Hailing out of Liberty Hill, TX, this glycerin based shaving soap is an affordable soap that competes directly head-on with others in this same space.
Unlike the higher end triple milled soaps that command a heftier price tag north of $20, this 3.5oz puck soap retails for $4.99. Which makes it incredibly affordable for any wet shaving enthusiast from beginner to expert varieties to pick up and give it a shot.
A few things to note off the bat on this soap – first off the ingredients are a mix bag of really great ones and along with a couple not so good.
First off this soap does contain Sodium Laureth Sulfate, or commonly referred to as SLES. If you aren’t aware, SLES is known to penetrate the skin and circulate within your body for a few days. While tests of SLES and its longer term impact on the body appear to be negligible (source 1, source 2). SLES widely used in many beauty products and acts as a detergent and surfactant, as well as a foaming agent.
The second ingredient that we noticed on the label was the inclusion of Fragrance. While this may seem like a relatively harmless component of this particular shave soap, the term Fragrance can actually comprise of up to 3,100 individual ingredients (source). Given this obscure information on what is actually contained under the Fragrance umbrella, makes it always something to be mindful of when picking up a new shave soap. Fragrance has been known to be a immune toxicant as well as an allergen within several different studies that can be found with a quick Google search. It wouldn’t be fair to say that this is a problem isolated to strictly Van Der Hagen and any of their shave soaps, as this ingredient is found in so many of the most popular shaving products (we just wish it weren’t).
On the flip-side to the SLES and fragrance, we were delighted to see some terrific butters contained within this shaving soap. Noticeably present are the inclusion of shea, mango, and cocoa butters.
Regarding the packaging of this product, it does come in a standard cardboard box (pictured left), furthermore its individually packaged within a relatively flimsy plastic enclosure. The plastic enclosure itself is resealable making it a great soap to travel with. However for home use we would definitely recommend transferring it over to a scuttle or shaving mug and storing it separately in there as it will be able to keep longer.
Regarding the performance of this shaving brush it does perform rather well – here are a few key points:
First off when it comes to loading your shave brush, it loads rather quickly unlike the other popular budget glycerin soaps. Expect to have your brush fully loaded less than a minute after proper stirring and firmness applied with your shaving brush.
Once your brush is fully loaded and you begin to whip up a lather by your method of choice (scuttle, hand, or directly to face), you will notice that for such a low price soap it lathers incredibly well. Providing a terrific cushion that should protect your face and also some nice peaks as well.
Some men have noted that this lather may need to be reapplied mid shave in order to keep a thicker lather to provide adequate protection.
One part where this soap falls just a bit short when compared to the higher end triple milled shave soaps is that the slickness of the cream just misses the mark. While you shouldn’t necessarily notice any huge performance losses given the dryness of this particular bar, it is important to make note of this shortcoming.
To try and compensate for the dryness that you will likely experience a pre shave oil is going to be recommended prior to use. As many wet shaving enthusiasts like to state that a shaving product should stand on its own (which we couldn’t agree more), however a pre shave oil will provide a lot more comfort than just the bar by itself.
If pre shave oil isn’t your cup of tea, you could also simply buy a carrier oil and place about a quarter sized amount into the shaving bowl prior to loading the brush. This will help provide a much richer slickness that you would expect to get out of your shave. If you are looking for a recommendation of a carrier oil, we would recommend castor or jojoba as these two are most often found as the primary ingredient within pre shave oils. Carrier oils also act as a terrific moisturizer for your skin as well and provide a plethora of benefits.
While we were going over the three distinct butters contained within the Van Der Hagen shave soap earlier, unfortunately post shave your skin will feel a bit on the dryer side. Therefore an after shave balm will help alleviate the dryness as well.
Lastly regarding the scent for this shave soap is incredibly hard to try to narrow down. The best way that we can describe it is one that is extremely clean, refreshing, perhaps a bit of citrus notes that are wonderful yet extremely subtle. The scent of the soap is so subtle that it likely won’t linger with you for the remainder of the day. Therefore if you can pair this with your favorite cologne. If you share a bathroom with a lady who also has an interest in high quality shaving supplies, this soap is unisex for both of you to use without one gender feeling to masculine or the other to feminine.
Long term use of this product, like most glycerin based soaps, is going to have a short shelf life. Therefore the long term costs (i.e. 6 months) are likely going to equal that of a triple milled soap since you will have to replenish this soap more often.
Like all other shave soaps, a shaving brush will be required in order to fully take advantage of this product. You can most definitely use this shaving soap with your cartridge razor, double edge safety razor, and straight edge razor.