Product Review: Almon Loos World Famous Knock-Out Shaving Soap

July 26, 2011

I recently received this product to review from the man himself, Almon Loos after a chat on Facebook about a mini-documentary I saw on him. (You can read more about what else I got in my blog entry here: Almon Loos Rockabilly Barber.) And while I did receive it for free, I was under no obligation to give it a good review, or to even post anything positive about it at all. These are my conditions for all of my reviews. I'm honest in my blogging because really what would be the point otherwise?
(I used this soap with my GBar SE Razor and Badger Brush)
Firstly, this product has to get some sort of brownie points for having the longest title of any product I've reviewed to date! Almon Loos World Famous Knock Out Shaving Soap! Phew! Secondly, props have to be given to Almon for his home-made feel to the product. He makes this stuff by hand and, while the packaging is unlikely to win any awards for innovative design, I like it. He uses simple aluminium trays for the soap which give you the handy option of either using the soap straight in the tray given, or to take the puck out and pop it in your regular shaving mug. If, like me, you use it in the tray, then the lack of replaceable lid can be a little annoying but I was lucky enough to remove it's initial plastic cover carefully enough that I can just pop it back on after each use. In fact, while writing this, it just occurred to me to simply pop the paper lid back on and just bend the edges of the tray around it - much like you would with take-away food! Wow sometimes my own genius amazes me!
Okay so onto the product itself. The first thing I noticed was it's lack of scent. It was a little disappointing but I should have expected this as Almon markets it as being suitable for use on all skin types, and I have to agree that I doubt anyone with hypo-allergenic skin would have a problem with this. The ingredients of the soap are all recognisable and described well, so the lack of fragrance makes sense. Still, as a personal preference I like a scent, but ya can't have everything.
Now I have to be honest, upon opening the soap and looking at it I figured it'd perform just like a regular melt-and-pour glycerin soap, as I think I've been biased towards soft soaps as of late. But boy was I wrong!
I whirled my brush on this puck for a few seconds, not even sure if the lather was loading properly, but once I put the brush to my skin this stuff lathered epically. Thick, slick and plentiful. In fact it's one of the only lathers I've found that, while leg lathering, built up a huge amount of lather in the brush also! Normally the lather will just form on my skin and the brush remains a bit soapy - but with this I had a full brush of lather too. And lots of it. A few swirls on the puck gave a tons of lather and it was lovely, white and smooth. I liked it so much I made up a batch in a bowl so I could post a few pictures on here for you!:
I call this one "El Diablo" because of it's horns and it's rockabilly maker.
As you can see it has nice self-supporting peaks and the lather was thick and cushioned like a meringue. I had a lovely smooth shave and tried the soap with a couple of different brushes and it performed well with both. I reckon the puck is big enough to last a good long time and this will be in my regular rotation for sure. You can find it for sale here: Knock Out Soap ... Rock'n'Roll!
- BE

Almon Loos - Rockabilly Barber and Soap Maker

July 25, 2011

A few months ago a friend of mine from The Waldorf Barbershop shared a cool video online of a Californian barber called Almon Loos (I'd link to it here but is seems to be set to "private" now). It was a rockin' little documentary about his career as a barber, a rockabilly musician and a businessman also makes his own soaps and shaving products. In lieu of the documentary here's a link to a video of his band playing "Hollywood Babylon":
I was so intrigued by this guy that I contacted him on Facebook (Click here for his page ) to find out more about his shaving products and to compliment him on the documentary etc. After a few e-mails back and forth he kindly said he would send me a sample of his "World Famous Shaving Soap" so I could give it a whirl and review it on here, under no obligation to like it or give anything other than an honest, unbiased review. After a couple of weeks I got a big package in the post containing all of THIS!

What a haul! Almon was kind enough to include not only a full puck of his shaving soap, but also a puck of his tattoo soap, a t-shirt, posters and stickers, and even a record of his band with a handwritten note on the sleeve! I was blown away by the generosity of this guy and his dedication to promoting his products etc. It's independent vendors like this that really make me appreciate the kindness of the shaving community. Anyway, you can read all about my review of his shaving soap in my next blog post... until then...
- BE


Product Review: Dr. Harris Lavender Shave Stick

July 20, 2011

Time for a product review!
I received this lovely shave stick as part of a gift trade on Badger & Blade and have to admit that I was reluctant to give it a go for a while. I'm not normally a fan of lavender scents but once I opened this and gave it a smell I realised it was a nice fresh smell, not the old-granny scent I was expecting!
(image from Dr Harris Website )
Now I have used Dr. Harris products before in this Shave Of The Week entry but only briefly commented on the soap. Despite my hesitancy toward lavender, I was hoping the scent would grow once lathered so that I could decide just how much I liked it however the scent faded very quickly in the lather and didn't linger on my skin at all afterwards. On smelling the soap itself though the scent is sweet, floral and quite light. I expected more of a musk and heaviness but don't find that at all. The soap goes on fairly clear onto my skin so it's hard to tell if I've applied any, also I used to be a big fan of shave stick but have gone off them quite a bit as rubbing a hard soap on my soft skin just isn't as nice and just going straight to a brush loaded with soap/cream. I could just load the brush from the stick, or put the stick in the tub, but that kind of defeats it's purpose as a shave stick! Despite not being able to see the soap on my skin, one I put my brush to it it lathered up fine. Not the explosion of lather I get some some other soaps, nor the cushion, but it gave a nice smooth shave. Not stunning but not terrible either. Not moisturizing but not drying either. Something I think I'd use again if it was to hand - but maybe just I'm getting too picky in my "old-age"!
- BE


July 17, 2011

(AKA: How I Learnt Very Quickly To Never Wear Wool When Cutting Hair!)
The barber shop I work in now doesn't have a uniform, which I like, as it means you can express a bit of your personality in what you wear. One barber wears light summer dresses with Doc Martin boots. Most of the guys wear jeans and a t-shirt. However when going through my own wardrobe I noted that I have an awful lot of black clothes as in barbering college, as well as my last job, I had to wear all black. In college I would have theory one day a week and be cutting for the rest so I knew that on the theory day I could wear a healed shoe or jewellery etc... something that would be impractical on the shop floor. One day, when we were due to do theory class, I wore in a lovely woollen dress. Clients were booked in however, and I ended up cutting, and it felt like every single hair I cut got stuck in that bloomin' dress! I've never been so itchy!

Then back when I did my first barber training (the basic evening course) I bought a white tunic to wear. Here's a picture of me wearing it giving one of my models a hug! Its a nurse's tunic as the chef's ones which they wore in this barbers didn't come in my size:
When cutting hair most barbers will have a set of clothes they wear in work only. Because no matter how many times you wash a top you'll still find little cuttings caught in the fabric. Polyester is a popular choice however it's not as breathable as cotton in my opinion. While most of the barbers I work with wear t-shirts, one of them wears a smart looking black tunic top that looks like the one of the left below, however I quite like to look of the one on the right as it looks like a bowling shirt!:
I need to think about my image, but to also balance that with comfort and practicality. I have some things that I'd love to wear in work but once I do then they'll be come a "work item"! Forever banished to the Land Of Trapped Hairs Shorn From The Head's Of Many-A-Man! The same goes for shoes. While I do work with one woman who wears open-toed sandals, personally, for health and safety as well as comfort reasons, I prefer flat-soled, closed-toe shoes or boots. As a barber are on your feet all day so comfort is key. One girl only wears high heals and says her feet hurt when she wears flats! Madness! 
I'd love to hear any of your opinions on how important you think appearance is in the barbering profession.


The Most Important Tool Of The Trade

July 2, 2011

Forget about the scissors, clippers and razor, any barber will tell you that the most vital tool of their trade is their hands. We often forget about just how important they are, but when something happens to them the reality of this fact hits home fast.
( image copyright to Vincent Tsang: http://vincenttsang.com/ )
I was in work the other day and one of the barbers came in to open up the shop. He was the only barber on that morning but he had caught his hand very badly in a door the night before but hadn't realised it was going to be as bad as it was come the morning. He could barely move it and it was swollen up more than double it's size with the bruising around the knuckles already turning dark purple. Luckily he could still slowly move it a small bit so we hope it's not broken, but the realisation that it would be weeks before he could cut hair again hit him hard, as he saw the fragility of primary tool of his trade and how suddenly they can be put out of service.
Like a dancer injuring their leg or a singer losing their voice, if you injure your hands as a barber there is nothing you can do other than to wait for them to heal; and to be forced away from your craft, let alone your income, can be both tough and upsetting. So I look at my hands, these wondrous things capable of so much, and I appreciate them fully, and I wish our barber a speedy recovery.
- BE