Williams Mug has a checkered reputation; many wet shavers absolutely love this soap while others hate it. Why so controversial?
There are a few common complaints by detractors out there. Let’s evaluate those complaints and see if there’s any merit to them.
“It Smells Like a Urinal Cake.”
Those who like it describe it as a “generic soapy scent.” Williams has a generic clean scent that is, to my nose, unoffensive.
Perhaps the “urinal cake” complaint has to do with urinal cake scent purpose; the optimal scent for a bathroom is a clean, mildly soapy smell, so urinal cakes are designed to release a “clean” scent into the air to freshen up the room.
Perhaps the issue truly is that select manufacturers make their cakes smell like Williams.
The scent will likely conjure nostalgia as Williams has been around for ages. It’s likely that your grandfather used Williams, as did mine. If that’s the case you’ll find Williams a pleasant “old-timey” scent.
Most people, by a long shot, do not strongly object to the scent, finding it either pleasant or simply generic.
If you don’t like its scent, you can easily whip up some “Blue Willy” or one of the other variants by soaking the soap in your favorite aftershave.
“It Doesn’t Lather!”
Williams lathers well and gives a decent shave. Cheap does NOT mean garbage, at least in this case. You’ll get mountains of lather for your efforts with proper technique.
That being said, modern Williams is not easy to lather. The technique I used can be found here. The lathering technique is not difficult, it’s highly labor-intensive.
Until technique is perfected, you’ll spend upwards of five minutes to lather properly.
Once properly lathered it still tends to be messy, dripping from the brush and onto your sink or exposed skin.
All shave quality complaints stem from poor lather, easily remedied by proper technique. Williams is plenty slick, though the slickness dissipates quickly when the lather is removed – be careful to avoid re-shaving an area without re-lathering.
There is very little cushion, though, so extra attention to technique is required to avoid nicks and irritation.
All in all, it works better than canned goo and is about the cheapest shave you’ll ever find.
For $1.50 US you really can’t go wrong giving this a try. Lather building is particularly challenging with Williams so I don’t recommend it to newbies; you really need to know what a good lather should look and feel like to be successful here.
Williams is widely available in the US and can be found in most drug stores and grocery stores. You can also find it on Amazon.com. If you’re up to the challenge, or you need a cheap backup for when your favorite soap runs out, give it a try!