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).
Most 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*).
I 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.
I 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.
Unlike 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.
I 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).
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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