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.

October 16, 2006

The Latest Winning Combination

Posted in wet shaving at 1:28 am by berzerkeleyan

Omega Kit

I have a new winning combination for Best Shave Ever:

  • Schick 1939 Injector Razor — I got three of these from eBay. All of them were made before the end of WWII. All of them look like they’ve been eclipsed by newer technology, and couldn’t possibly shave as well. However, don’t let their looks fool you. Schick Injectors are the easiest to use, most comfortable, and most effective razors ever made. They beat whatever else is out there.
  • Feather “Pro Guard” Razor Blades — Feathers. The Sharpest. Blade. Out There. These are supposed to be made for straight razors, so they’re a little too long for a Schick Injector. But you can use endnipper pliers to (carefully) cut them to size. This creates the famous Schick “Featherjector.” The end result is a flawless razor that produces the easiest and smoothest shave I’ve ever had. In fact, I use this razor whenever consecutive DE shaves beat up my face too much. I should probably use it more, but it’s not as challenging as a DE, and therefore not as much fun.
  • Shavemac Handmade Silvertip Shaving Brush — on various wet shaving forums, Shavemac’s are whispered to be some of the best shaving brushes made. Made in Germany, they are reputed to be softer and denser than British-made brushes. I would agree. I have a Simpson Silvertip and Vulfix Super, and this one beats them both. This is a great brush. It lathers up cream superbly, and produces enough to give me many more passes than anything else I’ve used. If this brush were to get a knock, it would be that it’s a little too big for my face. It’s Shavemac’s smallest brush, and it’s got a 22mm knot. But I’ve found that my ideal brush has a 20mm knot.
  • Omega Eucalyptus Shaving Cream — I had read that Omega’s shaving cream was identical to Proraso Eucalyptus Shaving Cream. I liked the look of the tube when I saw it online, so I bought one. Well, it’s not the same formulation as Proraso. It’s better. Why? Because in addition to all the goodies (eucalyptus oil, coconut oil, glycerin, menthol), it also contains lanolin. Lanolin is one of the key ingredients in Musgo Real — my favorite shaving cream. I don’t know how much lanolin is included in Omega, but I don’t care. Whether measurable, or purely in my head, Omega feels slicker and smoother than Proraso. Musgo is still my favorite, but that’s probably because I like the smell more.

September 24, 2006

Tonight's Top Ten List

Posted in wet shaving at 4:30 pm by berzerkeleyan

My Top Ten Shaving Creams:

  1. Musgo Real — to my face and olfactory bulb, this has the best combination of latherability, lubricity, and smell. It leaves my face so smooth afterwards, that there’s really no need for any aftershave balm. The best of the best.
  2. The Body Shop — it’s got a light cologne-like aroma, so it’s not my favorite scent. But my face feels so good afterwards that I have to put this one at number two.
  3. Proraso — this one’s all about the slickness, and the cool rush when washing it off after the shave. It’s an excellent summertime cream.
  4. Taylor of Old Bond Street Avocado — this smells like Williams-Sonoma Basil soap, so it’s a very clean scent. And it’s quite slick from the avocado oil.
  5. Nancy Boy — a top cream by many. It’s good, no doubt about it.
  6. Taylor of Old Bond Street Lavender — one of my favorite smells of the bunch.
  7. Crabtree & Evelyn Almond — this smells like bug spray to me. But it lathers and conditions my skin really well.
  8. Tom’s of Maine Mint — true to the manufacturer’s credo, there are no artificial ingredients here. Just lots of natural oils and goodness.
  9. Taylor of Old Bond Street Eton College — the first upper echelon cream I ever purchased. It’s no longer in heavy rotation, though I still like the scent.
  10. Geo F. Trumper Violet — the fragrance is pleasant enough. But this one isn’t as slick as the rest, and leaves my face kinda dry afterwards.

This list will, no doubt, continually change, as I try new creams and the weather changes. But after a couple of months of full-bore wet shaving, this is the order.

September 4, 2006

Cool Ad

Posted in wet shaving at 1:42 pm by berzerkeleyan

It’s old and obnoxious. But it’s cool to me.

Gillette Ad

And now it’s hanging in my bathroom, smartly framed.