Arko Shave Stick

5 Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (5)
Arko Shave Stick

Loved and loathed, largely because of its smell, this is a long-time mainstay of DE shaving.

Used with: Derby blade (1st shave)

Arko shave sticks get mentioned a lot around DE forums, so I had to give it a go. It resulted in the worst shave I’d had. Now, whether that was down to the Arko, or the Derby blades (which have a hot and cold rep), or my technique is hard to say. As with the Palmolive stick, I rubbed on my face and lathered on there directly. Easy to build a good lather. None of the silkiness left behind by the others, and it doesn’t seem to create the same glide. Some people seem to like the smell, I’m not one of them.

Used with: Polsilver Super Iridium (2nd shave)

I found it better this time around. Again, easy to build a nice lather and better lubrication left behind. Not sure I’d have had enough for a third pass though. I think the smell has diminished a bit, still not pleasant, but less potent. The shave was quite rough, with plenty of nicks and a scrape visible across my chin (though I don’t remember it bleeding). The finish was smooth in places, but patchy. Not a great experience or result.

Used with: Bolzano Superinox (2nd shave)

Easy to build a lather once more, but still not as thick as with some other products I’ve used. It did provide a nice degree of slickness after each pass, and I had plenty of lather. The smell is definitely losing some of its potency, but as soon as I lathered it reminded me how bad it was. The blade was smooth throughout, but I had to go over several areas multiple times, which is probably what caused several nicks. The end result was good though, maybe not as close as with some other blades I’ve used, but generally very good.

Used with: Rapira Super Stainless (red & blue) (2nd shave)

After a thorough rub through my whiskers, the lather built quickly, but it took a bit of work to get a decent coating for the second pass. There didn’t seem to be much slickness left behind after the first either. The blade was nice and smooth, leaving me with no nicks or irritation, even after touching up various areas. It wasn’t quite as close as some ATG, but generally left a smooth finish.

Used with: Rapira Platinum Lux (2nd shave)

Plenty of lather this time, and a nice amount of slickness between passes (less water, more soap I suspect). A good shave with a smooth and soft end result. Perhaps not as close as some ATG. Despite the shave being irritation free, I picked up a couple of small nicks, nothing serious.

Used with: Derby Extra (3rd shave)

Again, I got a nice lather, with reasonable slickness (not a massive amount though). Although the shave was reasonably smooth, I picked up a lot of nicks, and plenty of irritation low down on my neck. That wouldn’t have been too bad, but the end result was patchy and not overly close ATG.

Used with: Gillette 7 O’clock SharpEdge (3rd shave)

After a good rub over my stubble I was able to build a good amount of lather very quickly. There was a good amount of slickness left behind after each pass. The shave was fine, although a little rough ATG, and I picked up a few nicks. Bar a couple of patches on my jawline, the end result was pretty good.


There are some who say the smell reminds them of the barbers from their youth, and others who say it smells like a urinal cake. I wouldn’t say it was that bad, but it’s certainly not pleasant, and isn’t the sweet hair gel/pomade/disinfectant smell I remember from trips to the barbers. Performance-wise, it did the job, but was far from the best. If you want value, stick with the Palmolive, if you want performance, spend a bit more.

Filed under: Software, Stick

These reviews are updated based on ongoing experience, so ratings and opinions may change.

Last updated: June 7, 2014