Mitchell’s Wool Fat Shaving Soap

9 Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (9)
Mitchell's Wool Fat

This is a legendary soap in the DE community, often mentioned, and for good reason. An age old favourite with a reputation of being hard to lather.

Used with: Feather blade (from new for several shaves)

It’s got a reputation for being hard to lather. Probably not the best way to start then, as I used it for my first half-dozen shaves and I barely knew what I was doing. Add to that the ultra-sharp Feather, and I got some razor burn, plus several nicks (nothing too severe). After watching some YouTube vids on a) the consistency I was aiming for and b) the best way to lather MWF (as it’s known), I was away. Good lather that left my face smooth and slick, even with a blade that should have been past it’s prime. Smells good too, not strong, just a subtle organic smell (like wool, as it happens).

Used with: Shave with Shark Super Chrome (2nd shave)

I’m still not sure I’m lathering it correctly, while I get plenty of lather, it doesn’t seem particularly thick or covering. It does leave my face pretty slick though, which is the most important part. I tried hand lathering for this one, and it was hard to contain everything. I ended up with a couple of nicks on my neck and, while the finish was smooth in a lot of places, I still had a lot of rough patches, despite a lot of touching up. A reasonable performance.

Used with: Shave with Gillette 7 O’clock Super Stainless (1st shave)

I tried loading my brush longer, only wetting the top of the soap (instead of filling the bowl and draining) and chose to face lather this time. Again, nice soft finish, but the lather wasn’t very thick and possibly didn’t offer as much cushioning as others. The blade felt like it was dragging and I had plenty of nicks, but did end up with a pretty smooth finish (after touching up), although with some patches. The end results seem to always be good with MWF, so maybe I should stop worrying about the lather consistency.

Used with: Polsilver Super Iridium (1st shave)

I didn’t use as much water this time, trying to load the brush well. I swirled for about 30 seconds, then used a mug to build the lather, adding water as a I went. I ended up with tons, but no matter what I did, it seemed to consist of a lot of small bubbles. After several minutes, I gave up and applied. The lather still seemed quite translucent and didn’t obscure my face as with most of the others I’ve managed to produce. Having said that, it did leave a slick residue after each pass. I was left with plenty of nicks, and the results were patchy at best.

Used with: Personna Super ‘Lab Blue’ (1st shave)

I face lathered this time, again with little initial water on the brush or soap, and managed to get a reasonable consistency. I struggled with it being translucent, especially on the second coat again. Having said that, it still left the usual slickness. I thought the blade might be scraping a bit at first, but I ended up with no nicks and a very good finish. I had to touch up several areas, but the end result was very soft and smooth. The only downsides were that my top lip seemed to be left very dry and it was a bit patchy around my jaw.

Used with: Super-Max Stainless (2nd shave)

I face lathered again, using a soaked but shaken dry brush I loaded for 20 seconds. The first lather up was a good consistency and density, but I suspect I probably should have loaded some more product before the the second one as I struggled to get the thickness. The usual slickness though, and most of my face was adequately shaved. There were some areas that were closer to unshaven though. The blade was rough all the way through, I’d go so far as to say mildly painful, plucking the hairs. Probably the least comfortable shave I’ve had (so far). Strangely, no nicks or irritation though.

Used with: Super-Max Super Platinum (1st shave)

I decided on a mug lather for this shave, loading for around 30s and then spent several minutes building it, adding small amounts of water as I went. I ended up with lots of lather, but it never seemed to change into something glossy, remaining as a foam. While I had lots of it, the transparency of the bubbles meant it was hard to get a proper cover than hid my face. Having said all that, the shave was smooth and the end result good, with only one small nick. The only criticism was that ATG on my neck wasn’t as close as some.

Used with: Voskhod Teflon (1st shave)

I thought I would try loading a lot of product this time, so I went back and forth between mug and soap numerous times, adding water as I went, to build a huge amount of lather, but it still didn’t flip over into a glossy cream, like some, instead staying as a foam of small bubbles. I’m not sure that mattered though. I had such a vast amount, I ended up just scooping it out of the mug by hand, and you could feel the slickness. The second pass (ATG) was harsh, leaving numerous nicks around my mouth and an irriated top lip. It was a passable end result, but a fairly harsh way to get there.

Used with: Ladas Super Stainless (1st shave)

I used the mug again, and again tried to use a lot of soap, but also keep the amount of water down. I gave the puck a quick soak, but wrung my brush dry before swirling. I went back several times to load more. I worked it for an age, but it never changed from a foam with small bubbles into the glossy lather of other products. Nice lubrication as always. I had plenty of lather though. The blade seemed to bite at times (I stopped mid-stroke at one point) and the final finish was patchy; in places great, but in others you could hear the stubble when passing a hand over it (ATG).

Used with: Rapira Platinum Lux (1st shave)

This time I face lathered, soaking the puck at the same time as my brush. I shook my brush dry and loaded for about 30 seconds. That the the water on my face after a rinse were all I used. I ended up with the closest lather I’ve had to proper foam. I didn’t think I was going to have enough for my second pass, but a minute or so of rework built it up again. Not as much slickness after each coating as I’ve come to expect, but still pretty good. No nicks, but some slight dryness. The end result was nice and smooth, though not as close ATG as with some.

Used with: Feather (3rd shave)

As with my previous shave, I soaked the puck alongside my brush, which I shook dry before loading for 30 seconds, and then face lathered. After about a minute of work I had a good covering of lather, which had a glossy texture, though didn’t seem quite as thick as with some. I still had plenty left after applying a second coating though. Nice slickness left behind after each pass. The blade felt a little rougher on this use, but the end result was reasonable, even my top lip and areas around my mouth could have done with more touching up.

Verdict

I can see why it has a reputation for being hard to lather, especially to reach the right consistency. I don’t think it’s necessarily harder than any other soap I used though (creams are much easier). Even without it achieving a glossy cream state it seems to perform well though.

Update: I’ve found that using this soap shows a marked improvement on the end result with most blades, even ones on their third or fourth shave. So I’ve revised my rating up.

Filed under: Soap, Software

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

Last updated: June 28, 2014