When I first started shaving as a young teenager, I was armed with a exceedingly simple set-up: Gillette disposal razor and Gillette “goo in a can” shaving cream. While upgrading to a quality razor immediately improved my shaving experience, it took me some time to benefit from premium shaving creams, primarily because their use typically requires a shaving brush for application. Take a shaving soap, for instance. While one can lather shaving soap in one’s hands, the lather is much thicker and richer if created with a shaving brush, and hence my delay in pursuing a better shave beyond the “goo in a can” I was accustomed to.
The key in recognizing what creates a good shaving cream is understanding that the ultimate lubricant is water. Ever noticed that shaving in the shower often results in great shaves? Or that applying conventional shaving cream when your hands and face are wet improves the experience? These shaving creams are designed to be applied with minimal water useage, by using chemicals pressurized to different levels to create foam. In contrast, premium options rely on the user combining water, the soap or cream, and elbow grease to create a lather rich in water.
Take for example Otoko Organics, an Australian-made premium shaving soap (technically, actually, it is not a soap due to lack of traditional “soap” chemicals.). Presented in a translucent container, the presentation will be an instant improvement over that sudsy can of shaving gel currently on your shelf. With a wetted silver-tip badger brush, it took about 30 seconds to charge the brush with product, and another minute to create a rich lather. If you’re used to traditional mass-produced shaving creams and soaps, you will be shocked how much water Otoko allows, nay requires, you to use to create a rich, thick lather.
While normally if I forget to use a post-shave balm, my face feels like I’ve been outside for hours in a cold prairie winter, after using a premium product (such as Otoko Organics, or others) the need for post-shave moisture will be much reduced. So what is in these products that makes them so great? Here is a short list from Otoko’s website: Jojoba extract, Deionized water, Proprietary no-ionic surfactants derived from soy and corn, Aloe vera, Glycerine.
Looking at the full list on my tub, I can understand every ingredient in it. In contrast, the little can of Gillette shaving cream on my shelf lists a number of ingredients I dare not try to pronounce. You be the judge what you’d rather have on your face.