For this Explorer's curation, Eric cast a wide net into worldwide grooming culture to bring you scents and products from around the globe. From balms across the pond to scents from the Far East, this compilation might turn you on to something new. And lead you on a journey right from your shaving den.
Meißner Tremonia Shaving Cream, Exotic Elemi:
I’ve mentioned it time and again, and I’ll mention it yet again; Meißner’s creator, Thomas, has one of the most eclectic talents for scent and soap creation out there. A true rival to the small-batch American artisan market. Exotic Elemi is just one more example of such a scent, the seemingly simple aroma on paper proving a truly complex couple of Japanese elemi - taken from the Chinese olive tree - infusing a grassy, dry air upon its exotic citrus counterpart, Japanese ylang ylang. Similar to a vetiver-forward scent, this accord bears the imagery of a field laden with tall grasses, with the faint wisp of grapefruit pulp teasing the air. The shaving cream base in these soaps yields a remarkably well-performing lather with upper level slickness, protection, and ridiculous post shave feel.
Wholly Kaw Vegan Shaving Soap, King of Oud:
Okay, okay, I know that Wholly Kaw is an American-based artisan. But for those that have smelled Sri’s infamous King of Oud masterpiece, you know this belongs on the list. King of Oud rests its base upon a strong inclusion of oud. Also known as agarwood, this exotic element is a resinous extraction that is equal parts woody, sweet, “barky”, and with a most bizarre rubber-like (yet completely intoxicating) foreground. Top notes of lemon, bergamot, clary sage, rose, aldehydes and pink pepper form the airy and fruity head upon which rests angelica, rosewood, and galbanum melding into the dark base of oud, sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, and amber. While Wholly Kaw’s Donkey milk base is highly sought after, most are unaware that his vegan soap base was the original winner in his early days. The recently updated Vegan formula proves itself the head hancho in a sea of vegetal-based soaps. With comparable performance to the top tallow soaps we know and love, this is a weighty consideration that demands your attention.
Eufros Vegan Shaving Soap, Tierra Humeda:
Ahh Eufros. It is high time that this mysterious brand of soaps come to the light and into your shaving den. A Spanish artisan that has remained largely under wraps, providing soaps usually only to a small audience, we are happy to bring Eufros to the forefront of this community. Sure, the price tag evoke an initial double take. But we’re here to tell you that it is not for naught. These are truly one-of-a-kind concoctions, unapologetic scents with highly praised performance. While the lather is cushioning and slick, the true star is the post shave. With a surprisingly simple formula, these soaps have a miraculous ability to heal and moisturize the skin to such an extent, that a post shave product of ANY kind is all but unnecessary. Tierra Humeda, or damp earth, is just that. Damp, wet, mossy soil; musky Earth, fallen trees, and moss with - to my nose - a resulting undertone of carrot thrown in the mix. Eccentricity at its finest, welcome Eufros.
Cella Shave Soap Cream:
One cannot create a list of brands abroad without considering the cult classics. Cella is just that. Before artisans took the scene, Cella was the tried and true softsoap of the wet shaving world. A classic Italian soap based in tallow and coconut oil, this is a fool-proof soap of genius design. While the post shave on this is far above average, the resulting lather is a top dog in and of itself. Dense, creamy, slick and protective. On top of this is the simple, yet jaw-dropping, drool-worthy gourmand of sweet almond oil. Many agree that the scent oil results in a Marzipan-like sweetness, with a hint of cherry.
Abbate Y La Mantia Shaving Soap, Vegano:
Abbate Y La Mantia is a collaboration between an Italian saffron farm and renowned Italian soapmaker, Tcheon Fung Sing (aka TFS). The soap is one-of-a-kind, using the oil of the world’s most expensive spice, saffron, as its saponification agent. In comparison to a tallow-based or coconut oil-based soap, the result is an incredibly fast-loading base that needs not a plethora of water for a well-hydrated lather. Consequently, while this requires a bit more lathering finesse, the well-dialed-in lather compares very favorably with Meißner Tremonia; lightweight, yet nourishing, comforting, and protective, with a tremendous post shave. Vegano can be summarized as the following - herbaceous. A green, natural, vegetal scent of carrot and lettuce, this bears the true mantra of Abbate’s goal; to set the mind towards the natural, to the direct product of that which Mother Nature herself provides.
Le Pere Lucien Shaving Soap, Rose de Puskar:
As one may deduce from the name, Le Pere Lucien is a French family-owned soapery that puts emphasis on respect of the earth and, therefore, respect of the ingredients. Extracts used in their entirety, unaltered scents, and an absence of any preservatives or colorants, you can rest in the fact that these soaps have been crafted - from start to finish - with deliberate intention. A traditional, cold process soft soap, this vegetable base seems to follow the ways of many a European soapmaker, with very high quality, yet low quantity ingredient lists. This means that, while the lack of oils and numerous botanicals leave an absence of that “buttery, slippery” feeling of many American-based artisanal soaps, your skin will surely be well-protected from a smooth, natural-feeling lather and a great post shave. Rose de Puskar is a natural, fresh botanical triad of rose, geranium, and white musk. Budding rose is surrounded by its slightly spicier floral twin geranium, all resting on the sweet, soily base of white musk.
Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling Eau de Toilette Spray:
Penhaligon’s is one of the leading British perfume houses, producing a vast collection of olfactory stories since the late 19th century. One of the classic accords here in our retail shop, Juniper Sling has been a customer favorite for years. It is an all-encompassing, welcoming and, yet, truly unique aromatic masterpiece with notes of cinnamon, orange, brandy, angelica, juniper berry, cardamom, leather, black pepper, orris wood, brown sugar, black cherry, vetiver, and ambrox. The result is somewhat floral, aromatic, green, woody, and with a subtle gourmand base of dark brown sugar and mysteriously complex black cherry. This is a truly unique, inviting accord with a sly, sweet understory making for a perfect “everyday” scent with a twist.
Pre de Provence No. 63 After Shave Balm:
As the fall creeps nigh, leaves descend from their branched home to rest upon the drying earth. And just like the earth, many a man feels the toil of the parched air, with cracked, broken and dry skin. While this is typically the time where the wet shaver shelves his drying alcohol-based splashes, this is no time to use your wife’s generic body lotion as a worthy substitute. Pre de Provence has you covered in the arena of luxury, exotic after shave balms. A small, family business run out of the rolling hills of France, the entire Pré de Provence line sports a hefty dose of shea butter, a fat extracted from the African shea tree that closely resembles the structure of sebum, the natural oils produced by our skin. Because of this, and a high concentration of various other botanical extracts, your skin will quickly retain its former luster and hydration all throughout the day. No. 63 is a classically masculine aromatic array of peppery citrus, cedarwood, plum, violet leaf, leather, and tobacco. To most, the leather, tobacco, and violet leaf dominate the accord for a woody, edgy, relentlessly masculine accord.
Abbate Y La Mantia Shaving Brush:
These days, it seems that the shaving brush market is dominated by two-band badgers and synthetic brushes, with few exceptions. While these brushes both have incredible features, one shouldn’t look past the mighty boar brush. With even the most top-tier boars clocking in at incredible prices, these are an option that are hard to look past. The AYLM boar brush is one such example; these brilliantly white, densely-packed boar bristles generate a quick lather and, once broken in, will feel wonderfully soft on the skin. We recommend a 72-hour cold water soak to dramatically accelerate this process. The uniquely purple/violet resin handle is surprisingly dense, making this a somewhat bottom-heavy brush that is substantial in the hand and is perfect for hands of all shapes and sizes.
Semogue Finest Badger Taj Handle Shaving Brush:
Semogue is one of the very few small-batch European shaving brush manufacturers, and they put themselves on the map for their inherently luxurious boar brushes. Oft overlooked, however, are their “Finest Badger” two band brushes. The knots used in these two-band brushes are the perfect combination of knot diameter and loft height, with a hybrid shape making for the perfect lathering monster. While they don’t feature gel-tips, the hairs are still remarkably soft at the tips, with somewhat textured hair shafts for a pleasant, but apparent, scrubbing sensation. Similar to the AYLM boar brush, Semogues newest “Taj” handle is a heavy resin, perfectly polished and yet easy to grip. In similar shape to the Semogue Owner’s Club brushes, the ergonomics of this brush are among the most intuitive of any design I’ve used.
4711 (10 oz):
The classic of classics, the great grandfather of fragrances. The original cologne, 4711 was crafted by Wilhelm Mülhens on Glockengaße 4711 in Cologne, Germany. A recreation of a wedding gift from a Carthusian monk, the accord quickly became Wilhelm’s claim to fame, and 4711 took storm across the world. This Eau de Cologne features the absolute perfect, timeless blend of uplifting notes of lemon, orange, bergamot, rosemary, rose, neroli, musk and petitgrain. The lead of this accord is a subdued citrus, an almost unripened, young fruit with rosemary orchestrating the olfactory experience into a pleasant prelude of whimsically inviting, yet slyly sophisticated, notes.
Saponificio Varesino Shaving Soap Beta 4.2, Cosmo:
Dubbed “SV”, Saponificio Varesino is an Italian-based grooming and cosmetics company with over 75 years of history making incredible skincare products. While many decades - or centuries-old companies cling for dear life to their original formulas, SV does not shy away from challenging themselves with new ingredients. One look at the ingredient list of the SV shaving soaps will leave you utterly astounded; a seemingly endless list of exotic, obscure botanical extracts are included in these soaps. Each one has been significantly regarded- through extensive research - to be a potent deterrent of trans-epidermal water loss. The effect is a lather that is exquisitely moisturizing, hydrating, and slick, and with a post shave feeling of, well, nothing.. It’s as if you’d never shaved at all! Cosmo is the true definition of an exotic accord, with top notes of citrus and coffee, middle notes of nutmeg, coriander, and pepper, resting on a bed of vetiver, sandalwood, incense, and vanilla. Smokey, woody, floral, spicy and with a fresh-roasted hint of coffee, this is one scent worth trying.