Charles In Charge

Yesterday I said I’d try using the Cremo Cream with a shaving brush, but I say lots of things. Charles at QED sent me some of his recently launched shaving soaps to try — lavender, lime and sandalwood, as well as a really intriguing shaving stick of an anise/lavender mix — so I figured I’d take a break from the Cremo and try these new QED soaps which have become the toast of the shavegeek forums.

Actually, this wasn’t the first time I’ve shaved with QED’s new glycerin-based shaving soaps. Awhile back, Charles had sent me a lavender shaving stick to try, and since the soap’s the same in the sticks as it is in the tubs, and since I’m not really down with the whole rubbing the stick all over your wet face before you whip up the lather with your brush thing, I removed the hardened soap from the plastic push-up stick, put it in a vintage Old Spice glass shaving mug, microwaved it for 25 seconds, and waited for it to cool down and harden again.

The lavender QED soap gave good shave, but the most impressive thing about it was the scent. It’s made with real lavender essential oil, and quite a bit of it, from the smell of things. If you’re an old lady like me and you love lavender, you’ll love this QED soap, if for no other reason than it throws up a pretty intense lavender force field around your head for the duration of the shave.

As for the shave, I have to say that while I like the QED soap, I don’t share the prevailing shavegeek sing-along that it’s the best shave lube on the market. It’s good, and the scents, all derived from essential oils, are extraordinary. But I don’t find that the shave I get from the QED soaps are better than what I routinely get from Taylor, Trumper and other traditional creams. And while I haven’t used the Cremo Cream long enough to really decide whether it’s really the best shaving cream I’ve ever tested or simply a case where something new and different gets you excited and all jizzed about it, I definitely got better shaves with it this week than I’ve been able to get from the QED soaps.

One thing I do know, though, is that I strongly prefer the lavender QED soap to the sandalwood, which I tried today. The sandalwood irritated my skin a bit, and, strangely, smelled more like patchouli to me than sandalwood. I realize that many “sandalwood” colognes like Taylor’s have additional notes along with the sandalwood, and I also know that QED uses very expensive, pure sandalwood essential oil in its shaving soap. Maybe every other sandalwood scent I’ve smelled has been mixed with other stuff, and pure sandalwood really does smell like a guy in a dancing bears t-shirt playing hacky sack. It’s a nice scent, if you like patchouli, but I guess I was expecting something that smelled more like Taylor’s sandalwood cologne and shaving cream.

It’s also possible that glycerin shaving soaps work better for some skin types than others. On my face, which is very oily, the QED doesn’t slick up my skin so much as get squeaky. The same thing has happened with other hard glycerin shaving soaps I’ve tried, as well as when I’ve washed my face with a glycerin soaps like Neutrogena. The only way I can describe it is that my skin almost squeaks when I rub my hands over it.

The problem is, so does a razor. And when you’re shaving with a sharp double-edge blade, that’s the last thing you want. What you do want is slick lubrication so the edge of the blade glides smoothly across your skin. On my face, hard glycerin soaps like the QED make the blade pull and even stutter a bit at times. Even a new blade feels like one that’s a day past its due date. I can adapt to this and get a decent shave, but I can’t really get the kind of super close, super comfortable shave that I can with the traditional English creams. Even the inexpensive European creams like Proraso and Musgo Real are a better match for my skin type than hard glycerin soaps.

Clearly, other guys are getting much better results from the QED soaps than I’ve gotten — some shavegeeks have even claimed they dumped their other creams and soaps because the QED soaps are the best they ever tried and they’ll use nothing else. I wish I could get as excited about these soaps, but so far, I haven’t been able to get the same results. I will say, though, that the lavender did work better than the sandalwood, and I still want to try a few shaves with the lime, and especially the anise/lavender, before I put a period on this line. So tomorrow I’ll try both and see how they stack up.