For the Discerning Gentleman
By streamlining our operations and working directly with factories, we are able to bring you unprecedented quality and value.
By streamlining our operations and working directly with factories, we are able to bring you unprecedented quality and value.
What’s new this week?
Well, starting with the big news of the day, Fougere Noir is back in stock and available to order!
Continuing with the soapy news, I’m really enjoying making soap. It’s new and exciting. Anyway, some people have been wondering how long the soap will be at half the final retail price. Well, the answer is: as long as I can. I’ve ramped up production to full capacity. I cannot make any more soap per day than I am. However, so far I’ve been managing to keep up with demand and get a little ahead.
The latest news on scents is that Mahogany is saved from the axe. Black Amber and Vanille has received a temporary reprieve, and Tobacco is probably not going to come back for now.
Thanks to the feedback you have all sent in, Black Amber & Vanille will get a production run. But fear not Tobacco fans, I’ve still got a few pucks left and there’s still time to tell me how much you like it (or don’t like it). It can always come back at a later date.
Lavender. I’ve changed the formula to a straight Parisian lavender. Expect to see the pucks for sale in a few weeks.
Experimenting and finding new scents is challenging and fun. Albeit not good for the bottom line.
Bay Rum. This one is hard to pin down. I’ve tried three different suppliers and none of them exhibit the correct scent profile. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in the scent, and so I’ll be focusing my efforts on other scents. I did make a few pucks and some samples. Just pay shipping and let me know if it’s a good scent or not.
Pumpkin Spice. This one smells great. Unfortunately it contains cinnamon which can cause a reaction in some people. So, sadly, this one cannot be sold. I’ll see about finding a suitable replacement before Fall arrives.
Cool Water. The current sample batch just isn’t giving off a lot of scent. It has a lot of high notes, and they are just evaporating off and not sticking. I made a few samples (4) if anyone wants to try it for the heck of it.
Green Irish Tweed. Smells very close to the real thing. I like this one. I think I’ll call it Gaelic Tweed. It’s a little bit weaker, but the scent is still there in the shave.
Lavender & Cedar. This is a good blend of lavender & cedarwood. The lavender is present, but not overpowering.
I’ll be making larger batches of GIT & Lavender & Cedar in the upcoming days. For now, I’ve just got a few samples on hand.
Espresso. My final update. Espresso fragrance oil is just in. And surprisingly it actually smells like coffee. It has a nice nutty scent with a base of coffee. So, how about some coffee with your shave?
Ever since I started WSP, I’ve always wanted to offer a top shelf shaving soap. For the past three years, I’ve been focusing on other projects, expanding product offerings, & shoring up existing lines. This year (2014) I decided to devote my efforts towards creating a winning shaving soap formula. After many months of development & testing, I am proud to announce the introduction of WSP’s Rustic Shaving Soap line.
My early attempts at shaving soap were not so successful. The first attempt (2012) was a melt and pour shaving soap using the about.com recipe. The result was so mediocre/bad that it put a damper on any future attempts for a long time. Needless to say, about.com is not the best source of information even though it may be #1 in the search results. But, I did learn a few important lessons: 1) the addition of clay does not a shaving soap make; 2) a melt and pour base does not make a great shaving soap; 3) the addition of glycerin does not make a great shaving soap either; and 4) pre-made soap is expensive. At those prices I was better off going with an existing artisan soap.
So, the shaving soap was put on the back burner as WSP grew and called for increasing amounts of my time and attention. Soon enough, it was a forgotten dream. Over the next year or two I thought on and off about a collaboration with someone like Mike from Mike’s Natural Soaps. Other projects kept calling for my attention though.
And that’s where things stood until 2014. I finally found myself with extra time on my hands. I got the rest of the business under control and started taking another look at adding that elusive soap to the lineup.
The first step was to just make some soap to get a feel for the process. All I knew was that the process required lye and most tutorials I’d read about the process in the past also involved a bucket, a drill, and a mold.
The first step was research. Lots and lots of research. Cold Process, hot process, croap, creams, liquid soap, KOH v. NAOH, tallow v. veggie oils, CPOP, HPOP, stick blenders, etc etc. There was a whole new vernacular to learn as well. And on top of learning to make the soap, there was still the additional problems of scenting the soap, forming pucks, & packaging. I did a lot of reading.
Step 2 was figuring out a recipe (more research). All I knew was that I wanted to use as little ingredients as possible and they should be easy to source.
What I found out about soap making is that there are plenty of not so good shaving soap recipes out there. In fact, the whole first two pages of Google results were uninspiring. So, I had to figure this whole thing out from scratch.
So, step 3 became figuring out how to formulate my own recipe from scratch. Which meant learning to use a lye calculator (soapcalc.net has a good one) and what each ingredient brings to the soap.
After a lot more research, I figured out how to read the numbers that the lye calcs spit out. Bubbly, creamy, cleansing, hard, etc. They’re all intertwined and interrelated. A fairly confusing mess without some knowledge of where the numbers even come from. And, even then, the numbers may not translate into the final product anyway. For example, you can make a perfectly good soap using 100% coconut oil with a 20% superfat. It has weird and crazy numbers, but I made a batch, and hell, it’s good soap!
So, the next step was to choose some oils. Easy right? Well, it would be if not for the list of a hundred oils with a million possible combinations. Another roadblock. So, I had to narrow the list. AKA, more research.
This basically involved reading dozens and dozens of shaving soap labels. Mass produced & artisan soap. The lowly Arko & Williams to the vaunted Martin de Candre. DR Harris, Trumpers, TOBS, Proraso, TFS, Mike’s, Mystic, Tabac, etc, etc. The takeaway: every recipe had stearic acid as one of it’s main ingredients. Every recipe used potash. So, something to start with.
I then determined that there are two basic types of recipes out there: vegetarian and tallow based. Since I didn’t want to mess around with beef fat, veggie it was!
I’ve tested a lot of soaps & creams in my wet shaving days. And for the most part, the tallow based soaps were top performers. Offering good protection, slickness, & ease of lather. While the Italian vegie croaps were just as good, there was only one real standout: Martin de Candre. Considered by many to be the holy grail of shaving soap, I set that as my target. If I could get a soap almost as good as MdC, I’d be very satisfied.
So, where to begin? Well, to be honest, I shot gunned it. I started with two divergent formulas and tested. Dropped the one that didn’t work. Rinse lather repeat.
Long story short, about 30 reformulations later, I finally came up with a formula that I thought was pretty close. It was time to get some outside feedback. So, I sent out some samples.
Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on the soap! I incorporated all the suggestions that I could. Slicker & easier to lather being the main two. I landed on the formula that would make it to market.
The final step in the R&D process was to figure out how to scent the soap. Thankfully, it wasn’t too difficult. It mostly involved figuring out how to mix the fragrance in (I had to purchase some new tools). Now it’s down to settling on the final scents.
It’s here! The first batches are packaged and ready for shipment.
Rose, Vetiver, Lavender, & Tobacco are still curing and but be available at the end of the week!
Alright, I’m going to take a break from cooking soap for a couple of days and work on some other things. But here’s where the soap project is at so far:
Still working on sourcing a better bay rum scent. Do have 24 1oz samples made with a weak version.
V2 unscented pucks and samples have finished curing. I’ve got 6 pucks and 7 samples. Also ready are the aforementioned bay rum samples.
In the next couple of weeks the rest of the scents I cooked up will be ready. They include: Barbershop, mahogany, fougere noire, sandalwood, marrakesh, rose, black amber vanil, lavender, vetiver, & tobacco.
So, I’ve been cooking soap lately. Lots and lots of soap. But that’s its own blog post. This post is about what’s coming down the pipeline.
After seeing the tiny size of 1/2 oz tins, I’ve scratched those and have decided upon a full ounce size. The 4 oz tins measure 3.25″ in diameter and the 1 oz tins measure 2″ in diameter (the 1/2 oz tins are extremely tiny and too hard to use). Much easier to load and a lot bigger sample!
Scents are in the works! What scents you ask? Well, I’ve decided on offering the following for sure: Rose, Barbershop, Sandalwood, Marrakesh, & a lavender (once I find one). I’m experimenting with the following scents: Sweet Mahogany, Fougere Noire, Vetiver, and Bay Rum (can’t get it strong enough). I’m looking at trying an espresso scent.
Unfortunately, due to a brain fart (wrong formula) I had to trash three batches of samples of the rose, sandalwood, & Marrakesh scents. So, those scents are now one week behind. And to add to the delay, I managed to run out of some supplies as well. Should be here by the end of the day and I’ll be back to the lab cooking up more experiments!
On to the good news! The final version of unscented soap is almost ready! Just need to finish up the labels and list them for sale. Introductory price is as follows: $9 for a 125g puck (4.2oz); & $2.50 for a 1.2 oz sample. Flat shipping of $3.
That’s right, FREE! I’ve got 65 units of late prototype versions of WSP’s brand new Classic Shaving Soap. Vegan recipe. Ingredients as follows: Stearic acid, water, coconut acid, glycerin. Sound familiar? Well, it should.
So what’s the catch? I need feedback and would like to use it if you don’t mind. I’ll be tweaking the final release formula based on the feedback received and am already working on some ideas given to me by earlier testers.
Please send comments & reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to post about your experience as well. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.
So, if you want one, just click on the link below. You need to checkout with Paypal so I can get your mailing address, print a shipping label, and don’t run out of samples.
Update: The 1/2oz samples have “sold out”. I’m offering 3 4oz pucks to international testers at the cost of shipping ($15).
WSP’s new safety razors have arrived! Okay, well, only a few (25) are available right this moment since I’m still working out the final details on packaging. These 25 will include just the razor at a discounted price of $24.95.
Blonde badger is so named because of the distinct blonde colored tips. The proprietary formulation combines soft tips with an exfoliating scrub to give you a unique shaving experience.
I’m excited to announce the addition of three new knots to the lineup!
Two smaller sizes of the extremely popular SuperFine (20mm & 22mm) and the return of the exceptionally luxurious Super HMW 2 band in extra density and a bigger size (26mm). Available now in the webstore!
Finally, a sneak preview of the new “Blonde Badger” Stubby.
Merry Christmas everyone and Happy Holidays!
So, what the hell have I been up to lately? In summary, DE razor, luxury brush stand, upgrading the compact brush stand, new badger brushes, new boar hair.
Going in reverse order: New boar hair. Some people didn’t like the splay of the previous boar hair, so I went to the hair dressers to see how we could stiffen the hair up a little bit. Result: success! This hair is much more like Semogue’s 90% premium tops and retains the softness of the previous hair and will come mostly broken in out of the box. Plans: bring in the hair for a new acrylic or resin 24 or 26mm premium handled boar brush in the $20-$25 price range.
Look for it in 2014
Slated for an early 2014 arrival, the Earl and Duchess will be added to the lineup. The Earl will be an acrylic handle in faux horn and black with a metal base. The shape will be a popular classic shape. The projected size of the knot and loft is 25mm x 50mm
The Duchess will be joining the Prince line of brushes to offer a different handle shape for customers. Expect the Prince in a 50mm loft with different handles. Black and ivory white are planned.
For those following the design progress of the luxury brush & razor stand, it will arrive soon. The design is finalized and they’re being produced as you read this. Expect them very soon.
The compact brush stand has been slightly tweaked. The opening is a little larger and the logo is now stamped into the metal instead of laser etched.
Did someone say WSP DE razor? Well, I’ve been secretly trying to find a high quality source for a three piece razor. After many, many failures and rejected prototypes, I’ve finally found it! And success has never looked so good!
The handle is my own design and the head is something that should be familiar to everyone.