Razor: Haward Safety Razor
Blade: Wilkinson Sword
Brush: Wild West Brushworks Synthetic
Soap: Ariana & Evans Sandalwood Shave Serum
I had been looking forward to trying the Ariana & Evans shave serum since I saw Peter post details about it on the Club Facebook group. I find the idea of a brush or brush-less shave product appealing. Often I find when discussing traditional wet shaving the lather process is a barrier to entry. Whether it is the added expense of a brush, the intimidation of trying something new or the impression that it will add too much time to their normal (and mundane) shave routine, I find the noble shave brush to be a factor keeping folks away from the hobby. The idea that this product can be used with or without a brush might be the ticket to get people started. I’ve tried a few other brush-less products and I’ve always found the product quality doesn’t work for me or it works OK without a brush but doesn’t work at all with one. Given Peter’s high quality product and standards, you can see why I wanted to jump on this.
I decided to do a half brush lathered and half un-brushed shave. I can honestly say I’m a bit hesitant posting this as I found there were a few things that this fell down on for me. I think doing the half and half shave didn’t give me an opportunity to really get a feel for either method and how it will work. Let’s just say this is a first impressions shave and NOT a review. I will definitely revisit once I’ve done a few shaves with it brush and brush-less and then doing another side by side again to see how my impressions might evolve. Regardless, let’s press on…..
The product comes out in a tacky serum format. It is a slightly thick goo appearance, similar in appearance to what you might see in one half of a two part epoxy. I put some in my hands and applied directly to the face. Everything felt slightly sticky. On the right side of my face I hit it with some water and a brush and was able to work up a nice lather. It wasn’t a huge volume lather and or as shiny and rich as the typical a&e/club soap base, bit it was still high quality. I then grabbed my razor and went to work. First off, on the non lathered side, you need to add some water. Once you bring some water to play, you get a really slick result, razor moved smoothly and effortlessly. Cushion wasn’t there, but slickness was excellent. Buffing was no issue. The lathered side performed better for me, bringing cushion to shave while retaining excellent slickness (lathered and residual). Both had a nice post shave feel but I preferred the lathered side, probably just for familiarity alone. Scent strength on this is mid strong and it smells fantastic. This isn’t your typical art of shaving style sandalwood (which I also like) as it has a touch of oud to give it added depth. I got a nice complement from my wife on the way out the door.
I had a really nice shave and I have no doubt that I will enjoy this product more as I use it a few more times. Where the product does fall down for me on my initial impression is the gateway to traditional wet shaving experience. I think maybe some direction on the bottle suggesting how to apply brush-less might help. I definitely didn’t have enough water on the face when I applied and i got much better performance when added more water after application. On the lathered side, I got a nice lather and really nice performance, but didn’t find it particularly easy to work with in relation to Peter’s other shaving soaps and creams. I had to (and have to still) learn how to get the best lather with it. Neither method were something I’d say a cart/canned goo user would be a no brainer transition wise. There is still a learning curve here and personally, if I’m helping a friend transition to this way of shaving, I would steer them to one of the A&E soaps and a brush to get them off and running. I’m confident once you convince them to try a brush once and show them how easy it is, you will have them hooked. Does this still have a place? absolutely. Days where you are in a rush and can’t be bothered to lather up, this would be great. Or if you didn’t want to carry a brush for travel, absolutely this would be a hit.
I’ll report back on this post once I’ve had a few more goes to give some final thoughts on how each brush and brush-less method work when I have it all dialed in. All for now, have a great Friday folks. -J