Hi. My name is Michelle and I'm a soap artisan - and I have a confession to make:
after making soap for about fifteen years, I considered myself to be pretty much of an expert, so one day I decided to make a shaving soap, thinking “How hard can it be?”. You’re probably grimacing right now because you can guess how it turned out: a disaster, like every other bath-soap-with-clay shaving soap you’ve ever bought from an earnest vendor at a farmers market and relegated to the trash bin after one try, or ended up using as a bath bar after the thin, watery lather disappeared during the first pass.
__The main ingredient in my shaving soap is tallow. I render it myself from beef suet that I get from a fellow farmers market vendor who raises grass fed beef on her local Maryland farm. It's extra work but I prefer the high quality of tallow it produces. I add organic unrefined shea butter, castor oil, palm oil, avocado oil and stearic acid along with extra glycerin, bentonite clay, aloe vera leaf juice, and liquid silk. Like all the best shaving soaps, it's saponified with both sodium and potassium hydroxide. So I think I’ve pretty much covered the bases of desirable ingredients. The one glaring omission: coconut oil. Now, nearly every shaving soap in the world relies on saponified coconut oil to some degree. Coconut oil is widely held to be moisturizing, and it is – before it’s turned into soap. In soap, it can be drying and so I wanted to try something a little different. A recurring theme in shaving forum posts is: “I love this soap, this scent, this lather…but my skin is dry/red/irritated. Help!”. I like to keep coconut oil to a minimum in my bath soaps anyway, using just enough to make the bubbly lather that people enjoy, without being drying. But shaving soap doesn’t need to have big, bubbly lather – after all, you really want the tiny little creamy bubbles. I won’t go all soap geeky on you here and bore you with talk about fatty acids, but let’s just say that I think I’ve created a pretty darned good soap without coconut oil, one that creates gobs of dense creamy unctuous lather and will leave your skin feeling great. I really hope that you will like it.
--Michelle Burns, soap artisan