This past weekend I had three wonderful shaves. All three were very different and yet the end results were nearly identical. This got me thinking….Why do we choose certain products? And, do I need so many different products when the end result can be obtained without having so many options? In today’s blog post I am going to look at a couple of factors that determine what hardware/software I use…..
We wet shaving enthusiasts are an odd bunch. While 99%(just a guess) of the male population probably has one razor, one soap or can of goo, one aftershave, and probably don’t even own a brush……those of us who love this hobby have an embarrassment of choices when it comes to the same products. Do we have one cartridge razor? Nope. We have safety razors, single edge razors, injector razors and even straight razors. Not to mention all the various different types of razors in those genres. Safety razors for instance have 3 piece, 2 piece, turn to open, Open comb, slant, and even adjustable versions. Myself I have used all of the different examples of safety razor. In the end once I mastered the technique for each the resulting shaves were all very good. So why do I need more than one? Simple. Variety is the spice of life. I could eat pizza for every meal but that would get pretty boring after a while.
For me I just love the different razors and how they perform. An Open Comb is my choice when I have heavy growth as it can mow down the whiskers smoothly and efficiently. When I’m shaving everyday and have minimal growth a nice mild TTO or 3 piece is my weapon of choice. And when I’m feeling nostalgic or want to use a one of the first razors I ever found in the wild I pick up an adjustable.
Despite the finished product being similar the way we reach that end point can vary greatly. This to me is my reasoning for having multiple safety razors in my arsenal. Granted I tend to use a couple a lot more than others.
While the razors have a clear reason to why I chose to use them it’s not as clear as to why I use certain soaps or creams. I will try and go over a couple of reasons and hopefully they will make me feel better about having so many options and maybe help you, the reader, in choosing your next soap/cream.
Reason #1 is EASY. THE SCENT. Yep, there isn’t much better than opening a soap/cream tub and getting an intoxicating whiff of one of your favorite scents. In the summertime I love citrus scents above most everything else. From the tart peppery scent of Barrister and man FEROX to the subtle mint/lime combo of Elvado Wild Mint Lime to the straight up Citrus of Cold River Soap Works Select Citrus this genre of scents is where I have the most options. Even my non straight up citrus soaps and creams have citrus notes such as Truefitt & Hill’s 1805 as well as B&M Rhapsody. The citrus soaps definitely get used the majority of shaves during the heat of the spring and summer. Then once it cools down I reach for more robust scents that seem to warm me up like Tabac, PAA Cavendish, Reef Point Espresso and a lot of tobacco based scents and scents with vanilla. One of my newest additions is a soap called Cognac and Cuban cigars which is very robust and warm with a boozy tobacco vibe that I will be using a lot in the coming months.
In the end if your nose likes it you are going to reach for it more than a soap that is just ho-hum to your senses.
Reason #2 PERFORMANCE – A soap or cream that performs well and leaves your face feeling amazing may be the only thing that can trump an amazing scent. Take for instance Haslinger Schafmilch shaving soap. Just an unbelievable performer in every single aspect. Easy to lather, great slickness, great cushion, great glide, and awesome post shave…just about the perfect soap……but its scent is just OK. It smells like really nice hand soap, or a soap from a fancy hotel. Not bad, not amazing, but clean and inoffensive. This soap has been at the top of my list for months and I am sure will remain in my top 5 forever just simply because it performs better than almost every soap there is regardless of price. Another brand I would put in the top performers is Barrister & Mann. When it comes to artisans I feel B&M may be the gold standard. Yes, I am a fanboy, but for good reason. Not only is the performance of these soaps incredible they also have intoxicating scents. Other top performing soaps/creams are Truefitt & HIll, Martin de Candre, CRSW, Strop Shoppe, Tabac, LaToja, in all honesty most of the soaps available do perform well, just some stand above the crowd.
Reason #3 VALUE – Some wet shavers really are in this hobby to save money, other like myself love a good deal or just want to get a good value for their hard-earned money. It would be easy to go out and buy Martin de Candre if you had the money and be completely happy with the soap. It smells great, performs as well as anything on the market(or better), but its price point is very high at over $70. So when I talk about value I don’t just mean the cheapest soaps you can buy. Im talking good performers with nice scents that don’t cost an arm and a leg. One soap that fits this bill for many(NOT ME) is Arko. It is a shave stick that is under$3(sometimes even less) that is an awesome performer if you can get over the scent. I have found that shave sticks in general are a great value. While they tend to be smaller amounts than soaps they provide great shaves and have a minimal cost so you can often find something you like without having to pay over $15 for a single soap. The LaToja stick would be my stick of choice when it comes to value. It is thrown in my dopp kit for almost every trip I take, and for good reason. It performs in every type of water and smells nice and perfoms great overall. Another choice for great VALUE soaps is RAZOROCK. A tub of Razorock soap is under $10. There are a lot of scent choices and the performance hits WAY above its price point. My pick would be Zi’Peppino which is a green tobacco scent that smells like a nice fresh mens cologne…an outstanding soap and scent. It could be 2 or 3 times more expensive and still a great deal. Stirling Soaps in another wildly popular soap company which hits way above its price point in performance. Tons of scents and performance right up there with some of the best soaps. Personally I love Barbershop year round, and for the summer Margaritas in the Arctic which has a strong hit of menthol. The last soap I would like to mention is a relatively new artisan from right here in Canada called Henri et Victoria. I got these soaps a couple of weeks ago and have used each a few times and I have to say I am really enjoying them. I believe they range in price from $11.99 CAD to $14.99 CAD. For those of you who want the American conversion that’s about $9-$11. Beautiful scents and performance I would say is very similar to Strop Shoppe. Have an eye on this artisan as all of the products he offers are top-notch in my opinion.
Now as for the brushes I don’t really have any rhyme or reason for what I choose. Sure while on vacation I take a synthetic, otherwise it’s usually a spur of the moment choice, or based on what will look good in a shave of the day pic.
Now onto the shaves!!!
Razor : GIllette NEW
Blade : Astra SP
Soap : Henri et Victoria Le Marin
Brush : Semogue Owners Club Boar
Aftershave : ELVADO Ocean Fusion
With each shave I enjoy the Le Marin soap more and more. And the value you get is about as good as it gets. As I said earlier it has awesome performance similar to Strop Shoppe which is priced a good deal higher(average soap is $21 CAD). As for the scent on this soap it is very pleasing yet subtle. I wish the strength was kicked up a notch or two, but more EO and FO would likely increase the cost. I was super Impressed by how well the SOC Boar whipped up the lather with this soap. The Gillette New annihilated the whiskers I had easily and the ASTRA blade was just as smooth as the day before.
The Elvado Ocean Fusion seems to be my go to post shave as of late. A nice rose scent that has added witch hazel tones my face and leaves it feeling fantastic.
Razor : Edwin Jagger DE89L
Blade : Astra SP
Soap : Truefitt & Hill 1805 Cream
Brush : Zenshave/HTGAM LE 2-Band
Frag : Dior Sauvage
This shave was outstanding. My favorite shaving brush whipped up the most luxurious lather with the T&H 1805 cream. The cream is an absolute knockout when it comes to both scent and performance which is why I chose it. As for value it is hard to put a soap/cream that’s $35+ in a great value category. However you get your moneys worth with this cream. If you have the coin it is well worth it.
The razor I chose was the Edwin Jagger DE89L loaded with an Astra SP(which is a great value blade). The razor is a beauty and I love the way it shaves. Whether I use the stock handle or a heavier stainless steel handle I know what Im getting when I use this wonderful razor. Awesome value and aesthetically pleasing. If I had to recommend a razor to someone this would be it without question!
Again I went with Sauvage. Its a nice frag, but not wowing. The more I wear it the less likely I am to buy a bottle of it. Ill stick to Bleu de Chanel for an everyday easy to wear fragrance.
SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY
Razor : Gillette Super Adjustable ‘Black Beauty’
Blade : Astra SP
Soap : Proraso Green
Brush : Bluebeards Revenge Corsair – super badger
Pre-shave : Proraso Green
Post-shave: Elvado Wild Mint Lime Balm
With the big game on TV I decided to represent the Eagles by using something green….What better than Proraso Green? Proraso Green is a fantastic soap/cream. Two reasons it is great are the value, and how readily available it is. For about $10 you get a great performer with a menthol hit that feels very invigorating and a scent that just seems familiar. Add to that you can get Proraso at a lot of pharmacies and/or local supermarkets makes it highly recommended by me. It performs very well and is one of the easiest soaps to lather you will ever find. I used the Bluebeards brush to whip up a fantastic lather. Nice slickness and cushion from a nice creamy lather.
The black beauty is a piece of nostalgia for me. It was the first razor I ever bought in the wild(antique store) and I think it cost me between $3 and $8. SO my first Gillette and my first adjustable as well as my first vintage razor all in one. Not to mention I do prefer it over the Gillette Fatboy as I find the head is a bit lower profile for getting under the nose and it handles a bit better for me. The Astra blade was on its 4th shave and shaved beautifully yet again. I won’t use it again because I think 4 shaves is about my limit for a blade. At the price they can be had it is not worth it to push it longer.
The Proraso Pre-shave really wakes my face up and seems to boost the menthol in the soap even more. A great cooling start to the shave.
The Elvado Wild Mint lime was a perfect end to my green shave. My face feels wonderful despite the frown on my face from the Eagles loss.
Cheers everyone and keep an eye out for an upcoming giveaway on my Youtube Channel!!!
SHAVE ON, SHAVE ON!!!!