Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Castle Forbes Lavender review

Castle Forbes is a Scottish "perfumery" that specializes in... ah screw it, here's what they say about themselves:
Welcome to Castle Forbes Collection of fine fragrances and gifts for ladies, gentlemen and the home. Created in the perfumery at Castle Forbes in Scotland , elegantly packaged in the Forbes clan tartan and carrying the family crest and logo.

Castle Forbes was built in 1815 by my great-great-great grandfather, the 17th Lord Forbes, Scotland’s premier Lord and Chief of the clan Forbes.

Inspired by the beauty of the countryside surrounding our home, and the plants and flowers growing in the grounds, my wife and I have created from our own perfumery in the castle grounds a collection of fragrances, gifts and seasonal products which emulates the history of our clan.
Essentially, they make high-end shaving cream (well, they do more, but that's what I am interested in. Normally I'm not a huge fan of lavender scents, but they're growing on me.. and when I received a sample of the CF lime and lavender shave creams, I was pretty psyched.

First impressions -
The aroma is incredible. The lavender is gorgeous, in a completely manly-but-flowery way, and lasts throughout the shave. The cream itself is very thick, more of a soap than a cream, and it literally takes about 1/4 as much to get tons of lather than any other cream I've ever used - which turns the 35 dollar shave cream into something much more of a value cream than I would have expected. When a shave cream yields that many more shaves for the same volume, it becomes much more worthwhile in my book. The lather itself worked beautifully, with good lubrication.

I'd give this one a 10/10, and plan on actually buying a tub - though I still need to try their lime flavor first. :)

Music to shave to:
Ministry / Twitch

Thursday, November 6, 2008

For coffee lovers (Aeropress)

I picked up an AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Makerfrom Amazon about a week and a half ago - and HOLY COW.

First off, let me preface by explaining a few things. First, I like coffee. I am wholeheartedly addicted to caffeine. Normally, I go to work and choke down what passes for coffee from the drip system there. I didn't bother brewing at home because our drip pot sucks for anything less than a full pot - and then I have to clean the whole thing, yadda yadda... so I never bothered grabbing coffee from home before work. On the weekends, I ground my own beans and made a DECENT pot of coffee, but it still wasn't great.

I recently saw a post about the Aeropress at the Badger and Blade forums, and did a bit of research. Turns out that it seems to be a nearly ideal way to get a quick cup of coffee brewed in the morning that actually tastes GOOD. Color me skeptical (since, well, I am usually), but I figured for what, 27 or 28 dollars shipped, it was worth a try. After all, I've tried shaving creams that were just as expensive site unseen, right? :)

Once it arrived, I gave it a shot. Ground 2 cups worth of Caribou Coffee's Obsidian, threw some water in the kettle to boil, and made my first cup, Americano style. I took my first sip, and was pleasantly surprised. Obsidian usually had some heavy acidity from our coffeemaker (a decent drip model) and required a touch of cream (or soy milk, for me) and splenda to even out. With the Aeropress, drinking it black was completely pleasurable. Some very sweet tones showed up that I wasn't expecting, and there was almost no acid or bitterness at ALL. Cleanup was quick and easy, too - just open the trash, eject the filter, and rinse the contraption off.

There is one downside - it uses more coffee grounds per cup than you'd use for a drip maker. Probably about 50% more, in fact... so if you like to use Jamaican Blue Mountain or something ludicrous like that, don't bother with the Aeropress unless you've got cash to burn.

I would heavily recommend this to ANY coffee drinkers. I may not be the kinda guy that buys a 250 dollar drip system or a vacuum pot, but I do like my cuppajoe - and anything that makes it easier AND better is a winner for me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shave soap thoughts (and whatnot)

Tabac: Well, the price ain't bad. The smell... is... uh... yeah. I'm okay with the scent after having used it about 10 times, but it smells very "old man". That's not necessarily a horrible thing, honestly, but it IS something I had a hard time getting around at first. It's a good soap, does what it's supposed to do, and is very mild on my face. Good, productive lather (once I figured out how to get it to work). Also, it's pretty economical.

The other soap I've tried recently is discontinued - Crabtree and Evelyn's Sandalwood soap. I picked up a couple of pucks in wooden bowls from a B+B member along with a tube of C&E's Sienna cream, and I'm very glad I did. The sandalwood soap is incredible. Lathers up fairly easily and performs easily as well as any cream I've used. The scent, though, is what sets it apart. The scent is more subtle than most creams I've tried (Art of Shaving, I'm staring at you), but the cool thing is that the subtle scent lingers after the shave at exactly the right note. The girlfriend loved it.

Finally, a word about Sienna - I tried it today, and while the lather is very slick and the scent is awesome, it was a bit rough on my face. Might just be I'm too sensitive for the cream and one of the chemicals or scents involved just doesn't agree with me or somthing. That's a shame, though - it's a killer cream otherwise. I love the tube it comes in (and a TUBE KEY!), too. I'm debating holding onto the cream to try again another time.

Oh and FINALLY finally, a thank-you-shout-out to Mantic for the link. Mantic is the god of wet shaving. Go read his site and watch all of his vids. 3 times. At least.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Been a little while, so HEYA!

Right then. Status updates, thoughts, yadda yadda.

It's been a while. I think I've found some specific "go-to" shaves that have changed a bit.

First off, Proraso is still my hands-down favorite. Green OR red tube. Also, I've tried their aftershave splash - and WOW. Incredibly soothing. Highly recommended.

Second, I'm onto feather blades permanently. They work very nicely with my superspeed - turns out that the problems I've had in the past are mostly due to technique. Now that I know what I'm doing, I can shave quickly and without irritation, and the shaves last 36 hours before looking unacceptable... which means I can shave less if I want to - leading to less irritation and whatnot.

Third, soaps: I've begun to like using some soaps in the rotation, though nothing has the slickness of Proraso's cream. QED's fresh limes is probably my favorite, but there are good things that can be said of others. Tabac, in particular, works pretty well, though the scent is... kinda old-mannish, I guess. I'm not a big fan of it, but it DOES fade immediately after the shave.

Fourth - Speick. I tried Speick shaving cream again and have decided that I like it. The scent is a bit off-putting, but it's a very soothing cream that lubes the skin wonderfully.

I'll update again when I remember to. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Proraso Red

I just tried Proraso's red-tube cream, having received a tube in a trade. Here are my impressions, in the order of a shave's progress (2x used derby blade, '54 superspeed)

3 passes (wtg, xtg, atg) and some touching up. The scent wasn't as strong as the green tube, but it's a very smooth cream. Excellent lube qualities. NO irritation. After I finished up, I rinsed and used some Proraso aftershave balm. Easily the closest, least irritating shave I've ever had. Unreal how nice the red tube is. I think I have a new favorite cream.

Of course, that new favorite is completely discontinued. ARGH.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gillette Fat Boy day 2

I decided to give the fat boy another try today - this time running with Proraso cream at setting "5" and a 2nd-use Derby blade.

2 passes plus touchups and I'm smooth. Unreal. Usually it's a 3-pass affair (WTG, XTG/ATG, ATG) plus touchups. No irritation. My Superspeeds are sorta looking at me sadly at this point. I feel badly because I haven't even given the red tip a try. I am thinking tomorrow it's getting some use.

In other news, my girlfriend and I were looking at my razors last night, trying to figure out what's best for her - she's using a Gillette Ladies razor (blue stars, very pretty - essentially a long-handled superspeed) but wasn't happy with it. I grabbed one of the Gem Micromatics from my shelf and loaded it up with a Ted Pella blade, and off she went. Totally loved it. I think that the Gems might wind up being a great lady razor - worked beautifully for her. We'll see how it goes though, gonna give her a few days of use with it before I report for sure.

Music to Shave to:
Ride - Vapor Trails (EP Single)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fat boy, wait til tomorrow.

Yeah, I just quoted Silverchair. Sorry. Won't EVER happen again.... but that's the deal sometimes, you know, when you gotta come up with a title and it's early and there's not enough coffee and the monkeys are on your back and OH MY GOD THEY'RE CHEWING ON MY FACE

Sorry, back to the topic at hand.
I picked up a fat boy (gillette adjustable razor) from an antique store for about 40 bucks this weekend and spend some serious time cleaning it up, thinking I could sell it if I got it in nice shape.... then I realized "wait a second - I can't sell this without using it first." Whoops.

This morning, I lathered up with QED's Fresh Lime soap (my first time really face-lathering, worked nicely) and used a new Derby blade in the fat boy. Set it to 4 and off to the races we went. GREAT shave. Easily as nice as the Superspeed shaves I was getting. I'm keeping it. :)

A red tip I picked up on the B&B forums also showed up yesterday, and I'm pretty excited to give it a try in the next few days... I also get a Lady's Gillette (stars and pretty handle) coming in the next few days from a ludicrously cheap Ebay auction, and can't wait to give that a try as well. The GF has her own, and it's a very cool razor.

Music to shave to:
Dead Can Dance - A Passage in Time
Relaxing. Probably not a good start-the-day album, but whatever. It's pretty.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

QED Lime soap

I've been on a total lime kick lately - from the Trumper's Lime skin food to the Wesley+Scott lime aftershave, so it seemed like a natural fit to try the QED natural lime soap and the Vulfix Sicilian Lime cream.

They came well-packaged from QED's website, and when I opened the containers at my desk I was assaulted by the smell of fresh limes. Unreal - QED apparently uses a LOT of essential oils in his soap. So how was the shave?

Well, I gave the QED soap a try this morning - and it's really nice. I got the best lather I've ever gotten out of a soap, but I think I need to learn a bit more about face lathering before I make a real judgment. It lubed my face up just fine and left me feeling pretty smooth. Is it as nice as Proraso? Not yet. :) That king is yet to be dethroned.

On another note, I noticed the last time I used Art of Shaving's sandalwood that the sandalwood scent lasted most of the day - which was a bit weird to me. I am glad I like sandalwood, but it got a bit ridiculous. :) I will say that AoS's sandalwood scent is killer, and the quality of the cream is absolutely top notch, so this doesn't change my love of their product.

Music to shave to:
Ben Folds - Songs for Silverman

Sunday, August 3, 2008

This hobby was supposed to be cheap.

The gf and I hit an antique store next to an antique mall today on a whim after brunch. We walk in, and the place just doesn't look very promising at first. I take a quick look around, think "okay, whatev", and we're about to leave when the proprietors of the store ask if we're looking for anything in particular.

I mention that I'm into shaving supplies - and his eyes light up. He practically drags us across the store and sets us down in front of a big box full of razors. Straights, DEs, Gems, you name it. There was, for example, a BEAUTIFUL tiny travel tech in a red carry case that I would have grabbed if it wasn't 75 dollars. Tells me "buy more than one item, you get 20% off".

First thing I grabbed was a lovely blue-tip SS - TEN DOLLARS.

Second thing was this straight razor - my first, and I'm still not sure what to do with it. BEAUTIFUL razor though - 20 dollars.

THEN finally the piece I was on the fence about - listed @ 48, but 20% off brought it under 39, so it was kind of a no-brainer. Mechanically sound, but looks like hell. Needs serious cleaning, which is something I think I can do - but I'm not positive how yet. :)

Not sure if the deal was great or not, but I was thinking about a fatboy - and here it is, with a case that was in good shape. Impossible to resist. :) Debating the best way to clean it - never cleaned an adjustable before.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Whoops. Been a while. :)

Right then. Sorry about the distinct lack of posts. First, let me put this out there - Sue at Saint Charles Shave makes some of the best smelling creams I've ever tried. That said, I am having a devil of a time getting GOOD lather out of them. I know it's possible, because other people have done it, but lathering it winds up too foamy or soupy every time, and the one time I got the consistency right, it dried up on my face in the middle of a pass. THAT reservation aside, I would say that the Arabica flavor is simply the most amazing smelling cream I've ever had. It's made with coffee, and is absolutely gorgeous. I'm going to keep trying to get it to work. :)

SO what's been up in my shave world? Mostly I've been focusing on skin health. I've been trying to find the single best creams and whatnot for my face - and here's the thing: I keep coming back to Proraso. I have several other high-end creams, including Art of Shaving's sandalwood, and NOTHING comes close to the comfortable shaves I get out of the Proraso. It's a bit annoying to think that this 10 dollar tube of cream (which will last MONTHS) is better than everything else on the market... but I'm NOT complaining.

On their way right now - Vulfix cream (lime) and QED lime soap. I'm totally into lime lately, after having used a wonderful lime aftershave by Wesley and Scott (it was an experimental batch they sent out with some other flavors, their first attempts at aftershaves - once available, I'll link them).

Razor-wise, I just scored another SuperSpeed in about the same condition as mine (datecode Z3), so I have a nice backup. I'm also considering selling off my Gem Micromatics, as I find they're pretty much just raw evil. I haven't gone back to the adjustable yet, but plan to after this weekend. (my band is playing a show on Aug 2, and if I tear up my face too badly, the sweat onstage will SUCK)

I'm also really looking forward to the next availability of the Badger and Blade Essentials brush. The reviews are spectacular, and it sounds like a nice upgrade from my Crabtree and Evelyn Best Badger Brush.

And finally, to top it off- I was thinking about this for a while. The act of shaving with a DE setup is one which requires relaxation and helps to center me for the rest of the day. I was trying to think of things which help out, and realized that music would be a wonderful addition. SO....

Check out the band Asobi Seksu. They're kinda shoegazery-dreampop, out of NYC. Incredible stuff - if you've ever liked anything by My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive, Lush, etc - you'll love this band.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Gillette Adjustable adventure!

I loaded up my Gillette Adjustable with a new Derby blade and decided to give a new cream a try - I lathered up with some Saint Charles Shave bay rum flavor cream, and went to town.

First a word about SCS- they are a small shop, run by a wonderful lady named Sue who has been very active at the B+B forums AND makes some incredible creams. There have been some mixups with my latest order, and Sue made it very, absolutely and completely right in my book. Huge thumbs-up their way. I ordered a couple of creams that should be here soon in addition to the bay rum - one called smoke and beads (it's apparently hippie-ish, with heavy patchouli and such) and one called Arabica (made from coffee!).

The bay rum cream lathered up strangely - at first I didn't have enough water, and then I added a touch more and I suddenly was overflowing the cup with lather (which never happens - we're talking a monster latte' cup!). The problem was the the lather was now too thin. I said "screw it" and went for it anyway. Despite the integrity of the cream being compromised, it still gave a nice shave and lubricated fine. I think there was room for improvement, so I'll be trying it a few more times to figure out the deal.

The adjustable:
Well... I set it to 4 for my first pass, and it worked out just fine. I dialed down to 3 for the second, thinking it would be wise to go with a lighter setting for each pass (avoiding irritation) but it didn't really cut hair... so back up to 4 for the atg and touchups, and it worked out okay.

Was it as good as my 1954 superspeed? Nope. The handle gets very slick quite easily, and despite being in spectacular shape, the razor felt kinda... cheap. THAT SAID, I'll certainly try it again sooner or later. I'd put it on par with the Schick Krona for now, which is certainly a decent razor but NOT my favorite ever.

Proraso f'ing rocks.

Adding another blog to the links today, dynasty of lao - written by one of the members @ badger and blade named Nancy Boy (no doubt after the wonderful selection of products by Nancy Boy).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Razor aggressiveness

Badger and Blade has a wiki listing many of the various razors available and the aggressiveness of each.

I find it informative that my SS is about equivalent to a slim adjustable set at "3", so... when I try the adjustable (on my next shave hopefully), I'll be running it at 3 to be safe... but then I'll be dialing it up. :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Art of Shaving SANDALWOOD

holy mother of god this stuff is incredible. I got a tub in the mail yesterday and used it this morning with a feather/ss. talk about a smooth experience. best I've ever used by far - somehow better than the samples I had (not sure why, whatever).

Also got the derby blades in the mail today... good price from a b+b forum member - 95 for 15.00 shipped. Of course, I just discovered that Feathers work better for me, but whatever. :) derbys are good enough for now - smooth and sharp, very forgiving. I'll probably do some more experimenting with other razors now too. I still have to try my slim adjustable and master the gem micromatic. (that thing scares the daylights out of me)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Shaving with a straight razor.

Yeah, I'm beginning to consider getting a straight razor. This hobby is goddamned ludicrous.

Kai blades


Yeah, that's about it. Meh. It worked okay, I'm not irritated - but Kai blades aren't as sharp as Derby blades and certainly nowhere near Feathers. I'm disappointed, since they're Japanese made (just like Feather). Also, they are very pretty. Pulling them out of their wrapper reveals a completely blank blade. No printing, just a very nice and shiny blade perfectly polished on the edges and slightly matte over the rest.

Got my Art of Shaving sandalwood cream in the mail today - w00t. Easily the most luxurious product I've ever used. Can't wait until tomorrow's shave.

Geeky, eh?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Feather day 2

The feather is still working pretty well for me, though I managed to get a couple of nicks - I never bleed w/ the derby, so maybe the feather's too much blade for me. :)

I spent some time looking at straight razors last night- wow. Some very beautiful pieces of equipment!! and sooooo tempting (but NOT GONNA DO IT).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Feather attempt, the second.

SO... in my earlier attempt to use a Feather, about 3 weeks ago, it tried to kill me.
Here's the post at badger and blade from that day -
Well, I tried it twice. I gave it my best effort. No pressure. Great prep.

The feather tried to kill me. It is not made of steel - it's pure, concentrated evil in a small form. It giggled at me as it sliced and diced. Two passes of utter hell.
Today, I tried again in my Superspeed. I used good prep (shower, proraso pre, proraso cream) and a new Feather blade. 2 passes (wtg, atg) as normal, and some touchup - and this time, I have a smooth face with no irritation. I had a WONDERFUL shave.

The kicker here is that I just ordered 95 derby blades. :) WTF. Of course I find something I like more immediately after spending money. Sonofa....

Thursday, July 3, 2008

July 3rd shave

Proraso pre/post
Musgo Real
Derby blade / SS

Impressions of Musgo Real: Meh. That's it. Just... meh. Scent was okay, lubricity was okay, feel was okay. Face was a bit more irritated than normal, so I don't think Musgo's gonna be my go-to. That said, it lathered beautifully and with minimal effort. Good beginner cream I think.

On their way:
Art of Shaving Sandalwood
QED Bay Rum cream

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

First Post!

So... this is yet another shave blog.

Yep, a shave blog.

This blog is about... shaving.

See, I have to shave EVERY DAY. I never really liked it, either. I'd spend my thousands of dollars on Mach3 cartridges like a good boy and buy the latest gels and whatnever and then proceed to tear the ever-loving crap out of myself every morning. Ingrown hairs, cuts, irritation - I figured those were a part of the deal, and I bought more and more gels and creams and whatnot thinking that the best options were all available at Kroger's in the "men's" section.

Turns out I was wrong, and that my money was feeding into a scam.

I moved into DE shaving / wetshaving, and went from someone that dreaded the shave to someone who actually looks forward to it in the mornings.

Right now, my go-to shave consists of the following:

Gillette SuperSpeed (undated, probably a lot older than me)
Derby blade
Proraso pre-shave
Proraso cream
Crabtree+Evelyn brush
Proraso aftershave balm

Variations I've tried:
Feather blades (blood. everywhere. uber-sharp, awesome blades, but not for me yet)
Gem Micromatic razor (tool of evil. it laughed as it sliced me. captain howdy tried taking control of my soul.)
Crystal blades (meh. not as close of a shave as Derby, but whatever)
Merkur blades (like shaving with sandpaper)
Gillette Platinum blades (meh. acceptable.)
Gillette Tech razor (nice, less aggro than the superspeed and very forgiving, but hard to get clean shaves)
Schick Krona razor (same as the Tech)
Merkur 38c razor (heavy, nice construction, just not for me. I prefer lighter.)

I'll go into more detail as the blog progresses perhaps... and if I don't, well... bummer.