Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Your old friend Mr. Debonair was thinking about that fine old institution this morning as he visited his own personal hareem.
Women? Is Mr. Debonair polygamous?
Perish the thought. There is only one woman - nay, lady - for Mr. Debonair, and that would be, of course, the redoubtable She Who Must Be Obeyed.
No: I speak of my collection of various creams and soaps, all devoted exclusively to the daily ritual of rasage, the scraping of little bitty hairs from where they grow on my face. It’s my Shaving Cream Seraglio, and every day I get to decide which of its occupants will grace my Facial Follicles.
Being Mr. Debonair, I tend to use high-end shaving products. The bargain-priced aerosol can of Barbasol is not my style. It’s not that my face requires special Fancy-Pants treatment; it’s simply that I like to make necessary daily rituals as pleasant as possible. (Which is why I also prefer single-malt mouthwash.) Not only that, but I have found, over the course of years, that the more pricey shaving soaps often are more economical on a cost-per-shave basis, owing to their enhanced lubricative properties.
One of my favorites is Kiehl’s White Eagle Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream. The slightly medicinal menthol-camphor aroma is not for everybody, but I find it cooling and refreshing. The 2.5 ounce tube is just right for travel - the only problem is the opaque tube, which always keeps you guessing as to just how much is left in it.
Bath and Body Works carries an excellent product: C. O. Bigelow Premium Shave Cream with Eucalyptus and Menthol. It’s made by the same folks who make Proraso, that snazzy Italian shaving cream that comes in a tube, and near as I can tell this is the exact same stuff. A honkin’ big 5.2 ounce tube lists for $10, but if you catch one of B&BW’s frequent BOGO sales you’re looking at paying all of five simoleons for an eighteen month’s supply - the stuff is just that efficient. As with the Kiehl’s cream, a (very) little goes a long, long way. But unlike the Kiehl’s White Eagle, the Bigelow goop comes in an aluminium tube just as toothpaste used to do back in the old days. It is very easy to see how much is left in the tube at any given time, particularly if one is (like Mr. Debonair) scrupulous about carefully flattening the tube and rolling it up from bottom to top. (Squishing the middle of the tube is nekulturny.)
Both of the above products are brushless shave creams that I typically apply with the tips of the fingers. Once in a while, however, I want a more tactile shaving experience, one that involves a brush. For that I crack open the Crabtree and Evelyn Sandalwood Shave Soap, conveniently and elegantly packaged in its own little wooden bowl. It’s relatively pricey at $22, but it lasts for what seems an eternity... especially when used in rotation with the other members of my Shaving Cream Seraglio. I don’t know if I purchased it for the bowl or for its pleasant aroma of sandalwood, but it provides a nice counterpoint to the others both in fragrance and method of use.
Which of them is best? Why, that is ever so much like asking an Oriental Potentate which of the members of his hareem he prefers. And of course, the correct answer is the same in both cases: “All of them... but it may be best if one enjoys only one on any given day.” Thus sayeth Mr. Debonair.
Update: One of the comments on this post was left by one mantic59, who styles himself the Shave Tutor and is apparently some sort of wet-shave guru with several YouTube videos to his credit. (Here’s one.) His real name, incidentally, is Mark Herro, and he also has a blog - Sharpologist - devoted to the manly art of shaving. But here’s what I really like about Mr. Herro: He is the exact opposite of a comment spammer, having left a comment that was pertinent to the content of the blog post to which it was attached, with no links save for one to his (unavailable) Google profile. He did not comment as an exercise in self-promotion, rather, simply to add to the discussion. Mr. Herro is an honorable blogger - and he takes shaving very seriously. Take a few minutes to check out his videos; it is time well spent. (Unless you use one of those execrable electric razors, in which case shame on you.)