SOTD - May 4, 2017

Wholly Kaw

Shaving Product Review - Wholly Kaw "Fougére Bouquet"

Value (Cost, Packaging and Performance)

Lather (Density, Glide and Feel)

Post-shave (Healing, Moisture and Feel)

Scent (Quality, Strength and Longevity)

Each bar has three metrics, each representing 33% of the total (11% = below-avg, 22% = avg, 33% = above-avg, except cost)

TL;DR is that I'm going to rave about the latest release from Wholly Kaw called Fougére Bouquet (special edition) #soap with donkey milk and their standard #balm.

The Fougére Bouquet in this special edition soap was their most expensive at $25.99 for the tub. Regular donkey milk laden tallow soaps are $23.99 while the plain tallow offerings are $17.99. So what gives? First, you're paying for the quality scent ingredients; fougére fragrances can get expensive quick. You might recall Barrister and Mann having the same pricing with Fougére Imperiale and Fougére Aromomatique (among others). What about $23.99 for the regular donkey milk offerings? In my opinion, it's worth it as the lather and face feel is noticeably different - that said, do not hesitate to get the plain tallow soaps. They're all very good! If anything, the soaps are priced fairly in accordance with their ingredients.

I've reviewed Wholly Kaw a fair amount on this site, and the reviews have kind of followed along their transformation - from an underrated artisan to one I would place in the top tier today. Check out my review of Washington's Blend (which was then their new tallow formula) followed by a review of Fern Concerto - also a really nice soap and scent. They've come a long way from their earlier vegan formula, of which I had a mixed review about Almond Medley. The latest changes at #WhollyKaw include all-new, professionally designed and printed, waterproof labels that look fabulous and the addition of donkey milk (affectionately called "ass milk") in select offerings... Including this special edition Fougére Bouquet soap.

So what's this about ass milk? Why is it so special? We'll let Sri from Wholly Kaw explain...

Donkey milk contains a high amount of proteins, lactoglobulins, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. It also contains significant levels of vitamin C, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), and vitamin B9. It has skin nourishing properties, rich in proteins, minerals, Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and vitamins. It also offers collagen stimulation and anti-wrinkle activity.

It's not just about the donkey milk. The tallow base was already solid, and it's a nice addition to make it even better. It definitely has an effect on the lather and the skin feel, having used both. The rest of the ingredients, in fact, are also nice:

Vegetable stearic acid, beef tallow, donkey milk, distilled water, potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, castor oil, kokum butter, cocoa butter, glycerin, shea butter, lanolin, essential oils and fragrance oils

The soap takes a bit more loading over the standard version, and I went with the top of my usual 25-30s and loaded "just a bit more." The sweet spot for water is also a bit narrow, so proceed carefully. I generally start all shaves with a typical amount to get started, then adjust to taste. If you follow this method, you'll never go wrong. Once fully worked up the soap produced ample, very creamy lather with excellent slickness both primary and secondary. Really a choice lather here. Fougére Bouquet in this special edition is actually the second soap to utilize donkey milk - the first being Monaco Royale - and there's actually a third now, The Man from Mayfair which will start shipping May 12, 2017.

The scent of Fougére Bouquet is, in my experience, one of the best scents they've got in their lineup. It features top notes of oakmoss, lavender and bergamot, middle notes of sandalwood, cedar and other woods with base notes of tonka bean, musk and ambergris. It smells a bit damp, green and earthy. Everything you might expect a darker fougére to smell like, and well executed at that. The scent strength of both the soap and balm are at the high end of medium. I went with the balm as it's a bit richer than the rather simple aftershave offering. Alas, it's not so good for applying the scent to anything other than your face... So I can't comment too much on longevity - it was on the shorter side - a couple of hours.

A quick note on the balm... It's absolutely amazing. I'd go so far as to say it's one of the best I have, and I have quite a few. Balms can offer you what aftershaves can't, but they're not for everyone and personally, I tend to prefer them during the colder months. I would urge caution with it - do not use too much as it takes a while to soak in, and it doesn't just "disappear" like cheap balms. It leaves your face feeling supremely moisturized, absolutely supple and soft. It's not at all tacky, but the first hour can feel a little "greasy" (it's not) if you've used too much. With the sweet spot amount, it's spot on and soaks in much quicker. Either way, the ingredients are just about all best of breed:

Distilled water, mango butter, shea butter, grape seed oil, argan oil, meadowform seed oil, emulsifying wax, glycerin, willowbark extract, edelweiss extract, essential oils, fragrance oils and phenoxyethanol

Hardware today consisted of the #StandardRazors razor with a #PolSilver blade on shave five. I was eager to get a really nice BBS shave (it delivered) and also test how the lather handled it... Supremely slick and cushioning, the blade just glided along. Really nice. The #BSB Shaving Brush made quick work of the lather in the #GTP scuttle. Like I mentioned earlier, load a bit heavily and ramp up the water slowly until you hit the sweet spot. Then it's just creamy goodness at its finest.

What can I say? Wholly Kaw has polished their product in terms of presentation, scents, ingredients... Everything that matters. These new donkey milk soaps squarely places the brand among the top tier artisans of today, and I fully encourage Sri to use it liberally going forward - and to conjure high quality, unique scents to go with them. The balm is also exquisite. I'm looking forward to exploring more offerings, so keep an eye out for additional reviews!