Lather Bros. "El Barbero"
drivenlegend Red & Black Acrylic | APShaveCo "Tuxedo" Synthetic 30mm
Gillette Pre-war Tech | Feather New Hi-Stainless (2)
Recently, a fellow wet shaver asked if anyone had yet tried Lather Bros. He posted a pic of their flashy labels, and thus being a sucker for such things, I bit.
The 4 oz. soap was $11.99; the 4 oz. splash was 11.99; standard USPS shipping was 4.95. I placed my order on Saturday, February 11. I received a shipping confirmation the following Monday, and the package arrived at my home in East Texas via USPS the following Friday, February 17. The products arrived in a generic cardboard box and were securely packed in packing peanuts. Both the soap and the splash's lids were secured with perforated break-away seals. Included as a throw-in was a silicone soap dish. More on the soap dish later.
Since the lure was the packaging, I'll start there. The labels do look as good in person as they do on their site. They're bright and colorful even if they're a little busy. The side label is welcomed and legibly denotes the product name as well as the logo and ingredients list (ingredients list for soap and splash can be found at the end of this review). The side label is not perfectly centered, and one corner is abraded as if someone attempted to peel and re-try. The top label is perfectly placed and without blemish. The labels are, in fact, water-proof with a shiny luster. I also note both the product name and company logo on the top label are slightly raised and have a different texture from the rest of the label giving the impression of a very thin decal, when in reality it's probably just a printing technique. This overlay effect causes the logo and product name to stand out from the back ground. It's a very professional job.
The jar is frosted and double-walled with an internal diameter of 81 mm. It's 44 mm high without the lid and 47 mm with the lid. The opaque black lid is recessed with ribbed sides and has some flex and thus is not brittle. If my research pans out, the jar appears to be Olcott Plastics model JDSF0489PP. The soap filled the jar to approximately 1 cm below the top.
The splash bottle is crystal clear and stands 108 mm high with the lid. It's 53 mm wide and 32 mm deep. The screw-top lid is black and ribbed. It has separate front and back labels done in the same style as the matching soap. The label execution is not quite as professional as that of the soap. The labels are slightly crooked, and the front one is off-center. The corners of said labels are also peeling. Again, the peeling does not appear to be non-adhesion, but rather a failed attempt to remove the label. It's a comparatively small detraction. The flow limiter is effective allowing you to control pour the thin product into your palm without having to shake it out.
The dry consistency of the soap is that of a typical croap on the firmer end of the spectrum with an off-white even color. The scent off the dry puck is a pleasant, clean, gentle, slightly powdery citrus with a hint of earth. I loaded with the outstanding 30 mm Tuxedo knot courtesy of APShaveCo. With a slightly damp knot, the soap loaded easily. As per my usual technique, I aggressively loaded for about 45 seconds to accommodate for a 3-pass head and face shave. There was only a minimal amount of wasted proto-lather as the usable product pulled into the knot. I quickly dipped the tips into my reserve water and began face lathering. The initial distribution was much thinner than I'd expected, but it very quickly expanded into a thick pillowy lather. After switching to paint strokes, the lather transformed into the desired manageable dense substrate most of us prefer. Meanwhile, the knot had doubled in size.
The protection was excellent and glide was on par with most of my other preferred artisan soaps. Freshly shorn areas maintained some slickness, but nothing approaching that of the elite artisans. Reconstituting with a wet palm didn't change this. It doesn't change the quality of the shave, but one would probably want to avoid touch-ups without visible lather.
The lathered fragrance of El Barbero is about the same as the off-the-puck scent. It's somewhat uninspired, but I probably shouldn't have high expectations having ordered their "Barber Shop" scent. They claim a "Miami feel" twist to the traditional barber shop, but I don't feel it. It's pleasant, for sure, but it doesn't stand out among other artisans' citrus/earth/powder barber shop offerings. The scent strength is bold enough for me, but others may prefer a little more punch. I would call it a 3.5 out of 5.
After the shave, as part of my unprofessional method of testing, I smeared the pulled lather onto my head and face while I cleaned up the gear. I noticed no ill-effects or warmth or tingling. After rinsing, my skin felt very soft, supple, and moisturized such that a post product is not essential even for my sensitive skin.
The aftershave splash felt great with just enough glycerin to facilitate distribution. Despite the inclusion of aloe, I did not detect any tackiness. Interestingly, as I review the ingredients, I see the inclusion of "menthol crystals". I honestly do not recall any cooling sensation other than what I'd expect from any room temp liquid applied to my warm skin. The splash's fragrance is a good match for the soap, and it may be a bit more citrus-forward. About an hour later I detected a healthy amount of earthiness with hints of oakmoss, and the previously non-descript citrus became more specific to bergamot. I can't speak to the staying-power of the fragrance because I fell asleep about 4 hours after the shave. However, it did last at least that long.
A 3-pass head and face shave went quickly, and it was an overall pleasant shave. The performance is one that most of us will be happy to revisit and keep in our ever-growing rotations. As a first impression, I feel like Lather Bros., while not topping out the field of elite artisans, it is certainly better than average. They're already far ahead of the curve with regard to packaging, and the performance, with only a little tweaking, could easily hold its own with the top-notch artisans.
Other than being based in Miami Lakes, Florida, I know nothing else about the artisan/company. The "about" section on the website is incomplete. They are on twitter and Instagram. I have sent an inquiry via their site asking for a bio, but as of this writing, I've not heard back.
In addition to shaving soaps and aftershaves, Lather Bros. also makes tallow bath bars and non-tallow "shampoo" bars. They offer a free silicone soap dish for signing up for their newsletter. I did not sign up, but a soap dish was included in my order. It's a pretty nice flexible silicone dish. It has replaced my rubber shelf-liner on which I place my razor while shower shaving.
Shaving Soap Ingredients: Stearic Acid, Coconut Water, Aloe Vera Juice, Guava Puree, Tallow, Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide, Shea Butter, Sweet Almond Oil, Glycerin, Sodium Lactate Essential Oils and Fragrance
Aftershave Splash Ingredients: Stearic Acid, Coconut Water, Aloe Vera Juice, Guava Puree, Tallow, Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide, Shea Butter, Sweet Almond Oil, Glycerin, Sodium Lactate Essential Oils and Fragrance