Author: CharlesLess

Cremo Lathering Shave Cream: Sandalwood

First, let me start with a disclaimer. This, and several other products, were sent to me from Cremo direct. That being said, I’ve tried my best to remain objective as possible. However, that being said, I’ve always been a fan of Cremo products. Their original cream was a happy discovery at my local Wal-Mart. I was happier still when they released a coconut-mango scent as well. During this “delightful” Central New York winter, the vibrant freshness offered by the tropical scent was welcomed. 

When I saw folks posting “look what I found at Target!” through various grooming groups on the interwebs, I was keen to learn more. So, I visited the Cremo website and sent them a message inquiring about the availability of the new products in my area. Thus began my conversations with Fred, their customer services director. Upon finding that I’m somewhat unhealthily obsessed with grooming products, Fred graciously sent out one hell of a care package*.

*Said care package

After a goodly chunk of time of solely using the sandalwood cream, I gotta say, Cremo, to me, has done it’s best work yet. The scent is light, but refreshingly masculine in this day and age of watery “fougeres”. As an added bonus, the woody scent comes from ACTUAL wood! Not like, bits of bark hiding in the cream, but ACTUAL sandalwood and cedar essential oils, instead of the more commonplace synthetics. As far as performance, this is a smidge better than their tube offerings. After using it with a variety of razors (DE, Gem, Schick, and a straight), it held up quite well, with minimal dissipation of lather. The only time I had issue with any sort of dissipation was with the straight, as all my other razors I shave with while I shower (the “science” behind that is probably due to the excess moisture in the air in the shower [please note, I said “science” in quotes, noting that I have no clue what principles, if any, are behind that {I’m guessing there’ll be one comment telling me why I’m wrong or right, hopefully with an explanation, because knowledge is power <Man, this is one hell of a tangent>}]). 

As far as post shave feel, my skin feels great. By great I mean well hydrated, not overly moisturized, nor overly dry. Neutral is good; it means it’s leaving your face balanced and healthy. Up till today, I’ve been using alum as an aftershave, as I’d found some forgotten cologne s and didn’t want a clash of the scents. After a scrape with my straight, I opted for my traditional post straight shave splash, the hallowed Pinaud Lilac Vegetal. I must say, it goes together quite well. 

In conclusion, if Cremo keeps up this level of quality with their products they release, they will rival Creighton as the premier shave cream manufacturer. I would highly recommend this product to anyone. A great cream, at a very budget friendly price.

Skin Bracer

     Yeah, so I’m late to the party on this one. This classic splash (which you can’t even find on the Colgate/Palmolive website) is a knockout. Powder, vanilla, mint, and hints of oak and leather blended together to make a clean fresh scent with a blast of menthol. I never tried it, having used the Vijon Brut knockoff, thinking that since both are made by the same company, that SB was the “premium brand” ie rebottled at a higher price point. Boy, I was wrong. My one knock on the stuff is that it doesn’t last. But, it’s only an aftershave, so it’s not meant to, which is truly a shame. Overall, great stuff that knocks Clubman off its pedestal and goes toe-to-toe with Aqua Velva. 
PS-it pairs excellently with Charcoal Goods shaving soap. It’s all I’ve been using 

Dr. Jon’s 13 for WSR

Having had great success with our collaborative KSW soap/splash “Frosen”, we were excited to embark on another collusion. I’ve been a fan of Jon Eplin’s products since receiving a tin of Hydra (#hailhydra) from Nathan Clark (he’s not a brushmaker, he’s a Dr. Jon’s vendor that sells overpriced soap, BUT IT COMES WITH A FREE BRUSH 😉). I immediately was taken with the product. The artwork, the scent, how well it worked; this was very new at the time. Up till Dr. Jon’s (at that point Gentleman Jon’s), most non commercial products looked like they were put together by hand in someone’s spare time. That was part of the allure; the products held the “human touch”. Dr. Jon’s was very different in that regard, with its pop art labels and new yet similar scents. You’ve got a cologne (as in literal cologne [ie 4711, Farina]) scent, only with a huge grapefruit kick, a bay rum with a blast of tea, a barbershop, yet it isn’t, etc. All in all, a commercial style lineup and packaging, with a fresh twist on the whole package. This brings us to 13. We at WSR had been itching to work with Jon and were delighted when his schedule allowed it. 
Thirteen is host to a whole new batch of awesome from Jon’s company. Firstly, the soap formula changed, and for the better. Not only is the soap harder and longer lasting, it’s now palm free. Palm farming has become a huge ecological problem of late; with many farms coming into existence after razing old growth forest. In the South Pacific, these farms are critically impacting the orangutan population. So when you buy a product with palm oil, think of a baby orang separated from its mother. Then do the humane thing and set it down, and buy a sustainable alternative. In terms of the performance, I noticed no difference, save for the post shave. Same awesome lather, with same awesome cushion and glide, with better (IMO) post shave feel. So, what we have is an environmentally friendly soap that feels better on the skin. +1

Secondly, the scent. We at WSR put our collective heads together and came up with a combo of off-the-beaten path stinks. Hedione, Iso E Super, Musk, and Oud. We felt this combo would allow the scent to be multipurpose (day/night, cold/warm weather) and richly masculine, while not being your typical fougere or oriental type scent. Jon put together a knockout mix from our input. I’ve had people say I smell like fresh laundry, their grandfather, a movie star, etc. but the compliment I’ve received most is that I smell great. And that’s good enough for me. 10/10 it works every time.

Thirdly, there’s the awesome graphic art, which comes from the pen of Jason Kincaid a.k.a. McFly. The name and art came from the mind of Jon and Jason. Jon had the idea of the devil girl pinup, so of course 13 had to play a part. So, with the framework of a 50’s pinup devil who’d look at home on a Steve McQueen poster, 13 was born. 

All in all, we came up with an awesome idea for a scent, but Jon took that and ran, and ended up with a masterpiece. A great soap, with a great aftershave, with an even better scent (and my wife even likes it) with bitchin’ artwork. Where I’m from, we call that winning. Jon, we sincerely thank you for all your hard work. It was a pleasure working with you, and the end result is stunning.

Find out more about some of my favorite grooming productshand-turned shave brushesand bomb-ass artwork in these links

B&M Barrister’s Reserve: Classic Splash


    Upcoming from Barrister and Mann is his new line, Barrister’s Reserve. I was lucky enough to receive some tester packs from Will (more on that in a moment), so I’ll give my two cents on this splash.
    Will’s new addition is a standalone fragrance, designed to accommodate any soap or aftershave scent. With notes of “Grapefruit Zest, Mandarin Peel, Fresh Lavender, Dewy Moss, Patchouli Leaf, Sandalwood”, this aftershave is sure to appeal to any shaver.
    The scent itself is a chameleon of sorts, with roots in the late Sixties. A little bit Clubman, a dash of Lilac Vegetal, a dollop of Brut, a splash of English Leather, a spritz of British Sterling; all without becoming muddled. The interplay of notes gives the splash a delightfully retro, yet contemporary feel.
     As for the post shave feel? Top notch. The splash also contains witch hazel, glycerin, as well as several herbal components designed to soothe and tone the skin.
     Onto the fun bits! If this aftershave intrigues you, and you don’t want to wait for the official release, you may not have to! Simply go to my Instagram and check out the contest. Good luck to all who enter!

Sunday Scents: Attack of the Sierra



     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!

Revlon Ciara: Retro Niche



     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.

Drakkar Noir: Common Scents



     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.

Dax Wave and Groom: The Icon



     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.