Friday, June 23, 2017

Today's Terrific Shave :-D and My Up-coming Pre-shave-products Trials

A Great Shaving Combination!

There are so many variables that factor into a great shave. Each variable makes its contribution to the total. Today I had a great shave -- close and comfortable. The only flaw in the shave was cockpit error, when I carelessly made a bit of a hard landing in a single stroke along the curve of my jaw line, which resulted in a minor cut easily disappeared with a touch of alum stick.

(By the way, the alum stick was a cool match-book-like give-away promotional piece, which I received at the Maggard Meet last May, from the good folk at Rockwell Razors. I haven't had the pleasure to try Rockwell Razors' unique multi-baseplated, find-your-best-shave instrument, but I've read many good things about it. They also sell their own brand of DE blades, and are developing an adjustable, butterfly-opening razor as well. I found Rockwell's rep at the Maggard Meet to be personable and informative despite me being my typical-for-that-day reticent self.)

Back to today's shave: it started with a great razor, the Parker Variant, on which I can always count for good results. The shave prep included one of several new shave-prep products (new to me, that is) made and distributed by Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements (PAA).*


A Brief Recounting of My Short History with PAA

I met Douglas Smythe of PAA (anyway, I believe it was him; my visual memory of the encounter is somewhat weak at this point -- I'm a bit uncertain because I don't remember seeing his characteristic handle-bar moustache) at this year's Maggard Meet. It was brief and unremarkable largely due to my own ignorance and reticence. I still remember how friendly Doug (or that person) was during our brief encounter, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen him in his many videos (of which, at that time, I was completely unaware). I was also a bit reserved due to my slight embarrassment at making a minor dismissive comment in one of my articles about PAA's fine nickel-plated double-open-comb razor, which, after actually trying it, I found the instrument be impressive in its look, shave character and price-point value.

Anyway, at that encounter with PAA at Maggard's, I received some samples including Black Bot balm. Although I haven't yet had the time to try all of the samples I received that day, the Black Bot balm was one I soon tried, liked, eventually purchased, and mentioned in a blog article. Doug saw my article, and contacted me via email. That contact has resulted in a stream of back-and-forth emails and product samples including one I tried today.

The Appeal of Mint, Menthol, and Eucalyptus

One of the samples from PAA that I received this week got its maiden trial this morning. It was a pre-shave soap and lather booster called Ice. With that product in mind as I began my morning shave, I decided that today would be a menthol-and-mint shave. 

As I may have mentioned in previous articles, over time I've discovered a real fondness for minty, cooling products that usually contain menthol, mint, eucalyptus or some combination. As a child I didn't like the scent of my aunt's Noxzema cream (see display link above), but I've found as an adult, it has grown on me, and I use it to wash my face on occasion. This appeal has drawn me to various shaving products including Cremo Cooling shave cream (see display link above), Pyrate Cove Soap Works' Menthol Shave Soap (which I really like and is a great value), and my own thrifty blend of common drug-store witch hazel and peppermint oil.

I love the scent and feel of soothing, cooling mint, menthol, and eucalyptus!

Back to Today's Shave....

So given the confluence of my love for things menthol (and related), the Ice pre-shave soap from PAA, the menthol soap in my drawer, and my home-made mint witch hazel, I had a theme for today's shave. So after some splashes of cool water, I began with a cool-water face wash using the PAA menthol and aloe product, Ice. After rinsing that off and, per the usage recommendation from PAA, I then re-applied the pre-soap to my wet beard in an against-grain direction. Then I applied the Pyrate Cove menthol soap and face lathered.

With a well-used but also well-cared-for SuperMax Titanium blade, I used my trusty Variant as the instrument of my beard's removal. I used my customary one-lathering process. I shaved my beard in regions, using an initial setting of 1.5 for the first against-grain, slow-buffing strokes, then dialing up to four for the remainder of the strokes in each region. (The exception to this was on my upper lip, on which my initial strokes were with grain, and I made follow-up strokes at the initial 1.5 setting.)

After some final clean-up strokes with razor still on four and using some added moisture and lather from underneath the razor's baseplate, I got a truly superior shave (again except for my minor landing-error cut).

I then had a splash of witch hazel, and after that dried, finished with PAA's Black Bot balm, which was the only deviation from the menthol theme of the shave -- an extremely satisfying shave!

So, was this great shave a fluke, or was the addition of the Ice pre-shave soap the kicker?

Well, this brings us to....

My Up-coming Pre-shave Soap Trials

I'm going to spend the next week or two evaluating the effect of several pre-shave products. To eliminate variables and to emphasize the potential effect of the pre-shave treatments, I'm going to use the same razor every day, a razor which is always slightly irritating and therefore not my favorite, the Gillette Slim. I'm also going to use the same blade, which tends to be consistent throughout its useful life. Lastly, I'm going to use the same soap, which I don't like as much as the Pyrate Cove Menthol, and which I'll not name because I don't want to disparage the product, which isn't necessarily bad -- it's just not my favorite cup of tea so to speak.

The pre-shave products that I'm going to repeatedly rotate through are shave oils, and three pre-shave products from PAA, which are as follows:

Happy shaving!

*affiliate organization

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