The Great Shaving Cream Investigation – Round 4

Welcome to round 4 of the Great Shaving Cream Investigation! At this point you may well be wondering how many rounds there will be, and if the excitement can continue to escalate at such a fearsome rate. Well, dear shaving cream aficionados, I can exclusively reveal that there will be at least another 2 rounds after this one and I have some excellent stubble-lubricating contenders up my sleeve (not literally, I don’t wander the streets carrying sleeves full of shaving products, though you get the picture I’m trying to paint, right?)

To look back at the previous three rounds, take a peek here:

So, what’s up for this week? Only Taylor’s of Old Bond Street vs Somersets. You may be thinking this is just another case of cream against cream, but this is so much more. This is more about the fundamental struggle of a really solid cream against a truly runny shaving oil. To products at completely different ends of the scale. How will it work out? Read on and it will be revealed.

As previously mentioned, business took me to London last week. Some spare time meant I was able to stop by Taylor of Old Bond Street for a browse of their gentleman’s products. Given their focus on quality and traditional shaving, I thought it pertinent to purchase a package of their finest shaving cream, amongst other items. I had also ordered a small bottle of Sommersets shaving oil a while back and it finally arrived in time for the much awaited round 4.

taylor safety razor

New safety razor with longer handle with better grip for creamy hands!


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”.

Up first: Taylor of Old Bond Street – Lemon and lime shaving cream

taylors box


Taylor of Old Bond Street (quirkily to be found in Jermyn Street) have been in the business of removing gentlemen’s stubble since stubble first appeared, or close enough. Their selection of shaving creams is extensive, so given that most of them have the same lubricating properties, I let my nose to find the one for me. And the lemon and lime flavour cream smells absolutely fantastic.

Packaging wise it’s nothing special. A plastic tub of satisfactory quality, with the printed parts looking a little like a showcase of available fonts. Still, it’s not offensive and it’s not overselling the product. It’s just not all it could have been.

Second out: Somersets Shaving Oil

oil box


Until someone mentioned I ought to try shaving oil, I’d never even heard of it. And to be honest, even now that I have a container of it in my hand I still find it hard to believe it exists. It just seems such an unlikely solution to the problem of shaving lubrication. Admittedly, oil is the preferred lubricant in an engine, where it will easily flow around and make sure all the moving parts are lubricated, frictionless and happy, but will the same be the case for a face?

Looking at the packaging Somerset could hardly be said to undersell their product. “Better than foam or gel”, “Up to 260 shaves” (from the really quite small bottle) and “I use the finest natural ingredients to create the most effective and concentrated skincare products”. Big claims to live up to, indeed!

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.

taylors cream


The first think I notice about the Taylor cream, apart from the fantastically uplifting smell, is how firm it is. It’s almost not creamy at all, the consistency is more like … lard? Only for seconds though, then it sort of melts into a nice creamy substance. And still smells gorgeous.

Application is easy, and it stays in place. I had to take care to add a touch more water though as if you’re messing about taking silly selfies of yourself whilst shaving (I’m sure you don’t) shaving creams tend to dry out. Once silliness was exchanged for serious shaving action there was no problem.

Lubrication was up there with the best, no doubt about it. The fresh blade flowed over the stubble with little resistance, felling the offending follicular foes with unfettered vengeance. Must be the fine smell that makes me all lyrical.



At the halfway point it’s time to try something new, so out comes the shaving oil. The instructions say to add 3-4 drops in palms and massage into beard, wait a moment and shave. Now, 3-4 drops is not a lot of oil, and while I don’t believe my facial area is that different to anyone else, it was quickly obvious that 4 drops was not going to cover even half my face. So I doubled it (quadrupled really, as I doubled the dosage to half the area) and applied again. And waited a few moments.

And shaved. Ok, there was not a total lack of lubrication, but on the other hand there wasn’t anywhere near the lubrication I was expecting. More along the lines of what you’d expect from wet skin alone.

oil in hand


When rinsing off my face afterwards the Taylor was easily rinsed off, the oil pretty much stayed where it was. There is nothing in the Somerset instructions to indicate that a soapy wash is needed, so I dried off and left it. And this is when it really started to burn. For a product labelled as being “extra sensitive” there sure must be some aggressively strong ingredients in there. It did slowly dissipate, but this did not endear me to the shaving oil at all.

Apart from the oil burn, there was no noticeable shaving burn to be felt.

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?

Taylor Lemon & lime shaving cream:

  • Lubrication 8/10
  • Consistency 8/10
  • Smell 9/10
  • Packaging 5/10

Taylor comes in with the top creams with regards to lubrication, and I did like the consistency of the cream. I think I mentioned that it smells good enough to eat? The packaging let’s it down a bit. Granted, the cream isn’t in the premium class price wise, but given how Taylor is a dinosaur in the business, has a prime and upmarket location in olde London, perhaps a more luxurious packaging might be in it’s place?


taylor ingredient

And then we have the ingredients. I’m pleased to say that I find nothing objectionable here. A lot of very chemical sounding stuff, but no parabens or dimethicone, so no deductions for Taylor!

This works out to a total of 30 of 40 points.

Somersets Maximum glide, extra sensitive, English shaving oil:

  • Lubrication 1/10
  • Consistency 1/10
  • Smell 4/10
  • Packaging 7/10

I’m not sure how much to add here. This product just doesn’t work. At least not for me. I imagine that since it actually exists, it must have worked for at least one person at some time, but I’m struggling to see how. Anyhow, points given according to my experience.

Smell. Yes, it does smell. Quite vibrantly so, of the sort of ingredients I normally expect to find in throat lozenges. Quite forceful, although the smell does put me in mind of products that soothe a sore and slimy throat. Plus the smell even now makes my face burn. Still, I’ll award point generously here, as there is a lot of smell.

They have got the packaging right now. Modern and vibrant. Again generous marks, though I’ll not go top marks as the outrageous claims must detract.


somerset ingredients

Well, there are certainly a lot of ingredients. No baddies, so no deduction there. I do wonder, more than I usually do, what all these 14 or so oils actually contribute to the final product.

In fact, almost all the content is the “hybrid vegetable oil”, which I take to be a stable, long-lasting and odourless oil, similar in properties to typical kitchen or frying oils. Oddly, the composition of the shaving oil is likely very close to a massage oil. Exactly where the lubricative properties are expected to come form is uncertain.

I will give a little credit, if not actual points, for having only natural ingredients. Even if they are ultimately useless.

The end result is a generous 13 of 40 points, which actually puts the awful Gentleman’s Tonic out of the last place.

I would be sincerely and genuinely interested to hear from anyone that has had a positive experience using Somerset Shaving Oil. Please do get in touch.  




The ranking list after round 4:

  1. Lucky Tiger “Liquid Cream Shave” 31
  2. Body Shop “Maca Root Shaving Cream” 30
  3. Taylor of Old Bond Street Shaving Cream 30
  4. Mitchell’s Wool Fat Shaving Soap 26
  5. Billy Jealousy “Hydroplane” 25
  6. Kiehl’s “Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream Formula #31X” 15
  7. Gentleman’s Tonic “Classic Shave Cream” 16
  8. Somerset Shaving Oil 13

 Next round:

A few possibles, to be selected according to how I feel on the day… How’s that for building that big tingle of anticipation and excitement?


  • Jyrkkari 29/08/2014 at 16:12

    Hi Nick

    Interesting choices there. The Lemon & Lime was my first Taylor of Old Bond Street shaving cream as well. I gave that away and switched to the Jermyn street as I like that scent, too.

    A few years ago I bought that Somerset oil. My experience was the same: I took it back to the department store where I bought it as it “really didn’t work”. I also wondered who the pilot is that swears by that shaving oil. The department store is a reputable one so there was no problems with taking it back. I think I sent an email to Somerset and asked how that oil is supposed to work. I’ve since deleted their response and can’t remember what was said but maybe some people can use the oil on its own.

    I hope the next two contestants are good ones!

    • Well Dressed Dad 30/08/2014 at 09:27

      Thanks for the feedback! I certainly hope the next two are good as well, as it does wonders for my outlook on life having both sides of my face experiencing a proper shave 🙂

  • Alex Robinson 29/08/2014 at 22:34

    Hi Nick

    Ditto as regards shaving oil. Tried it several years ago after reading the claims, but as you say it appears to be little better than if shaving with water alone, and difficult to get off afterwards.

    It would be great too if at the end of this test if you could score these on shaving effectiveness alone, leaving aside aesthetics.

    Thanks for the good work.


    • Well Dressed Dad 30/08/2014 at 09:30

      Thanks for the input, Alex! I’m still hoping someone will step forward and explain how Somersets shaving oil (or, to be generous, any shaving oil) works well for them.

      I will certainly tabulate the scores at the end to aid in selecting the finest shaving lubricant. Going by that alone at this phase would make it so much less involving though! If there was no aesthetics to be enjoyed, would we not all be using buzzy little electric shavers?

      • Gus Brooks 12/09/2014 at 21:04

        I’ve used Somerset’s shaving oil for many years now and I find it gives a fantastic shave. I’d tried most other products and not found a comfortable shave.
        I can’t explain the difference in experience. (Although it does seem unfair to ignore the instructions – 3 drops really is all I need).

        • Well Dressed Dad 13/09/2014 at 09:11

          I’m quite stunned by your positive experience, Gus, though it is interesting to know it actually appears to work for someone.

          I don’t agree that doubling (or quadrupling) the amount applied counts as ignoring the instructions, as three tiny drops clearly did no more than scent my hand. I consider it more along the lines of giving it a second chance to prove it may have some worth.

  • Bryan Beasleigh 01/03/2016 at 03:11

    Shaving oil is used as a pre shave. Have a look at these examples, some are labelled as pre shave oil and some just shave oil

  • Ivan 10/03/2016 at 23:51

    I love shaving oil. I’ve used everything from those can of foam/gel, shaving gel (non foaming), shaving cream (non foaming), and even those old school shaving cream/soaps that you have to use a brush with and nothing comes close to shaving oil. The one you actually used is one of my favorites, well the company actually because I agree with one thing you mentioned. The sensitive version of Somersets oil has a burning feeling which I also don’t like that much but they have other versions without that sting. Anyways I just don’t understand how anyone could not like shaving oil. Nothing else has the same glide and also nothing else softens the hair like shaving oil. Seriously it’s like magic. Sometimes it’s like my beard isn’t even attached to my face because it just falls right off when using shaving oil. Shaving oil is the only thing that lets me get the closest shave without nicking my self and/or doing multiple passes. I have to go against the grain to get a close shave. I mean seriously if I just shave with the grain it’s like I only trimmed my beard and shaving oil is the only thing that lets me go against the grain on the first and only pass. With shaving cream/soap I have to do two passes with and against the grain and even then I can’t get that close in some areas. I’ve also tried to use the shaving oil as a pre shave and lathered some shaving cream over it but all that did was decrease the greatness of the oil although it did make the cream better. I guess shaving oil isn’t for some people if you need a thick layer protecting your skin I guess.

    I’ve noticed it’s always people who are convinced that old school double edge razors and shaving brushes with soaps/creams are the only way to get a great shave are the ones who dislike shaving oil or shaving creams that don’t lather. Guys the old school way isn’t the only way. I personally use a Gillette Sensor which only has two blades but it’s so much faster and safer that double edge blades. Even people that have been shaving with DE razors and are pros nick themselfs every now and then. Try doing that with a modem razor, you literally have to try to nick your self. Those 5 plade razors are a rip off though. Anyways went off topic but yeah shaving oil is amazing! As for it not coming off easily, you have to realize that shaving oil is amazing for your skin. Some people don’t even take it off and leave it in instead of using an aftershave balm or lotion.

    • Todd Moore 22/12/2016 at 10:39

      On the subject of cartridge razors – my problem is that my neck hair grows very flat to the skin. Cartridges are designed to pull the hair out part way and cut it off below skin level. The result for me is dozens of ingrown hairs, every time. Now that I have switched to DE razors, the ingrown hairs are rare, and cuts are no more frequent for me than before. I can also shave every day because I have less irritation. I did have to try a couple DE razors, as the first one I tried was pretty awful for me. I credit the difference to the angle of the blade as it touches the skin, which will be particular to the razor.

      • Ivan 11/11/2017 at 21:30

        Honestly that rumor that cartridges are designed to cut below the skin are false and created by wet shavers. If that was the case you would only need to do one pass with the grain and that would automatically give you a baby face but it doesn’t. I mean really think about. Doesn’t make any sense.

        I find that most wet shavers (DE Shavers) of course started off shaving with cartrage razors and didn’t know how to shave (I mean seriously have you seen most of these guys shaving on YouTube that review regular shaving creams and dollar shave club razors etc?) I mean seriously most of DE shavers were horrible at shaving before learning how to use a DE razor. They didn’t prep, they went over the same area multiple times without lathering up again, press hard instead of letting the razor weight do the job, didn’t rinse the razor enough times etc, so of course they got horrible painful shaving results. And now that they know how to shave properly since you have to learn how to actually shave with a DE razor they think that it was all the cartrage razors fault. I mean have any of you DE shavers out there gone back to cartrage razors but use the techniques you learned from DE shaving pared with the quality creams/soaps? Try it. Guess what you’ll find out they give a really good shave and the memories of your horrible shaves were mostly caused by you and not the cartrage razor.
        Some DE shavers on YouTube have actually tried it and they talk about how surprised they are that cartrage razors are actually not bad. Preping, shaving technique, and quality cream/soap/oil is what matters.

  • Frank 08/10/2016 at 07:19

    Love somersets oil but it is my preshave. Put a cream on top of it!

  • John 11/10/2016 at 22:35

    That exact shaving oil was a total shock to me. The cold feeling on the skin was initially annoying, but the results were worth it. I only use oils as a pre-shave treatment. I use a DE razor and mug soap. I got the smoothest shave I’ve had in a very long time! Was amazed.

  • Alan T 21/11/2016 at 20:23

    I’ve been using the Somersets oil for more than ten years now. It works well for me. Did you put it onto a dry or a wet face? It needs to be wet.

    • nick 21/11/2016 at 21:12

      Wet, of course. I only ever shave after a hot shower. I am curious though as you’re not the first to claim Somersets works, yet for me it was plain awful.


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