Yes We Can
September 6, 2005
More than once I’ve found myself thinking, “Man, if only ______ made a ______ that smelled like ______, it’d be all I ever used!”
Never mind that there are already dozens of mind-numbingly great smelling shaving creams on the market. I want something nobody makes. Because I’m special.
Mainly, I want stuff that smells like violets. More specifically, like Trumper’s Violet shaving cream. It doesn’t smell like real violets — it’s its own smell, like grape popsickles don’t taste like real grapes but nobody cares because they taste amazing. Same thing with the Trumper.
Why I want shaving items that smell like Trumper’s Violet when I could just use Trumper’s Violet, I don’t know. I do use Trumper’s Violet, all the time in fact, and it’s one of my favorite shaving creams. But I want everything to smell like it, not just shaving cream, but cologne, aftershave, my wife, my kids, the cat, the clothes dryer static sheets, everything. And hard shaving soap, too.
What’s that, you say? Trumper’s already makes a Violet shaving soap to go with its Violet shaving cream? Yes, I know that. But the soap doesn’t smell anything like the cream. Not even remotely similar. It’s weird. I was so psyched when I got a cake of this stuff, and then I cracked the lid of the wooden bowl it comes in and inhaled deeply, only to smell something pleasant and floral, certainly, but it wasn’t violets. I don’t really know what the soap smells like, but it doesn’t smell like the same stuff they scent the shaving cream with.
The idea of a hard shave soap that smelled like Trumper’s Violet really took hold. I got kind of obsessed with the concept, actually. Fellow shavegeek Chris Fisher turned me on awhile back to some place that sells essential oils called Body Time, that happens to carry a perfume oil that smells exactly like Trumper’s Violet shaving cream. I bought a 1/4-oz bottle of the stuff and Chris is right, it’s a dead-on match. Dab it on your earlobes and Quentin Crisp kicks sand in your face at the beach.
So I was going through my shaving crap drawer recently and came upon a cake of unscented Classic Shaving hard shave soap I’d forgotten I had, probably because it’s the only unscented shaving product I’ve ever gotten, and I’m all about the smell, so there it sat, unused.
But then I thought hey, why not microwave this cake of Ray’s soap down into a shaving mug, and then stir in some of this Body Time violet perfume oil? Can we do it? Yes we can!
At first I carefully tapped a few drops from the tiny bottle into the molten soap at the bottom of the white shaving mug, and then I said what the hell and dumped half the bottle in. I figured I had one shot at this, so I might as well go for broke. When the perfume oil hit the hot melted soap, the scent of violets was so strong that Quentin Crisp appeared at the window, banging on it with his fists and snarling, “I WILL END YOU, MARY!”
I stuck the mug in the freezer while I took a shower, and by the time I was finished the soap had hardened into a cake again and was ready for lathering. I soaked my Vulfix #2235 in the hot water in my sink and jammed it hard into the mug, pumping hard and really workin’ that gerkin. I find that manhandling the brush works better with these hard soaps than the more calibrated dip’n’swirl I employ with the creams. Also it’s more fun.
The lather was surprisingly thick and rich, much moreso than I’ve gotten from other hard shave soaps from Taylor, QED, Creed, and Trumper. It was more like the lather I get from a good cream. And the smell! It was like Trumper’s Violet squared. Maybe it was a little too strong, but what did Pia Zadora say in “Butterfly”? If it’s good, it’s right.
And right it is. This DIY Violet soap shaves like a good cream — slick, moisturizing, smelled wonderful, and it doesn’t dry out my skin like most other soaps I’ve shaved with did. And after three days of shaving with this stuff, I don’t have a hint of irritation, which I routinely get with other hard soaps. That’s half the reason I use Cetaphil cleanser to wash my face — soap dries it out. But my face loves this Classic Shaving soap, even when it’s got enough violet oil to choke a goat.
The only setback I experienced was with the mole (“beauty mark”, my mother says) on my upper lip. No matter how lightly I shaved with my Featherjector, I nicked the top of the mole three days in a row. I’ve had this problem for years — no matter what I shaved with, I’d nick the mole and then the claret would flow, droogies. It was only when I finally found the good stuff — old-school safety razors from Gillette, Merkur and Schick, and English creams — that I stopped nicking my mole once and for all. Besides the closer and more comfortable shave, not nicking my mole is the clearest sign that I’m doing this stuff right.
It’s weird, because other than the nicked mole, I really love this soap. It smells exactly like I want all my stuff to smell, and the shave really is excellent — close as can be, without a hint of irritation. Classic Shaving’s unscented is the best hard shaving soap I’ve yet tried, and the only one that lathered more like a good cream than the other soaps I’ve shaved with. I guess the lather is fractionally less lubricating/buffering/whatever than my usual Taylor or Trumper creams, but I’ll be damned if I can tell the difference. But the mole never lies.
I wish it would, if only this once. Is it proper for a man to say to a shave soap, “It’s not you, it’s me”?