June 25, 2007

Traditional Shaving — One Year Later, Part One

Posted in wet shaving at 2:03 pm by berzerkeleyan

Too Many Creams

It’s been about a year since I discovered what a n00b I was when it came to shaving. My odyssey started when I ran out of my (at the time) beloved shaving cream. Being new to Portland, I went online to find a local store that sold it. That’s when I first caught a glimpse of how little I knew. With my first Google search, I found large communities devoted to the lost art of single blade shaving (BTW, it’s only lost in the Western World; the rest can’t afford multi-blade cartridge razors, and still use double-edge single blades to shave). Discussion forums, whose only purpose is to serve as a clearinghouse for questions related to the whiskers on one’s face, exist. Don’t believe me? Go here, here, here, and here; an outstanding blog is here. These forums are everything that’s good about the internet. The members are incredibly friendly, supportive, and generous. And the moderators (by and large) do an excellent job of not letting threads devolve into digressions and personal attacks. Through these sites I learned more than I ever thought I wanted to know about shaving, and somehow managed not to kill myself swiping a sharp object across my throat.

With all the recommendations made on these sites, I was compelled to try just about every shaving product sold on the Interweb. So far, I’ve accumulated a total of 47 soaps and shaving creams. Here they are, in no particular order, with their country of origin added:

Shaving Creams:

  • Speick (Germany)
  • Derby Menthol (Turkey)
  • Omega (Italy)
  • Kruidvat (Netherlands)
  • Ingram (UK)
  • L’Occitane CADE (France)
  • Crabtree & Evelyn Sweet Almond Oil (UK)
  • Taylor of Old Bond Street Avocado (UK)
  • Taylor of Old Bond Street Eton College (UK)
  • Taylor of Old Bond Street Rose (UK)
  • Taylor of Old Bond Street Mr. Taylor (UK)
  • Geo F. Trumper Coconut (UK)
  • Geo F. Trumper Violet (UK)
  • Musgo Real (Portugal)
  • Tom’s of Maine Mint (USA)
  • Tom’s of Maine Calendula (USA)
  • Kiss My Face Lavender & Shea (USA)
  • Weleda (Germany)
  • St. Charles Shave Savory Rose (USA)
  • St. Charles Shave Oakmoss Lavendula (USA)
  • St. Charles Shave B&B Bay Rum With a Twist (USA)
  • Truefitt & Hill 1805 (UK)
  • Truefitt & Hill Ultimate Comfort (UK)
  • The Body Shop (UK)
  • Nancy Boy Signature (San Francisco — arguably part of the USA)
  • Charles Tyrwhitt Lemon & Cedar (UK)
  • D.R. Harris Lavender (UK)
  • eShave Floral (USA)
  • Olivia’s Bay Rum (Germany)
  • Em’s Bay Rum (USA)
  • Em’s Woodstock (USA)
  • Em’s Balancing (USA)
  • Em’s Skindicinal (USA)

Shaving Soaps:

  • Mitchell’s Wool Fat (UK)
  • The Gentlemen’s Quarter Desert Ironwood (USA)
  • Arko (Turkey)
  • De Vergulde Hand (Netherlands)
  • Kruidvat (Netherlands)
  • Mama Bear’s Dragon’s Blood (USA)
  • Mama Bear’s Joe’s Trade Wind (USA)
  • Mama Bear’s Rosemary Mint (USA)
  • Tabac (Germany)
  • Erasmic (UK)
  • Provence Sante (France)
  • Proraso (Italy)
  • QED Wild Rose (USA)
  • L’Occitane CADE (France)

This may seem excessive (okay, it is excessive) but a lot of the established shavegeeks out there put me to shame. Having so much soapy goodness around has been great. I never get bored using the same scent every day, preparing them for use adds a Zen-like quality to the morning, and my face feels better after shaving than it ever has. About the only negative is it’ll take me close to 20 years to finish everything I have. Most creams have expiration dates of 2-3 years, and I’m sure most of the soaps will lose their scent at the same rate. Therefore, at some point I’ll either have to throw a bunch out and restock, or open up a barber shop.

Which ones are my favorites? The list constantly changes, but as of today they would be:

  1. Tabac SS
  2. Musgo Real SC
  3. Ingram SC
  4. Erasmic SS
  5. Omega SC
  6. Nancy Boy SC
  7. Em’s Balancing SC
  8. Speick SC
  9. The Gentlemen’s Quarter Desert Ironwood SS
  10. The Body Shop SC

Even if you do nothing other than incorporate one of the above into your shaving routine, your face will thank you. They beat any of the canned gooped most of you use.

Next time, I’ll list the ridiculous number of Single, Double Edge, and Straight razors I’ve collected over the past year.


  1. LeisureGuy said,

    And isn’t it all both intriguing and enjoyable? :) I still find my morning shave a wonderful experience, and I ruefully recognize that most of the shaving men in this country find it a routine at best, a chore more often. So sad, when it could be one of the pleasant moments of the day.

  2. Well, you are one best shaving evangelists I know. Between your blog, your book, and your posts on the various forums, I have no doubt you’ve enlightened a good number of men, myself included. So a hearty “Thank you, Michael!” My face thanks you.

    My wallet on the other hand…

  3. Mantic59 said,

    Isn’t it nice to have a hobby that can do every day if you want? :)

  4. Absolutely, Mark! I wrote on a post a while ago that the face is the perfect canvas to work on. For one, when done right you get to admire your handiwork all day. And second, if you don’t like the results, wait 24 hours and try again.

  5. college said,

    Great Hobby.

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