Shaving Product Review - Saponificio Varesino "Cosmo"
NOTE: Okay, so the soap tin is upside down. Sue me. I wasn't wearing my glasses and in my morning routine/haze. :p
In my opinion, there is one manufacturer that truly stands out as the best in the world and that's Saponificio Varesino. Artisans like B&M and CRSW have upped their game tremendously over the last year, but SV still holds the (narrowing) lead when it comes to ultimate lather quality and resulting face feel. Although their scent profiles all have similarities to each other and the likes of say, Acqua Di Gio in complexity, blend and presence - they each stand alone; unique and of a very high quality. They've been doing this since 1945... And it shows.
The soap is the latest formulation, which is continuously under development - and is dubbed Beta 4.2. When it comes to over-the-top ingredients, nobody does it better:
Sodium cocoate, potassium stearate, sodium cocoyl isethionate, sodium rapeseedate, sodium sunflower seedate, aqua (water), galactoarabinan, ricinus communis (castor) oil, fraxinus ornus (manna ash) sap extract, shorea stenoptera seed butter, macadamia ternifolia seed oil, sucrose cocoate, parfum (fragrance), butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, oryza sativa (rice) starch, xanthan gum, copernicia cerifera (carnauba wax) cera, glycerin, cera alba, stearic acid, tocopheryl acetate, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, citric acid, hexyl cinnamal, limonene
After trying the #SapVaresino 70th Anniversary and Tundra Artica Beta 4.1 soaps, I didn't think there could possibly be much room for improvement. Indeed, I think Beta 4.2 is perhaps a bit better, but the difference is slight. They're all just that good if you ask me. High quality soaps like this, B&M and CRSW generally benefit from two things. First, they're thirsty... Give them a good amount of water to bring out both the volume/cushion and the slickness. You'll need to experiment a bit on your own. Second, work the lather longer than you might be used to to really smooth it out and release the magic. This kills any and all bubbles lurking in the lather and brings out the creaminess. I prefer a scuttle, to ensure warm lather that's consistent throughout the shave, but this applies to face latherers also. At any rate, Cosmo produces copious amounts of extremely soft, plush and creamy lather with excellent glide and cushion and the resulting face feel is second to none, period. A lot of people, upon first applying SV lather to their faces invariably react the same way... "Whoa."
The matching aftershaves lotions are equally top notch. Though it's interesting, as they're not like other aftershaves... "Lotion" is a good description as they have a high viscosity. Due largely to the also equally impressive ingredients as the soaps (they like to separate if not used regularly, so shake it up good before use):
Aqua (Water/Eau), alcohol denat., glycerin, chamomilla recutita flower, malva sylvestris extract, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, parfum, galactoarabinan, calendula officinalis flower, tocopheryl acetate, benzyl alcohol, ethylhexylglycerin, tocopherol, xanthan gum, hexyl cinnamal, caprylic/capric triglyceride, menthol, eucalyptus globulus leaf oil, lavandula hybrida abrial herb oil, linalool, citric acid, limonene, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate
The scent profile for Cosmo is pretty interesting... Top notes of citrus and coffee with middle notes of nutmeg, coriander and pepper with a base of vetiver, sandalwood, incense and vanilla. It's complex, masterfully blended and truly wonderful. A shame though, as it doesn't last as long as some of the other SV releases. I like to supplement them with Acqua Di Gio and as it goes with all of them.
The face feel after shaving with Saponificio Varesino will blow your mind. Super soft, hydrated and just lovely. I think a bit of that magic, aside from the ingredients - comes from the fact that the aftershave is a bit tacky in nature, which gives you that BBS feeling regardless of how well you did. SV products are not cheap; in the same ballpark as Martin de Candre and what kills both is the shipping from Europe to the USA. Your best bet is to order direct and split an order among a friend or two.
Absolutely plum shave any time I reach for the SV and you can take that to the bank. If you haven't tried any of their products... DO IT! I just wish they'd pick a packaging style and stick with it for longer than an individual release. But for what it's worth, Cosmo is the best yet. A non-deforming soap tin and a non-leaking aftershave bottle! And c'mon... That stealth black aluminum finish is choice, my friends.