Round 1 of the Great Shaving Cream Investigation saw Billy Jealousy soundly trounce Gentleman’s Tonic, with both seeing points lost for unsound ingredients. The huge difference in the products made my job quite a bit easier though. Will I have as much luck this time?
A week of rest and active accumulation of fresh stubble and I’m ready to take a closer look at this weeks pair of products. The first is the US-made brand Kiehl’s, apparently in business since 1851 and claim to really care a lot about using natural and good ingredients. A point we will return to later on. The second is from Body Shop, also a company that places great focus on their ingredients.
Both these products were recommended to me by friends, although I will not let this pre-qualification sway my opinion!
To look back at the previous round and intro, take a peek here:
To repeat, The Rules are as follows:
- A fresh blade is to be inserted into the safety razor to ensure optimum cutting ability (Japanese Feather brand is used).
- A hot shower to provide equal skin softening to both sides of face and ensure relaxed and stress free setting for tester.
- One side of face is available for each product, with equal amounts of stubble to be removed due to symmetrical nature of testing-ground.
- Focus is on how well the cream lubricates, i.e. how easily the razor glides over skin and how my skin feels afterwards, i.e. is it silky smooth and pleasant, or as if someone has run a wire brush over my facial features.
Points will be given based on how I feel the products work for me, how they look and feel, and may be biased by less scientific aspects such as “smells really good” or “my, this is really runny and poorly composed”. I
So, up first: Kiehl’s “Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream Formula #31X”
When it comes to packaging Kiehl’s favour the school of the simple plastic tube densely covered in text. In fact, it’s not entirely clear what the actual name of the product is, so I’ve had to make an educated guess. I’ve had this tube on the shelf for a couple of months, and probably used it half a dozen times. This time though, I read the instructions, made sure to do the prep properly and pretended it was the sweet first-time I let it cover my stubbles.
The text on the tube does make for odd reading, as someone at Kiehl’s appears to have a lively and aeronautically-inclined imagination. The content is described as one of three variants of the “Close-shavers” squadron, “You’re airborne with this Ultimate Icy-blue Cream”, “the smoothest Take-Off imaginable” and “a smooth 3-point landing”. Absolute tosh, of course, as flying and shaving are two entirely different matters indeed. And a shaving cream being a “goggle fogger”?
The cream is said to be unscented and contains Aloe to help sensitive skins. This promises well, though we’ll get back to the actual contents in a bit.
Second in the ring: Body Shop “Maca Root Shave Cream”
The Maca Root shave cream from Body Shop came strongly recommended by a couple of friend. “It’s the one everybody really uses” was what both said. I’ll admit, Body Shop isn’t a place I consider at all for my needs, isn’t it all girly stuff? Turns out they actually have quite a range for men, much to my surprise.
Body Shop have always promoted themselves on being the good guys, not testing on animals and being super careful about their ingredients. It will be interesting to see what the use in their cream.
I did wonder about the “Maca root” though. From what I can tell this is a “miracle” ingredient that much like other “miracle” ingredients will help for any number of ailments, the most likely actually being to increase libido and sexual endurance. I’ve not been able determine how many shaves this will require, though I suspect it may be more efficient to ingest the cream orally. It appears more likely that the property Body Shop were after was the slight numbing effect of the Maca root.
The shaving process
So, another good warm shower to moisten my face up and prepare for another shaving showdown. Products placed at the ready, a fresh blade in the razor.
First up, the Kiehl’s. The instructions say that the skin doesn’t have to be wet to use. It does seem odd to dry off after spending the effort to moisturise, so I decided to go for the usual modus operandi. Squirt some into my palm and use my right hand to apply and rub in evenly all over half my face. The Kiehl’s cream has a decent consistency, and even with a little water mixed in it stays in place. It actually reminds me more of the sort of zinc cream you’d put on your baby’s behind than something with lubricating properties.
Still, it does a fair job and my multi-directional shave is soon out of the way. It’s fairly easy to rinse off the razor as well, which is always appreciated.
So, having reached the halfway point, it’s time for product number two, the Body Shop Maca Root cream, and this one is really quite surprising in how it looks. The obviously quite thick cream as pearlescent white sheen to it. It looks very special indeed! It also smells nice and fresh.
I scoop out a good gob of it and apply. This stuff actually feels really good, and it’s gooey enough to cling well to the face. Quite a thick cream, so a little goes a long way.
The cream lubricates well and does give a pleasant shave, no doubt about it. It’s impossible to say whether I can notice any of the promised properties of the Maca Root though.
When rinsing off the residue of these creams, both seemed a little more difficult to remove than others I’ve tried. Not a big problem really and it is probably more indicative of them giving a good shave, as the cream stays on the face instead of slithering off.
Over the next hours it is interesting to note how each side of the face feels. The Body Shop side feels pretty fine, with no real discomfort. The Kiehl’s feels a little less so, but nowhere near the sort of shaving burn I have experienced in the past.
So, what is the low-down?
To me there mainly two aspects that define a decent shave: the success hair removal, and how my skin feels in the hours after. As mentioned further up, points are given based on several other factors as well. This is important to do, according the the Charter for Really Good Reviews, OK?
Kiehl’s “Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream Formula #31X”:
- Lubrication 7/10
- Consistency 6/10
- Smell 2/10
- Packaging 4/10
No real surprise in the scores for lubrication and consistency here. It lubricates reasonably well, and it stays reasonably well where it should be. The consistency though feels strange, maybe a little like cheap toothpaste? I’ve already given my reasons for not liking the packaging much.
The smell though? I’m OK with their statement of it not being scented in any way, but in this case I think they would be wise to do something about the natural smell of the cream, as it does not smell like something you want to rub into your face. Possibly it would work for a foot cream, as long as your feet are at least 160 centimetres away from your nose. It’s not a truly nasty smell, but smells like something you’d use to combat an awful fungal outbreak than a high-grade male shaving cream.
- “Ingredients are the single most important component of our products”
- “We select many naturally derived ingredients and use minimal preservatives in our formulations…”
Not. Impressed. At. All.
For Kiehl’s the points work out to 19, minus 4 for ingredients, for a total of 15 of 40 points.
Bodyshop “Maca Root Shave Cream”:
- Lubrication 9/10
- Consistency 9/10
- Smell 7/10
- Packaging 5/10
As mentioned, the lubrication and consistency are excellent. Top of the range of products tested so far. It smells nice and fresh as well, without being overpowering as is often the case.
The packaging is a simple plastic tin, nothing really distinct. It is solid though and contains a good amount of product. Oddly, although it has a list of ingredients in many languages there doesn’t appear to be any instructions for use. Not a major issue, as shaving cream instructions tend to be the same, but still a strange omission. Especially given those supposed properties of the Maca Root, right?
Considering the list of ingredients, Body Shop appear to live up to their claims. No parabens, no Dimethicone. No deductions! Well done, Body shop!
In summary, that gives the Maca Root shaving cream a total of 30 of 40 points, which should put it in the lead so far.
With regards to shaving experience, this was without any doubt a win for Body Shop. Keihl’s wasn’t awful, but given the smell and the ingredients, there was never a real chance of victory. And I do have serious reservations with regards to the content of the Kiehl’s cream.
The ranking list after round 2:
- Body Shop “Maca Root Shaving Cream” 30
- Billy Jealousy “Hydroplane” 25
- Kiehl’s “Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream Formula #31X” 15
- Gentleman’s Tonic “Classic Shave Cream” 16
Not totally clear yet! I have Truefitt & Hill ready on the shelf. Awaiting arrival of Arko, Mitchells Wool Fat Shaving Soap and Sommerset’s Shaving Oil. And I’m considering ordering some Proraso. Oh, and I need to buy the cheapest off-brand shaving gel the local shop carries.
So, what is your firm favorite?