The new year has, among other things, brought with it an inspiration to explore some wet shaving scents that deviate from my known array of favorable themes. One of these scents is tobacco. Scent descriptions which include tobacco for some reason have just never really caught my interest. Furthermore, I do not find cigarette, cigar, pipe, or any other form of tobacco plant that I have had the opportunity to smell all that appealing. So, I’ve decided to ease my way into tobacco scent exploration and thought what better way than with a scent that uses tobacco absolute, but is blended with a variety to teas and the scent of the sea, both of which I quite enjoy. Enter Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements Tea Party 508 (Phoenix Tea Party). I’ve been using both the shaving soap and aftershave/cologne for nearly a month now and felt it was time to share my experience.
Preparation: Hot shower, Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Cleanser
Razor: Vintage Gillette Tech, pre-WWII era (1938-1941)
Blade: Polsilver Super Iridium Double Edge Razor Blade
Brush: Muhle Ivory Resin Handle Silvertip Fibre Synthetic Shaving Brush (21mm)
An exceptionally healthy shave. Loading from the dry Phoenix Tea Party puck with the damp Muhle Silvertip Fibre brush was without event. I appreciate Phoenix making a move to the plastic tub for their soap container as I find plastic containers with screw-on tops more durable and reusable when compared to thin, friction fit metal containers. I hope they continue moving in this more sustainable direction and offer containerless and labelless refill soap pucks in the future. Just the soap, as I’d already have a durable, long lasting plastic container with label to put it in, but I digress. After approximately 20 seconds of vigorous swirling, a thick soapy paste had collected between the synthetic brush fibers along with a slight amount of puck foam around the container edge. The 3.0 formula soap puck seemed to be a slight bit harder than 2.5 variants, perhaps due to a lower water content. However, I would still categorize it as a softer soap. I applied the puck foam to my damp, freshly showered face, then gave a few paintbrush-style strokes with the Muhle brush to coat. I then began a lovely face lather with a firm swirling motion of the Silvertip Fibre brush. I find that the Muhle Silvertip Fibre brush easily whips-up an exceptional lather with just about any soap and the face feel is second to none with the perfect balance of soft tips and firm fiber sensations. After approximately 45 seconds of swirling, Phoenix Tea Party presented an outstandingly lush lather with a rich, creamy texture. Lather consistency seemed a bit smoother than my other Phoenix shaving soaps, again likely due to the 3.0 formula iteration. Lather built from the 2.5 formulations certainly have a chunkier/blockier look and feel. Nevertheless, both formulas have a wide water-to-product ratio window allowing for easy lather creation with a lot of room to finetune to a shaver’s preference.
I completed my standard two pass shave, one pass straight down my face, then one pass from neck to cheekbone. I followed-up with a bit of freestyle touching-up to eradicate the stray whisker here and there. Another foray of mine near the turn of the new year is a renewed interest in vintage razors. For some time I had dismissed many of them mostly due to sellers asking obscene prices for user grade razors that are neither rare, nor collectable. Late last year, I had the good fortune to stumble across a razor lot and negotiate a more agreeable price. One of the razors in the lot was a pre-WWII Gillette Tech. So far I’ve only shaved with it a half dozen or so times, but I quite enjoy the comfortable yet efficient shave it provides.
The Gillette Tech glided effortlessly atop the remarkably slick Phoenix Tea Party 3.0 lather which seemed a touch more slick than the already lubricious PAA 2.5 formulation. Unlike many mild shaving razors, the Tech gave a close shave across even the densest parts of my beard without needing a multitude of buffing and repeat strokes as long as I did my part to maintain the proper blade angle. After the second pass, I had achieved a good, close shave without irritation. In between passes, Phoenix Tea Party left plenty of residual slickness and kept my face feeling moisturized and shave ready. Phoenix Tea Party shave soap rinsed clean after a bit of touching-up and left my face feeling healthy and nourished. I find that many vegan soap formulas dry out my skin and can lead to an irritating feel of desiccation in the post-shave. This has not been the case with any iteration of Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements shaving soaps, a testament to PAA’s superior quality and ingredient list.
The scent of Phoenix Tea Party 508 off the puck was surprisingly sweet, something I was not anticipating from the scent description. As I built a lather and throughout the shave, the scent developed to include lighter floral notes with a hint of berry that further evolved into a deeper caramel scent with a rosy sweetness. I also experienced an more grounding earthy aroma that revealed itself deeper into the shave that I was unable to place. To my disappointment, I was left wanting a darker, richer, more tannic tea scent experience rather than a floral/herbal one. Overall, the Phoenix Tea Party scent was pleasant and complex, and I enjoyed attempting to define its unique character. For me, the sweetness of the scent seemed over-bold and muddled the more delicate and preferable aromas present deeper in the fragrance.
I finished this shave off with a dose of Phoenix Tea Party 508 aftershave & cologne. Upon initial application, my facial skin felt a brief alcohol searing that quickly evolved into a soothing glow as my pores shrunk and skin tightened. I appreciate the long list of nourishing additives to PAA’s aftershaves that separate their product from the herd of simple fragranced alcohols. There is reason to place Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements aftershaves & colognes at the top of my 2015 favorites list. As for the scent, Phoenix Tea Party 508 aftershave is even sweeter than the shaving soap with a strong berry top note. During the dry down, the sweetness subsided slightly to reveal more floral touches, but never fully dissipated resulting in an overly sweet fragrance that missed my personal aftershave scent preferences. It’s just not something I desire to smell like. Nevertheless, the PAA shave soap and aftershave pairing provided for a skin nourishing shave that helped me start my day off right.
Closeness – 4
Irritation – 5
Wounds – 5
Overall – 4.66 An enjoyable vegan shave that left my face healthy and supple.
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