As we’ve established in previous installments, the fragrance lover has much to gain from a proper shaving routine. But when it comes to shaving, acquiring quality soaps/creams is a step that is often overlooked, which has always surprised me. Why spend hundreds of dollars to smell great only to rub suspicious chemicals into your skin daily? Smelling nice is essential for the fragrance connoisseur, but no one will listen to your description of the latest niche perfumes if your complexion is garish and your skin has been transmogrified by chemicals that you can’t pronounce. So if your 2 euro/dollar/ruble/yuan shaving gel isn’t doing it for you, this is your opportunity to upgrade your routine.
Many weeks ago I began a journey to find the very best shaving soaps and creams available on the market. Just as I do with my research on fragrances, I started forum thread after forum thread, talked to experts, rifled through hundreds of pages of reviews, and ordered an obscene amount of samples. After going through a rather extreme testing process, I can share with you six recommendations for world-class shaving soaps and creams that happen to smell fantastic:
Disclaimer: Please note that all of these recommendations are for traditional wet shavers, and therefore will require the use of a proper shaving brush. If you don’t use a proper shaving brush or safety razor, buy one and figure out how to use it.
Acqua di Parma Collezione Barbiere: From my testing, this is one of the very best creams on the market. The latest edition of this wonderful cream has a fantastic fragrance that smells both natural and refreshing (though it should be noted that Collezione Barbiere has nothing to do with the flagship Colonia scent). Performance with Acqua di Parma is impeccable. The beard is softened, the hair is removed efficiently, and the skin is conditioned afterwards. A top-shelf cream!
Tabula Rasa: Tabula Rasa is a German shaving cream that uses Stimu-Tex, a Swiss ingredient that helps to alleviate sensitive skin issues. These soaps are typically packed with essential oils and moisturizing ingredients such as argan oil and mango butter. The lather is thick, plentiful, and very slippery. Most of the scents are excellent, but for the particularly discerning fragrance lover, I’d recommend Vetiver & Tangerine (a fresh, tangy citrus scent mixed with vetiver) and the elegant Steampunk (this is a violet/woods scent that reminds me of the steampunk aesthetic).
Castle Forbes: Castle Forbes produces what I find is the very best performing shaving cream that is produced in the United Kingdom. Their extraordinarily simple and minimalist scents are made with high quality essential oils. I’d recommend the lavender scent, particularly for those with sensitive skin – lavender of this grade will calm the skin and enliven the senses.
PannaCrema Nuavia: PannaCrema Nuavia is an innovative Italian soap that can function as a pre-shave, a shaving soap, and an aftershave balm – just rub the excess lather in on the face after the shave and you’re good to go. Performance is excellent in all categories, and both scent varieties are niche quality. My personal favorite is Blu (which is a spicy fresh scent), but Rossa is also wonderful and is reminiscent of the style of an Amouage fragrance.
Savonniere du Moulin: Savonniere du Moulin is a unique French formula that is comprised of 30% donkey milk. The donkey milk provides great skincare qualities, and makes for a thick, dense lather. Shaving with Savonniere du Moulin is very comfortable, and it’s recommended for those with sensitive skin due to the conditioning properties of the ingredients. The scent is fresh, a smidge herbaceous and green, and clean from top to bottom.
Martin de Candre: Another quality artisanal French soap, Martin de Candre is the epitome of a no-nonsense product. The formula is surprisingly simple, with around only seven ingredients. Despite the hardness/density of the soap, it is very easy and enjoyable to lather. After the shave, your skin will feel refreshed and cleansed. The original scent is pleasant (lavender and rosemary are featured here), but most readers will likely prefer the Fougere scent, which smells soapy and green.
This is the third and final post in the men’s grooming series. Links to previous installments are listed below. Until my next fragrance reviews, so long, and thanks for all the fish!