Razor: Karve CB  on B OC
Blade: Gillette Nacet
Brush: Yaqi Synthetic
Soap: Ariana & Evans Kaizen
Aftershave: Ariana & Evans Kaizen

Wow, it seems like it has been forever since I posted a SOTD.  I can confirm it is with good reason.  I haven’t been AWOL or given up shaving.  There has been some fun things happening behind the scenes.  I was helping a fellow artisan doing some testing of a new product (aftershave splash).  That is a responsibility I take very seriously and it involved using a very controlled setup with only the test product changing (same razor, same soap, same blade, same brush) for the entire suite of test batches.  Not very exciting to post about but important nonetheless.  I’ve also been doing some work on the Thirsty Badger side of things.  The pottery studio is still not fully open yet so I’m taking the opportunity to tweak a few things before we are in production again.

And lastly, I received my order with the new Kaizen A&E soap base.  This particular soap I wanted to really put through its paces before posting an impression.  A&E is one of my top soap bases so I really wanted to get to know the new base to do the comparison.  The new Kaizen base is going to be their base going forward so I was really torn in how I felt about it.  I figured getting to really know the base would be the best way to understand how I felt about that.  The hype on this base has been unreal so I really wanted to dial it in and give my impressions vs rehash what the hype train has been putting out.

First off, the scent on this is a very citrus forward scent.  Not really in my wheelhouse but an excellent add for the warm weather.  Scent notes on this are Mandarin, Calabrian Bergamot, Lemon Peel, Neroli, Honeysuckle, Green Apple, Rose, Tobacco Absolute, Haitian Vetiver, Sandalwood, Cedarwood.  That’s a lot going on but for me, I largely pickup Neroli on top of the other subtle citrus/fruit notes and a subtle soft rose, perhaps a touch of the Honeysuckle.  I don’t really pick up the Tobacco, Vetiver and Sandalwood.  I’m not a big fan of Neroli and off the start I really didn’t care for the scent.  Having used it several times now, it has grown on me.  If you like citrus scents this will be a big win for you.  One thing Peter has done here is make a strong citrus scent.  That is pretty rare for citrus scent profiles and I had no irritation from it at that level.

The big question on this is the base, and I’ll be honest, I actually prefer the current base to this one and it makes me a bit sad that it is going away.  Not that this base is bad, not at all.  When it is properly dialled in, it is elite level on cushion, slickness (residual and lathered) and post shave.  For me, I just find that dialling in is a  trickier.  That is pretty much what I find with all these new uber elite bases.  You can get a decent lather fairly quickly but to get the best performance you have to really push water into it, like, a lot.  Every time I thought I had it hydrated correctly I’d test and find the slickness wasn’t as good as the previous base.  I pushed more water and it improved.    It took several iterations to get the right amount of hydration and then you could see the definitive improvement, man it’s good.  If you on a tight timeline or don’t give the patience, you may well be disappointed.  I also think for new wet shavers, the learning curve might be a bit much.  Again, this isn’t a criticism of just this base, I’m finding all these new uber elite bases (Declaration Grooming, Zingari, Wholly Kaw, etc) are all falling into this area.  Fantastic for experienced wet shavers, a bit of a leap for newbs.  What I do appreciate is that this new base is my favourite of the new elite offerings in the market and is the easiest of them to work with.    They have also done it without increasing the price-point, which is a big big plus for me.

In closing….. will an experienced shaver get better performance out of this base?  Yes.  Does it warrant upgrading an existing soap to the new base if you have an A&E set you already love?  No.  Spend your money picking up new scents in this base when released but the step up isn’t that high that it warrants the upgrade.  If a scent speaks to you in the new line up, jump on it.  Just be prepared to spend some time getting to know the base….. honestly something us wet shavers should be doing anyways.

All for now – J