Mike’s hails from the well known Ann Arbour, Michigan area and has been a well known artisan in the wetshaving community for years now. His website sells bath soap, shampoo bars, Shaving soap jars, and loose shaving pucks. The site restocks at a fairly slower place. Small batches are made in cycles. When a soap sells out, it may take a little longer for that particular soap to restock. Mike works at his own pace, doesn’t really advertise at all, and seems to like things a bit lower key. That doesn’t mean he is tone deaf: after years of using tin jars and brown paper labels (Which, IMO, were a classic and rustic look), Mike’s soap jars were upgraded to white plastic and silver sticker labels. Many shavers dislike tins due to their tendency to dent very easily and I’ve heard a number of experienced shavers who will finally give this stellar a shot now that the tins are gone. Also, empty tubs with scent labels can be purchased for $2.50 if you want to swap out your tin.
The formula is tallow and consists of distilled water, saponified tallow (beef), stearic acid, vegetable glycerin, saponified kokum butter, avocado oil, shea butter, lanolin, fragrance & essential oils, saponified coconut oil, kaolin clay, & vitamin E. The soap retails on his site for $13 at a net weight of 5 oz, a stellar value at $2.60/oz!
The scent notes are a manly blend of bergamot, patchouli, basil, and oak moss. The closest other barbershop scent is Soap Commander’s “Honor” and Maggard Razors “London Barbershop”. IMO Soap Commander’s is about a 9 on scent strenth vs Mike’s at what I estimate is about a 7.5 (out of the jar and lathered-the scent stays the same). I’ve had several people disagree with me regarding that, but this is my interpretation because no two noses are the same. I’ve owned both, but I traded Honor because it was too strong for me. IMO, Mike’s iteration has more basil and tones down the bergamot and patchouli to the perfect balance. It is neither musky nor powdery like Stirling and Cooper & French’s takes, but the scent can be enjoyed in addition to them. It has more in common with Seville than those two in that it uses more citrus, but it is also quite unlike it. Nevertheless, I found the Seville aftershave to be a good follow up and compliment for the citrus and oak moss.
I’ve seen many reviews say that Mike’s is a softer soap. That has not been my experience. This is perhaps due to me using tins that have seen previous use. The airing process likely hardens the soap to the point where I had to load my brush 2x since I neither used an especially wet brush nor did I use water droplets to loosen the surface. I recommend doing either or both of those things for an easier loading experience. As far as lather building, the soap can take its water but it’s the the thirstiest soap base. Just add drops of water incrementally until you achieve the lather you want. The lather volume is good but doesn’t explode like similarly harder soaps like Stirling. It’s medium in density/volume. Dialing the correct amount water results in a shiny lather that is similar to a yogurt and is VERY slick. It excels in slickness and glide and offers some of the best protection that one can find for the price. Residual slickness is also above average and even more so with just a splash of water. I wouldn’t call the RS elite, but it is more than adequate. If you’re in a hurry, you can buff with confidence.
This was a two pass shave with a small amount of buffing and the end result was what I would call an elite post shave feel. My skin was soft and felt nourished for the rest of the day. I did use Alum and Sevilla aftershave and I felt no burn/stinging at all. I nearly always use a balm and did not need to do so for this. It felt like the balm had already been applied, so I didn’t bother. At $2.60 an oz, the value of Mike’s soaps rivals that of Stirling, unanimously considered to be the best bang for your buck. Stirling is mere cents cheaper than Mike’s and while it does feature better packaging, variety, and an easier lather load and density, Mike’s wins the post-shave battle. The latter was my favorite thing about the soap apart from the well crafted scent. Mike has properly utilized his ingredients to produce a criminally underrated product. Now that they come in plastic tubs, there is no reason to not give Mike’s a shot! I can vouch for his Hungarian Lavender, a more naturally herbal and woody take on the lavender genre. He also makes what many to be a contender for best bayrum, and possibly the most popular of his scents-Orange, Black Pepper, and Cedarwood. You can buy Mike’s at www.mikesnaturalsoaps.com or at the Maggard Razors website.