Williams Mug and Aqua Velva – A Classic Shaving Duo
For many years, I’ve seen Williams Mug Shaving Soap on the local grocery store shelf and mostly dismissed it as an antiquated relic of the past. Not until my journey into the depths of wetshaving did I give Williams Mug an honest look. In preparation for this classic shave, I’ve enjoyed a cleansing hot shower with the venerable Jack Black cleanser which does a fantastic job preparing my face for a shave. I find it far superior to run-of-the-mill soap for cleansing my whiskers of oil without drying my face. Preparation in the pre-shave makes a difference in the shave experience and is a step that should not be glossed over.
I’ve been shaving with this Williams Mug Shaving Soap and Aqua Velva after shave combo on and off for awhile and exclusively for a few weeks now and feel I’ve fully experienced what they have to offer the wet shaver. So, today’s Shave Experience will serve to share my findings. My face feels clean, hydrated, and healthy post-shower. Let’s give Williams Mug a go.
Below is a summary list of the components used in today’s Shave Experience. If you are considering purchasing any of the items that I’m using in today’s shave, these links will direct you to the best deals I’ve found for them online. This is also a great way to support our work here at Anthronicle as we receive a commission (has no effect on price) for purchases made through the links below.
- Pre-shave – Jack Black Pure Clean Daily Facial Cleanser
- Razor – Merkur 34C Heavy Duty Double Edge Safety Razor
- Blade – Gillette 7 O’clock Sharp Edge Razor Blade
- Shaving Brush – Muhle Rytmo Black Fibre Shaving Brush, 21mm
- Soap – Williams Mug Shaving Soap
- Aftershave – Aqua Velva Classic Ice Blue Cooling After Shave
Williams Mug Shaving Soap is packaged in a simple cardboard box with a classic blue and white shaving mug logo. The front and rear feature the same information with the side panels used for the ingredient list and some rudimentary instructions.
The ingredient list is fairly short and features tallow, coconut oil, glycerin, stearic acid, fragrance, and the typical preservatives. The 50g. (1.75oz.) Williams Mug soap puck measures approximately 6cm. (2 1/2in.) in diameter and 2cm. (3/4in.) in width and will fit in a standard coffee/shaving mug easily. I just tossed mine in a Captain’s Choice shaving bowl and it works out fine for brush loading if I hold an edge of the puck with my thumb.
The scent of Williams Mug Shaving Soap off the puck is mildly sweet with a bit of chemically citrus mixed in. It reminds me a bit of a toned-down Arko shaving stick. Loading the damp Muhle Rytmo Black Fibre shaving brush is simple and quick. While puck is hard, a decent synthetic brush has no problem loading plenty of soap for a usable lather in under 20 seconds of brush swirling with a lot of airy puck foam to boot.
I enjoy the Muhle Black Fibre knot as it is plenty firm enough for a solid face lather, but the tips are soft and gently to the skin. The Rytmo handle is heavy and designed ergonomically while still exuding class. There seems to be a slew of black colored synthetic knots currently on the market, most with fairly reasonable to down right cheap pricing. The ones I’ve experienced are little more than re purposed make-up brushes and have nothing in common, sans the black color, with the original Muhle Black Fibre knot. While the Muhle knot is priced a bit more, I think this is a case of you get what you pay for.
With a fully loaded Muhle Rytmo Black Fibre brush, I began a face lather with a few paintbrush-style strokes to cover my damp, freshly showered Then, a vigorous swirl with the brush on my neck just under my jaw line builds a lather. The Williams Mug Shaving Soap builds a shavable lather quickly with a few dips of the tip of the brush into my hot water reserve to add a bit more water to the mix. When I first started shaving with Williams Mug, I thought the airy lather would dissipate quickly, but learned after a few shaves that that was not the case. While the Williams Mug lather is not as dense as I like compared with top-dollar artisan shaving soaps, it is adequate to hold the product on your face for a decent shave. The lather contains larger air bubbles compared with denser lathers which give it the loose, airy consistency that Williams Mug is known for. I found that increasing the product load in the product-to-water ratio did not provide for a denser lather. Although I did feel like a synthetic brush lathered Williams Mug best when compared with boar or badger knots.
The scent of Williams Mug Shaving Soap during the face lather remained mild with sweet, light citrus characteristics. Usually the heat of the water warming the lather and the brush agitation bring out scent evolutions, but Williams Mug is just not that complex. While the overall scent of Williams Mug is unremarkable and even reminiscent of generic household chemical cleansers at times, I did not find that the fragrance detracted from the shave experience.
I completed my standard two pass shave, one pass straight down my face, then one straight up after a re lather. Then, I finished the shave out with a bit of touching up to cut down the odd whisker that deviates from my simple growth pattern. The Merkur 34C razor is a classic of it’s own especially when paired with a sharp blade like the Gillette 7 O’clock SharpEdge. The razor has decent heft, a grippy knurling, and a classically moderate cutting angle that results in a close, irritation-free shave, time and time again. I find that the Gillette SharpEdge blades to offer a slightly sharper shave but are mostly comparable to the well known and beloved Astra SP blade. The Merkur 34C is one of my favorite Merkur designs and could easly be the only razor I ever shaved with considering it’s cutting efficiency, nimble balance, and stout design. The 34C glided very easily through the airy and substantially slick Williams Mug lather which, while looking thin, stayed in place throughout the shave. What the Williams Mug lather lacks in cushion and density it makes up for in slickness and razor glide.
In-between passes and after the initial razor stroke, the Williams Mug lather left remarkable amounts of residual slickness allowing for safe razor buffing strokes and even re-passes without the need to reapply lather entirely. I felt the face feel to be moisturizing and nourishing matching the box advertising which states, “Does not dry on your face, but leaves skin soft and smooth.”
The Williams Mug shaving soap scent during the shave was more of the same, chemically sweet, mild citrus that seemed to fade a bit towards the end of the shave. Or, perhaps, my nose just got used to the smell. It’s not an offensive scent, but honestly not one that I would choose for a premium shave experience.
My face rinsed fairly clean after two standard razor passes and a bit of touching up. This Williams Mug lather resulted in a wound and irritation free, close shave. The Williams Mug lather required a bit more rubbing than usual to rinse clean from my skin as the slickness seemed to remain after several splashes of fresh water to rinse. I also noticed that in cleaning up my shave tools, there was a bit of residual soap scum clinging to chromed areas of the brush handle and razor that required a bit of wiping with a cloth to remove in addition to a simple water rinse.
While overall I enjoyed the Williams Mug soft and supple post shave feel, I think it’s a bit heavy, weighing down my skin more than I like. My skin almost feels over moisturized if that is possible. For me, this takes a little away from the fresh, clean skin feeling I look forward to after a shave. Perhaps Williams Mug is best used when needing a bit more moisturizing or to prepare your face for a more harsh environment than the usual.
A healthy splash of Aqua Velva Classic Ice Blue Cooling After Shave finished off this shave. Upon initial application there is an immediate alcohol sting that quickly fades to an brisk, cooling menthol numbness that lasts for a good 10 minutes post shave. The Aqua Velva scent is a classic which pairs well with Williams Mug that initially includes a sweeter citrus component with talc and a touch of lavender, but quickly fades to a musky amber that retains much of the initial sweetness of the fragrance. I find the menthol to be very cooling, chilling even, but not overwhelming, though close. After the dry down, the menthol effect remained and my skin felt good and moisturized. There is a touch of glycerin in the Aqua Velva formula which likely adds to the moisturizing effect. As a side not, I usually prefer a bottle with an orifice reducer, unfortunately the one that Aqua Velva uses is a bit messy resulting in spillage and running of the product down the bottle sides. No matter what I do, I usually end up with some blue rings on the counter as a result. Lastly, I could really do without the blue coloring. It reminds me of windshield washer fluid.
I’ve enjoyed my time with Williams Mug Shaving Soap and Aqua Velva Classic Ice Blue After Shave. The soap performs well with an above average slickness but lacks a bit in lather density. That said, Williams Mug is far superior to the cans of shaving cream found surrounding it in the grocery aisle. The classic Aqua Velva offers a familiar clean scent, if not a bit sweet, with a blast of numbing menthol that many folks love. It pairs well with Williams Mug and rounded out the shave perfectly. Perhaps best, is that both product are fairly ubiquitous and can be had for a very reasonable price for both making these high value options for the wet shaver on a budget or for those that are simply tired of overpriced artisan offerings that offer little more for the mark-up.
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