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Declaration Grooming Darkfall Artisan Shaving Soap, 4oz – Milksteak Base, Seasonal

4.30 out of 5 based on 10 customer ratings
(10 customer reviews)


Artisan Made in Michigan, USA

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Product Description

Darkfall is a spicy oriental designed to capture the spirit of fall in the rural south. Agarwood, amber, and benzoin provide a deep, warm base for the cinnamon and clove top notes. Birch tar adds a slight smokiness that represents the ever-present smell of burning leaves that heralds the arrival of fall in Georgia.

BASE: Milksteak is my tongue-in-cheek name for the culmination of all of my soap crafting experience to date. While the name may be whimsical, it was an incredibly difficult decision to deprecate Bison and Icarus – one I would not make without full confidence that I was releasing not only the best soap base I have ever developed, but one of the finest soap bases ever created.

Over three years of customer feedback, research, theory crafting and, of course, love, went into this soap base. I focused on ease of use (softer than Icarus), slickness, and post-shave – all the hallmarks of a great soap.

I hope you enjoy it…and your jelly beans.

– Scott

Additional Information


Stearic Acid, Water, Castor Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Vegetable Glycerin, Bison Tallow, Mango Butter, Avocado Oil, Shea Butter, Sodium Hydroxide, Lanolin, Bentonite Clay, Yogurt, Buttermilk, Egg Whites, Coconut Milk, Goat’s Milk, Tocopheryl Acetate, Maltodextrin, Milk Protein, Salix Alba L. (White Willow) Bark Extract, Arctium lappa (Burdock) Root Extract, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Silk Amino Acids

10 reviews for Declaration Grooming Darkfall Artisan Shaving Soap, 4oz – Milksteak Base, Seasonal

  1. 5 out of 5


    When I finished my shave with this new base I knew this was the next level. Hits all the marks and leaves the skin feeling great. The scent was right on for me, not too main stream, just enough uniqueness and balance in strength. Nice work.

  2. 3 out of 5


    I would say this soap is just okay. I only use tallow soaps as most of the non-tallow soaps tend to dissipate somewhat quickly (PAA soaps being the glaring exception). Since I really can’t tell the difference between bison tallow and beef tallow, all of the Declaration Grooming scents that I’ve tried are just a little to strong for my taste (very similar to A&E soaps). The performance of the soap however is pretty good overall and provides a heavy fairly slick lather excellent for a straight or a 2011 R41. It does seem to leave your face nicely moisturized – not too sure if that’s the bison fat working or not. However, the problem is that I could easily name a dozen soaps that perform equally as well made with regular beef tallow and without the heavy perfumed aroma. If they made a standard barbershop or lime scent I would probably include it in my rotation (maybe once every week or two). On the other hand a lot of people love heavily perfumed soaps, and if you’re one of those guys you’ll love Declaration. Enjoy.

  3. 5 out of 5


    I love the smokey smell. I’ll probably buy another so I don’t run out before the next release. It lathers up easily and it is very slick. I am leaning to use a straight razor and this soap helped me get my first really good shave and build my confidence. Maggard’s shipping is so fast. Keep up the great work and thank you for outstanding service and products

  4. 3 out of 5


    Performance is excellent as other shave mentioned. However, I could not get past the scent. I simply cannot fathom why someone would want to shave with this scent.

  5. 5 out of 5


    I just shaved with this today. I was a little skeptical as the scent was a little smokey before I took a brush to the jar. Wow, what erupted was an absolutely amazing lather and a scent that matured into something much more than the cigar-smoke-like smell I sniffed before lathering. I didn’t know what to expect from this bison tallow soap. I expected that it was probably just a gimmick to set them apart from others. Perhaps it is but I can tell you this is one VERY THICK, VERY SLICK lather. I love it.
    For others, I must mention that tobacco scents are a favorite of mine and this one leans on the smokey side. I can imagine there will be others that will not enjoy the scent as much as I do. This has a distinct tobacco scent with a hint of campfire to it. That sounds kind of bad to say it that way but the scent is amazing. It looks like I probably bought the last one this year since it is out of stock and it is listed as a seasonal soap but if you buy this next year, don’t dismiss this until after you have lathered it. The lathered scent is more complex and mild than the scent you will get straight from the puck.

  6. 5 out of 5


    My two cents regarding the soap:
    1) I agree that the scent is very polarizing. One can love it, another will hate it. For me, this soap smells wonderful. When I close my eyes I definitely can imagine the pile of burning leaves. Very warm and relaxing scent
    2) The package is very minimalistic but still very convenient to load directly from it
    3) The performance is excellent. 20 seconds of loading will provide you with the slick, cushiony and protective leather (Interesting observation – the leather has more creamy color than regular tallow soap)
    4) Post shave feeling is wonderful.
    So the conclusion: My No. 1 soap at this moment, definitely will try another scents from L&L

  7. 5 out of 5


    Written in response to Mr. Bonney’s unfair one star review…

    The technical capabilities of this lather are excellent, and the single lathering agent approach is a new and interesting approach to a tallow soap. (The use of bison tallow and the featured botanicals are neither here nor there to me, as I am not sure that they add much to the end result.) But certainly as a tallow base that is markedly different from MLS and B&M, L&L deserves some praise, and the fact that the lather offers excellent glide and post shave is even more of a cause for celebration.

    As to packaging, I do agree this tub is sort of awful, but still is better than Phoenix & Beau, who charge much more for their even worse package. A new sturdy tub is needed. The fill level in my sample did indeed look to be less four ounces, but I emailed the artisan and inquired as to the amount in the package, and Mr. Stewart replied promptly attesting that all tubs for retail or direct sale were weighed before being shipped to ensure they had at least four ounces of soap content. I guess Stewart could be lying to me, but his online reputation and prompt, courteous response to my email tend to assuage my concerns.

    And finally, the smell. Admittedly, this is polarizing, as the burnt woods effect conveyed by the birch tar used is quite noticeable. This note has been seen before in products like B&M Roam, CF’s Midnight Stag, and Stirling’s Texas on Fire, and aroused similar concerns there. I like Roam, do not care for Midnight Stag or Texas on Fire, but adore Darkfall. The birch tar is not overpowering and allows the other elements of the composition to come through. The woods, amber sweetness, and mix of spices are all distinct, and (rare for me) the cinnamon and clove does not irritate my face. This is undoubtedly a complex composition, and one that smells more interesting once lathered on the face than it smells in a tub. I can only encourage Mr. Bonney to retrieve his tub from the trash bin and try an actual shave with it before passing final judgement on it as a scent.

    Also, Mr. Bonney alludes to various “big” colognes (none of which are like the others, and none of which smell like Darkfall) but I think he confuses the matter by saying one’s coworkers will be offended by the powerful scent. I think he means your office mates are annoyed by the powerful odor of your applied cologne, NOT the scent of Darkfall, because, like most shave soaps, the scent will not survive on your skin long enough to get to work. You can certainly use this soap without fear of creating olfactory offense to others.

    At the end of the day, I think a soap with excellent technical performance, and an obviously complicated scent should not be given only a single star because the user does not like the scent. A one star rating in my opinion should only be given to a product awful in all ways, not merely one that does not suit the aesthetic expectations of the user. Shaving soap has a utilitarian function after all, and if the product gives a good, or indeed an excellent shave, I believe a more nuanced critical perspective is called for.

  8. 2 out of 5


    In response to Craig’s Review.
    Fair points all, Craig! I didn’t mean to imply that Darkfall smells like any of the colognes mentioned, only that they are all big, powerful scents and if that’s the kind of thing you like, you may like this too. As it happens, I received a tub of Phoenix and Beau in this same delivery and was nearly as unimpressed by it. (It’s also in the bin.)

    I’m sure most readers take these reviews for the entirely subjective impressions they are and, indeed, i really, really hated this scent. (You;ll be relieved to know I’ve hung onto the Harmony from L&L and will give it a thorough go.) But you are right in pointing out that if I give Darkfall a one star review I’ve go nowhere to go if I ever get a soap that just doesn’t work. So I’ve revised my review upwards by one star. And I take my hat off to you for your passion about our shared hobby.

    Original Review:

    I’ve been wet shaving now for close to 3 years and I am always impressed by the quality of the artisan soaps I’ve tried — the performance, presentation, and particularly the wit and originality of the scents — from people who are mostly working out of their garage or shed.

    But there was bound to be a dud eventually, and this soap, for me, is it. Presentation is pretty ordinary — a flimsy clear plastic tub filled about 1/3 with product. The scent,on paper reads like an amazing smoky oriental, but in real life, it is an over the top, trapped-in-a-forest-fire smoke scent from which there is no escape. Stronger than any other soap in my (embarrassingly large) collection by a factor of 10. I did lather some in my hand and the lather was amazing, but I would never put this on my face and, honestly, it went straight in the bin.

    I do recognise that making shaving soaps is a labour of love, and that L&L are likely not trying to make a scent that people hate. And if you’re a guy who loves really big colognes — Drakkar Noir, Joop, Polo or any of the Creed scents — you’ll probably love this. But be aware that your office mates are complaining about you behind your back, and angling to get their desks moved further from yours.

  9. 5 out of 5


    You need this soap. The bison tallow base is nothing short of spectacular. It’s a little less cushiony than white-label-esque tallow soaps but it is insanely slick, super easy to load, and lathers without any chance of being sudsy. The post-shave feel is spectacular. You will not need an aftershave, but it smells so good you’ll want one anyway.

    To my nose, it’s like a darker, sexier incense smell without smelling like a cheap joss sticks. The black agar and amber are front and center accentuated by hints of smoke and a very light sprinkling of spices. People sensitive to clove and cinnamon, fear not.

    On first impressions, it may smell weird to you. I get a slightly doughy vibe off the puck, but the scent doesn’t really fully open up until it’s on your face. The aftershave or liniment (not yet available here, but through the artisan’s website) offer a few hours longevity on what is one of my favorite scents.

  10. 5 out of 5


    This is by leaps and bounds my favorite seasonal scent. It is warm and rich while not being overbearing and heavy. The black agar and amber mix so well with the birch tar. The cinnamon and cloves are light and add just the perfect bit of spice.

    This scent is fantastic.

    Compared to the aftershave this scent is mild. That is in no way a criticism. It would behoove you to pick up the matching aftershave. The scent is turned up to 11 on that and it is glorious.

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