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Saponificio Varesino Aromatic Fern Shaving Soap Beta 4.3 Review

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Every now and then I get a comment from someone who has read Sharpologist’s Best Shaving Soap list along the lines of “how can Saponificio Varesino not be on this list?”

Saponificio Varesino

I’ve avoided writing about Saponificio Varesino because of my initial experience with it and the (relative) lack of data.

My first experience with Saponificio Varesino was with their 70th Anniversary Collection shave soap a while back.  There was a lot of buzz about it in the “shave nerd” community so I was really interested in trying it.  Unfortunately it didn’t meet my expectations: the scent was interesting (though the subtleties were lost on my insensitive nose), but more importantly the performance just did not meet the level of other top-shelf artisan shave soaps, as I found the “protection” or “cushion” aspect lacking in comparison.

Other reviews were more positive but I haven’t read anything recent (other than on vendor sites, whose reviews I generally “take with a grain of salt”).

I recently had an opportunity to revisit Saponificio Varesino with their “Aromatic Fern” shave soap in the latest “Beta 4.3” formulation.

From the Saponificio Varesino website:

“For the development of the Aromatic Fern shaving soap, we studied and extracted the essential properties of the roots and the aromas of a specific and rare male fern (Dryopteris Felix-mas) growing only in a microclimate area in the Italian Alps that makes this plants unique. The extract has a strong balancing effect on the skin avoiding irritation. We have created a fresh and intense note, well known and appreciated by our customers. Beta 4.3 indicates the step by step development of the product from the initial Beta 1.0 version.”

  • Top note light citrus lemon, with a hint of sage.
  • Core note floral and lavender, a hint of cloves and black pepper.
  • Tail note amber and woody vetiver, patchouli and cedar wood.

Ingredients: Sodium Cocoate, Potassium Stearate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Rapeseedate, Sodium Sunflower Seedate, Aqua/Water/Eau, Coco Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Erythritol, Ricinus Communis Oil, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Copernica Cerifera Cera, Cera Alba, Fraxinus Ornus (Manna Ash) Sap Extract, Dryopteris filix-mas Root Extract, Galactoarabinan, Shorea Stenoptera Seed Butter, Parfum/Fragrance, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Sucrose Cocoate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, Xanthan Gum, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Sodium Chloride, Tocopheryl Acetate, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Citric Acid, Alpha Isomethyl Ionone, Citronellol, Coumarin, Limonene, Linalool.

My Experience With Saponificio Varesino Aromatic Fern Shave Soap

Off the puck my insensitive nose gets generic citrus and wood scent notes.  It’s pleasant enough but again the subtleties are lost on me (not a knock on Saponificio Varesino).  The scent is moderate off the puck and softens to almost nothing when lathered on my face (again, not a knock, it’s my nose).

Lathering is fast, easy, and luxurious for me, even in my “hard” water!  Almost a yogurt consistency that can take its fair share of water–I find it tolerant of hydration ratio.

But, like the 70th Anniversary Collection shave soap, performance of Saponificio Varesino Aromatic Fern shave soap is a disappointment to me.  The “cushion” or “protection” aspect still just isn’t there.  I consistently get an uncomfortable shave with numerous “weepers” on my jaw and neck, no matter what razor/blade combo I use (even with an adjustable razor “dialed-down”).

Adding a pre-shave product does noticeably improve the comfort and performance of the shave soap for me.  But at about US $40 for a refill puck I should not have to use a pre-shave to get results that are almost-but-not-quite equal to the best shave soaps out there.


Saponificio Varesino shave soaps have a good reputation among “shave enthusiasts” but its performance misses the mark for me.  Saponificio Varesino shave soaps are available at West Coast Shaving, Maggard, Smallflower, Fendrihan, and other sites.

Do you have a better experience with Saponificio Varesino shave soap?  What do you think I may be doing wrong?  Leave a comment below.



Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

8 thoughts on “Saponificio Varesino Aromatic Fern Shaving Soap Beta 4.3 Review”

  1. Interesting. I have two of their soaps (Beta 4.0 and Beta 4.3) and would place performance in the top 5 amongst 60+ soaps I’ve tried.
    I use to have a water softener at my house but moved to a condo a coupe years ago and have noticed no difference in performance, although the city’s water isn’t very hard.

  2. I wonder if it is the hardness of your water that is an issue. I have a water softener and the lather I get from SV is quite nice and protective.

    1. Yes, I’ve been wondering that too. I hope to hear from other readers who also have hard water and have tried the soap.

      1. I have hard water and get good performance when I soak the puck for a few minutes before use and load heavy as it is a hard triple milled soap.

    2. Hi,
      I’ve been using all kind of soaps and ever since I tried SV soap it instantly become my #1 soap in my rotation. I’m using straight razors and SV provides all the cover, cushion, excellent glide and post shave that no other soap can match it. The next close to SV I would put Noble Otter, so after those two above as the best, I would recommend Wholly Kaw, Phoenix Procurement, and Declaration Grooming. From my experience the way you describe your disappointment I would put B&M soaps excluding recently released “Terror” soap which is fantastic and matching the first two brands, unfortunately every other soaps from BM lacks either good glide or cover, and decent post shave. I would definitely follow the brand’s rules how to make the good lather as I did with the above brands and always get the great lather. In conclusion I would recommend to try as many soaps as you can and find the soap that works for you.

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