After the disaster that was Durance hard shaving soap you would think that I would give up on experimenting for a while. But I need to generate content for these articles so it was a case of “once more unto the breach” and, as you will see, this is an experiment that was very well worthwhile.
The story started when I received this email:
My wife and I run Alenka & Sam’s Shave Shack (shave-shack.com.au) in Australia and are looking for some exposure on selected products. Is it possible for you to do a review on some shaving products for us?
To start with I would like to send you some Otoko Organics, it’s unique composition is difficult to describe, but it is something different and very unique, it sells well after people have tried it. For example a friend who has tried lots of different products from our stock bought 5 tubs of Otoko and 5 brushes for Christmas Gifts he recommends it so highly!
Please let me know if you are available to do this for us
Obviously I said yes and the soap arrived very quickly from Australia. And Sam is right, it is different and unique. It is a translucent, dark blue shaving soap. It has small bubbles in it, as if it has been poured hot into the pot. Overall it looks like a piece of plastic or jelly. It smells very nice though.
No wonder it looks so different, when you look at the ingredients it looks like it comes from another planet compared to traditional shaving soaps. Here they are: Jojoba extract, Deionized water, Proprietary no-ionic surfactants derived from soy and corn, Aloe vera and Glycerine in what they call an organic colloidal formula. Very, very strange.
The marketing blurb on their website says:
Made from 100% organically grown natural coconut, palm, soy and jojoba oil with aloe vera and pear essence, Otoko Organics contain only cold pressed organically grown plant extracts and the highest quality plant essences. Otoko Organics Wet Shave Essentials provides a certified organic way to deeply clean and soften your skin while lifting and softening your hair follicles before shaving. A rich soft lather with no harsh chemicals helps resist skin irritations and shaving burn. Vitamin E and aloe vera soothe and protect your skin. Anti-allergens and perfume free to safe guard from allergic reactions. Naturally occurring astringents penetrate pores to remove excess sebum, oils, skin impurities and dead skin cells. Our naturally rich foaming formula removes air pockets allow the razor to glide smoothly across the skin, resisting cuts and skin rash. Foam levels can be individually tailored to suit your skin type.
So what is it like to use? Well it is different, and in a good way. For the first shave I used my favourite brush, the Morris & Forndran Blonde Badger. When I applied the wet brush to the hard soap I didn’t think that it was picking up much product, however when applied to the face it very quickly made a Father Christmas lather. It did this for all three passes and afterwards there was enough left to paint much of my body (in the shower!), so this is a pretty concentrated soap.
The lather doesn’t feel lush in a TOBS Avocado kind of way, but it is a magnificent lubricator. Pretty soon I was confident enough to buff against the grain with a Slant Sledgehammer / Feather combination, something you would not try unless the lather was working very well. This confidence enabled me to get a very good and very close shave with little effort.
Going into this shave my facial skin was still a little traumatised after the previous two days’ use of the Durance soap, the Otoko has not aggravated this and, if anything has calmed things down. It looks like all those soothing ingredients have worked.
Day 2. With my face recovered from the trauma of using Durance it was time to pick a brush to use with the Otoko. I went for the small Simpson’s Beaufort B1 in pure badger. A fine hard soap brush and a fine face lathering brush, I thought this would be a good match with the soap, and so it proved. This time less soap was loaded on to the brush and it still made three passes. The sensation of using the soap is a little strange because it doesn’t have that lushness yet lubricates exceptionally well. This time I buffed quite extensively against the grain in the first pass with the Slant Sledgehammer / Feather combination with no problems at all. With practice you could do an acceptable one pass shave with this soap.
So I like it and will use it a lot more. It is very different from any other soap or cream I have ever shaved with, yet it does an exceptional job. The natural soothing ingredients are just an added bonus.
Otoko Organics costs 18.95 Australian dollars for a 70g pot. This is about £12 in British money. The American dollar and Australian dollar are level pegging so it is about $19 American.