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?”
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.