Sorry it's been so long since I posted last. I've not tried too many new things, but I have been working with a tin of Mikes Natural Soap (Orange, Cedar and Black Pepper, although I have a tin of Lime as well).
This stuff is handmade by the proprietor in Brooklyn, NY. According to his website, he started doing this because he was tired of buying sub-par shaving creams.
It is made with tallow, vegetable glycerin, lanolin, and a host of other ingredients that are really good for your skin. For more information, just google Mikes Natural Soaps - you'll find it.
At first I was using my Boar hair brush. The lather was decent as long as I didn't over/under hydrate it (if its underhydrated, you will see a lot of bubbles in the lather. Add a little more soap and lather up until that stops). But the results I was getting weren't near what I'd read about, or seen in videos on youtube.
Then I got an Edwin Jagger Best Badger Brush for fathers day, and tried the soap with that. Apparently a good badger brush was the missing link.
Lathering is now on par with what I expected when I first received the tin. The soap gets very slick and creamy, which is what you want, of course. I don't pick up much of the cedar or black pepper in the scent - mostly just the orange. The shaves are great, but I have to be sure to use a decent blade, as always.
After using this for about a month my skin is looking healthier and smoother. The ingredients in the soap are largely to thank for that, I think.
So, in conclusion, I give this soap my highest reccomendation. It will be really hard for me to switch up soaps; I really like Mikes. I suppose when the first tin runs out, I'll give a month to another brand, then come back to my Mikes Lime tin. That should give me a good basis for comparison.