Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Review - The Holy Black Trading Company Shaving Soap

Company: The Holy Black Trading Company
Product: Shaving Soap
Founder: Stefan Vincent


Stefan Vincent started his company in 2013. He was hooked on Wet Shaving after he inherited his grandfathers and brother’s old straight razors they both were barbers who came from Italy to set up shop in Brooklyn. After some time when the Stefan’s business started to explode he brought in his brother as a partner.  The Holy Black name comes from a cowboy term used to describe black gunpowder “I only Shoot Holy Black”. The company website has an old western theme to it as well.

I selected two shaving soaps Sandalwood Smoke and Mountain Man.  When the package arrived inside the box surrounded by wood shavings I saw the two pucks wrapped in tissue with a paper label describing the scents. When I opened wrapping I saw the “Melt and Pour” puck that had been explained to me by Douglas Smythe of “How To Grow A Mustache”.  

A little disappointed I set out to contact Holy Black to see what made this puck different from the others I used in the past. I finally got a hold of him on Facebook. The following is our conversation:

WTF - “Hello, It's Don Youngner From Wet The Face. I left a direct message in your twitter account but I'm also sending you this here as well. I have been using your shaving soap pucks and have to ask are these of a melt and pour that you just added scents to or did you create the pucks from scratch.”

HB – “I make my own glycerin base. It is a meltable and pourable soap, so if you want to put it in a container it can totally be melted. It is almost identical to the melt and pour bases you can buy from soap manufacturers, it's just more cost efficient for me to make it. I also add other additives like bentonite clay and castor oil to promote lather build.

WTF – “This is not the natural color right?”


HB – “No I use a non-bleeding soap dye. As far as I know, I'm the only soap maker who makes his own M&P base. I'm thinking of starting to do hot process tallow or lanolin based soaps to add to my lineup.”

So let me talk about the scent both of the pucks smell great. The sandalwood smoke is my best pick. The scent strength on both was about a 3 and then drops off during the shave to about a 2. The scent after the shave was faint but I still notice it. I would have liked a stronger scent because the sandalwood smoke was that good.

The lather was crazy. I was able to create a very thick rich and creamy lather with both pucks. The slickness and glide I felt could have been a little better but I was able to complete my shave with no irritation problems.

So what did I think of the soap, I have to say I really liked it. In fact the lather was incredible, equal to some of the tallow-based soaps I’ve used in the past. 

I spoke to Stefan about this and he had this to say, “Honestly, I'm not sure why everyone all of a sudden hates glycerin soaps. I came up on mama bear, TGQ, and many other "melt and pour" soaps. I always liked them because fragrance oils, not going through the hot process stay true, they are completely vegan, and they allow me to easily put them in any container. Figuring out how to make a meltable glycerin base was not easy. It's the same amount of work that goes into other artisan soaps, its nice not melting beef fat and sheep wax in my shop as well. Honestly, I hope people rate my soap on its scent and performance more than the perceived amount of work they assume it takes to create it. I'm going to continue to offer the best glycerin style soap I can formulate, and I'm also working on other types of soaps to offer as small batches.
Right now tallow soaps are hot, but when I first started wet shaving, it was all about triple milled soaps, and then the English stuff (which I love), and then glycerin soaps were big. Mama bear soaps makes her own base as well, I believe, because all her soaps have a distinct scent I've never smelled anywhere else. By adding more castor oil pre saponification and very small amounts of clay, I really feel like my glycerin soap is the very best glycerin soap available.”

All I can say is I liked it. Maybe you can say not all shaving soaps are equal and that goes for glycerin soap (melt and pure) as well.  If your interested in Holy Black shaving soaps they do offer samples so you can give them a try. They also have a shaving cream as well. 

The Holy Black
Shaving Soap Puck $9.95