If you’re viewing our website, perhaps you’re trying to find out if there is a better way to shave. Perhaps it’s because you’ve found wet shaving and love the experience you receive from an excellent, smooth, and pain-free shave using our tried-and-true methods of shave cream, hot water, a brush, and a fine razor. James Wood, an entrepreneur and Air Force veteran, was introduced to a shaving system over 20 years ago that worked: Lab Series Maximum Comfort Shave Cream. The thing that set this cream apart from the rest was its use of benzocaine, a mild numbing agent. This formulation helped its users achieve pain-free shaves, albeit synthetically, with a high degree of customer satisfaction. Jim was a loyal customer until a few years ago when Lab Series changed the formulation and took out the benzocaine. Customer reviews on the Lab Series website filled with expressions of dissatisfaction with the new “advanced” formula. With 90 reviews of the shave cream to date, it only averages a two-star rating out of five. Frustrated, Jim sought alternatives to his favorite cream, and when nothing comparable was found, he did what any successful entrepreneur would do: he made his own.
The rose fragrance is one of the staples in traditional British wet shaving. Well-known brands, such as the famous "3 Ts" (Trumper’s, Truefitt & Hill, and Taylor of Old Bond Street), have included rose in their lineup of soaps and creams for many years. Interestingly rose was not part of the D.R. Harris & Co. catalog until only a year or so ago. I was curious to see how the D.R. Harris Rose Shaving Cream stacked up to the competition.
What a pleasure it is for me to be able to review what it is hands down my favorite cream on the planet. I remember very well when I was talking shaving creams with my dear friend, Mike Sandoval, and he brought up the Green Pond sandalwood cream. I told him that I hadn’t tried it, and two days later there was a little box at my doorstep with a generous sample of this fantastic shaving cream and cigar or two. (That is what I call a package a la Mike.)
In 2004 I was on a routine visit to a local cigar lounge that specializes in high-end collectables and luxury items. The tobacconist told me about a new line of men's grooming products by The Art of Shaving that was now being offered. I went home and told my wife about the products and the benefits of wet shaving that were explained to me. For Valentine's Day, she surprised me with the lavender starter kit that comprised The Art of Shaving cream, pre-shave oil, aftershave balm, and a small pure badger shaving brush. The Art of Shaving Lavender Shaving Cream was my first traditional shaving cream, but do I still use it today?
While most wet shavers are familiar with the popular British brands, such as Geo. F. Trumper and D.R. Harris, there is a lesser known brand on the playing field. H.Bronnley & Co. Ltd was founded in 1884 by James Bronnley, an English soap maker with a quest to create the perfect soap. Today Bronnley offers a range of traditional soaps and toiletries, including its signature line of men's shaving products. James Bronnley Shaving Cream bears a Royal Warrant, so I figured if it was good enough for Her Majesty, The Queen, it was good enough for me.
Those who enjoy wet shaving are used to seeing historic products. Kent brushes were established in 1777, La Toja began in 1837, and Trumper and Coate's began in 1875. There is one brand, however, that predates them all: Around 1221, the Dominican monks at Santa Maria Novella began creating elixirs from rose water and vinegar. If you travel to Florence today, you can visit the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, which is part museum, part boutique. The historic wooden doors open to dimly lit hallways and display cases, where you can find traditional products ranging from potpourri and candles, to herbal teas and ceramics, to bath and body products. Among them is Santa Maria Novella Crema da Barba, one of the oldest and finest shaving creams in the world.
My friends at The Shaving Shack have sent a few products for me to review over the past months. I knew they were asking people to try The Bluebeards Revenge Shaving Cream, and honestly I was dodging Nick's requests to try it. I prefer more traditional products and I was hesitant to try a cream that contains an ingredient that affects hair growth. One day a box arrived at my house with a tub of the new shaving cream, so I tried to pawn it off on Isaac to write this review, but he didn't want to use it either. I didn't want to look like a "bum fluff brigade member" to Nick, so I gave it a try. I was damn glad I did!