Images

Aaron’s Pick April 5th,2017: Extro & Bram Van Den Berg

Welcome to the newest feature on the Wet Shaver Review ! Every week one or, more of our team will choose a #sotd that resonates with us, to share with the whole wet shaving community. This week my pick comes from Holland by Bram Van Den Berg; I hope you enjoy this #sotd #review as much as I did ! Thank you Bram for your contributions.

Man, do I have a start of a great day!

The sun is out, temperatures outside are really nice and the dogs are in a very, very good and relaxed mood. What more can I wish for, right?

Well, a good shave would me a nice addition to the day!
And man, did I get one! grin

Yesterday I got a package in with a few new soaps and aftershaves. And one of those was this Extro Bergamotto di Calabria.

When I opened the jar for the first time and gave it it’s first sniff…
I knew this was going to be good!
As you all might know, i am a sucker for good citrus-scented soaps!

Directly out of the jar, you smell a nice blend of citrus fruits where the orange scent is the most dominant one.
So far, a good start.

Lathering is, as with any Extro soap, a really easy task.
The stuff lathers like a beast with my huge Rod Neep brush!
The lather is really nice and thick and really really slick and it smells like….heaven!

If i want to compare the scent to some other Italian soaps that I have used throughout the years, the best comparison is with the TFS Bergamotto Neroli and the TFS Zagara e Gelsomino.

It isn’t as overly sweet as the Bergamotto Neroli, but isn’t as mild as the Zagara either. A very nice middle-ground between those two.

From all the citrus scents, the orange is still the most dominant, even when the stuff is lathered.
A lovely sweet scent with a slight tangy note to it. Love it! grin

Shaving with this stuff is, as expected with the Extro soaps.
A very nice slick and a very nice and protective soap.
Nothing to complain here.

Now, the aftershave is where the whole thing comes together like PB&J.

IMPORTANT!
First, give the bottle a good shake, so you can mix up all the ingredients properly!

The aftershave compliments the soap so good! As with any Extro combo I have tried so far.

The aftershave has the more bitter/tangy citrus scents and the orange moves to the back.

An amazing combo of a sweet soap and a more bitter and tangy aftershave to make a really nicely rounded combo!
Something that really fits the great sunny weather!

And the best part of it all is, I have a pomade that matches this scent profile!

So to compliment this all, I am wearing Nostalgic Handmade Super Waterbased Clean Cut Citrus today!

I’m going to enjoy the sunshine now! Bubaaaaaai!

Have a great day ladies and gentlemen!

-Aaron

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.

307

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.

008

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.

IMG_0006

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 !

007

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

 

SOTD: June 9th, 2015 “Tobacco Tuesday”

What an excellent shave today, I could not have wanted more. Barrister & Mann always delivers top- shelf performance, and unique original scents. 

To most people when they hear “tobacco” the instantly think about cigarettes or, a cigar; well I don’t use either. I do however enjoy the fragrance of both green uncut tobacco leaf and even the aromatic smell of a pipe with that signature Burley or, cavendish scent. Today happened to be that theme day for the tobacco scent in any form. The brand or, what part of the shave that tobacco scent arrived was irrelevant, but I pretty much used it throughout. 

Again a great shave, a wonderful scent, and so far the sun is shinning. The day is looking pretty darn good, shave on !

#sotd June 9th, 2015

#tobaccotuesday #wsr
Pre: Hot shower w/ Jack Blacks Deep Dive

Soap: Barrister&Mann “Roam”

Brush: Vie-Long SE Lord Randall badger/horse

Razor: Dovo 6/8 La Forme

After shave: Barrister & Mann “Roam”
Jams – Strung out Exile in Oblivion

SOTD: June 6th, 2015 “Saturday Night Lime”

What’s there to say about today’s shave ? Not a whole lot for once ! It was comfortable, and it removed hair 🙂 if you have never used Castle Forbes creams I would strongly recommend them, as they are formulated for ultimate glide and for a wonderful post shave feel due to the lanolin in the cream itself. The Case Red Imp delivered the goods; no two ways about that, aside from a aggressive spike point the razor is awesome, rescaled I guess with what I’d call a red coral type of scale and custom fit for the razor. Lastly Raymond Bukaty makes an amazing brush ! his knot is superb and craftsmanship cannot be denied. All said todays shave was excellent and very enjoyable. Shave on everyone and enjoy the beautiful day, and weekend ! – Aaron

001IMG_0282003005

  • Pre: Hot shower with Nivea face scrub
  • Cream: Castle Forbes Lime
  • Brush: Bukaty custom Silver Tip badger
  • Razor: Case “Red Imp” 6/8 red coral scale
  • Lather type: Bowl
  • Moustache type: Handlebar
  • Wax and Pomade: Pinaud black & Murray’s SE “Vintage”
  • After Shave: Captain’s Choice Lime
  • Balm: Soap Commander “Respect”
  • Fragrance: Lacoste L12.12 Blanc

In memory of June 5th, 1956 “For my Father”

Today is always a day of reflection for me, the title alone of this post gives away this has to do with my father. This will not be a long or drawn out post, but a glimpse into my life, and a remembrance of a life taken way too soon. I have said countless times I was raised by my grandparents and great grandparents, which is accurate….my great grandfather taught me to shave, and started my journey in this amazing community. My Father was an officer, and thus was not around as much as he or, I would have liked. So instead of moving constantly as is the norm, I stayed with family. What I did learn from my father as ironically when his time was up my tenure began, I never achieved nor, wanted to become an officer, but I was very close to say the least. My father taught me what it was to be a man, a father, to have respect for myself and to put others before myself always and in everyway. To love my God, my country, and to listen to those much wiser than myself.

002002

Fast Forward to 8 years ago; my father passed away from Cancer, something I wish even I could just remove from anyone and everyone. Renal cell carcinoma to be exact or, cancer of the Kidney, there is no cure, and it’s a highly aggressive cancer. He was just 51 by a few days when he passed surrounded by family and friends and even brothers in arms acting full bird Colonel’s and those he served with by his side. My fathers life was measured by accomplishment not by years….I find it hard to think most people to achieve what he did in 40 something years, to be reached by those living double his time here. Driven is a understatement, and I cannot overstate he was my best friend, and I miss him dearly. Today he would have turned 59, but his time had come now near a decade ago.  Well I guess I lied this is turning a bit to the longer side.

004005006

 

To the point, I choose to remember those both living and not, by using birth year razors, of which I have nearly one for every person in my family going back to the early 1900’s. I did NOT use my father’s birth year razor today. His razor is a B-2 Gillette Super Speed Red-Tip replated in Rhodium by Razor Emporium. It is an amazing razor and Matt Pisarcik did nothing less then a stellar job. Razor Emporium was much smaller when they did this job so me and Matt spoke throughout the process of this revamp. Instead of that razor I decided to  honor my father a different way, I used his favorite after shave and cologne ! I am a straight razor shaver, and to that point even my father would tell me be true to myself not a razor in his memory. Brut was his favorite scent…plain and simple he used disposable razors, canned goo, but at least he used Brut, which was better than the razor idea as the aroma of this Fougere scent reminded me of him all day long, combined with Paco Rabanne pour homme another wonderful, and fitting EDT to go with Brut. Finally before I sign off to answer the question of  “what razor did I use” ? it was a vintage 1875 Abraham Brookebank 13/16 near wedge with original horn scales and a great example of a traditional barbers notch. I choose this razor not only because it’s a stellar razor even after 140 appx year ! this razor has seen more history than any of us, and in my mind shows that nothing is ever really gone, but should be cherished and treated with care, and loved like it was your last day to ever see it again, on that note I thank you all for sticking with me through this story, and while I miss my father I do find solace by dedicating this shave today in the memory of my father, and what he instilled upon me to this day.

dad and me0001

  • Pre: Hot shower w/ Clarisonic Aria deep pore head and cleanser
  • Soap: Barrister & Mann “Beaudelaire” Fougere
  • Brush: Thater 4292/4 set in cocobolowood handle and 2-band
  • Razor: 1875 Abraham Brookebank 13/16 near wedge with barbers notch and dark horn scales
  • Lather type: American Stonecraft bowl
  • Moustache type:Handlebar
  • Wax & Pomade: Pinaud black & Murray’s Superior
  • Post shave: Cold water rinse
  • After shave: Classic Brut
  • Balm/Other: Brut balm with Shea butter and aloe
  • Fragrance: Paco Rabanne pour homme

Fougere Fridays May 29th, 2015

What an excellent way to end the work week ! I’ve been neglecting my ritual of using a Fougere scented soap on Friday’s, but today I used easily one of the best made. Fougere Imperiale a rich, and robust Fougere that without apology loudly proclaims its earthy “Fern” like attributes with that dank oakmoss earthy base and livened up with floral top notes, this is a sublime representation of the style, and I would say not for the weekend Fougere lover, but the head first expierenced veteran who loves a “darker” earthy representation. 

  
As far as the remainder of the hardware it’s near impossible to beat the quality and feel of a Thater brush when it comes to quality brushes. Today I used the 4292/4 a 24mm 2-band knot set in Cocobolo wood with silver accents. This brush while 2-band is set to be soft on the face, stronger backbone than Silvertip, but with a slightly scritchier feel. The Dovo Bismark without question is one of the best razors ever made, iconic actually. The Bismark at 6/8, shoulder less with thumb notch and very ornate gold wash and a pearl effect to the scales make this razor a pleasure to use, as always YMMV on all I said here; to me this was a top shelf shave.

   
 
Finished off simply with Barrister & Manns Fougere Tonique, and a simple Fougere balm I made myself, the shave was complete ! But overall I was not finished until I used what I feel is a very appropriate EDT, Azzaro by Azzaro Fougere which while a bit more floral than the soap mellows into a wonderfully close aroma as B&M Fougere Imperiale. Completely top notch to end the week ! Shave on everyone. – Aaron 

  • Pre: hot shower with Dermalogica daily microfoliant
  • Soap: Barrister & Mann “Fougere Imperiale”
  • Brush: Thater 4292/4 2-Band 
  • Lather type: American Stonecraft bowl
  • Moustache: Handlebar
  • Wax & Pomade: Lockhart’s & G2B Phe
  • After Shave: Barrister & Mann “Fougere Tonique”
  • Fragrance: Azzaro Azzaro

SOTD May 27th, 2015 “Sherlock”

Awesome SOTD with some new scents, and long time favorites ! Simply awesome. Wonderful soap, no one will argue the post shave feels and great lather from Mitchell’s Wool fat, the After Shave from NevermoreBody  co. Was brand new to me and a gift from a fellow wet shaver Josh from our Facebook group. Awesome scent mostly like raw honey but had back notes of orange blossom and pepper like spice, but very subdued in he mix. The Nathan Clark custom was just that, custom to my likes but the Envy knot is worthy of mention I have never had a brush with such amazing backbone. The backbone is not for everyone and makes 2-band brushes look weak, but for the chosen who love those soft tips and ample backbone this is the knot you want. Finally the Thiers-Issard “Spartacus” delivers a wonderful shave every time; though it’s getting close to refresh time. All said this was my best shave this week ! Again simply awesome.

   
   Pre: hot shower with Garnier face wash

Soap: Mitchell’s Wool Fat

Brush: Nathan Clark custom with Envy fan knot ” “orange burst”

Razor: Thiers-Issard “Spartacus” in faux tortoise scales

After shave: NevermoreBody co. “Sherlock”

Fragrance: NevermoreBody  co. “Sherlock” cologne oil

The five P’s and never assume anything

What the heck am I talking about ! “This fool, is throwing multiple letters at us now” How dare he !…. I can see it already LOL ! Well I learned that this acronym the Five P’s should be pretty much in one of the Gospel…., and if you read close enough you’ll see them, but I doubt they are called the five P’s. Okay I’m done with the riddles so stick with me. Proper, Prevention, Prevents, Poor, Performance.  There I said it. and I failed at doing so, hence this post.  Oh and I’ll get to that “never assume” part soon enough.

IMG_0318

The best way I can paint this picture in our world of shaving is by example. Now the first word

  • Proper – well this can mean a lot of things in our world from not holding a razor blade on the sharp edges, to how we care for our skin post shave. There is a proper way, and for each of us this is where the most YMMV actually comes to play. So this “P” is a personal journey… I can only say use common sense or, ask someone’s advice and they will tell you the proper advice, and way to do something. The one thing traditional shavers love to do is talk about the “Proper” way things are done.

 

  • Prevention- Take care of your gear ! the reason and for our benefit, a lot of those vintage razor we buy and spend a bit of time cleaning up or, sending out for repair, refurbishment; was a direct result of the previous owner not using simple preventative measures. Dry your razor before storage, use a light oil to lubricate moving parts, strop that straight razor, oil that strop !!! either by hand or, neatsfoot oil !, and finally yourself ! yes I said YOU ! before you shave do you take all the steps to prevent a poor shave ? Have you mapped your facial hair growth ? do you benefit from a pre-shave oil or, cream ? Does your skin work better with a hot shower or, cold water and a great lather ? If you plan the end result before you start, the road map to shaving Nirvana is not out of reach; actually this step pretty much makes everything else go smoothly including your face.

 

  • Prevents- well read above you’ll prevent the next step.

burn

 

  • Poor- Well,  I over 25 years of traditional shaving have heard everything from the razor, to the blade, to water, and a foggy mirror blamed for a crappy shave ! Well sometimes we learn more from the bad then we do from the good. A poor shave should always be analyzed.  First step… Check were you proper to your needs, did you set your self up for success (Prevention)… you just experienced poor….so what went wrong assuming everything went smooth above. Did you try a new blade, a new technique like J Hooking or, buffing ? was the Astra SP you love on shave 2 still being used 10 shaves later ? Well you just found out that was preventable….. was it a new blade ? try another of the same brand, were the results still poor ? Move on you just learned what to prevent in the future, write a little note mentally stay away from brand “X” it does not work in “This” razor, but is great in another. Set yourself up for great,  not poor.

 

  •  Performance- Well this is the last “P”. There is an old saying “a good mechanic” does not blame his or, her tools (being politically correct here), when a job turns out poor. These previous mindful steps will determine your performance. Only you can decide how optimal your shave or, in the bigger picture your life is performing. I bet if any of us, myself included; took 5 minutes before a shave, and actually thought from the end to the beginning and then begging to end we can force ourselves to find those little way or, tweaks that will bring that “performance level” up at least a bit.

 

Next time you shave, or better put have a mediocre shave, was it one of these 5 “P’s” that was the culprit, and if so did you learn from it. Finally these last few words.

 

NEVER assume anything….never assume, because a Personna Med Prep just came in and the blue wrapping is fully sealed; that the blade is sharp. Maybe it’s a dud, try another one, inspect the blade and razor. If you’re a Straight Razor shaver never assume just because the razor is shave ready that it is….I say this as more than once my opinion of shave ready was different from the person who sharpened it up. Trust me on that one 95% at least of straight razors are not shave ready; what they are is sharp enough to cut a single arm hair…..all hair is not created equally. Recently I bought a straight razor…..beautiful as all can be, and I paid for what I expected to be a sharp blade. Well it shaved, but left irritation, razor bumps, and weepers every time I used it;  “It must be me”.  So I did my check list….and I was just baffled. Finally I said after a few horrible bloody shaves, let me put this razor on a 12K stone than some CrOx and mindful strop it well; this is called refreshing a blade, a minor form of honing. Don’t assume anything !! this razor is now the most comfortable in my rotation. It did not have a rolled edge or, really any wear as it was a new razor…. it was preference ! one mans sharp is another’s dull…..from a business sense it’s better to be dull, and go sharper then be too sharp on sensitive skin, I do “get” that. So in Proper Prevention when I order a razor now everyone knows I prefer the blade on the ultra sharp side, and never be afraid to tell your distributor your preferences in all things you will both benefit from an honest relationship on expectations. Same holds true for you DE and SE shavers… do NOT assume that a Feather Blade because it is “So sharp”, because you read it on a Facebook forum is the right blade for you…..or that the newest heavily marketed razor that claims to shave like a much more reputable brand is going to work for you. This is called marketing, and trust me you can convince yourself a piece of thin aluminum is great for you if you hear, and see it enough times. Do NOT assume anything, critique things with your own good judgment not mine, nor Facebook as people have motives, not all, but some,  and you jut don’t realize it. In the case you do enjoy that product..Soap, Razor, Blade, After Shave……. do not forget your 5 “P’s” use what you like and use it properly, and you will have great performance almost all the time. Shave on and thanks for listening to the rant !

Aaron

SOTD: May 15th, 2015 “Refreshed”

Simply a great shave, nothing fancy at all, but I was proud of this shave ! It was unique, special and memorable for a few reasons.

  
How many of us by things…. Anything, it does not even need be shaving related, and it sits ? “It was a good idea when I bought it” ! Well I bought a pretty full hone set,  going from 220 DMT’s and Norton 220k/1000k  to flatting stones and 1k-2k 4K/8k and finishing stones made by Norton and Shapton, and from Naniwa 12k as well as chromium oxides and Diamond sprays which are equal to about 30k ! I never used them; there was really just no need until now ! The wanna be razor doctor was in the house. 

  
So I prayed a LOT ! As I did not want to ruin my blade, but wanted to be self sufficient, I easily could have sent my razors to Lynn Abrams or Don Addleman, and slept easily, but how do I become a better shaver by doing that ? I don’t. So I watched a few of Lynn’s video’s and the moment of truth came….. And guess what ? The world did not end and actually it worked ! My razor felt like it was brand new again to the point I did not even feel the blade ! I had to check the lather for stubble or, I wouldn’t have believed it was shaving. I had no idea how dull the blade was until I sharpened it, so guess what ? What was originally a scary process; became three razors doing a simple 12K and 30K refresh on synthetic stones ! I was proud; what is it 20 razors and I become a Honemeister ? LOL !  

  

  
  
I have a ways to go, and I’m happy to go slow and enjoy the learning process ! I may pick up some “project razors” to learn to reset a bevel doing the circle method, learn to double bevel, and run pyramids all the way trough finishing the razor like I did here. Learning and being self sufficient is all part of the game, so shave on, don’t be afraid it’s only a razor; just do your homework first. Shave on folks and happy Friday- Aaron

  • Pre: Clarisonic Aria normal brush and hydro cleanser 
  • Prep: Hot shower and Nivea face wash
  • Super-Lather: Cella & GFT Almond
  • Brush: Simpsons Duke 3 in best badger
  • Razor: Ralf Aust 5/8 in faux ebony scales
  • Lather: Scuttle
  • Moustache: handlebar
  • Wax & Pomade: Pinaud Black & Reuzel Red
  • Post Shave: Cold water rinse & cold towels
  • After shave: Pinaud Classic Vanilla
  • Balm: RazoRock R160

SOTD: May 8th, 2015 SJOL “Black Pepper & Lime”

Simply a great shave of the day ! If not mistaken this was the first SE razor I’ve used this far in 2015 my favorite Ever-Ready 1914. Simple and straight forward, but amazingly complex and huge scent from St. James of London “Black Pepper & Lime” , and what an amazing lather produced with the Simpsons CH2 synthetic, I really could not ask for a better way to end the week ! Reviews on all are soon to follow; all of these items are just to great not to talk about.  Shave on everyone & lets get the weekend started ! – Aaron 

 

  • Pre: Clarisonic Aria with sensitive brush and hydro gel.
  • Prep: Hot Shower with Cremo face wash
  • Cream: St. James of London “Black Pepper & Lime”
  • Brush: Simpsons Chubby2 Synthetic
  • Razor: Ever-Ready 1914
  • Blade: GEM SS (1)
  • Moustache wax: Pinaud Brown
  • Pomade: Hairbond “Distorter”
  • After Shave: Royall Lyme
  • Balm: St. James of London “Black Pepper & Lyme” gel
  • Fragrance: Le Couvent des Minimes “Eau des Minimes” EDC