Barrister And Mann has launched shave soaps in their new Omnibus ingredient base. How does this “final” ingredient revision perform? I did some research and also bought a jar of Le Grande Chypre for myself to try….
Barrister And Mann Omnibus
Barrister And Mann has always been known for their excellent products and Will, the man behind the brand, has continuously been experimenting with ingredients to come up with an even better product. Barrister And Mann has been on Sharpologist’s “best shave soap” list for years. A few months back Barrister And Mann announced their latest and “last” refomulation, Omnibus:
Our new Omnibus shaving soap base sets the standard for post-shave feel, latherability, slickness, and protection. The product of nearly 18 months of grueling R&D, our most high-performing soap to date is astonishingly, almost unnaturally slick, and the protection offered by Omnibus is second to none. What’s more, we’ve pulled out all the stops to deliver a post-shave experience no other, and we’re proud to announce that Omnibus is also lanolin free! Instead, we’ve enriched the soap with botanicals, goat and coconut milks, shea butter, avocado oil, and the remarkable substance cupuaçu butter, which can absorb as much as 250% more water than lanolin without the risk of irritation. Pick up a jar of what one of our testers called “the densest, creamiest, best-feeling soap I have used, period.”
I emailed Will asking for more information about it and here’s what he wrote back:
“The point of Omnibus’s creation was to refine and perfect the work that I had done during the development of Excelsior and Soft Heart, and its lipid profile is very similar (though not absolutely identical) to those two predecessors. We excised the oat-based surfactant that serves as a secondary lathering agent in the former bases in an effort to eliminate any risk of gluten cross-contamination, which is prevalent in oat-based cosmetic materials, even though oats themselves contain no gluten. I had received reports from folks with celiac disease and other severe gluten sensitivities that they experience reactions to the soap due to the presence of the oat surfactant, so it was eliminated and replaced with coconut oil.
Further, I’ve opted to completely revamp the superfat and botanical suite, replacing jojoba oil with the more luscious avocado oil and lanolin with cupuaçu butter, a relative of cocoa that can absorb 2.5x as much water as lanolin without the risk of sensitization or allergic reaction, which can occur in anywhere from 2.5% (allergy) to 29% (sensitization) of the human population. We’ve also begun using refined, micronized marshmallow and slippery elm extracts, which have imparted a coloration to the base at scale that I dislike, but which enhance the post-shave feel of the product quite significantly, helping to reduce redness and irritation and to increase dermal moisture retention. I’ll be altering the method by which the botanicals are combined with the rest of the soap in all future production runs, and the color poses no discoloration risk to badger or boar brushes because the lather it produces, while not absolutely white, is generally no darker than a light cream. Either way, I know that some folks are distrustful of soaps with dark coloration, so I will be correcting the issue so as to avoid the perception that the soap poses a danger to expensive animal hair brushes.
We have also begun using the moisturizing agent saccharide isomerate, which can tolerate alkaline environments (like soap) and is a contact moisturizer, meaning that its activity is noticeable almost immediately upon lather application to the face. We use it at a high enough level that it actually increases moisture retention on skin to which it’s applied, and the lab data that we have on the stuff suggests that such high levels improve moisture content in skin by as much as 10% over pre-application. Further, we are incorporating hydroxyethylcellulose, which is commonly used as a thickener in cosmetics and as the primary lubricant in products such as KY Jelly, to improve slickness and post-shave to a degree that we have not been previously able to attain.”
Barrister And Mann still appears to be in the process of migrating all their shave soap scents to the new Omnibus base. Here is what is available as of this writing:
- Barrister’s Reserve® Cool
- Barrister’s Reserve® Lavender
- Bay Rum
- Cologne Russe
- Le Grande Chypre
- The Full Measure of Man
Plus there are some limited, seasonal scents available at the moment:
- Amazelnut (seasonal)
- Eigengrau (seasonal)
- Nordost (seasonal)
- Taiga (seasonal)
Sample Ingredient List
Aqua (Water), Potassium Stearate, Glycerin, Potassium Tallowate, Parfum (Fragrance Oil), Sodium Stearate, Garcinia indica Seed Butter (Potassium Kokum Butterate), Polyacrylamidomethylpropane Sulfonic Acid, Cocos nucifera Fruit Juice (Coconut Milk), Sodium Tallowate, Potassium Ricinoleate, Sodium Lactate, Butyrospermum parkii (Shea) Butter, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Xanthan Gum, Theobroma grandiflorum (Cupuaçu) Seed Butter, Sodium Cocoa (Kokum) Butterate, Potassium Cocoate, Hydroxethylcellulose, Sodium Ricinolate, Saccharide Isomerate, Caprae Lac (Goat Milk) Powder, Persea gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Sodium Cocoate, Althaea officinalis (Marshmallow) Root Extract, Ulmus rubra (Slippery Elm) Extract, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Benzoate, Limonene
What Others Are Saying About The Omnibus Shave Soap Base
A search engine query for reviews of shave soaps in the Omnibus base results in an overwhelmingly positive response. Here are some random quotes from other reviews:
“That was some damn good lather- even better than soft heart, if that’s possible. Post shave is the best I’ve ever had. When Will said this was his last base I think he really meant that.”
“This base is another of Will’s ’low structure’ lathers — very dense, very slick and really adheres to the shave plane (i.e. ‘sticky’). I was rewarded with a very efficient, but very comfortable, 3 pass shave.
As for the important (to me anyway) post-shave feel: it’s a real winner. My face feels very soft and supple, without a hint of anything residual on the skin.”
”If Will (of B&M) declares his new Omnibus base to possess the best post-shave feel he’s ever had, I have no evidence to refute him. It’s a fantastic base and my skin simply loves it.”
“Not a soap if one is in a rush. The water mix takes time.”
“Performance is superior. It is as easy to lather as Tabac. A 30-second load with a damp brush generated enough for 3 passes, although I usually only do 2. And it feels good on the face. Great protection and residual slickness may be the best I have ever used.”
“if you’re looking for fluffy, picture-worthy lather that resembles an ice cream cone, this base is not for you. But if you like a super slick, low structure glue-like lather with incredible talc-dry face feel, then you can’t pass on this one. It’s an elite, fantastic base.”
“A modern classic and a worthy sibling to BaM’s other creations. I was hoping it could hold a candle to Reserve – one of my other favorites – and it does; improves even, on some of Reserve’s best qualities.”
My Experience With Omnibus In Le Grande Chypre
I initially thought I should try an Omnibus shave soap in a scent I already had from a previous ingredient revision, like their popular Seville scent. But in the end I decided on an “impulse buy” of Le Grande Chypre as the description piqued my interest. Barrister And Mann describes the scent of Le Grand Chypre like this:
“Inspired by smells indigenous to the island nation of Cyprus, Le Grand Chypre…combines notes of bergamot, lime, labdanum, oakmoss, and a touch of patchouli to produce an elegant, citrusy heart. We wrapped it in notes of peach, rose, frankincense, cedar, cinnamon, and other supporting smells to create an elegant, slightly fruity, freshly floral design perfectly suited to the refined shaver.”
I also picked up a bottle of the matching aftershave.
For the scent my notoriously insensitive nose gets a distinctly citrus-and-spice (particularly the cinnamon) note. I find it moderately strong off the puck but softens considerably when lathered on my face (but still there and fairly persistent through the shave). Your Mileage Will Probably Vary. 🙂 But personally I like the scent a lot.
The lather, as other reviewers have mentioned, is noticeably denser and “stickier” (and “thirstier”) than previous Barrister And Mann shave soap bases. But I still get a fast, quality lather even in my “hard” water.
I expect superior performance from Barrister And Mann shave soaps and Le Grande Chypre in the Omnibus base does not disappoint. Both lubrication/glide and cushion/protection are excellent: there’s not much to improve on from the previous bases and I would characterize Omnibus as an “evolutionary” tweak vs. a “revolutionary” improvement (though I will say the “cushion” element has been a notable performance improvement for me).
But, as many other reviewers have noted, the aftershave skin feel is outstanding and where I think the Omnibus base shines the brightest.
Conclusion – The Final (?) Barrister And Mann Shave Soap Base
Will Omnibus really be Barrister And Mann’s “final” revision of their shave soap base? Frankly, I’m skeptical: it seems like all shave soap artisans love to continually “play” with their ingredient mix–it seems to be in their DNA. But if Omnibus really is the final ingredient set, I’m more than OK with it. I think it’s definitely an evolutionary improvement over their already excellent previous Reserve and Excelsior bases and a fine one to stick with.
Barrister And Mann Omnibus shave soaps (and their other fine shaving and grooming products) are available from their website and a number of sources including Amazon (affiliate link), Maggard Razors, Grown Man Shave, Top Of The Chain and West Coast Shaving (affiliate link).