Tallow + Steel 2017 - First Impressions

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Tallow + Steel 2017 First Impressions

This is a follow-up, a part deux if you will, of the Meet the All-new Tallow + Steel Products introduction... Now that I have each of the new Tallow + Steel products in-hand. Let's see what it's all about!

First, I'd like to repeat Ryan's words from the first part:

We've been quietly working on these scents behind the scenes since our original products launched. We wanted a really unique theme and to do something that nobody else was doing. Each new scent is blended using essential oils either sourced from, or native to that specific region. This allows us to really challenge ourselves when creating scents, as not only do we not use fragrance oils or synthetics, we are now limited to essential oils from a certain region. We have also partnered with a charity in each region, and donate 10% of profits from each product to its corresponding charity.

Along with our new soap and aftershave formulas, we are proud of what we have created, and hope the customers enjoy our new products.

Indeed, this completely new lineup reveals a lot of thought behind the scenes, and I think it paid off.

Packaging

Starting from the outside, the most obvious change is the packaging, and it's a bold, complete makeover. The soap tubs are glossy black PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic. Robust like the older tubs, just in black. The aftershave bottles however, are completely new. They're an opaque black glass and very substantial. The design is also unique among all of the artisanal offerings to date; the tall, slender bottles have squared shoulders. The caps, also black, are smooth and rounded, mirroring the shape of the bottles. The break-off seal is also smooth and looks like part of the cap until opened - after which it makes a clean break, remaining very nice looking... In fact, the only way you can tell the bottle was opened is by a small gap (with the cap screwed on) or the obvious separation (with the cap removed). The neck of the bottle is small in diameter, as well as the restrictor within; yet allows easy, accurate dosing. The selection of these two containers is impeccable.

The labels are professional and waterproof; more robust feeling than the prior generation. The finish is now matte rather than glossy, but still subject to wear and tear. The label atop the soap tub is dimensionally the same as before... What's new is the label wrapping around the entire side of the tub. It sports the #tallowandsteel logo, a call-out of the key features ("organic ingredients, pasture-raised tallow, 100% essential oils") and the ingredients. The label on the aftershave bottles also wraps completely around, with both having artwork, volume, scent notes and ingredients. Each label fits the area of application perfectly, clearly designed for the new packaging.

The most arresting visual change however, lies in the artwork and color scheme for label typography. Each scent has a unique scene, masterfully created, that represents the particular geographical area that the scent is inspired by - and ingredients sourced from. Done in an illustrative style of gradients and moodiness, it's absolutely stunning. You can immediately pick out each scent from the pack, which is further enhanced by the dominant color pulled from the scene, and used for the typography (therefore, each is different). From the top to the sides of the soap tubs and wraparound label of the aftershaves, you can easily distinguish one from another, even from the side.

Overall, the look is unique, highly custom and high-end. Cohesive branding is evident, with well thought out artwork and styling. Really, it's stunning. This surpasses most all other artisans, save for a select few, and squarely places these products among the upper echelon of artisanal offerings. These Tallow + Steel offerings are in good company, with the likes of Barrister and Mann (and by extension, Barrister's Reserve especially), L&L Grooming and Chatillon Lux among others. Design and presentation is important at this level and should not be underestimated. It sets the products apart from a very crowded field, and gives you a sense of using a really high quality product - before you even use it.

Formulations

Both the soap and the aftershave bases have been reformulated and improved. The new soap base is less "traditional" and even more exotic, chock full of organic ingredients. It's also quite a bit softer... One thing that stands out immediately is that the Tallow + Steel logo is no longer pressed ("branded") into the top of the soap as a result.

The aftershaves have added floral hydrosols, more exotic (and organic) ingredients and have a lighter feel on the face (being less tacky). Even on a very humid, very warm spring day - it was not in the least bit tacky, even after a heavy application.

I covered a lot the specific ingredients, comparing before and after in the Meet the All-new Tallow + Steel Products introduction, so check that out for more.

Performance

Starting with the soap, as mentioned, it's much softer than the prior version. Some people had expressed issues with loading the harder base of the prior version, so this was addressed. I never had an issue with it, but the new, softer base is clearly easier to load. It doesn't get quite as goopy with a warm, soft brush as Barrister's Reserve or L&L Grooming soap does, but with these soft soaps, you need to be mindful of it. With these, I prefer a slightly cooler, wetter and stiffer brush (like my Semogue Owner's Club). You can obviously use softer brushes, both natural and synthetic... But do try to keep the water cooler and the brush wetter. Load with a light touch and perhaps a bit less than you normally might (25s should be plenty).

The slickness is extremely good, and feels better than the prior version. Both in primary and secondary lubricity. It left enough residual slickness that I could make any number of touch-ups between passes that I desired, even with a "dry" face. The lather in general was abundant. It had a good range of water latitude, which allowed for a drier, denser lather - or a wetter, creamier lather. The cushion offered is outstanding, as was post-shave face feel. Really, this lather is in the top tier - it was before, but now it's even better.

The aftershave also got the treatment and feels more nourishing, more healing. That unique, somewhat unusual feeling of applying the aftershave upon your face from the prior version is no longer. I kind of liked it - the skin had a sort of "squeaky clean" feeling and applying the aftershave was fun, as it sort of spread about on top of it, before soaking in. The new version is more traditional. The real change is in post-application tackiness... Or complete lack of it! Even trying with a heavier application, I couldn't get it to feel tacky. Even on a warm, humid morning. None. This was my only negative feeling regarding the aftershave, and it's fully addressed with the reformulation. Overall, it does indeed feel lighter on the face as well - yet still leaving a really moisturized, supple and lovely face feel. The new aftershave is improved in every way.

Scents

I haven't shaved with each new scent yet, but I will be... And detailing them individually in SOTD reviews (where I'll mention this post and the prior introduction so as not to repeat myself). On a more topical level, they are all amazing. Holding nothing back, the scents are all very unique in the artisanal space and quite robust in strength. They are truly in the style of Tallow + Steel so if you were a fan of the prior generation - you will not be disappointed in the new scents! There are some polarizing scents in the group to be sure...

Morocco is smoky. Very smoky. This alone will split many of you right down the middle. It's there in all its glory, with a grand supporting cast, and it's intense. If you like woodsy scents, Boreal will blow your mind. It takes "wood" and dials it up to 11. A fan of bay rum? West Indies may just be one of the best. While it doesn't stray too far from the "norm" on the surface, it adds enough of its own identity, adding complexity - and has longevity better than most. Himalaya and Maya both are unlike anything else out there. Vivid and bold.

Each of the scents, besides having their own unique artwork of the region represented - also source the notes from each region... Atlas, Canadian and Himalayan cedarwood, amber extracted from ancient, fossilized Himalayan trees, Mayan cocoa and coffee, rose from Morocco's Atlas mountain region, Haitian vetiver and West Indies bay... Each scent is deep, rich and complex - and takes you on a journey. You can truly immerse yourself in the experience.

I'll say this; if you're a Tallow + Steel fan - it doesn't get better than this. Here's a loose translation between the old scents and the new (which are entirely new):

Old New
Classic  
Dark Maya
Grog West Indies
Rainforest Boreal
  Morocco
  Himalaya

Again, I refer you to the Meet the All-new Tallow + Steel Products introduction for a run-down of each of the new scents - and follow along as I review each one in-depth daily.

Closing

This new lineup is truly something else. From the packaging materials to the labels, the artwork and typography, clear branding - down to the performance of the bases and quality of the scents... The all-new Tallow + Steel lineup for 2017 is amazing. There's something here for everyone, but the weak need not apply. There is bold stuff on the inside, just like on the outside. I'm truly looking forward to putting each one through its paces and further exploring the new formulas. I have to say, so far and as a first impression, I'm already smitten. The thought put into this new lineup, from each scent's individuality and regional expression, is apparent both visually and olfactory - and it's all dressed up in a tuxedo that Mr. Bond himself would be proud of.

Individual Reviews

Here are links to the individual scent reviews, as I get to them...

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