Barrister and Mann Fireside
This morning’s shave features the 2015 winter seasonal shaving soap, Barrister and Mann Fireside. We’ve been shaving with Barrister and Mann Fireside since it was first released at the end of last year and felt it was time to share our experience. This iteration of Fireside is formulated with the new Glissant soap base that is an exciting new offering in the Barrister and Mann line. They have brought a couple of soaps to market so far with the Glissant base and have made a tweak or two along the way with each release. We appreciate Barrister and Mann’s continued innovation and interest in improving an already excellent performing product. My face is feeling healthy if not a bit dry with about three days of whisker growth. Let’s give Barrister and Mann Fireside a go.
Preparation: Hot shower, Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Cleanser
Razor: Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements Double Open Comb (Phoenix DOC) Double Edge Safety Razor
Blade: Polsilver Super Iridium Double Edge Razor Blade
Cream: Barrister and Mann Fireside Tallow Shaving Soap
Brush: RazoRock Synthetic Badger 22mm Shaving Brush
Finish: Pinaud Clubman Classic Vanilla Aftershave Lotion
A uniquely distinctive shave. Loading with the damp Razorock Synthetic Badger brush was quick as the new Glissant soap base is noticeably softer and tackier to touch than the Barrister and Mann standard white labeled soap pucks. In fact, for the first few shaves with Barrister and Mann Fireside, I had easily overloaded the brushes because I was so used to loading for a bit longer with the white labels to build that telltale soapy paste between the brush fibers. I was able to comfortably load enough Barrister and Mann Fireside soap in approximately 10 seconds of vigorous brush swirling with a fair amount of puck foam overflowing the container. I assume that this softer, tackier soap consistency is due to greater amounts of water in the formula. Nonetheless, I applied the puck foam to my freshly showered and moist face and gave a few paintbrush-style brush strokes to coat.
I prefer to start Barrister and Mann lathers thick and slowly add water to the mix. Following this method, I built a face lather with a few dips of the tips of the brush into the hot water reserve until I had achieved a dense, creamy lather with an exquisite sheen of readiness. The Glissant-based Barrister and Mann Fireside shaving soap was able to take on a fair amount of water but somewhat less than the white label soaps to achieve a similar high-quality, voluminous lather. The soft tips but firm face feel of the Razorock Synthetic Badger was reminiscent of a Muhle Silvertip fibre knot, but with a somewhat coarser overall sensation on my skin. The black, turned resin handle felt comfortably ergonomic in hand and, while I only have about a half-dozen shave under my belt with this Razorock brush, I like it so far.
The new Barrister and Mann Glissant soap base is marketed to be easier to lather. Upon first reading this I wondered exactly how much ease of lather was an issue with their soaps. While the softer soap loaded more quickly, I did not find it any easier to build a lather with the Glissant-based Barrister and Mann Fireside soap when compared to their white label offerings. It was just different requiring less loading time and slightly less water. But does that translate to “easier”? While some may claim to struggle to build lathers with Barrister and Mann soaps, we have never experienced that issue at Anthronicle.com and have, in fact, enjoyed the lather building process and superior quality lather results with their white label soaps enough to give them honors in our recent 2015 Wet Shaving Accolades article. The “ease of lathering” discussion at times seems a bit overrated as I think that if the wet shaver is using the appropriate tools and proper technique, they should be able to whip-up the lather to the quality level that the particular shaving soap is capable of producing. More simply put, some soaps lather well, others less so. Barrister and Mann soaps have always been in the former category for us so we wonder if reformulating to create an easier lathering soap may be attempting to solve a problem that does not actually exist.
Another interesting side note is that, for our first few shaves with Fireside, we seemed to be plowing through the product rather quickly likely due to the softer consistency. We decided to leave the lid off the soap container in an attempt to dry out, and in turn, harden the soap a bit. Within 24 hours we observed a color change to the soap that progressed to a dark brown hue given 48-72 hours of air exposure. We surmise that an ingredient either in the Glissant soap base or Fireside fragrance mix oxidized resulting in the color change. We’ve not observed this phenomenon in other Barrister and Mann soaps. Nevertheless, it had no effect on the quality of the lather other than a slight tan color appearance. Let’s get back to the shave.
I completed the standard two pass shave, one pass straight down my face, then one pass straight up from neck to cheekbone. Subsequently, I rounded out the shave with a bit of freestyle touching-up to eradicate the stray whisker. The nimble Phoenix DOC razor paired the exceptionally keen Polsilver blade glided effortlessly atop the Barrister and Mann Fireside lather. The Fireside lather gave extraordinary slickness both during and in between passes not unlike the already outstandingly slick Barrister and Mann white labeled soaps. As always, I appreciated the dexterous head design of the Phoenix DOC as I was able to reach all the nooks and crannies of my face with the lightest touch. The Phoenix DOC mowed down three days worth of stubble efficiently, and after a few weeks of experiencing the aggressive blade exposure of a variety of vintage single edge razors, the comfort of the double open comb head was a welcomed relief.
When comparing the protective cushion qualities of the Glissant-based Barrister and Mann Fireside soap to their white labeled offerings, I think it’s quite similar. The difference seems to be in how much water is added to the lather mix, less for a more dense cushion, more for a fluffier consistency. I was able to achieve this spectrum of cushion quality with slightly less water using the Glissant-based soap. After a bit of touching-up, the Barrister and Mann Fireside lather rinsed clean leaving my face feeling supple and nourished. The healthy and moisturized post-shave feel of Barrister and Mann white labeled soaps is perhaps one of their most outstanding qualities, and the Glissant-based Fireside left a similarly grand face feeling after the final rinse.
Barrister and Mann Fireside continues the 2016 exploration of scents that push the limits of my fragrance comfort window beyond what I know and love. I typically shy away from gourmand themes, but chose Fireside because the scent description included some notes that had potential. That, and I usually enjoy the fragrances Barrister and Mann creates. Off the puck, Barrister and Mann Fireside presents with a bold aroma of anise and lime intermingled with a fairly nondescript, dull sweetness. Upon whipping up a lather, I experienced a deeper woodiness that helped ground the moderately intense lime component. As the shave progressed, the Fireside scent evolved to include richer caramel and vanilla characteristics with a sweet cherry note which all coalesced into a familiar odor that I could not immediately place. It had been some time since I had smelt this elusive aroma, but, towards the end of the shave, I had figured it out.
While the Barrister and Mann Fireside scent is billed as something similar to a refined gentleman’s snifter of cognac, it reminded me much more of The Lemmy, the more commonly named “jack and coke” cocktail with a lime twist. And not just any whiskey and cola mind you. Fireside evoked a memory of the remnants of one you might find in an odd place while cleaning up the morning after a house party. One that had been poured in a red plastic cup and was now warmed and watered-down after all the ice cubes had melted away. Perhaps this left behind cocktail provided the courage to ask a bold question or fueled a frenzy of the latest dance moves the night before, but now its stale scent of intense lime mixed with the sweet, boozy caramel and unpleasantly rich vanilla lingered throughout. As with many gourmand scents, I tend to have less than pleasant experiences when my shaving soap reminds me of a food or beverage. I know that many gourmand fragrances are quite well received by the wet shaving community, but I have yet to find one that I actually enjoy and this includes the Barrister and Mann Fireside fragrance. Fireside is by no means a bad scent, it just not one that I personally would choose to smell like.
I finished this shave out with a healthy dose of Pinuad Clubman Classic Vanilla aftershave lotion. Upon initial application, I felt an intense, but quick alcohol sting that evolved into a soothing and tightening skin sensation. The scent of Clubman Vanilla is much milder and less rich when compared to the vanilla scent found in Barrister and Mann Fireside. From what I understand, Clubman Classic Vanilla embodies the aroma of tonka bean rather than a true vanilla. Clubman Classic Vanilla is one of my favorite of the Pinaud line and I felt it accompanied the Barrister and Mann Fireside fragrance nicely. With that, my face was feeling supple and clean, and I was read to face the day.
Closeness – 4
Irritation – 5
Wounds – 5
Overall – 4.66 A fun shave with legendary Barrister and Mann performance and post shave feel.
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