OK, I’ve been shaving again and I’ve been testing a number of creams and colognes from Geo. F. Trumper. They’re not the cheapest but the company produces some of the most pleasant shaving preparations I’ve used – more on those in a minute.
The wet shave
I used to get quite frustrated by the sheer amount of men’s publications advising us on how to shave. We know, I’d say, we mastered that when we were 13. But then I look around and notice how many blokes still have some sort of shaving rash. And it’s not necessary. Here are a few guidelines…
- Blade: The blade with which you shave must, repeat must, be clean. This is very difficult once you’ve used a modern ‘cartridge’ head with about 53 razors and a bit of rubber to lubricate it more than once, which is why I switched to a double-edged safety razor a couple of years ago. If you do the same, change the blade every five shaves or so. My Dad used to tell me that a new razor will always cut you; it won’t, the old off-sharp ones are the ones that will catch on the skin.
- Heat: Water should be hot and if you can (a flannel will do it) the face should be warmed before shaving, to soften the hair.
- Shaving cream: Your preference rules, but remember soapy stuff will dry up on the skin and may well lead the razor to catch a bit. If you use a cheap preparation, don’t lather the whole face at once as it’ll dry up.
- Shaving: Shave in the direction the hair is growing to avoid razor burn. If you have time, shave twice gently, each time to reduce the hair growth rather than machete the lot at once.
- Rinse: Get all of the soap or cream off – you don’t want to be stuck with a spot-making residue.
- Cologne: On the upper chest or back of the neck by all means – but not straight onto the face after shaving, you’ve just been dragging a naked razor across it so it’ll go red.
That should get you over a number of difficulties.
Preparations and products
My favourite barber The Valet has one fault and that is that they don’t stock Trumper’s, fast becoming my favourite shave company (with a respectful nod to the Bluebeards and looking forward to the Valet’s own range which it will be releasing sometime next year).
Shaving cream is important. It has to feel pleasant, stay moist and not dry up and smell OK. I’ve been using the Trumper’s almond cream (pictured) a lot recently and it fulfils all the criteria; the chances are that when I’ve finished my current pot I’ll replace it with the coconut version I was using before as the almond smell is a bit sweet for me (NB: this is because it smells of almonds, and to be fair there’s a clue in the name). The Eucris version is also nice to use with a refreshing sniff of eucalyptus in the morning, and the extract of limes is also a good wake-up concoction; both smell quite distinctive, though, and may clash with your choice of cologne.
There’s no obligation to stick with the same company’s scents of course. Trumper’s goes for the traditional and classic rather than the modern scent and some I find too dated or overpowering; the violet cologne seemed very feminine to me, reminded me of a music teacher from primary school – I have no idea whether she shaved with Trumper’s stuff or not, but she was about 100 and smelled terribly of violets. Another scent, Curzon, I found to be different in smell but similarly oversweet and elderly.
Spanish Leather, on the other hand, has become a firm favourite. It doesn’t smell as manufactured and artificial as so many of the major perfume houses’ modern offerings (you know how you can get something that smells not so much of a single scent but ‘smells of Armani’ or ‘smells of Hugo Boss’? You don’t get that with Trumper). Masculine, classic, a bit refined and different from most of what you find on the High Street. Extract of Limes I liked very much as well, particularly when used with the matching shave cream – lime and a bit of spice in there, and it lasted most of the day.
These are quite strong and should be used sparingly – a few drops will do you. And they do last – unlike some colognes I could mention, you’d better decide you like the smell of this stuff because if you put it on at 7am you’ll still know it’s there at 6.