Thursday, 31 May 2012

Review: Krampert's Finest Bay Rum Aftershave

I was lucky enough to get a full size bottle of Krampert's Finest Bay Rum Aftershave as a PIF a little while back, and would like to share my experience with it.

The short version: If you like bay rum, get hold of a bottle of Krampert's Finest. If you don't like bay rum, a bottle of Krampert's Finest will likely change your opinion - so get hold of one.

The longer version? Well, if you insist...

Krampert's Finest is - if you're to believe his website, and I see no reason not to - the result of a man being unsatisfied with the available aftershaves and wanting to make something better. I would say Krampert have more than succeeded; this is a damn nice aftershave.

The scent is hard to describe... partly cause I'm not terrible familiar with what Bay Rum is "supposed" to smell like. It smells different than my Col Conk Bay Rum shaving soap, which is my only other exposure to Bay Rum.  It is however a very nice scent, perhaps slightly old fashioned but not in a bad way - more like a Porsche 911 is an old fashioned car... perhaps a better term is "classic".

The scent also triggers some recollection on my part - like a memory I can't quite pin down. Not a bad memory, mind you, but still.. wish I could pin it down. Oh well, I'm on a tangent.

The customs note affixed to the package stated it was a moisturizer, and Krampert's Finest do a great job of moisturizing my face after my shave - it works so well I have caught myself using it even if I haven't shaved. It also does a good job of sealing and healing any minor nicks I might have inflicted on myself while shaving.

The aftershave also seems to have a curious ability I can't quite explain; the scent seems to linger longer those days I want it to. Perhaps it's just me noticing it more, perhaps I unconsciously puts more on, or perhaps it is magic. I honestly don't care - it works.

Actually, those two last words there can be used to summarize Krampert's Finest: It works.

It works better than the other - honestly limited - selection of aftershaves I've tried. Smells better too... so go get hold of a bottle. It is just that good.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Shave of the Day 30th May

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, Citrus
Lather: RazorRock XXX shave cream
Brush: Still new Vie-Long 14033 mixed horse-badger brush
Razors: Merkur 39C slant with "Gillette Goal Stainless", Feather Popular with a "Feather Hi Stainless"
Post-shave: Alum block and Krampert's Finest

Second shave and third lather with my latest brush - my brush and mine first encounter with this soft cream. Good lather, good shave, awesome aftershave - a DFS all told.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Breaking brushes to fix them

Breaking in a new brush is a process that can take time... pretty much any shaving brush needs to be used to blossom into it's full potential.

Take for instance my latest piece of loot; my Vie-Long 14033 mixed horse-badger brush. I've only used it twice so far - one shave and one hand-lather - but allready it's starting to open up and bloom more. In a few more days I'll get an even better idea of just how well this brush will perform - it allready feels softer and holds more water than it did out of the box.

Sometimes, it seems, you have to break things to fix them.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Shave of the day 28th May

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, Pepperming
Lather: Mike's Natural Peppermint & Rosemary Shaving Soap
Brush: Brand new Vie-Long 14033 mixed horse-badger brush
Razors: Merkur 39C slant and Parker 22, both with "Gillette Goal Stainless" blades
Post-shave: Alum block and Krampert's Finest

My new Vie-Long works fine out of the box, can't wait to see how it performs once it's been broken in. Overall a DFS.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Shave of the day 25th May

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, peppermint
Lather: Rise Shave Gel

Brush: Body Shop synthetic brush
Razors: Merkur 985CL travel razor, loaded with a fresh "Shark"

Post-shave:  Cold water rinse


Out and about, so shaving from the GoBag. Not my best shave, but not bad all considered.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

On being away

I have been travelling this week, and as such away from my supplies. The stuff in my GoBag does cover the basics - even if my experimental replacement of the Proraso cream with the Rise Shave Gel will have to be reversed - it fails to provide me with one thing I have come to enjoy:

Choice.

Shaving is not just about getting the fuzz of my face no more. It is at least partly about staring into my shave nook, picking out what razor(s) I would like to use on any given day, then what soap I would prefer given my mood. The choice of soap gives me input on what brush to employ... and when all is over I get to pick what post shave treatment I want to pamper myself with.

On the road those choices are reduced to what I packed before leaving - and while I still get the fuzz of my face, I don't get the full shave experience.

Such is life, I guess, at least while weight restrictions apply on flights.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Shave of the day 23rd Mai

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, peppermint
Lather: Rise Shave Gel
Brush: Body Shop synthetic brush
Razors: Merkur 985CL travel razor, loaded with a fresh "Shark"
Post-shave:  Cold water rinse

Out and about, so shaving from the GoBag. Not my best shave, but not bad all considered.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

New arrival

An eagerly awaited upon package arrived last weekend; a new brush for my shave nook!
The Vie-Long 14033 is a mixed horse and badger brush, with a loft of 53mm and a 20mm knot. Even came with a handy, dandy stand... very much looking forward to breaking this beauty in.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Shave of the day 21st May

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, Tea Tree (bar)
Lather: Mike's Natural Barbershop Shaving Soap
Brush: Omega #10048 Boar Bristle Brush
Razors: Merkur 39C slant and Parker 22, both with "Gillette Goal Stainless" blades
Post-shave: Alum block and Krampert's Finest

Mike's soap make a very nice lather, and Brian's Bay Rum makes for a perfect finish - and the bit in between was good too. Overall a DFS!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Shave of the day 18th May

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap,Lavender
Lather: Mike's Lavandin & Eucalyptus Shaving Soap
Brush: Turkish No7 horse hair brush
Razors: Merkur 39C slant and Parker 22, both with fresh "Gillette Goal Stainless" blades
Post-shave: Alum block and Krampert's Finest

Still experimenting with the sampler pack from Turkey - these apparently is made in India, and the wrapper has an ad for a Gillette Goal DE razor on the inside... Mike's soaps make wonderful lather, and the shave was pretty nice all told.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Happy 17th May!

It is the Norwegian Constitution Day today - and while I realise far from everyone celebrates it, I want to wish everyone a very happy, very nice 17th!
I'm off to eat hot dogs and ice cream, and watch the children parade down town in my little town. Just a shame the weather is unstable, or I would have worn my bunad... well, there is always next year!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Shave of the day 16th May

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, orange
Lather: Martin de Candre (sample)
Brush: Turkish No6 horse hair brush
Razors: Merkur 39C slant and Parker 22, both with "BiC Chrome Platinum" blades
Post-shave: Alum block and Krampert's Finest

Trying out a soap sample I was lucky enough to be given as part of a PIF. Wonderful lather, not so wonderful blades. I'll cross BiC blades firmly off my list.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Review: Turkish horse hair brushes No6 and No7

As far as I can tell these two brushes have a pretty similar knot and handles much the same, so I'll treat them as one for the purpose of this short review. As I'll touch upon later, the differences in behaviour between two of the same model is likely to be as big as the differences between the two models.

Brushes can be expensive, especially if you gotten into badger territory. On the other hand, brushes can be cheap without being bad - if you're willing to take a change on something different. Bestshave.net in offers two horse hair brushes hovering around 2.50 USD which have gathered quite a following around the world - the imaginatively named No6 and No7. The former has a wooden handle and is the slightly cheaper of the two, the later comes with a plastic handle that will set you back another dime.

As mentioned briefly, the two brushes shares a pretty similar knot as far as I can tell. Both brushes have a loft that is 50 mm above the handle, and they are about equally thick at the base. Bestshave.net lists that the knot measures about 25 mm on the No6 and about 20 mm on the No7 at the base - however, the No6 have undergone a redesign since I bought mine which probably explains the difference.

The knots are fairly densely packed, but not overly so - giving them a bit of spring and flex. Be warned though; a quick look online indicates that both brushes suffers from some QA issues - in short the quality varies wildly - even if comments seems to point to this issue slowly getting resolved; the No6 is now offered along with the reassurance that "Now, more quality, and aesthetics". There also seems to be some discussion around the web as to the nature of the hair used for the No7; some say it's boar but most seems to agree that it is indeed horse. Could be a case of using what hair you got laying around I guess - these are cheap and cheerful brushes.

Getting down to the basics; are they any good? Can a brush costing about one cup of coffee work well?

In short, yes. They both work great - good backbone, good flow, little to no scratching... in short, everything a brush should be in my opinion. They both smelled a bit of horse the first few times I used them, but frankly that isn't a bad smell. To top it off the balance is good too, with the centre of gravity on a loaded brush about where the handle and knot meet, and both No6 and No7 offers a reasonable comfortable grip. So far both have been able to whip any soap I tried into a smooth, creamy lather - both in a bowl and on my face. The slightly larger No6 holds more lather but the slimmer No7 can hold plenty enough for two and even three passes - even with my spotty technique.

Are there better brushes out there? Certainly.
Are there cheaper brushes out there? Possible.
Are there brushes out there that gives so much performance for so little cash? I seriously doubt it.

The Turkish No6 and No7 would be an excellent first brush for a newbie not wanting to spend much money on a new hobby. They would also be a good "first horse" for more experienced shavers who wants to try something new. No7, with the plastic handle, could be a great brush for travel - one you won't be heartbroken over if you forget in a hotel. Or you could simply get one just for the fun of it - letting you get one more brush in your rotation without laying out more money than you would for a cup of coffee. Overall I would rate the No6 with it's wooden handle higher - not only do you save a whooping ten cents, but the handle looks better and fits my hand better than the slimmer plastic of the No7.

I must however temper my recommendation with a warning: These are brushes costing about 2.50 USD, manufactured in a place where quality control is spotty as best. Your Mileage May Vary... as always. But can you afford not to try one of these brushes?

Monday, 14 May 2012

Shave of the day 14th May

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, orange
Lather: Orange Essential Oil Shave Soap
Brush: Omega #10048 boar brush
Razors: Merkur 39C slant and Parker 22, both with fresh  "BiC Chrome Platinum" blades
Post-shave: Alum block and Krampert's Finest

A citrusy start on the week, followed by a very nice aftershave. The BiC blades seems okay - a little sore on my lower neck, but no tugging and a DFS overall. Lets see how they are on the second and third shave.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Shave of the day 11th May

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, peppermint
Lather: Proraso eucalyptus and menthol cream
Brush: Body Shop synthetic brush
Razors: Merkur 985CL with a Shark blade
Post-shave: Proraso Liquid Cream

On the road, so using the kit from the GoBag. Good first pass, less good second pass - I guess the Shark is a "two shaves only" blade in my 985CL. I also looking forward to a bit of choices as far as lather goes when I get home...

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Review: Feather Popular

My newest acquisition as far as razors go, the Feather Popular is a mild and kind razor of mixed construction.
I picked the Popular up for less than 10£, but for being a cheap razor it certainly has a lot going for it. Build quality isn't the highest, but better than most cartridge razors I've tried and heads and shoulders over any disposables I've seen. The Twist To Open head features stamped and pressed metal doors mounted on a plastic base, while the long handle is all plastic. If you should happen to drop the Popular the thin doors is likely to be knocked out of shape, but so might the doors on a more expensive TTO razor.
As mentioned the Popular is a mild razor - so mild in fact that I feel  it should be paired with an aggressive blade. It makes a very fine job of taming the wicked sharp Feather Hi Stainless blades, giving a smooth, comfortable shave on the most obnoxious stubble. The long handle gives plenty of control to the Popular, but if you should prefer short handled razors you're out of luck - unless you want to get a sharp knife out and shorten the handle yourself. The light weight makes it somewhat tempting to increase the pressure while shaving, but like any DE razor this is best avoided. It's safety bar is plastic, which probably is what causes the ever so slight tendency of the Popular to want to go sideways while shaving. Not a big issue, just something to be aware of.
The Popular quickly made itself part of my rotation. It is an excellent first razor since a newbie can try traditional wetshaving for little money, the Popular would make a wonderful travel razor if I didn't already own one, and it would be a good fit for any wetshaver looking for a mild razor - even if the look and design wont win the Feather Popular any prices.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Shave of the day 9th May

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, peppermint
Lather: Proraso eucalyptus and menthol cream
Brush: Body Shop synthetic brush
Razors: Merkur 985CL with a Shark blade
Post-shave: Proraso Liquid Cream aftershave


On the road, so using the kit from the GoBag. Building lather in a tiny bowl - even a very nice acacia wood bowl - is tricky, so I ended up making it half way in the bowl and finishing up on my face. Very nice shave all told.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Review of the Merkur 39C slant bar razor

Let me get straight to the point; a slant bar is not a good choice as your first razor. It is however an excellent second razor.
And it was my second razor too - bought after I had a year of experience with DE shaving - and while my first razor was bought more or less based on the description it had in the online store, my 39C was picked up after consulting various shaving blogs and forums.
The construction seems to be a mix of cast head and machined shaft, with a cast know on the end you unscrew to disassemble the razor. There is a split ring that should keep the bolt shaft inside the handle, but on mine that has loosened to the point where I can easily withdraw it for cleaning.
The 39C is a fairly hefty razor with a cast head and a long and heavy shaft - a very marked contrast with my 985CL travel razor. It is also an aggressive razor like any slant seems to be; it is not without reason one of the names given to the 39C online is the "sledgehammer". If you have the technique down and keep a light touch, it'll slide straight trough even several days worth of beard with about as much trouble as a combiner harvester have in mowing down a field of hay. It will leave your face significantly smoother than said field though...
The comparison to a hay field is rather apt once you consider how a slant works; it's more akin to the action of a scythe than a knife in that it slices rather than chops - just resist the urge to swipe it over your cheeks.
The 39C is as mentioned aggressive - in fact it is my most aggressive razor so far - and as such I like to pair it with a reasonable mild blade. I have used Feather Hi Stainless blades, and it works wonderfully, but I realised I needed to be very much on the ball when using those - meaning I could either get a wonderful shave or a face full of nicks.
If you're in the marked for a new slant you can't go much wrong with a Merkur 39C in my opinion. If you prefer razors with short handles Merkur also makes the 37C which mates the same head with a shorter, lighter handle.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Shave of the day 7th May

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, peppermint
Lather: Proraso eucalyptus and menthol cream
Brush: Body Shop synthetic brush
Razors: Merkur 985CL with a fresh Shark blade
Post-shave: Proraso Liquid Cream aftershave

On the road, so using the kit from the GoBag. A quick shave - no pondering over what gear to use - but a good one.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Shave of the day 4th May


Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, orange
Lather: Mike's Natural  Lime Soap (sample)
Brush: Turkish No6 horse hair brush
Razors: Merkur 39C slant and Parker 22, both with a "Racer Super Stainless" blade
Post-shave: Alum block and aloe vera

Took my time loading the brush and was rewarded with a rich, creamy lather. This was the third and last shave with the Egyptian Racer Super Stainless - okay blades but not great, definitely performed better in the 22R than the 39C. A partial touch up pass on my neck was needed to get a durn fine shave.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Review: Merkur 985CL

The Merkur 985CL is a light weight travel razor that breaks down into four pieces: the top and bottom part of the head, the upper and lower handle. All the pieces fit together in a small leather pouch about 6cm square - or about 2 2/5th inches if you're still using those.

The first thing I noticed about the 985CL - apart from the fact that it is an open comb razor - was the weight. The 985CL is made from aluminium, so it weights next to nothing in your hand. At first this was a little disconcerting - it was so light it was tempting to increase the pressure, and we all know that too much pressure leads to nicks, cuts and lacerations. The aluminium can also appear slightly slippery, but in reality it is no worse in that regard than a regular brass razor such as the Merkur 39C.
The 985CL is as mentioned an open comb razor, and as such is more aggressive than a bar razor. It is not an aggressive as a slant however, even when used with a wicked sharp blade like the Feather Hi Stainless. Some care must be taken with the grip on it, mostly due to the shortish handle and light weight. The balance of the 985CL is pretty good, since both the handle and the head is made from the same material.
In my experience the 985CL is a bit picky about what blades it likes; too sharp and the razor bites, too dull and it tugs badly. Best results for me so far have been with Wilkinson Swords and Lord Platinum blades, but I keep trying others.
Cleaning and maintaining the 985CL is easy as pie - it all comes apart. A bit of warm water and a toothbrush easily cleans all residue away, and if it gets really funky it should do well in the ultrasonic cleaner - however since it's aluminium care must be taken when picking a detergent to go in with it.
There are two downsides to the 985CL, both relating to the way it breaks down and the travel pouch:
  • The upper part of the handle is meant to be stored in the hollow lower part. If care is not taken when putting them together, the two parts can accidentally screw themselves together. Getting them apart again can take some time...
  • There is no good way to store a spare blade or two in the pouch itself - they will end up mangled and bent. This means you'll have to carry a pack of blades separably, which can cause a bit of trouble when you travel by air.
Overall I can recommend the Merkur 985CL if you need a lightweight razor for travelling and don't mind paying a bit of attention while putting it away. Merkur also produces a similar model - the 933CL - with a closed comb, if that's your preference.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Shave of the day 2nd May

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner's Magic Soap, Tea-tree (bar)
Lather: Col. Conk Bay Rum shaving soap
Brush: Turkish No7 horse hair brush
Razors: Merkur 39C slant and Parker 22, both with a "Racer Super Stainless" blade
Post-shave: Alum block and aloe vera

The second shave with the Egyptian Racer Super Stainless - they still seem to work better in my 22R than in my 39C. Quite a bit smoother than Mondays shave, but still not all the way up there. Overall happy with my shave, as always.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Review: Parker 22R

I will admit to a slight bias in this review: the Parker 22R was my first DE razor, and my only razor for the first year. With that out of the way, here we go:


The Parker 22R is a Twist To Open (TTO) safety razor with a heavily machined grip. The razor is of mixed cast and machined construction, and is made of brass with a gun metal finish.
For some reason the various Parker razors seems to have gained a reputation online for poor quality control; to me this just don't jive. Not only is my 22R still as tight and smooth in it's operation as the day it was when I unpacked it, but it survived all the mistakes I did when I started shaving, a year in Africa and being disassembled for cleaning more than once. No low quality razors would survive that - especially not one with a TTO head.
The 22R is a lang handled razor, but not particular heavy. It is also a fairly aggressive razor, which will punish a newbie fairly fast if too much pressure is applied when shaving. While this can be a good thing - adapt or die from facial lacerations - it can also turn a newcomer away from the joy that traditional wetshaving can be.
As mentioned the 22R is aggressive. It can do well with a very sharp blade - I was exclusively using Feather Hi Stainless blades in it while I was in Africa - but a light touch is needed. It also shaves very well with a milder blade, and maintains a very good blade alignment with little effort - just drop the blade in any old how and close the doors.
The balance of the 22R is a little different than my other DE razors, a little lighter in the head, a little heavier in the handle. Makes it easier to maintain a very light pressure though, so I think it's a good thing. It can also be a little fiddly to clean, something it has in common with other TTO razors, but a little bit of preventative maintenance and a little bit of common sense goes a long way to alleviate that.
Overall I will definitely recommend this razor - I found it a very good razor when I started wetshaving, and I feel it'll be welcome in any experienced wetshavers rotation.