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6 (ish) Wet Shaving Products I Don’t Want To Be Without

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Between testing a lot of products for Sharpologist and my wife enabling my wet shaving obsession anyway (it was her fault in the first place!) I’ve used my fair share of shaving products over the years. And in that time I have come to prefer some specific products over the rest.  While I can “get by” with a lot of products, here are the ones I don’t want to be without.


For my pre-shave routine I have found that using Musgo Real Glycerin Lime Oil* (MR GLO) soap does wonders for getting my face ready for a shave.  There is a variation of the soap with basil* (I’ve never tried it though) and there have been a few artisan copies come and go over the years but I think the original still works the best. I wish I knew why the soap works so well for me but I’ve stopped wondering…it just does.
If I had to choose an alternative it would be plain ol’ original Noxzema Cleansing Cream*.  It’s widely available, cheap, and gets the job done (though without the satisfaction I get from MR GLO).


IMG_1817Most everyone reading this knows that a shaving brush…just about any shaving brush…can make a huge difference in the quality of the shave, compared with slathering on gooey shave cream with the fingertips.  A shave brush will help get rid of the tiny bits of debris that can cling to a strand of stubble hair, and also surround each hair with lathery goodness for the shave.  I have quite a few shaving brushes in my “stable,” some quite expensive but only a few enjoy regular use.

Of those, my favorite?  A pure badger, “havanna handle” brush from Shave Place (purchased back when it was called “emsplace”).  Cost me all of $30, with stand, and has lasted me almost ten years now.  The brush I have is no longer made but THIS brush seems to comes close, based on description.  The brush just feels natural in my hand, is soft on the face but still has some “backbone,” and has held up to my abuse incredibly well.  When it finally does fail I shall mourn its passing.  By the way, Em also has a great glycerin-based shave soap available in a number of creative scents.

If I had to make another decision it would be one of my brushes from the other side of the spectrum: my Rooney limited edition brush made for the Shave My Face forum a number of years ago.  This is one huge, luxurious brush that has continued to hold up well for me!  The general size and quality are roughly equivalent to a Rooney Victorian* (or maybe a Simpson Persian Jar 3* or a Kent BK8*).


IMG_1820I have a ton of traditional shaving creams and soaps.  I may never get through them all, and yet I still get more.  But out of all of them what wouldn’t I want to be without?  It has to be something that is fairly strongly scented (due to my poor sense of smell), offer outstanding performance, and really evoke a scene for me.

The king of the hill under those conditions has to be Wm. Neumann’s Old Fashioned Soda shaving cream.  I reviewed it when it first came out in 2013 (and I’m only now starting to see the giant pump bottle get low).  This stuff performs spectacularly for me–with or without a brush–and the scent really gives off a “vibe” of an old time soda shop.  The only thing I’m concerned about is if Neumann changes the formula or goes out of business!

On the soap side I’d have to give the nod to DR Harris’ Arlington* shave soap.  An old-school, tallow-based soap that is another spectacular performer for me, though it doesn’t give quite the same evocative vibe–it just smells like a really classy cologne to me.


IMG_1814I have to admit, for a pure luxury experience that I don’t want to be without, I have to go with my OneBlade razor.  Yes, it’s expensive.  Yes, the blade choice is limited.  Yes, OneBlade advertises on Sharpologist so my enthusiasm might be viewed by some as biased.  I don’t care.  I reviewed it a while back and I stand by my opinions.

But I still do a lot of product evaluations so it’s also nice to have a razor that can kind of “roll with the punches” and adjust to different conditions.  If I couldn’t have the OneBlade I would go with my Merkur Progress* adjustable razor (typically with a Polsilver Iridium* blade).  The Progress was my all-time favorite razor until the OneBlade came along and I still use it pretty often.


IMG_1818Unlike most shavers, after my last pass I have a clean-up routine that’s more than just splashing cold water on my face.  I’ve found that a quick wipe-down with a cotton round soaked with witch hazel or a toner to remove lather residue more completely really helps me avoid ingrown hairs and other problems.  I prefer to use a low-alcohol witch hazel like Thayers* but pretty much any witch hazel will do.

If witch hazel suddenly disappeared from the shelves my fall-back would be Lucky Tiger Face Tonic*–a lot more expensive than witch hazel but it works well for me and can do double duty as an aftershave splash.


IMG_1816I admit my aftershave preference is a little schizophrenic.  In the heat of the summer I need something that is light and simple.  I usually go with Trumper’s Skin Food (I prefer Limes* but Coral* is OK too, though Coral is admittedly an acquired taste–err…smell.  I have not tried the Sandalwood* version yet).

If Skin Food disappeared I’m beginning to dig St. James Of London’s aftershave gel.  The Lavender and Geranium* version is basically unscented, though I like the Black Pepper and Lime too.

On the other hand, in the winter I don’t know where I would be without Village Barber aftershave balm*.  I find it exceptionally moisturizing (without being greasy) and friendly to my skin during the cold, dry Winter months.

* Denotes an affiliate purchasing link, where Sharpologist gets a small fee if the product is purchased through the link.

What Shaving Product Don’t You Want To Be Without?

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Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

9 thoughts on “6 (ish) Wet Shaving Products I Don’t Want To Be Without”

  1. I’ve tried the Sandalwood skin food and there’s too much citronella for my taste. I know they’re bad for me, but I dearly love my old fashioned alcohol splashes loaded with skin drying menthol. But I have normally oily skin.

  2. I’ll cite just one thing I cannot do without in each category:
    Rockwell 6s with Polsilver blades
    a Plisson-style syth brush
    Tabac soap or cream
    Sterling Sharp Dressed Man aftershave
    Creed Green Irish Tweed cologne

  3. What shaving products would I not want to be without?
    Even though I basically use straight razors, *the* product in the wet shaving world for me is the Merkur 34c/HD. It never fails. Ever. It amazes me literally every single time I use it. Ideally with an Astra Superior Platinum or a Feather blade.
    The most pleasant surprise in my pretty large “herd” of brushes is the Mühle Silvertip Fibre 25mm knot, “high-grade resin” handle, even though it is by far not the most pricey one in my selection.
    The “wow” factor in soaps comes from the Proraso Sapone con olio di sandalo e burro di karité (sandalwood scent, in the red container), inexpensive and impressively good, and the legendary Crema sapone da barba Cella purissima as well as the simply good and dirt cheap Palmolive stick.
    My highlights in the after shave region are Pitralon Classic (green label) and Alt-Innsbruck from Austria with its wonderfully distinct scent.

  4. Well I finally got my wet shaving routine down pat. Most of the wet shaving world will regard me as a cretin but here goes.
    Preshave: hot water.
    Brush: Van Der Hagen Boar Bristle. I like the stiffness and the scritch.
    Soap: Van Der Hagen Unscented Luxury or Soap Commander Integrity (unscented).
    Razor: Merkur Progress 510 Longhand Adjustable, and I keep my old Gillette Sensor Excel to do the weed whacking under my nose and around my lips. I have used the same cartridge for almost a year now so blade expense is not an issue.
    Blades: Personna Blues. Made in USA, gives a smooth close shave with no burn. Cost 13 cents per blade and I get 5 shaves per blade. Wilkinson Sword is a second preference but I get more nicks and the blade cost is double. Feathers make my face look like ground meat, but they are painless while doing so.
    Cleanup: Hot water, followed by cool water soak.
    Aftershave: Thayers Unscented Witchhazel.
    That said, Norelco sincerely thanks the wet shaving world. Most of the time I just say, oh hell I don’t have time for all that brouhaha and just hit my face with the Norelco. I enjoy wet shaving more but frankly the zen of it has not quite seeped into my soul, as such the Norelco is good enough for most days. As I warned in the second sentence, I am a cretin.

  5. Mark, you seem to be rather old fashioned with your reviews. I enjoy your blog but maybe jazz it up a bit

  6. Thayer’s Witch Hazel toner has virtually eliminated ingrowns for me since I began using it just over a year ago. I prefer the alcohol-free toner options (unscented, lavender, cucumber, and rose). I don’t use a cotton pad though. I squirt some in my palm like an aftershave splash and I massage it into my face and neck and let it dry down before applying my aftershave splash and/or balm.
    MR GLO pre-shave and Village Barber balm are also favorites of mine.

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