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My Grail Shave?

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Have you found your “holy grail” shave?  A set of products that consistently open the clouds and let heavenly rays of line shine down upon you?  Let me tell you about a recent experience.

A Re-Introduction To Nancy Boy

Nancy Boy shave cream made a bit of a splash in the wet shaving world when it introduced their original “Signature” shave cream in 2002.  They added a “Replenishing” version in 2005 and a “Blossomwood” version in 2011.  From their website:

Signature scent: “French lavender is blended with Washington peppermint and Tunisian rosemary to give it clean, fresh, bracing notes to which men and women are both drawn.”

Ingredients: Distilled water, potassium stearate, sodium myristate, sodium stearate, glycerin, coconut oil, essential oil fragance, organic aloe leaf juice, avocado oil, allantoin, pistachio nut oil, extracts of yarrow, burdock, calendula, chamomile, bitter orange, sea kelp, elder flower, comfrey and cucumber, methyl gluceth-20, polyquaternium-7, sorbic acid, hydroxyethylcellulose, vitamin E.

Replenishing scent: “…subtle and clean, made with steam-distilled cucumber and California lemon oil. Excellent for people who prefer unscented products because the scent is so very subtle. Cucumbers contain erepsin, a protein also found in our bodies, that makes it excellent for skin-softening.”

Ingredients: Distilled water, potassium stearate, sodium myristate, sodium stearate, glycerin, coconut oil, organic aloe leaf juice, natural cucumber hydrosol, lemon essential oil, avocado oil, allantoin, pistachio nut oil, extracts of yarrow, burdock, calendula, chamomile, bitter orange, sea kelp, elder flower, comfrey and cucumber, methyl gluceth-20, polyquaternium-7, sorbic acid, hydroxyethylcellulose, vitamin E.

Blossomwood scent: “…floral top notes with a woodsy bottom note of petitgrain, from the leaves and bark of the orange tree. The overall blend is redolent of orange blossom and rosewood.”

Ingredients: Distilled water, potassium stearate, sodium myristate, sodium stearate, glycerin, coconut oil, essential oil fragance, organic aloe leaf juice, avocado oil, allantoin, pistachio nut oil, extracts of yarrow, burdock, calendula, chamomile, bitter orange, sea kelp, elder flower, comfrey and cucumber, methyl gluceth-20, polyquaternium-7, sorbic acid, hydroxyethylcellulose, vitamin E.

But after a few years, with no formal advertising beyond word-of-mouth and with so many other products competing for the shave nerd’s attention, they sort of faded into the background.

I tried a sample of the Signature cream way-back-when and while I thought it was very good, it was competing for space in my shave den with a lot of other products that were very good, too.

A few months ago I decided to revisit Nancy Boy and bought some of each scent.  And the results were still…very good.  But again, I have a lot of “very good” products in the den.

A Lathering Tweak

Nancy Boy is advertised as a “brushless” shave cream but it is brush friendly.  So I decided to try it with a brush.  My first attempt was with a mid-grade badger brush and, while the results were still good, the resulting lather was a bit too thin for my preference.  Still…my interest was piqued so I decided to experiment a little more.

I discovered that my old, lowly Muhle “HJM” synthetic brush retained just enough water to warm and build a good lather–one that performed better for me than using it brushless.

An Impulse Decision…And The Clouds Part!

Nancy Boy was in my rotation for a while with various razors and getting great results…but nothing noteworthy.  And then one day I tried Nancy Boy Replenishing, with the Muhle HJM brush, and my OneBlade Genesis.  And…




An effortless, astonishingly BBS shave with a fantastic post-shave feel to boot–it was almost like I had already applied a good aftershave balm.  Something about that specific combination produced a shave that really got my attention.  And I get great BBS shaves all the time…almost routinely.  I find myself doing something that I rarely do these days: faceturbating.  Yes, it’s that good.

If I didn’t have to keep trying other products as part of running Sharpologist, I could easily see myself sticking to this combination permanently.

Have you found a combination of shave products so good that you could get rid of the rest of your shave den?  Leave a comment below!



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

33 thoughts on “My Grail Shave?”

  1. Razor: OneBlade Genesis
    Soap: Sampson’s All-Natural
    Brush: Pils 21MM Silvertip Badger, face lathered
    Post: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane (Yes I’m 30 and yes I still have acne)

    Each one of these was my first ‘major’ purchase in each category after much obsessive research and the large collection of good-but-not-quite-grail samples littering my bathroom attests to its continued greatness. I don’t know how I got so lucky!

  2. My Grail shave, the one that never disapoints, consists of the Ming Shi 2000S , Cremo, and homemade AS that has witch hazel and ground menthol.

    Now I’ll tell you the recent discovery that puts it all together for a great shave:

    Soft water.

    After a few visits to my home town which provided me with soft water and BBS shaves, I installed a 15-stage water filter in the shower.
    Holy knife-through-butter, Batman!

    Now I enjoy EASY shaves with a softened beard pre-shave, skin fully rinsed off and NOT stinging post-shave, and soft skin to apply the menthol-blast AS.
    I urge anyone with hard-water or city water to try this.

  3. After several years and much AD, my search has ended and the gauntlet put aside!! Distilled Hot water, Muhle 89 w/Elite Razor handle, Feather Hi-Stainless, TOBS Avacado, Maggard’s 24mm synthetic brush finished off w/Lucky Tiger Aftershave & Facial Tonic.

  4. Merkur 34C
    Voskhod blade
    Pheonix Shaving Atomic Rocket 26mm synthetic
    Ariana and Evans soap (any scent)
    Fine accoutrements after shave (any scent burst prefer Platinum of Lavender pour Homme)

  5. Holy Grail may be too strong of words, and I have long given up the quest for the legendary BBS. Too old, don’t care. For me, a shave that somewhat approaches a DFS with no fragrances, no flayed hide or irritation, and not too much brouhaha is all that is required.

    For the holy grail (lower case) of ODORLESS and froufrou-less shaves I use:

    –Hot wash cloth prep…two minutes if I can keep the boredom at bay.
    –Van der hagen Luxury Unscented Shave Soap…absolutely odorless.
    –Semogue 1438 Boar Bristle Brush…I like a stiff backbone in a brush.
    (True confession…I loved the Van der Hagen cheapie boar brush but the entire knot fell out out of the handle in about a year. To save the world’s boar population I went to the Semogue. I have been using the same brush for over 2 years. Seldom sheds and it has retained its backbone.)
    –Merkur Progress 510 C adjustable…first pass at 4.0, (if a) second pass at 2.5.
    –Personna blue blades. They are between 11 and 12 dollars per hundred on Amazon. There is an occasional bad blade, but it is less than 1 in 10. At less than 12 cents a blade, who cares. (I tried Feathers. Ha! My face looked like I took a careless field trip to an abattoir. Pain free in the process but my God the blood!)
    –Gillette Sensor Excel (2 blade cartridge) for touch ups around the lips. Does a nice job and leaves my lips on my face. I like that. I can use the same blade for well over a year.
    –Cool water rinse.
    –After shave either: Thayers Alcohol Free Unscented Witch Hazel or Osma Alum Block. Usually its the alum block. Thayers has a very slight whiff of witch hazel at application but no lingering odor. The alum has no discernible odor.

    I have to give credit to Mark (the Sharpologist) for getting me to switch to the Merkur Progress 510 C when I first got into wet shaving. At that time, the Progress was his favorite razor. I had a Merkur 38 C barber pole and it was leaving my face in shreds. I almost went back to the Gillette Sensor Excel. I read Mark’s recommendation for the Progress here:

    The closest I ever got to the holy grail was the first time I shaved with the Progress set at 4. It was something less than faceturbation, but compared to the rape and pillage the Barber Pole was inflicting on my face, it was a charming moment for me in the history of shaving.

  6. I travel a lot and I have a great combination for that. I use a Merkur long handle (23c?) with Feather blades (carried in a small vintage metal case). I soften the beard with conditioner in the shower, then use Somersets Extra Sensitive Shaving Oil going with the grain, and then against the grain with the same oil, plus Van Der Hagen Shave Butter on top. Works like a charm. And keeps the skin from drying up, which is a problem with air travel.

    1. I should add that I finish it up with a small travel alum block. I use it without rinsing much before applying it so the butter mixes with the alum.

  7. Floris of London, Cream or Soap and there after shaves are tops. NO.89
    Alpha T-400 shaving brush. One Blade Razor Genesis

  8. Feather AS-D2, KAI DE blade
    Stirling Soap (any scent)
    RazoRock Monster (synthetic) brush
    Ogallala bay-rum/orange splash

  9. I had my Holy Grail shave about 15 years ago, but they gradually took my favorite things off the market or re-formulated them. My two favorite soaps were Mitchell’s Wool Fat and Provence Sante, both of which I think were reformulated since then. And I used Feather blades, which were super sharp and available at a reasonable price, until some big company bought the rights and jacked up the price. I also used a Merkur razor and a long-handled brush from QED. I loved the Italian post shave cream (I’m having trouble remembering the brand). But anyway, I stopped shaving in 2013, and I now wear a full beard.

  10. Best Razor I recon you cant beat is the Rockwell 6S. It shaves that good that effortless and virtually impossible to cut your self at all. I bought one due to the fantastic reviews and i must say they were not wrong at all. A once in a life shaving tool. N0-3 plate setting does it for me.
    My brush is Omega Bee-Hive handle & whips up a later i cant complain about.
    Shaving Cream – Taylor of Old Bond St St- Jerome & Avacardo good reliable middle of the road shaving creams.

  11. Leaf Razor, BIC Chrome blades with TOBS Sandalwood Cream and any boar brush – not soaked and face-lathered in the shower. Glorious!

  12. My shave den is not as extensive as yours, Mark. I do use a variety of top of the line products. Here’s my favorite set of accoutrements: Feather Seki double edge razor with Elkaline blade, Saville Row silvertip badger brush, and Castle Forbes Lavender Essential Oil shaving cream. With light pressure and single passes of my Feather razor, I get an enjoyable BBS shave every time

  13. Give me my West Coast Shaving Silvertip Brush, Proraso Pro Azur Lime cream (the slickest line of soap or cream ever), a Merkur 38C razor, and a Polsilver Iridium blade. The best!

  14. For me its Tabac soap and balsam with the Rockwell 6s on the R6 plate with a Voskhod blade, and a synthetic tuxedo knot in an aluminum handle my brother made.

  15. Brush – soap combos is one area where I have developed something like “ultimate” favorites. Two are as follows:

    -Mitchell’s Wool Fat, Omega 20102 boar

    -Klar Classic rasierseife, Omega 10029 “baby pro” boar

  16. The perfect shave for me is the following:

    Parker Variant razor, Voskhod blade, Stirling Lil Brudder shaving brush and Proraso white shaving soap.

    The Parker Variant replaced the Muhle R-41 (2013 model) as my favorite razor.

  17. I know they are a Sharpologist sponsor, but for me, my desert island razor is Supply’s Single Edge injector combined with Cremo’s slickness. The razor just glides over my face and stubble is wiped away.

  18. For me it would have to be a Weishi Razor, Dorco ST-300 Blade, Williams Mug Shaving Soap, and a Method Shaving “Shave Cloth.” That is my “stuck on a deserted island” shave kit.

        1. The shave cloth was a muslin cloth promoted by Charles Roberts as part of his “Method Shaving” idea. It was supposed to replace a shave brush but it never caught on.

  19. For me it’s me it starts with some TOBS peppermint shave cream loaded up on my Simpson’s Duke II then my iKon open comb razor loaded with a personna blue, and L’Occetan Cederat AS balm to finish.

  20. For me it would be Mike’s Natural Hungarian Lavender soap, my Semogue TSN (limited edition) boar brush, my Rockwell 6s razor with #4 plate loaded with a Polsilver blade, and my Captain’s Choice copper lather bowl. BBS shave on two passes every time with zero irritation. I have a lot more stuff and would (if forced to choose) get rid of everything other than those items I just mentioned. In fact I have been selling off the equipment which has slipped down in my ranking since adopting this outfit.

      1. I quick-start boar brushes by standing them (bristles down) in a glass of water for two days. Whenever I pass the sink I take the brush out of the water, brush the bristles against a towel, and then replace it in fresh water. Voila! Tons of split ends. Even Semogues yield to this accelerated method.

      2. Semogue is changing their name to Millennium, (because that’s how long they take to break in). NB is the best SC on earth IMO.

        1. Razor: Rockwell 6C
          Blade: Personna Platinum Chrome Super Stainless Steel
          Soap: Wholly Kaw, La Fougere Parfaite
          Brush: Wild West handle with 26mm Tuxedo knot
          Post Shave: Humphreys witch hazel

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