One of the things that love about wet shaving is the variety of quality products and accessories available. I have assembled a significant collection of shaving goods over the year, and am frequently asked which brush or razor I like best. Sometimes it is a difficult question to answer as I am always trying new things; however, there are certain products that stand out and that are worth highlighting as my favorites.
Safety Razor: Geo. F. Trumper Warwick Gold Finish Safety Razor
The Warwick is a luxury model safety razor offered by Trumper that was unfortunately removed from their catalog a few years ago. The razor features a smooth and contoured handle that is comfortable and perfectly balanced in my hand. The all-metal body of my gold Warwick has a nice weight to it that is neither too light nor too heavy. The cutting head appears to be a German-made Merkur head that is very well made and allows the blade to mount perfectly with no uneven exposure on either side. The quality cutting head paired with the beautiful, well weighted handle results in a razor that leaves nothing to be desired. Although the Warwick model is no longer available, the current Edwin Jagger Chatsworth razor is similar in design, although it has a slightly different cutting head design.
I also really enjoy my PILS Stainless Steel Safety Razor because of its impressive engineering. The PILS has a unique design that requires a different cutting angle. Also, because the double edge blade mounts flat in the cutting head instead of curved like in most other razors, blades that don't usually give me a comfortable shave work well in the PILS.
Razor Blade: BIC Chrome Platinum Double Edge Blades
The BIC Chrome Platinum are my preferred double edge blades. BICs are very sharp and provide a clean, smooth shave. They work well with any shaving soap or cream, regardless of the thickness, slickness, or properties of the lather, including Method Shaving products. They are not overly aggressive like Feather blades, which can be harsh and scratchy at times. BIC blades are also relatively inexpensive making them a cost effective choice.
Straight Razor: Henckels Friodur Square Point Scalloped Back with Custom Thuya Burl Wood Scales
My favorite straight razor in my collection is my Friodur. It is a large 8/8 blade that is well balanced and easy to maneuver around my face. It also has a full hollow ground design that takes a great edge and works well for my beard type. For my birthday my wife surprised me with this straight razor from ShavingShop.com, which she had fitted with custom scales. The thuya burl wood scales by Straight Razor Scales are a striking complement to the scalloped blade. The scales are not only very elegant, but they also create a balanced feel with the large blade.
Strop: Hand American Old Dog Classic 905 Cordovan Strop
To prepare my straight razors for a shave, I use my favorite strop, the Hand American Old Dog Classic 905 Cordovan strop. The leather used on the Old Dog is a very exclusive grade that is only available from one tannery in the U.S. today. Rather than using a linen surface like many strops do, the Old Dog has a unique diamond weave pattern that makes realigning the edge of the razor quick and easy. The smooth side of the leather has a nice supple feel to it and a very comfortable amount of draw when stropped on. These strops are produced in limited numbers and quite collectible among straight razor enthusiasts. Monogrammed with my initials in gold, this strop is truly the finest shaving accessory in my collection.
Shaving Brush: No Comment
This is impossible for me to choose; I like all of my brushes for various reasons. I enjoy my Simpsons brushes and I have been very impressed with the Edwin Jagger Extra Large Silvertip shaving brush. It is the perfect size for both shaving soaps and creams. The hair is a nice grade with a good density, and it is neither too soft nor too firm. This brush is one of a few that works well with any of my shaving products.
Honorable mention goes to Simpsons Polo 10 in Two-Band Super, an outstanding brush. It's larger with a taller handle, but the size feels comfortable and is nice to use. The premium hair has a wonderful feel that is strong and soft, and it works with my favorite products to create cushioning lather.
Shaving Cream: Tabula Rasa
Tabula Rasa is actually a soft soap; however, it is packaged and marketed as a shaving cream, so I'm giving it first place in the cream category. It requires a different approach to lathering, but once I used the Load/Hydrate Technique very few products have even come close to the results I get from it. This product produces one of the richest and thickest lathers possible, and coats my face with a very protective and moisturizing lather that the razor easily glides over. What sets this apart from other products is its unique formula of mango and Shea butter along with the patented "Stimu-Tex" ingredient, which nourishes and moisturizes the skin. Although Tabula is available in a few different fragrances, I personally prefer the original unscented version, which has a very subtle natural aroma from the ingredients.
Runner up goes to The Bluebeards Revenge Luxury Shaving Cream. This cream easily whips into an amazing lather that is bubble-free, thick, and protective. The rich lather is perfect for both double-edge and straight razor shaving. It also has a traditional barbershop-style fragrance that is very enjoyable during the shave.
Shaving Soap: D.R. Harris Marlborough
Traditional, triple-milled hard soaps provide me the richest and most protective lather for my shaves. Of the assortment that I use regularly, D.R. Harris is significantly better in both performance and fragrance over others, including Trumper and Truefitt & Hill. Lathering up for a shave with this soap fills my bathroom with the noticeable aroma of fresh cedar and sandalwood. The shave with D.R. Harris Marlborough is always great and I never grow tired of the scent. The soap is available with an attractive wooden bowl that allows for easy storage when not in use and also looks very classy on my bathroom counter.
Mitchell's Wool Fat is also a great shaving soap because of its lanolin and moisturizing properties. This soap was difficult for to lather until I got a new Culligan water softening system in my home, but now it is one of my favorites. I also enjoy Czech & Speake No. 88 because it has unique scent that includes sandalwood, bergamot, and others. The packaging is very classy and the soap creates a very slick lather.
Aftershave Splash: D.R. Harris Sandalwood
Because sandalwood essential oil is so expensive, very few sandalwood-scented products on the market truly capture the depth and warmth of pure sandalwood. While I own many aftershaves, several of which are of this fragrance, D.R. Harris Sandalwood is one of the finest aftershaves available today. This traditional splash does a great job of soothing the skin with minimal sting from the alcohol and has a great woodsy and masculine fragrance that unlike many other aftershaves, lingers on the skin for several hours after application. I often skip wearing cologne when I use this aftershave because the fragrance will easily wear well in to the afternoon on my skin.
I also enjoy D.R. Harris Pink because it is a mild aftershave that is soothing when the face is sensitive. Its light rose scent doesn't conflict with any other products. It's especially nice in the summer when I enjoy a nice light scent. I also really enjoy Santa Maria Novella Sandalwood because it is dry and woodsy, unlike the warmth and complexity of D.R. Harris'. It is a pure fragrance that is very high quality.
Aftershave Balm: Santa Maria Novella Emulsione Analcolica
This is probably one of the most healing aftershave balms I've ever used. Santa Maria Novella Emulsione Analcolica calms the skin when there is razor burn or irritation, and it does a great job of moisturizing the skin. It has a unique scent that is unlike other aftershaves on the market. The scent is slightly medicinal and typical of traditional Italian shaving products, but much more complex and herbal than lower priced products, such as Proraso. Based on a formulation of olive oil, witch hazel, and elastin, Emulsione Analcolica absorbs in to the skin smoothly and leaves my face feeling perfect every time. This balm is especially useful in the colder winter months when my skin is prone to drying due to the lower humidity.
I also enjoy the Hydrolast Aftershave Conditioner. It only takes a small amount and it absorbs into the skin very well. It, too, soothes and stops any irritation. It is a product I wouldn't be without. Hydrolast is available in a range of scents that are blended with only pure essential oils. My favorites are the lavender for its healing properties and the peppermint that has a wonderful cooling effect.