Traditional Italian soft soaps have been popular among wet shavers for many years. They blur the line between shaving soaps and shaving creams because they contain soap ingredients, but most are soft and putty-like in texture similar to thick creams. Recently I tried Cella Crema da Barba All’Olio Di Mandorla, which is another well-regarded example of these classic Italian products. Having had good experiences with similar soaps, such as P.160 and Volobra, I was looking forward to seeing how Cella’s soap performed.
Cella Crema da Barba All’Olio Di Mandorla is packaged in a handy red plastic container with a tight-fitting lid that protects the soap during storage. Upon first opening the Cella container, I immediately noticed the bitter almond scent of the soap. Being a fan of almond fragrances, I found the scent to be very pleasant and more similar to that of an almond extract rather than the sweet and artificial almond scents I have experienced in other shaving products. The fragrance is strong enough to be noticeable, but not overpowering or offensive at all.
The putty-like texture of the soap is too firm to use Cella as a cream with a bowl/scuttle lathering technique, but can be easily lathered directly in the red container. Using my fingers, I pressed the soap down in to the bowl as flat as possible to make it easier to lather my brush directly in the container.
While some hard soaps tend to be better suited for dense and firm brushes, Cella works very well with pretty much any type of brush I tried. The method that has worked consistently well for me is to load the brush in the plastic bowl followed by lathering directly on my face to build the lather. Cella quickly builds in volume to a rich and thick lather that coats the face very well and maintains a very enjoyable fragrance once lathered.
I have tried a few different brushes of varying density to see how well the product loads into the brush and creates lather and was pleased that the soft texture makes the soap very easy to lather with any brush. The Cella container is slightly smaller than many other brands of soap bowls and most normal sized shaving brushes have no problems loading with soap from the bowl; however, wetshavers who prefer larger wide-diameter brushes may find lathering in the container to be a bit awkward.
During the shave, I found the Cella Crema da Barba All’Olio Di Mandorla to be an excellent product. Once the soap is lathered, it is very slick and lubricating with little to no excess bubbles. The lather consistently has provided a great layer of protection for the razor against the skin. I have shaved with several different models of double edge razors and brands of blades as well as some of my favorite straight razors, all of which cut beautifully with this product. After the shave, Cella rinses away cleanly leaving my skin soft and well moisturized with a faint almond scent left behind. The faint scent was not enough to clash with any of my favorite aftershaves, but I mostly followed with D.R. Harris Pink because I have been shaving with Cella during the hot summer months. However, for men who choose not to use an aftershave product, Cella has great skin conditioning properties that can leave your face feeling great on its own.
Cella Crema da Barba All’Olio Di Mandorla is a fine example of a quality, traditional Italian shaving soap. The ease of use when creating a good lather makes this a great choice for both beginners and experienced wetshavers. The container is sturdy and well made, making it very useful for storage at home and during travel. The compact size of the tub and secure-fitting lid also make Cella an ideal choice of soap for any travel wet pack. At only $11.75 from Lee’s Safety Razors, Cella Crema da Barba All’Olio Di Mandorla is also a very economical shaving soap. The 150-gram soap will easily last several months of regular use and provide excellent shaves that one would expect from a quality Italian product.