From the old-school stalwart to cutting-edge formulas with cult followings, our Watches Editor Randy takes a break from his regularly scheduled beat to look at 5 of the best shaving creams we’ve tried in the past year.
When it comes to shaving, most men who are alive and kicking will find Benjamin Lerner’s views on the subject somewhat…nihilistic. In his autobiographical novel 10:04, the American essayist opined that “shaving is a way to start the workday — by ritually not cutting your throat when you’ve had the chance”. Granted, we generally don’t recommend any morning routine that begins with life-threatening knife play, but Lerner’s wider observation — that men should savour the small joys which are implicit in any seemingly mundane activity — is one which warrants serious consideration.
Provided then that you have the right tools for the job, wet shaving has the capacity to become so much more than an act of mundane self-care. With a suitably high quality shaving cream in hand, you’ll be able to avoid unnecessary nicks, redness, in-grown hairs, and dare I say it — you might even begin to enjoy the whole shaving process. Here are five brands (some popular, others less so) to get you started.
Scented with a delicate bouquet of pomegranate, basil and Sicilian citrus, Acqua di Parma’s barbiere grade shaving cream is an assured choice for men who are looking to seriously up their grooming game. The brand’s familiar black and yellow livery makes for a lively addition to any medicine cabinet, and — aside from the aforementioned signature scent — this shaving cream is packed chock full of hyaluronic acid — a proven deterrent to razor burn and redness.
Buly 1803 brings its signature quirky style to all aspects of the tongue twistingly named ‘Crème Pogonotomienne’: from the zero-plastic tube to the charming illustration of a cherub locked in consort with a…man-bat? Happily, the Parisian apothecary has spent as much time fussing about the contents of its packaging. The signature creme rasage is loaded with palmitic acid and almond oil: naturally occurring ingredients which fight free radicals and nourish the skin respectively.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the Uptown Funk of all shaving creams — accessible, crowd pleasing, and a bit derivative — comes to us courtesy of Kiehl’s. Formulated especially for male skin, which is generally thicker and oilier than that of the fairer sex, Kiehl’s ‘White Eagle’ is spiked with non-astringent naturally derived ingredients. (Devotees of this particular formula rave about the ‘cooling’ sensation it provides thanks to the addition of camphor and menthol oil.) The brand markets this as a ‘brushless’ shaving cream, though if you’re in the mood for an extra-decadent experience we think it responds well to a few flicks from a badger brush.
Malin + Goetz’s concern-first approach to product development has garnered it a legion of discerning skincare fans across the globe — something that comes across handily in the brand’s signature shaving cream. A generous handful of Vitamin E helps to prevent the buildup of free radicals, whilst prepping the face for close encounters of the bladed kind. Additional amino acid proteins are instrumental in ensuring the skin maintains its pH balance — neither dry nor oily in the aftermath of your shave.
Founded in Italy in 1948, Proraso is an unabashedly old-school purveyor of shaving creams — the kind of brand you expect to see within 3 ft of every candy striped barber’s pole. The brand’s recipe for shaving cream hasn’t changed significantly over the years; and is still made with a timeless blend of eucalyptus, coconut oil, menthol, and glycerine. Word to the wise: its texture can be slightly dense right out of the jar, so a good badger’s hair brush and puck are essential tools for achieving the characteristic stiff, meringue-like lather.