Maine Vain

Shaveblog gets a lot of shaving products sent here for review, but Maine Shave is the first line of men’s shaving products that was actually inspired by me, which is more than a little weird, I have to say. Flattering, certainly, but still weird. Tom Jones inspired women to throw panties — I inspired a shaving cream? Doesn’t seem right, though we both love stuffing.

Maine Shave’s main man Herb Pressman says he got the idea to launch his new company after seeing my wetshaving segment last year on the “Today Show”. That same day he bought a shaving brush, a DE razor, and some of the other products I recommended on the show, and got such a bite from the wetshaving chigger he decided to launch his own line of 100-percent all-natural wetshaving products.

What’s Maine Shave cream got? Let’s get out our Romper Room magic mirror:

I see glycerin, and I see olive oil, and I see coconut oil, and I see castor oil, and I see grapefruit seed extract, and I see sea kelp, and I see shea butter, and I see Jojoba, and I see aloe, and I see lavender, and I see rosemary, and I see bentonite clay, and I see wheat germ extract.

What’s Maine Shave not got? Parabens, quaternay compounds, hydantions or ureas, according to Pressman. Parabens I’ve heard of. That other stuff? Beats me. I could Google them and spit wise but would you buy it? Probably not. Suffice it to say, Herb doesn’t like them, so Maine Shave doesn’t have them.

Maine Shave also doesn’t have much of a scent either, by design. Pressman wanted the shaving cream to be virtually unscented, with “only the subtle, non-lingering scent of its all-natural preservative system — no competition for your favorite cologne”. I did smell a very faint scent, sort of a buttery, puddingy kind of thing, but it’s subtle and goes bye-bye as soon as you rinse your face off, which is nice.

I’ve noticed that all of the cologne-scented shaving creams I’ve tried do tend to leave a lingering scent behind, though the florals like Taylor’s Rose, Trumper’s Violet, and Nancy Boy smell incredible during the shave but rinse away completely when you’re finished. Maine Shave seems tailor-made for guys who don’t care for floral-scented shaving creams but don’t want to go the cologne-based route either because they don’t want anything clashing with their spoor.

The Maine Shave cream comes in a 3.75 ounce jar for $20. The cream itself is very different from both the old-school English creams like Trumper/Taylor/Truefitt, and the new-school skin-friendlier creams like Nancy Boy and Cremo Cream. Maine Shave is more like a buttery paste than a fluffy soap-based cream, and you can’t really scoop out a fingerful and expect it to disappear into a thick, creamy lather with a few swirls of a water-logged badger brush. It wants to stay a glob of butter-paste, and doesn’t readily explode into a big mound of lather like the English creams. Pressman recommends swirling the tips of your shaving brush in the jar of Maine Shave till you get enough on there to start making lather on your puss.

But even then, don’t expect the same thick, meringue-like peaks you get with the English creams — the emphasis is on quality, not quantity. I was able to whip the Maine Shave up into a decent pile of lather in the new Moss Scuttle (more on this interesting product later this week), but once I began brushing it on my face, I got the same thin layer of lube I did when applying this cream with just my fingers.

I shaved with Maine Shave for several days in a row with my usual 1940’s Gillette Super Speed DE razor, “no-name” Israeli Personna blades, and a Simpson Wee Scot brush. Aside from the adjustment of shaving without any real scent to enhance the experience, I got some very close, very comfortable shaves with this cream. The thinner lather and near-total lack of scent take some getting used to if you’re coming off something like Nancy Boy cream, but once I got down to the shave itself I was very impressed with Maine Shave.

As you’d expect from a shaving cream with moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, olive oil and Jojoba, Maine Shave left my skin feeling much smoother and more conditioned immediately after the shave than it does with the old-school English creams. I almost skipped applying my usual rosehip seed oil aftershave because the Maine Shave cream left my skin feeling so good. Guys with sensitive skin should definitely try Maine Shave — it’s one of the more skin-friendly shaving creams I’ve come across.

Now, I’m not convinced that a shaving cream has to be all-natural and free of things like parabens and fragrance in order to deliver a world-class shave and be nice to your skin. Many of the English creams are chock full of stuff you sort of don’t want to know about if you shop at health food stores and/or are named Ethan, yet they’ve been shaving generations of men superbly and without anyone’s cheeks falling off. Even the new-school, superbly skin-friendly Nancy Boy shaving cream has — gasp — parabens, and frankly, I’d kill or at least allow myself to be slowly killed by Bad Chemicals to have skin like the gay guys who mostly use this stuff.

I know lots of guys who can’t use this or that shaving cream because it gives them a burning sensation, irritates their skin, and just generally doesn’t do what a good shaving cream’s supposed to, which is lube and protect and leave your skin feeling great afterward. For these guys, Maine Shave will be a godsend. If you’ve ever wanted to try Kramer’s Butter Shave, this is probably the closet you’ll ever come without unwrapping a stick of Land o’ Lakes.