Close Shave: Shaving products

Shaving is something I hate to do. Unfortunately, it is something I kind of have to do, since now my beard is likely as grey as the hair on my head, and even in my yoof was an odd reddish-brown with blond streaks (thanks Dad, and those British genes!) I am lucky in that I can skip a day without looking like a hobo, but more than that and I need to scrape it down.

You would think that I would look at this as an opportunity to have different shave creams, balms, unguents, salves and toners, but oddly, no. I like to linger in bed in the AM, not at the sink. So it’s shower, shave, moisturize and go, and the last phase is relatively new, since I never really needed that step until I hit, er, 36. Four years ago.

One interesting thing I found is that store credit cards, like plants, will wither and die if not paid attention to. For a while I was being “good” and had not ordered anything from Neiman Marcus, and when I finally did, the card had been cut off. Canceled for non-use. So I at least make a quarterly purchase on them to keep the account watered and tilled, and shaving goo is a good (and cheap) way to do so.

My default is usually Kiehl’s Close Shave Squadron Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream, which isn’t that pricey and available at the usual suspects. I sometimes wait until there’s some sort of “Beauty Event” and toss one in to get myself to the minimum purchase to get the freebie. It’s almost ideal: creamy enough that it feels good on the skin and gives a slightly moisturising effect, but not so much that it feels too heavy.

Since I ran out of it I was lazy and bought on Amazon a tube of C.O. Bigelow Shave Cream with Eucalyptus, which at $11 for about the same size neatly undercut the Kiehl’s. I kind of don’t care for it as much: the texture is frankly a little slimy and although that does mean that the razor glides over the face easily it also means that both my well-loved 5-blade razor and my face need a bit more attention to rid itself of the remains than I would prefer. Don’t think there will be a second purchase of this one.

Another try was a purchase from Nordstrom: Murdock London Daily Shave Gel. This line was on sale so I purchased this in the whopping 17oz size for $20. It smells nice, and it’s perfectly serviceable, but lacks the creamy texture or emollients that make the Kiehl’s such a pleasure. It’s more of a straight up gel. But hey, it was $20. Live and learn.

Of course there are also myriad foams and gels (that turn to foam) etc that can be had from Thrifty Drigs or Duane Reade and they will of course get the job done. I always find my self wasting a lot of product since I am never able to accurately gauge the amount I need. Oh let’s face it: you give me shaving foam and I am an instant five year old- playing with it and mucking about rather than getting to the business at hand. Add to that that most of them will strip your skin like old paint.

So, while I will admit that sometimes when I am in a hurry I will shave just using whatever face wash I am hurriedly scrubbing down with, of the ones I have tried I keep going back to Kiehl’s. It’s emollient enough that I feel like I’m shaving the hairs and not the top layers of my skin but not so much that I need to scrub it off or send my razor through the dishwasher after to clean it. It’s also not hugely expensive and since you don’t need much (and you can’t make interesting shapes with it like foam) a tube will last a good long time.

So, I think most of our readers/commentators are not shaving their faces, but you may be shaving other areas like your legs. What products do you like? Please mention in the comments.

All products mentioned in this post were purchased by me from the mentioned retailers. Photos are from Pexels.

  • rosarita says:

    I don’t have to shave my legs often but I keep a bottle of Alberto conditioner in the shower to shave with. It’s like 79 cents.

    • Musette says:

      ooh! That sounds excellent, Ms A! Does it work on pits?


      (ps. Tom, you know this post is gonna get jacked by womenses, right? Yeah. LOTS of leg/pits/etc… very little ‘face’).

    • Tom says:

      I should try using a conditioner for that. Brilliant idea!

  • March says:

    Heh, I’m even less interesting — in the shower on my legs etc. I use those razors pre-loaded with some sort of gel strip that (when wet) glides along and does its thing… but I don’t have a ton of hair to start with. I do shave my face occasionally, it’s an old (?) beauty hack, keeps the skin smooth (I don’t have any facial hair I’m battling). I use small razors designed for uh more delicate grooming, so I don’t accidentally whack off part of an eyebrow, and some facial oil.

    • Musette says:

      I use an old paring knife on the face because I do have just enough facial hair to make shaving problematic – but I steam my face, put a bit of oil on, then run the blunt-tipped paring knife down my face. Omg. The gross stuff that comes out – but afterwards? SO smooth!


      • Tom says:

        Apparently that is how the ancient Romans did it for bathing. Steam and scrape. I know I do it in the shower and it’s sometimes horrifying what will come off..

    • Tom says:

      I’ve used those, but I don’t find the strip to be quite enough, and they wear out faster than the razor does.

      I do know some women who shave their faces for the exfoliation. It works.

      • March says:

        Exfoliation — THERE’S the word I was looking for, couldn’t come up with it! I find the razor gentler than scrubbing away at it…

    • cinnamon says:

      I use an oil cleanser and a flannel for face twice a day (removed with hot water). My skin has been much happier since I started doing this.

  • Musette says:

    I use whatever’s on hand in the shower (a recurring theme with the womenses on this post, it seems) but El O had a very heavy beard, so I used to buy him all sorts of interesting shave treatments. Alas, he was determined to stick with what his daddy used – Barbasol and water. So now I have a drawer full of expensive (well, more expensive than Barbasol at any rate) shave products. Might as well put them to good use!


    • Tom says:

      Barbasol was one that I used to buy. It was, for me, the Mr. Bubble of shaving goop. Not terribly effective but endless fun. I’d look like a baked alaska ready for the oven before I shaved anything off and would waste a 1/2 hr doing it, but..

  • MMKinPA says:

    My game changer product is Tree Hut moisturizing shave oil. In the US, can be found at Amazon and Ulta. Smells good and I love the skin feel.

  • alityke says:

    I’m with Cinnamon here, whatever is next to the bath. I have found Shea Dove bars are quite good.

    That beard sound Viking! Lurking strawberry blond genes are very Irish/Scottish/Northern English all from our Viking ancestry.

    • Tom says:

      The beard matches the body (although the body has grey too) Kind of calico. I did one of those 23 and me and there were no surprises: 50 Irish (mom) and 50% Scottish/Welsh/Northern English (dad) Was hoping for a little tough of something spicy in there but nada..

      • Alityke says:

        Not a bad guess on my part then on the genes. Laughed at calico body, my mental image flashed up “rag doll” momentarily!

  • cinnamon says:

    I use whatever is currently in the shower (ie, hair conditioner or body wash) for me. Just bought my son some Kiehls shave stuff and moisturiser along with something from Lush for him to try while waiting for train at Paddington last weekend. He hasn’t reported back yet …

    • Tom says:

      Lush! I have used anything from them in a while. A friend gave me some bath bombs for xmas that were kind of a disaster: filled with glitter and stuff that would have taken forever to rinse out of my nether regions.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Tom,
    Shaving has been a trial because I nick like a balloon and bleed copiously. It was what started me bathing in the first place. Soaking in a tub gets my heavy duty beard soft enough. Then I use brush and Tabac Original shaving soap so that it can be shaved with only a couple of sweeps. Back in the tub afterwards for a minute or two and everything is done. Then, once dried, shaving balm on and ready to face the world.
    Portia XX

    • Tom says:

      Well, first off FU WordPress for saying that I’m spam when I post from my iPad. How dare you?

      Back to our regularly scheduled comment:

      Oddly for someone who has 18 tons of hair on my head, my beard is not so coarse that I need pre-treatment. I had an ex who had a very coarse beard that required, like, three or four different steps and products before he’d dare use the razor. I think I annoyed him.

      What kind of razor do you use? I’ve always liked the idea of a straight razor and all the accoutrements, but I am on occasion almost comically clumsy and I’m sure I’d slip and decapitate myself. So it’s one of those five blade thingies for me.

      • Portia says:

        Mine is a two blade that has disposable heads. I’ve been using the same thing for decades and am constantly buying bulk amounts scared they’ll be DCd.