La Toja Shave Stick is named after the tiny La Toja island just west of Spain that is renowned throughout Europe for its therapeutic and healing thermal spring. La Toja has been making soap from the spa's mineral salts since early in the 20th Century and it is available in literally every supermarket and convenience store in Spain. The La Toja brand makes bath soaps and gels, shaving soap and cream, and aftershave splash and balm, which all range from $2 to $7. The original name for this famous soap is "Sales de La Toja," but I personally refer to this brand as the Spanish Proraso due to its affordability and availability.
The story is told that a sick donkey was abandoned by its master on the island of La Toja and given up for dead. The owner returned to the island some time later and found the animal in good health. The miracle was attributed to the therapeutic hot springs of La Toja, and the idyllic island became a famous spa where guests still go to take the waters and immerse themselves in mud baths. For almost 200 years La Toja Thermal Salts spring has maintained its esteemed reputation for healing the skin and the body.
As you open the tube of the shave stick, you are welcomed by a very clean warm scent. I would describe this scent as a powdery milk soap with a hint of detergent, as soon as you lather up the "detergent" note thankfully disappears letting the warm powdery milk scent come forward.
There are two ways to enjoy a shave stick. One of them is lightly wetting the tip of it, then rubbing it over your stubble and lathering up directly on your face with the brush. The other is to mill it with a grater in a bowl or container and use it as you would a regular shaving soap. I personally prefer to use it the second way.
What makes this a great product besides its efficacy is that is very easy to transport. It is very convenient to keep one in your carry-on with a small brush. (I once shaved with one in an airport bathroom between flights.)
I usually mix the soap with shaving cream by Superlathering the products to create lather that is superior in cushion and lubricity than if I was to use the cream or soap by itself. However, for this review, I wanted to test the soap alone, but using it by itself with a scary, sharp, brand-new Feather had me a bit frightened.
Fortunately, as soon as I lathered up I knew there was nothing to worry about. This soap was very easy to lather; only a couple tallow-based high-end shaving soaps have given me a better first impression. The lather is VERY slick and protective, qualities you would expect of a very thick cream. The layer of lather in this one is somewhat thin, yet very compressed. Very unusual.
The unforgiving and scary Feather glided with ease and I finished my shave with zero nicks and cuts, which is something I wasn't expecting of the $3 shave stick.
After the shave, I touched my face and I felt almost no dryness. My skin felt unusually moisturized. It was awkward not to have to run for the aftershave.
The La Toja Soap Stick should be on everyone's shelves. If I was to rate this shaving soap, I would give it a 9 -- the best shave stick out there and one of the best soaps overall. It is hard to believe that you can have this quality of a shave from a $3 stick. If I was to blind-test 50 shaving soap sticks, La Toja would still end up in the Top 10 hands down. And for the price, it is the best value on the planet. Period. It lacks the finesse of a tallow-based Penhaligons, but hey, for 1/10th the price, what do you want?
Weight: 50 grams
Presentation: Shave stick (Non-tallow)
Price paid: $3 (in a local supermarket in Spain)
Best price found in USA: $8.50 from SuperLather.com
Method of lathering: Face lathering
Type of water used: Hard