puts Doug's to shame. I know you've got it in you.
I received a sample of your Black Tea from another friend, Jack H. I have seen your soaps from time to time on Google + but like most Artisan soaps I had no desire to try them at all. Well with the sample I figured "why not", and I am sure glad that I did! After one use the Petal Pushers Fancier Black Tea has become my second favorite soap. I just ordered a puck as well as your Dandy Candy Mustache Wax.
I had never read the scent description until just before typing. You describe the scent as: "A strong, striking scent blend of Black Tea Leaves, Tobacco, Bergamot, and Musk. Well balanced and very much like true black tea." Well you are spot on, although I would add that the initial scent when building the lather is very much like a fine Earl Grey, at least to my nostrils.
Tabac lovers don't hate me, but this is the scent which Tabac SHOULD smell like.
I give your product a solid four stars, more like 4.85, it's that good.
Kokum Butter Shaving Soap
Our handcrafted, all vegetable shaving soaps offer an incredible lather, slickness, and glide, leaving your skin cleanly shaven, and all day moisturized.
This unique cake will harden with use and is formulated to work well in both hard and soft water situations.
We've included a host of skin feeding ingredients including Kokum Butter, and Avocado, Sweet Almond, Coconut, and Castor Oil.
Check out our rave review at the Sharpologist!: http://sharpologist.com/2013/05/petal-pushers-kokum-butter-shaving-soaps.html
All of our soap is offered in 2 sizes, and come in a tin for easy storage.
The large 5" tin offers an exceptional surface area for brush loading, making wet shaving even more enjoyable!
A brief description of our scents is below. We use both fragrance oils (FO) and essential oils (EO), and indicate which we use for each soap. If you would like more information please let us know. Cheers!
Amber (FO & EO) - Amber with a blend of Sandalwood and Musk. Warm, and Sweet.
Black Tea (FO & EO) - A strong, striking scent blend of Tea, Tobacco, and Musk. Many feel this is very similar to a "Barbershop" scent.
Briar (FO) - A sweet, warm Tobacco blended with Vanilla, Wood, and Oak Moss.
Coconut (FO) - Great full coconut scent without being flowery.
Cucumber (FO) - This smells like a bowl of sliced cucumbers in water. Very light and refreshing!
Neroli (FO & EO) - Neroli is the scent of the bitter orange blossom. It is citrusy, sweet, and metallic, a very interesting unisex scent.
Oakmoss & Sage (FO & EO) - All the best of both scents. Deep, earthy, forest. No evergreen tones.
Sandalwood (EO & FO) - All the deep base notes of a great, purely sandalwood scent.
Unscented - No fragrance or essential oils used in this puck. Just pure, clean soap! Great for sensitive skin.
Ingredients: Water, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide, Stearic Acid (Vegetable Derived), Organic Castor Oil, Pure Kokum Butter, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Avocado Oil, Organic Sweet Almond Oil, Pure Essential Oils, Fragrance (unscented version does not include essential oils or fragrance)
Approximate weight of soap: