Review: Col. Conk’s Shave Soap – Bayrum

While there’s plenty of shave sites out there that will bemoan the inferior nature of aerosol shaving cream, I’ve never had a problem with it.  It’s fast, it’s simple, it’s consistent, it’s never given me any problems, and when the time came to make the switch to double-edge shaving I picked up a travel size can.  It did the job, but after weeks of researching razors I’d gotten a hankering to try out making my own lather.  So for Christmas my wife got me a badger hair brush and a puck of Col. Conk’s Glycerin Shave Soap, and off I went.

Now that's a dapper looking man.

Now that’s a dapper looking man.

I’ve been using Col. Conk’s for two months now, and I’ve been greatly enjoying it.  It took several weeks to really get the hang of what I was doing, and then several more weeks to get the method refined to the point that I’m getting consistent lathers.  But I’ve greatly enjoyed the soap, and while I might get a can of aerosol or shave gel to have around in case I’m running late, I have no desire to go back to regular use of either of them.

The soap has a rich, solid smell to it.  I’d never heard of bay rum before, but I’m now a fan.  The soap, and by extension the lather, smells like something you’d find in an old, wood paneled barbershop.  Thick, rich, smooth.  While the scent seems like it’s diminished over the last month or so, that may be because I’ve gotten so used to it that I just don’t notice it as much.  I shave in a smaller guest bathroom, and the soap has given the room a wonderful smell just by being in there.  While I would like to try some of the menthol or sandlewood soaps out there, I’m going to have a hard time not buying another bay rum product.

The soap has also held up to daily use very well.  I’m about two and a half months into using it everyday, and I suspect that I can easily get another several weeks out of it.  The only problem I anticipate with getting easily another month is that I might wear through the middle of the puck, but if I load the brush from the edges then I should be fine.  More experience will tell me whether this is a sizable amount of time for soap to last, or if either the soap or my loading method are reducing it faster than normal, but I have no complaints with how it’s held up.

The soap produces a good lather that makes for a great shaving experience.  My method of loading from it has been this:  I soak my brush for a minute or two in warm water, with a few drops of water dripped on the top of the soap puck to help soften things.  After shaking out the water I do counter-clockwise circles until a brush has a good, somewhat thick paste of soap on it, then with a touch of water on the brush I lather directly on the face.  Normally, a loading makes enough that I can make two applications for two shave passes.

The first application tends to be a bit thin.  The lather tends to be pretty low, and looks more thick soapy than shaving cream.  After the first pass with the razor I add a touch more water to the brush and start reapplying, this time squeezing the brush through my thumb and forefinger to pull out some soap lather.  I lather up the brush tips on what’s been squeezed out, and then apply to face.  This time it’s thick, solid foam that really hangs on. Since this is normally my against the grain pass, this thicker lather is really helpful both to protect the skin and to help me see where I’ve shaved and where I haven’t, as at this point the hair is getting short enough to make it hard to tell in spots.  At the end of the shave, it left the face feeling smooth, clean, and soft.

Frankly, while I want to try new products there’s a part of my that is perfectly satisfied with what I’ve found and wouldn’t mind sticking with it.  This is a solid soap that I am happy to recommend.  It smells great, it lasts a long time, and it does an excellent job where it counts the most: on the face.  While I don’t know that it helped give me a closer shave than aerosol creams or gels, it absolutely gave me a better shave experience.

I am sold.

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