Unlike other 20-year old millennials, I’m not a huge fan social media, but I recently got onto Instagram and followed Phoenix Artisan Accouterments’ fearless leader Douglas Smythe. Besides being able to share my passion for wetshaving, I’m also able to see what soaps are coming up. Smythe put up a post of the website’s latest addition that would come in extremely limited numbers—Ballenclaugh’s Thunder & Linen.
One of the unfortunate things about limited edition soaps is that no one else has written a review on them, so you’re blindly purchasing a product with the hopes of it being good. Unfortunately, this product was not good and that’s putting it kindly.
Thunder & Linen is a special scent from Ballenclaugh, so it costs more than other soaps from the company. The 6 oz. tub costs $18, which is $3 an oz—not bad for a limited edition soap.
The tub itself is well made and the design on the lid is gorgeous. I’ve never had a shaving soap or shaving cream with a clear tub before, but I really like Ballenclaugh’s design. The 6 oz. tub has a large opening, which makes loading a brush extremely easy. Unfortunately, the tub and its design are the only two things I liked about the soap.
Before I go into the soap’s scent, I should stress that this is my opinion and everyone enjoys a different scent. To me, opening the tub revealed a terrible scent that reminded me of an elderly individual’s clothing. The scent was supposed to be “the smell of fresh cleaned linens out on the line after a storm comes through.” But I didn’t get any of that. I got a huge whiff of old, dirty clothes with a mix of moth balls that really put me off. After taking one whiff of the soap, my girlfriend told me to sell the tub and cut my losses.
So my girlfriend and I were put off by the scent, but you may like it. Everyone enjoys shaving with different scents and that’s one of the great things about wetshaving. Because of this soap, I feel compelled to add another category in my overall shaving review: scent pleasantness. This will be a number (one to 10) that dictates whether I liked the scent of the soap.
I’m not the kind of person to spend $18 on a soap and not try it out. So I loaded my Razorock Plissoft Synthetic brush for 30 seconds and went into a face lather. Usually 30 seconds produces more than enough lather for my face and the brush seemed to load really well. I took the brush and went to my face. I lathered and lathered and lathered, but all I was left with was an airy, light lather.
I thought I did something wrong, but I kept water to a minimum and loaded a good amount, so I was perplexed. I tried again with the same synthetic brush, but loaded for over a minute. I then went into a bowl lather. In the bowl, the soap looked like it was working into a good lather, but it was airy for a second time. I tried working more water into the soap to see if that worked, but the soap just fell apart.
I then switched to my Semogue 1305 Boar brush and attempted a face lather, as well as a bowl lather. I loaded the soap for over two minutes for the third and fourth lathers with my boar brush, but was still stuck with a terrible lather.
I don’t know why I did this, but I attempted to shave with the terrible lather. It was so airy that as soon as I put it on my face it disappeared. It didn’t provide my face with any slickness, cushion, or comfort. It may sound like I’m bashing this soap, but this is one of the worst shaves I’ve ever had. I stopped after one pass, because I couldn’t get the soap to work for me.
- Scent Pleasantness: 2/10
- Scent Strength: 4/10
- Lather Quality: 1/10
- Price: 8/10
After four attempts with different brushes and different shaving methods, Ballenclaugh’s Thunder & Linen didn’t work for me. The scent—to me—was incredibly off putting, the scent was extremely weak off of the puck and when lathering, the lather was utterly disappointing, but the tub’s design and the soap’s price were great. I sold the soap the same day I tried it and lost $10. But it was worth it to me. While the soap didn’t work for me, it might work for you, but I wont be buying another Ballenclaugh shaving soap any time soon.