When browsing online for traditional shaving soaps, many shoppers use the familiar “sort by price: low to high” product filter. Usually the first products to appear are from Colonel Conk, an American brand known for it's inexpensive and widely available product lines. For the price of one triple-milled shaving soap, a wet shaver can purchase eight glycerine soaps from Colonel Conk. The math seems straight forward, but this article takes a closer look.
Colonel Conk shaving soaps are one of the few traditional wet shaving products on the market that are manufactured and distributed in the United States. Located in New Mexico, the Colonel Conk company imports and distributes a wide variety of wet shaving accessories such as mugs, razors, and brushes. They are best known for their low cost and widely available glycerine shaving soaps.
One of the most popular fragrances from their shaving soap line is the Bay Rum Shaving Soap. The scent of Colonel Conk's Bay Rum is well balanced and subtle, not too overpowering in strength while still maintaining the traditional character of the bay rum fragrance. Bay Rum is a common fragrance used in barber products, such as aftershaves and hair treatments, that is traditionally made by distilling bay leaves with rum and adding various spices including cinnamon and cloves to achieve its unique aroma. Colonel Conk’s version of this fragrance is soft and easily approachable without the overbearing presence of clove that some men find difficult to tolerate in other bay rum scented products. When the soap is lathered, the fragrance lessens, but is still noticeable.
Lather from glycerine soaps is a bit different than their triple-milled soap counterparts. Glycerine soap is much softer in texture and wears down much quicker with regular use of a shaving brush. The softer texture allows the soap to be lathered very easily; however, depending on the soaps formulation, the lather quality can vary. Some glycerine soaps have a tendency to produce a very sticky texture lather that will dry down quickly during the shave. Others often use large amounts of clay additives to give the lather more “slip” for the blade to glide across the skin, but these soaps can often produce a very muddy texture lather that lacks the hydrating qualities of better quality soaps. Fortunately, Colonel Conk's Bay Rum Soap does not suffer from either of these problems.
The soft texture of the soap allows it load easily in to a shaving brush and quickly produce a hydrated lather. The lather initially comes off the soap puck a bit runny; however, once you begin to work the brush on your face it builds into a thick lather that coats the beard well and offers protection for shaving. The added natural avocado oil to the soap’s formula helps keep your skin well moisturized as well. During the shave the lather maintains well, without drying down or becoming runny. It is not as rich and lubricating as many other quality shaving soaps, but for glycerine-based soap, Colonel Conk gets the job done.
Colonel Conk Bay Rum comes packaged in a clear plastic container that flips open and has the soap securely formed in to the packaging. This allows for the soap to be lathered in the packaging without having to be transferred to a mug or bowl for storage. The plastic container snaps closed to keep the soap protected during storage or while traveling. Overall, the plastic packaging is very flimsy and the soap should be transferred to a better container for regular use. This can easily be done by melting the soap and pouring it into a mug or bowl of your choice and allowing it to cool and harden.
Many men champion Colonel Conk soaps because they are so inexpensive and provide a protective shave, but they may be surprised to learn that Conk soaps are actually the same price as products that offer a very protective, high-quality shave. Keeping in mind that glycerine soaps wear down faster, the value is actually very competitive:
Despite the comparison, at the end of the day many men prefer to see $5 in their shopping carts instead of $20 even if the long-term value is the same. Across the board, price does not dictate quality, but in this case, you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for a $5 investment, then Colonel Conk is a value shaving soap that does the job. The Bay Rum Shaving Soap is a good traditional fragrance that is popular among wet shavers. Lee’s Safety Razors provides the Bay Rum Shaving Soap in 2.75 oz for $3.50 or a 3.75 oz puck for $5.50. If you’re looking to explore other fragrances, Lee offers a Colonel Conk Sampler Set of 4 popular shaving soaps, including the Bay Rum, for only $13.