Month: January 2016

Journey to Italy, Part 1

Oh Italy, the Bel Paese… Art, beautiful places, women, food and wine! What about wet-shaving goods? Well, in these modern days there are still some old-school barbershops and wet-shaving raised a growing interest in the last 10 years. Together with the long-lasting Italian barbershop tradition, this makes Italy a very interesting place to visit for the enthusiast wet-shaver… Unless you already live here, as in my case, which makes things much less interesting… with some exceptions (more on this on Part. 2).

This couple of articles will be a short journey to Italy, talking about some Italian classics as well as other topics.

The first approach to wet shaving came when I was about 15. An old boar brush of my father, some tubes of Palmolive and Proraso, and for 2-3 years I wet-shaved (I still remember the strange looks my school mates gave me when I showed them the brush during the school trip to Naples in 1999. Ah the old good times!). Then, I don’t know why, I stopped and reverted to canned goo. I returned to WetShaving as soon as I started working. Probably earning money for the first time proved to be the deciding factor. TOBS Lemon and Lime came, as well as a big 200ml bottle of Trumper’s Extract of West Indian Limes AS. Since then, I never came back, the Soap Acquisition Syndrome grow year by year and I discovered great products made both in Europe and USA. Little room for Italian products, at least until I met with a guy I’ll talk about in Part 2.

The only Italian products which were constantly in my den were essentialy two classics of the Italian tradition. Floid (see Featured Image) and Proraso, which are sold at almost every supermarket here in Italy (especially Proraso, in its classic green packaging).

Floid: well, almost every barbershop in Italy has it proudly displayed in the cabinet. Classy, timeless, old-fashioned, it’s the perfect complement for an haircut, a straight-razor shave, a moustache-trimming. The (sadly, old. The new is an abysmal grey label. No comment.) packaging is wonderful, the light-yellow label and the smiling face splashing the AS are in the Italian aficionados’ collective imagination.¬† Not to mention the big orange atomizer!! ūüėÄ I know that I’m not the only one who entering the bathroom and spotting the big Floid bottle can’t resist spraying some Floid on his neck and cheeks! This AS, moreover, is awesome in the hot summer month, providing an immediate sense of freshness! I never tried the spanish versions (Suave and Vigoroso) so I can’t compare them to the Italian one. All I can say is that if you love old-school scents, you must grab a bottle somehow!

Proraso: Proraso always makes me think about how mankind is strange: always seeking for things which can’t be easily obtained, often overlooking the local/national excellence. This thought is supported by serious evidence: me looking for the English and American soaps on one side, and many American friends who literally love Proraso and post several SOTD Pictures proudly featuring all the Range… Others ask where to buy it, and I often smile thinking about our local supermarkets. Given the price for a tub, about 2-3 Euros, they would feel like in Wet Shaving Paradise.

Those who know me are aware I’m always looking for that special and unique scents in my soaps, so… yes, I’m not really a fan of Proraso, since the scent is plain Menthol and I often got bored of it. This, however, doesn’t prevent me from saying that the performance of this soap, especially for the price, is top notch! Used in the summer months, Proraso will provide a very refreshing experience, as well as a thick lather which protects your skin while shaving.

Weird but effective tip:¬† add some drops of Floid on the tub and then build the lather. The scent will improve and the freshness will be multiplied x 2 ūüôā

 

The classic Proraso Soap tub, with its distinctive green colour.

 

ITALIAN VERSION – VIAGGIO IN ITALIA, Parte 1

Ah, l’Italia, il Bel Paese… Arte, luoghi meravigliosi, donne, cibo e vino! E per quanto riguarda la rasatura tradizionale? Beh, in questa epoca improntata alla modernit√† esistono ancora delle barberie vecchia scuola e la rasatura tradizionale √® tornata a suscitare notevole interesse nell’ultima decina d’anni. Ci√≤, unito alla tradizione barbieristica italiana, fa dell’Italia una nazione molto interessante da visitare per l’appassionato wet-shaver… a meno di non abitarvi gi√†, come nel mio caso, il che rende tutto molto meno eccitante… con qualche piacevole eccezione (su cui torner√≤ abbondantemente nella seconda parte).
Questa coppia di articoli vuole essere un breve viaggio in Italia, in cui parleremo di alcuni grandi classici italiani, ma non solo.
Il mio primo approccio alla rasatura tradizionale avvenne pi√Ļ o meno quando avevo 15 anni. Un vecchio pennello¬†di mio padre, in setola, qualche tubetto di Palmolive e qualche ciotola di Proraso, e per 2-3 anni andai avanti cos√¨ (ricordo ancora gli sguardi perplessi e stupiti dei miei compagni di classe durante la gita scolastica a Napoli, quando feci vedere loro il pennello. Ah, i vecchi tempi!). Poi, non saprei neanche dire perch√®, smisi e tornai alle bombolette. Fino a quando, nel 2007, iniziando a lavorare ritornai alla rasatura tradizionale. Probabilmente guadagnare soldi miei per la prima volta ha influito notevolmente ed √® stato decisivo. Una ciotola di Lemon and Lime di Taylor, una bella bottiglia da 200ml di dopobarba al Lime di Trumper, e via! Da allora, non son pi√Ļ tornato indietro, la SAS (Sindrome da Acquisto di Saponi) √® cresciuta di anno in anno, consentendomi di conoscere prodotti straordinari prodotti sia in Europa sia oltre oceano. Nel mio regno/antro della rasatura, c’era poco posto per prodotti italiani, almeno fino a quando non ho conosciuto una persona, di cui parler√≤ nella seconda parte.

Gli unici prodotti italiani che hanno sempre avuto un posto costante nella mia rotazione erano essenzialmente due grandi classici della tradizione italiana. Floid (vedi immagine di copertina) e Proraso, che possono essere trovati pressochè in qualsiasi supermercato qui in Italia, specialmente il secondo, nella tradizionale confezione verde.
Floid: che dire, in quasi ogni bottega di barbiere in Italia fa bella mostra di s√© una bella bottiglia di Floid, sul bancone, negli armadietti, ecc. Di classe, senza tempo e con un gusto piacevolmente retr√≤, Floid per me costituisce il perfetto complemento di un bel taglio di capelli, di una rasatura, di una spuntatina ai baffi. Il packaging, specialmente nella vecchia versione (sulla nuova, con un’orrida etichetta grigia, stendo un velo pietoso) con etichetta di colore giallo tenue, con la facciona sorridente mentre le viene spruzzato il Floid √® qualcosa che √® nell’immaginario collettivo degli aficionados. Per non parlare del mitico spruzzino arancione!! So di non essere l’unico che, entrando in bagno e notando la bottigliona di Floid, non resiste alla tentazione di spruzzarsi sul collo e sulle guance un po’ di dopobarba! ūüôā
Tale prodotto, inoltre, è perfetto nei torridi mesi estivi, garantendo una immediata sensazione di freschezza! Non ho mai avuto modo di provare le versioni spagnole (Suave e Vigoroso) e quindi non ho modo di fare paragoni. Ciò che posso dire che è se amate le profumazioni old-school, dovete assolutamente prendere una bottiglia di questo classico intramontabile, in qualche modo!

Proraso: questo prodotto mi fa sempre pensare a come sia strana la natura umana: siamo sempre a cercare cose che non possono essere facilmente ottenute e spesso ignoriamo o tralasciamo di proposito le eccellenze locali e nazionali. Questo fatto è suffragato da prove concrete: il sottoscritto a cercare saponi in terre lontane da un lato, e molti amici americani che adorano letteralmente i prodotti PRORASO, al punto di immortalarli in numerose foto di Sbarbate del Giorno, chiedendo dove si possano acquistarli, ecc. E io nel leggerli sorrido al pensiero che se vivessero qui, con i nostri supermarket si sentirebbero in paradiso, visti i prezzi (2-3 euro a pezzo).

Quelli che mi conoscono sanno che son sempre alla ricerca di quel sapone dalla profumazione particolare, speciale e unica, e quindi… non si pu√≤ dire che io sia un fan di Proraso, visto che la profumazione √® mentolo schietto e tale profumazione mi stufa dopo poco. Ci√≤ tuttavia non mi impedisce di dire che la performance di questo sapone √® eccellente, a maggior ragione vista la fascia di prezzo! Usato nei mesi estivi, Proraso vi garantir√†, oltre a una rasatura ben protetta, un’esperienza assolutamente rinfrescante!

Consiglio strano ma efficace: aggiungete qualche goccia di Floid direttamente nella ciotola di Proraso e montate la schiuma l√¨. La profumazione migliorer√† e la freschezza raddoppier√†! ūüôā

 

 

Straight talk about Straight Razors

When I was a child I remember the feel of stubble on my fathers face; it intrigued my young mind. I also envied at 5 years old why I couldn’t grow this scratchy stuff that I loved to touch, it was a way I believe fathers, and sons bond; the physical contact as well as the manly aspect of the beard, and generations past that also looked at their grand fathers,¬†fathers, brothers……or, whoever your favorite stubbled face growing¬†up, and inspiring that youthful mind to think of the future that someday; I too will have stubble for my sons to¬†ponder over.

How in the world does any of this have to do with Straight¬†razors then, and removal of that moustache or, full beard ? A few¬†month’s back I received a comment on my YouTube channel ¬†that basically read “why is anyone taking advice about straight razor shaving from a guy with a full beard” ? At the time I had a chinstrap beard, not a full beard there is a difference, actually a very big difference.¬† So this is a good time to say why I choose to use a straight razor, and why a bearded man has a tougher job overall removing that face fur.

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Many people find that using a straight razor can be tough, and I won’t disagree. If it was easy we would be using a 5 blade cartridge razor. The straight razor shave is different in most aspects of the actual shaving from the 10-30 degree angle you shave at, to the grips and reverse grips to accommodate your face. Yes it is more difficult then some people would like. Other people instantly know this was meant for them; ¬†it’s a time of reflection, accuracy, solitude and stress relief that is unique to any other form of introspective activity. I love using a straight razor ! there I said it loud, and proud or, wrote it (I was yelling in my mind). After a good 30 days most people find that while having a learning curve that ultimately the switch was well worth it. so lets get into some Straight talk.

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Straight razors are broken down to a few simple terms. The edge is the actual sharp portion of the blade that shaves, The remainder of the blade is known as the face. The toe is the end of the¬†front portion, which may have different looks like round tip, French Point, Spike to name a few and there are more. The opposite of the edge is the spine which will lead into the shoulder which are stabilizers more for the mfg. then the shave. Finally for our purposes you have the scales which is the counter balance, and grip assist to the tang which is everything the blade is not. As we see there are some terms there, but don’t drown in the physiology of the blade just know every aspect of that blade whether you use it or, not impacts your shave. So what is right for you ? the first time Straight razor user.

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Lets make this simple, and black and white as there is so much non-sense in circulation you could be turned off by taking bad advice. here is a rule of thumb. Avoid Chinese razors in general as the quality is pretty much like everything else with that logo. It works, and will shave, but the upkeep can send you right back to your previous shaving device. I will be the first one to say a quality straight razor¬†does NOT have to be¬†expensive, it’s just not ! this is what sends many people to those Chinese blades is price, $30-100 is the lie that anything else is a small mortgage payment. Guess what you can get a quality vintage razor¬†for that maybe less¬†or, ¬†even a brand new razor for $100; like the Ralf Aust base model which I still use today. The constant performance just is not there with any Chinese razor I have every tried. A straight Razor is an investment in you ! your worth the extra few dollars. I recommend buying a round point which looks like a sideways “U” at the toe, which will help you avoid cuts, and are in general, ¬†just an¬†all around¬†go to for most gents. Next up bigger is NOT better. You will hear mathematical terms used that sound like your back in school. Some are 3/8, 5/8, 6/8, 13/16, 15/16, 8/8 and we can talk fractions all day, but at the end all that means is the width of the face (see above) of your razor. I recommend 5/8 for two reasons the weight, and feel is great for both beginner and veteran shaver alike. The second reason is back to the guy who questioned my facial hair, because you can maneuver tight hollow of your face easier allowing you some facial hair like a chin puff, any moustache, as well as some pretty awesome side burns without the fear of loss of blade control and bulkiness. Finally you’ll see a ton of scale options (again see above) ranging from plastic to celluloid, to even precious Abalone. I would encourage the plastic or, acrylic scales as they keep cost low, and there is nothing wrong until you know a straight razor is for you, to be prudent. To cut to the point I usually just tell people there is¬†a brand called Ralf Aust sold by SRD that is made in Solingen Germany the city of blades known for high quality carbon¬†steel, ¬†and it fits every recommendation I said above. Just do not forget to buy an introductory strop as well it’s not an option.¬†Down the road once you get the technique down as permits get¬†more bling razors, but remember this is an investment, and I promise you will never find a successful business that didn’t crawl before it ran so take your time, and enjoy it !

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one last thing before I go. Never let anyone say you cannot use your DE/SE razor, and a straight razor in the same shave¬†why give up a DE or, SE razor !…. I don’t know about everyone else, but I invest in myself, and trust me all three of those razor belong in my life, and maybe yours too. Shave on everyone, I hope this helped a bit. – Aaron

 

Sunday Scents: Attack of the Sierra

  

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     Every successful fragrance has had its share of flanker scents. Hell, some even have seasonal ones! Today though, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite budget flankers, Stetson Sierra.
     This is a flanker that relies on the name of the established scent, rather than an offshoot of the scent. This in no way detracts from Sierra nor Stetson. Where the original is a brash, floral chypre, Sierra is a light aromatic fougere. Per Fragrantica:

Top notes are aldehydes, artemisia, caraway, juniper berries, green notes, basil and bergamot; middle notes are carnation, jasmine, caraway, rose, pine tree needles and geranium; base notes are leather, amber, patchouli, musk, oakmoss and cedar.

¬†¬†¬†¬† Personally, I don’t pick up every note listed, but here’s my impression. Upon first spray, you’re met with a bright zing of aldehydes and citrus with a slap of juniper. The pine emerges after the citrus dries down; gently curbed by the herbal notes and jasmine, preventing it (thankfully) from becoming a floor cleaner scent. The woody notes (sadly no oakmoss, THANKS IFRA) and amber are a light denouement at the end.
¬†¬†¬†¬† As far as scents go, if you’re on a budget and are looking for a “fresh” scent, you can’t go wrong with Sierra. And if you’re not on a budget? Hell, pick up a bottle anyway. I’ve been really surprised by a lot of the Stetson flankers. While Coty has butchered a lot of their original scents, one must remember that they’re in the scent business, and can put together some really decent scents at a really great price point. As far as pairing this with your shave gear, I’d highly suggest using this with Van Yulay’s “Into the Woods” soap with a post of Pinaud Clubman.
     Hope you enjoyed this. We at Wet Shaver Review hope to have a fragrance review weekly, so you can smell your Sunday best, so to speak. Shave on!

Follow the smoke…

No, I’m not going to review a BBQ Restaurant or a Tobacconist Shop. Not at all. We’re a Wet-Shaving-themed blog, aren’t we? So, what I’m going to talk about this evening is one of the most original and great soaps on the market, at least for my tastes! It was given to me as a present for my birthday by my girlfriend, who struggled a lot to get it, but in the end, thanks to the patience and kindness of different persons (the artisan himself plus other resellers) she managed to have the soap shipped to Italy!

In my previous articles I told you about my top 2 “surprises of the year”; well, this soap completes the Top 3, sitting on the third step of the podium. The soap is Cigar Lounge, by Soapy Bathman, run by Chris Erskine, a Canadian artisan who knows his job and created a very nice line of soaps, AS balms, Shampoo Bars, etc. with a variety of scents to please the tastes of the most discerning gentlemen out there.

Cigar Lounge. The name itself intrigued me from the start. I’m a very moderate smoker, but from time to time I like smoking a good cigar (both Habanos and Italian, Toscano, cigars) or smoking a pipe, just to spend a relaxing evening. I didn’t know what to expect from the soap. Cigar Lounges are not so common in Italy and reading the evocative description on the producer site didn’t completely unveil the aura of mystery about this soap.

“Imagine yourself sitting in a smoky Cigar Lounge, glass of liquor in front of you, soft raspy jazz music gently whispering in the background. ¬†Smelling the thick, smooth scent of your cigar with every exhale. With a blend of bergamot, lemon and spiced Tobacco leaves you will picture that everytime you shave.”¬† (from http://soapybathman.ca/item_38/Cigar-Lounge-Shave-Soap.htm )

When the soap arrived, I instantly fell in love with the presentation and, most of all, the scent. If I had to choose the word which describes it best, it would be (apart from Awesome) Balanced. Yes, because I was afraid of a soap which would smell too smokey, resulting off-putting. Not at all! The scent is a wonderful combination of citrusy notes, with hints of liquor and cigar smoke here and there, all perfectly balanced. I think this is the key of the success of this soap, which got very positive reviews everywhere.

Scent is not everything, however; so, how does the soap perform? At first I had some difficulties in lathering; nothing dramatic, but I wasn’t fully satisfied. I asked Chris for advice and he was very kind and quick to link me his video tutorial. Soaking the soap for 3-5 minutes hugely improves the lathering process. The lather obtained is very creamy, the protection for the skin is very good and the scent is strong enough to be smelled after the end of the shave. I like the scent of this soap so much that sometimes I don’t apply aftershave just to continue smelling it! Just a bit of talcum powder. ūüôā

Overall this is a great soap which I highly recommend to all those who:

  • enjoy citrusy scents
  • enjoy the scent of a burning cigar
  • want to try a one-of-a-kind soap!

In picture: SOTD 21/01/2016, the Romeo y Julieta n¬į3 hasn’t been smoked yet! ūüôā

 

Revlon Ciara: Retro Niche

    

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     A fragrance based around leather, jasmine, vanilla, incense, and sandalwood, with a fresh opening of raspberry and citrus; the newest release from Tom Ford? Serge Lutens? Slumberhouse? Wait, it’s a Revlon product from the Seventies made for women that can be found in most drugstores? Wait, what?
¬†¬†¬†¬† First, let me explain that fragrance tastes have changed radically over the past fifty years, if not longer. Consider even Old Spice, which was originally released for the feminine market. In today’s market, heady orientals are looked upon as “old fashioned” or better suited for an older generation. Niche fragrance houses are turning back the clock in this regard, bringing heady, rich fragrances back into popular eye.
¬†¬†¬†¬† Charles Revson released Ciara (a play on his initials, CR) back in the early Seventies as a high end, glamour scent for women. With today’s tastes, it’s very unisex, favoring masculinity in my opinion. Upon first application, you’re met with bright lemon and raspberry, soon followed with herbaceous sandalwood, drying down into dark, smoky vanillac incense.
¬†¬†¬†¬† A truly delightful scent at an excellent price. I’d advise searching for a bottle that still contains oakmoss, as I was lucky enough to find. If you cannot, it’s still worth it. Perhaps not as deep a scent, but still overall quite excellent. For more information, check out Fragrantica.

Surprise surprise…

When it comes to scents, especially here in Italy, the most common ones are the usual Almond, Lavender, Menthol you will find in dozens of products, sometimes mixed with some more uncommon ingredients.

Personally, I often tend to look for the hidden gems or the unusual, not to say weird-sounding items, and with this attitude I was instantly interested when I read about a soap which  scent was the one of a forest fire in Texas! After reading some reviews online, most of which positive, although warning that this would be a love-or-hate-it scent, I put it in my wish-list. Then, my girlfriend purchased it (together with a stunning total of 12 soaps) for my birthday and I was able to try it personally.

In my previous post I said that Tiki Bar Soap was the N¬į 1 Surprise of the past year. Well, Stirling came a close second.¬† IMHO, it deserves the N¬į 1 spot for the Best “Bang for the Buck” category! Great protection, very easy to lather with all kinds of brushes and strong scents (I love soaps which scents linger in the air for a while).

Back to Texas on Fire, the first time I smelled it I was hit by a strong smoky scent, like the one of campfires. Smoky but also woodsy, leathery and earthy and, most of all, manly! This is how I’d describe this soap. I agree with all those reviewers who said this is probably a love-or-hate-it scent. Those who prefer subtler scents would discard this fine Stirling offering. On the contrary, those, like myself, who are constantly looking for unusual scents, will love it!

Wet shaving and memories of the past

Today I was coming back home from work and I thought about the next article for WSR. I already knew that today’s shave would employ one of my Tiki Bar soaps. This thought made me travel back in time, thanks to one of those strange mental connections that sometimes happen ūüôā

Premise: as many of our follower may know, Tiki Bar is owned and run by Amanda Stott, one of the most successful (and man, the success is truly deserved!) artisans in the Wet Shaving community. Tiki bar soap is based in Alabama, USA and it was this detail which started the mental connection I mentioned above.

The fact that a guy living in Genoa, Italy, uses a shaving soap made in Alabama, US, almost 8000 Km away, recalled me when I was a kid (in the late 80s) and my aunt came regularly to visit me and my parents. She came from Milan (150 Km away) and every time she brought us some products which were almost impossible to find in my town (be it a strange tropical fruit or the latest cream cheese on the market). Back then Internet was yet to come, purchasing goods was quite different and the only idea of getting those products was, at best, unlikely.

We’re in 2016, the World has changed (and not often for the best), and nowadays getting a product which is made thousands Kms away is no more a miracle! ūüôā

If I had to name the brand which personally I found to be the best surprise of 2015, that would be Tiki, without hesitation. Amanda is a careful artisan, who puts passion in her activity and provides an exceptional customer care. Recently I had issues with the parcel being held at the <CENSORED> Italian customs, and when I asked her for a piece of information which was necessary to fill a custom form in, her reaction was very quick. Moreover, when finally the parcel arrived and I found out that there was an extra soap, she was so kind not to pretend the soap to be sent back to the US or that I’d be charged for it. This is a classy customer service.

What about the soap themselves? I had the pleasure to try four of them so far, and the best word to describe them is AMAZING, from the Presentation to the post-shave feeling.

The images on the soap tubs are simple yet reminiscent of the main character of the product they contain. The soaps are very easy to lather, with every kind of brush, be it boar, badger or synthetic. The lather is creamy and provides great cushion and protection to your skin and glide to your razor. The scents (which is a subjective field, I know) are all awesome and contribute to make the shave a great experience.

The full range of Tiki Bar soaps include some traditional scents as well as some more distinctive ones. The ones I own fall in the second category:

  • The Captain: by far my favourite Tiki soap and one of my favourite top 3 soaps of all times. A cherry pipe tobacco flavour which is rich, complex and masculine.
  • Davey Jones Locker: one of Amanda’s most complex scents, inspired by Geo F. Trumper Eucris (which I love!) but different in the final result, it’s a complex blend of amber, patchouli, ginger grass, which are added to the Eucris olfactory pyramid, which is: top notes of black currant, caraway and coriander; middle notes of jasmine and lily-of-the-valley; and base notes are sandalwood, oakmoss and musk.
  • Kilted Tiki: made using Scotch Whisky, this is one of those special soaps which are so far from our European and Italian tradition. Very strong and masculine scent. Some could find it a bit owerpowering. Personally I love it! ūüôā
  • Go West: it took me some time to appreciate it, at first I couldn’t pick the leather notes, but after some usage know it’s becoming a favourite, as its brothers!

 

Drakkar Noir: Common Scents

   

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     Ah, Drakkar Noir. The scent that started the black craze. Even if you’ve never worn it, you most likely know someone who did. As for myself? I first received it as a stocking stuffer back in the early 90’s, when I was but a boy (starting when I was 6, I received a small bottle of cologne, because men wore cologne). I used it, liked it, felt like an eight year old badass, then forgot about it. During an after Christmas sale at a local store, there was a 1 oz bottle on a great sale, so for nostalgia’s sake, I grabbed it up.
¬†¬†¬†¬† The scent, while being similar to what I remembered, didn’t have the impact that it did when I was younger. I blame several things. Firstly, IFRA. With the removal of oakmoss from nearly everything, many colognes and perfumes have lost their original character. Also, that was my first bottle of real cologne, not a cheapie/knockoff, so the “importance” of that most likely adds to the scent. And finally, in today’s world, it’s a cliche. It smells like every other black fragrance, because every other fragrance wanted to be Drakkar Noir.
¬†¬†¬†¬† However, this does not diminish the scent in any way in my eyes. While it may have lost its alpha male edge, and seem dated, it’s still a fragrance I’ll wear quite proudly. It’s a very solid “shaving cream” fougere, acceptable for wear at any time, be it at work in the office, out on the town for a night, or Sunday church. The crisp herbal/citric opening dries down to a smooth woody finish. A true classic.
¬†¬†¬† While many lament the “death” of many fragrances, due to the IFRA changes, this scent is still very wearable. It may not be the most original, nor haute, but it has withstood the test of time to become an icon, and rightfully so. Go grab a bottle for yourself, and take a trip down memory lane.

How to strop for beginners

Hello out there ! It has been quiet sometime since I have posted here, and this post is a great informative, concise, and correct way to strop a straight razor; especially for the new shaver. Now before I post the video I want to thank Lynn Abrams of Straight Razor Design and Straight Razor Place for allowing me to share his video. I could make a stropping video, but how do you improve what a living legend in the industry has already done. I consider myself very blessed to befriend such a giving and generous gentleman who is the worlds true Honemeister. I will add my .02 cents now though of course and dispel what stropping is, and why do it. This video is dedicated to @mickeyobe who requested a stropping 101 style video.

Stropping is not honing; honing is when you remove metal from your razor to sharpen or touch up the edge of the razor to make it shaving sharp again (That is the most direct, and basic description of honing) period. So what then is stropping, and why do I always say to buy a strop with your first straight razor ? Stropping inn my opinion is actually more important, again in my opinion; as you do it every time you shave before and/or, after. What stropping does is pull all those micro pieces of the edge, and basically like in basic training says get in a straight line ! Stropping is what tidies up all those erratic shards of microscopic metal the previous shave displaced ! yes your beard is really that strong, and literally pulls everything so it’s going in the same direction. This makes your shave more comfortable, the edge last longer, and finally you the new straight razor user interested in the art yes I said “art” of straight razor shaving. On closing yes there are many types of leather you can use for a strop as Lynn says in his video; I use Kangaroo personally, but also own Latigo, and English Bridal. For the new shaver buy yourself a nice Latigo strop also sometimes called a starter strop (I loathe that term), and go with 3″ these are only suggestion, you can use whatever you want to buy, but be forwarned just as honing is a skill stropping is as well, and strops are leather hence if you cut it, you have to replace it. I personally would replace Latigo than English Bridal, and hey Latigo is just fine to use don’t let a lower price tag make you think it’s less effective. Now get out there buy yourself that straight razor and strop and watch this video ! slow and steady wins the race, Shave on !¬† http://www.straightrazordesigns.com¬†

  • Aaron

 

Dax Wave and Groom: The Icon

    

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     When I was younger, I was immediately taken by O Brother, Where Art Thou. One of my favorite adaptations, Coen films, and movies in general. The music really killed it for me. Up until then, I had never really listened to any kind of Americana; be it blues, country, bluegrass, what have you. That movie changed my life, musically speaking. However, the other bit that caught me was Everett’s undying love for his hair.
¬†¬†¬† After that, I immediately needed pomade. I was, and still am, a huge Clooney fan, so emulation was a must. I spoke to my hairdresser and she plopped a tub of American Crew in my hand, and away I went. For years, that was my go to. It was only until much later that I realized, “holy shit, that was the Thirties! There’s no way they had a washable product back then!” So, with my trusty internets and a feeling of superiority (I was in college, out of the house, A MAN), I got to researching.
¬†¬†¬† In my surfing, I learned that most old timey products were essentially petroleum jelly, oils, and a bit of something for the pleasing aroma, and were the same products used in the Zuko era. They’re still made by companies today, and can most often be found in the ethnic sections of most stores. So I headed down to the store, on foot, in the cold, determined to get me some.
    Once there, a bright red can immediately popped. I grabbed it. Popped the lid off. The pleasing aroma hit me. A dark, waxy, spiced scent wafted. Yes. This was it.
¬†¬†¬† I RAN back to campus, and immediately applied it.¬† Hmm. This is sticky. And pull-y. This is not what I remembered. Hmm. Oh well, I’ll go wash it off. Uh oh. It’s not coming out. Let’s repeat. Oh shit. It’s still in there! What the hell is going on?
¬†¬†¬†¬† Yes, I panicked. I flew into town this time, and ran right into the salon, and lamented my hair. The hair dresser said, “Honey, that stuff never comes out. It’s quicker to buzz it.” FML. Well, with a heavy heart, I left the shop. There was no way I was going to pay hairdresser prices for a buzz cut, so I moped to the town barber. And this, my friends, is where the story gets good.
¬†¬†¬†¬† I walk in. Barber nods to the chair. I hop in. “Jesus, son. What did you do to yourself?” I explained what I did, why I did it, and why I was there. He commenced to laugh. Asked if I wanted to keep my hair or buzz it. I obviously wanted to keep it. He told me to go buy some dishwashing detergent, “y’know, that blue gunk they pour on animals in oil spills”, and pour some of that on my head, let it sit for a bit, and proceed to wash. He let me know it won’t all come out at once, “…but it should knock most of that shit out.” He reminisced about similar products he used when he was my age, and how hard it was then to remove. He said he used bar laundry soap for the task. He also gave me tips on how to apply it (warm up the can on a hot plate, really work it in your hands, make damn sure that you start at the root and go up, etc.).
¬†¬†¬† I don’t remember his name. I never walked in his shop again. But to this day, I’ll be grateful for that guy. And to this day, I still use that product in the red can. Dax Wave & Groom. A great hair pomade. To those who regularly use traditional oil based pomade, I know you’ve had a can at some point. Who hasn’t? Well, ain’t that a thing. Some of you haven’t? Well now, here’s what you do. Go to my delightful Instagram page to find the details. To those of you who haven’t yet tried an oil based product, but were considering it, give this a go. You won’t be disappointed. If you want to skip the contest, check out Dax and buy direct. Good luck, and I hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane.