After using this cream for a number of months, I thought the time was right to add my two cents to the mass of reviews and discussion already surrounding this new entrant into the world of shaving creams.
To date, the creams I’ve shaved with have included ones by Proraso, Speick, Taylor of old Bond St, Cyril Salter and the Body Shop. Now I’ve enjoyed all of those creams, they all have their own unique qualities, but amongst that list it would probably be agreed that the Taylor and Salter creams were the high-end products. The ones that rise slightly above the others: in terms of scent, performance and that little extra luxury factor. They’re the creams you might choose for your weekend shaves when you have more time to pamper yourself, or the ones to splash out on as gifts or presents.
Well, I can now confidently say that the Bluebeards Revenge cream competes easily with those two ‘high-end’ creams and is fast becoming a favourite. It’s a very thick, dense cream which lathers easily and like the Taylor and Salter creams has a very wide margin in terms of how much water you can add to it. Some creams you add just a little too much water to and they become watery and ineffective, which can prove frustrating for the beginner looking to learn his or her lathering technique. With Bluebeards though you really have to go overboard with the water before you start to see a runny lather, making it perfect for those just starting out in the world of wet-shaving. Its density also means that it’ll last you a very long time.
I used this cream with my Muhle best-badger brush and my Omega boar, both times achieving a thick, lubricating layer of lather that stayed good for the entire shave and left my skin feeling smooth and clean. In terms of moisturising I find that with my dry skin I always have to use some sort of aftershave balm, with whatever soap or cream I’m using. I certainly didn’t feel any tautness or dryness when using this cream though, so I could see others having no need for any additional balm.
Overall then this is a very high-quality cream, which catches the eye and the curiosity with the boldness of its statements and presentation, then wins you over with its alluring scent and top-notch performance. An excellent cream I’d highly recommend. Richard Wall
The scent of the cream is very nice: warm and spicy yet quite mellow at the same time. I can certainly see what Bluebeards mean when they describe it as ‘barbershop with a modern twist’. The strength of the scent is I’d say about average: you get a good whiff of it whilst shaving and it lingers a little in the bathroom after you’re finished, but it doesn’t dominate a room like Tabac or a strong sandalwood scent does.
In terms of its claims to reduce beard growth using the ingredient decelerine I’d have to study and use the cream over a concerted period of time before coming to any conclusions. So far I’ve just added the Bluebeards to my rotation of soaps and creams, so can’t say with any certainty whether it does reduce the stubble. But there are plenty of reports singing decelerine’s praises, so I guess it’s working for some folk out there.
The packaging of Bluebeards is certainly eye-catching. With the skull and crossbones and bright blue background this is definitely the first one your eye would be drawn to in a line-up of creams, particularly when pitted against the more traditional products with their conservative and classic designs. Personally I prefer the more classic, traditional approach to packaging, but that’s just me. The tub does though have an advantage over its rivals in terms of being smaller, and therefore easier to include in your travel bag. Plus being all plastic it’s easy to recycle when you eventually do manage to empty it.
Overall then this is a very high-quality cream, which catches the eye and the curiosity with the boldness of its statements and presentation, then wins you over with its alluring scent and top-notch performance. An excellent cream I’d highly recommend.
More articles by Richard Wall
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As mentioned previously I don’t see myself as a wet-shaving expert. But like anyone learning a new skill or way of doing something I did make mistakes and learn from them. So here are simply some pointers which I found worked for me. Naturally, and you’ll see this said on all the shaving sites and forums, your-mileage-may-vary. What worked for me might not work for you, just try things out and see for yourself.
Don’t be stingy with your soap or cream. Particularly at the beginning I found it’s better to have leftover lather than poor quality lather through not using enough cream or soap. So keep swirling your brush on the soap for a full thirty seconds, try a dollop of cream larger than the recommended “almond-sized” amount. If using a stick of soap be generous as you rub it over your stubble, go against the grain so your bristles pick-up a good layer. You can always scale it back afterwards.
Face-lathering is my preferred method of generating a good lather. I tried bowl-lathering and found I got airy, light lather that disappeared inside the brush and had to be squeezed out to be of any use. Swirling my brush on the soap or putting a dollop of cream inside the brush and then lathering directly to my face gave me better, faster and more consistent results.
When working out which blade works best for you try the same blade in different razors. I found this out when testing Crystal-brand blades. In my Lord razor with its Merkur-style head the blade was just average; decent results but not particularly smooth. In my Gillette slim adjustable razor it turned into the smoothest blade I’d tried up to that point.
Listen to your face. When I first got into shaving with a DE razor I was so pleased that I could shave across and against the grain of my stubble that I became obsessed with trying to get closer and closer. This just lead to redness and irritation. I now know that on my neck and my moustache going against the grain is just not possible. I’ve therefore not experienced that holy grail of wet-shavers, the BBS (babies’-bottom-smooth) shave. But that doesn’t matter, because I can still get close and comfortable shaves just going across the grain in those areas. Besides, I’ll have to do it all over again the next morning, so why risk the irritation.
Try different brushes. I started with boar, but found that a badger brush gave me better results and was more enjoyable. If you’ve only known boar, try badger, and vice-versa. You can always revert back to your original choice.
When I first got my badger brush it went through its initial shedding stage that most new brushes do, but then continued to lose a hair every-other shave. I was soaking it in the sink in the same hot water I used to heat-up my face cloth. I then read that some folk used warm water and only soaked their brushes up-to the base of the bristles, saying that submerging the brush in hot water loosened the glue used to hold the bristles in place. I tried this and found that it worked; my brush has now stopped losing a hair here and a hair there.
Take advice, read the reviews but go with what works for you. Many on the forums say that Feather blades are very sharp but quite a rough blade to use, I happen agree with this. Many also say though that Supermax-super-stainless blades (blue packaging) are very poor blades, I happen to disagree with this. Many say that a lack of bristle density in a brush is a bad thing. I happen to prefer a floppier, less densely-filled brush that splays on my face as I lather. Don’t be put off by what the majority think if what works for you is different.
More articles by Richard Wall
Truth be told, when I first read that Dan was looking for people to write for his blog I wasn’t sure what I could contribute. I mean sure, I’d been shaving with a DE razor for just under a year, but did that give me ‘expert’ status? Enough experience to pass my collected shaving wisdom onto newcomers?
Then I realised that what I could do is just recount my shaving story so far. After all, being twenty-six, I had scraped some sort of blade across my face for a number of years, using a variety of different methods and equipment. In the process I’d made many mistakes, as well as many happy discoveries, turning me into perhaps not an expert shaver, but certainly a happy one.
The first razor I used was the ubiquitous Gillette Mach3, along with a cheap Wilkinson Sword boar brush and a stick of Palmolive shave soap. I guess this was picked out for me by my Dad, seeing as he used a similar set-up with a Gillette Atra in place of the Mach3. I don’t remember him teaching me how to go about shaving but I guess that was the advantage of the Mach3, you could just drag it across your face and it did all the work for you. Just rub the brush all over the soap, lather-up and shave away. At least I was already on the right road of using a traditional shaving brush and soap. It was therefore unfortunate that after a couple of years shaving this way I got seduced by the assortment of foams and gels out there and promptly took a step back.
Between the ages of nineteen and twenty-three my shaves may have been pain-free but they had turned into a chore, and not even a closely shaven chore at that. Due to a pasty Englishman’s complexion coupled with dark hair I had what’s referred to as a bluebeard, a dark shadow of bristle peeking its way through my skin, mocking my Mach3’s attempts to achieve that fresh-from-the-barber’s-shop look.
Things changed when, like many recent converts to traditional wet shaving, I discovered Mantic’s videos on YouTube. This led me back onto the path from which I’d strayed. I dusted off my brush, bought myself a fresh shave stick and soon started wondering how I’d been such a numpty in going for all those gloopy gels and foams. I also ditched the Mach3 as I was fed-up with paying out for expensive replacement cartridges; I switched instead to swivel-headed, two-blade Gillette disposables. This set-up was better. The dry tautness which came from the gels and foams disappeared and shaving itself became less of a chore, but I still wasn’t getting particularly close shaves. I didn’t seem to be able to shave across or against the grain of my beard without irritation, even with the help of Mantic’s videos.
Then in April of 2008 I went on holiday to Italy. Naturally what got me most excited wasn’t the prospect of seeing Pompeii or devouring plate after plate of delicious Italian cuisine, it was knowing that I’d be able to buy some Proraso products (available in most convenience stores) and an Omega boar brush (available in most of the pharmacies). The Omega boar was a significant improvement on my old Wilkinson Sword brush, by now shedding at least half a dozen hairs a shave.
I decided it was time to take the final step in my shaving conversion, lose the disposables, and brave-up to the world of double edge. So I trawled eBay and scored myself a job-lot offering of a Lord razor with a Merkur-style head, some Speick cream and a Wilkinson Sword shave stick. I got some no-name (said to be Personna) DE blades from Boots, lathered-up and started to shave. The first thing I realised was that going from two-blade disposables to DE wasn’t as huge a leap as I’d anticipated. I could hear when the blade was cutting properly, it travelled smoothly over the skin and the hairs waved goodbye, what had I been afraid of? I then re-lathered and went for an across-grain pass, to my surprise the blade happily obliged. With my Mach3 and disposables I’d always felt resistance going anything except with the grain, this was much better. I thought I’d better stop there for my first few shaves but I was definitely hooked, already my skin felt smoother.
Over the next few months my technique gradually improved. I learnt what my face could handle in terms of which direction I shaved, how many passes I could get away with and which blades I preferred. My by-now new hobby saw my collection of soaps, creams and razors slowly expand, as the contents of my wallet rapidly shrank, and I woke each morning actually anticipating my daily shave.
Things were going so well that on his last birthday, I decided the time was right to try and infect my Dad with the shaving bug. I updated his own Wilkinson boar brush with a pure badger, and expanded his usual routine of Palmolive stick, followed by Palmolive stick, followed by another Palmolive stick with some Taylor’s cream and a puck of Culmak soap. I also found him a Gillette flare-tip rocket to try and wean him off his by-now triple-bladed razor. So far he loves his new Culmak, badger and Taylor friends, but is sticking to his triple-blade for the time being. This leaves me in a moral dilemma: continue to coerce and instruct him in the ways of the DE? Or leave him be, give in to my desires and persuade him to part with his rocket, so it can be become friends with my other Gillette’s?
So far I’ve stuck with trying to show him the pleasures of double-edge shaving, but how long my resolve stays strong only time will tell.