See You In September!

QARSideviewPromoThe sails have been raised, the hatches have been battened, the jars of rum have been bayed, the cannons loaded, and all hands are on deck.  My ship has set sail and is currently at sea.

Ok, I’m really not a pirate, or a captain.  I don’t even own a boat.  It sounds corny but my day job is “rock star”.  I handle the duties of bass guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals for NYC’s Breaking Laces. We are no celebs, yet, but we get a decent amount of radio play and we do fairly well for ourselves.

The reason I am pulling the curtain aside on my other job is to let you all know that I will be away from the ship that is bayrumdiaries.com, for about the next two months.  I am currently on tour with the band, and have limited shaving supplies with me.  On top of that, our tour schedule is one of the heaviest we’ve had in a long time and we’ll be travelling and playing almost every day for the next two months.  So I won’t really have time to write reviews and articles on a regular basis.

I do have a couple articles in mind though.  I plan to write about my recent trip to NYC’s wetshaver’s paradise, Pasteur Pharmacy.  And I have a couple reviews to write as well.

For those interested in what I am travelling with, here is what is in my shaving kit:

Full disclosure:  Most of the links above, and in my reviews, are Amazon Affiliate links.  In essence, if you click on one of these links and purchase a product, Amazon throws me some loose change.  Literally, it’s usually less than a dollar (though sometimes more).  This comes out of Amazon’s pocket, not yours, so it doesn’t cost you any extra to buy through those links.  You don’t have to use them, but you get a big ol’ tip of the hat from me if you do, and the loose change goes to paying for the hosting fees of this website.  I appreciate your readership, whether you use those links or not.  And if you do, you have my thanks…

I should be back home around the end of September, and I am looking forward to picking up where I left off.

Dont forget to hit me up on twitter and facebook.  If you’re interested in our tour schedule, you can check it out here.  Perhaps I will see you on the high seas!

Rob

CaptainRob at his day job

CaptainRob at his day job

Review: Baxter of California – After Shave Balm

Baxter of California - After Shave Balm

Baxter of California – After Shave Balm

This was a surprise all the way around.  I recently purchased some Klar Kabinett from Fendrihan.com, and in the package they shipped me came two samples.  The first I’ll keep a secret for now, but the second was a little sample packet of Baxter of California’s After Shave Balm.  The subtitle of the package reads “Alcohol Free / Soothing Formula”.

Very very true.  So today I shaved with a Hoffritz Travel Slant with a Weber bulldog handle.  For those slant experts out there who might be saying “Hey the handle on a Hoffritz Slant is permanently attached”… you are correct, but not on the travel version.  It is a head that fits on any standard razor handle, and as such I have an epic frankenrazor.  🙂  Whats more important is that I had a truly awesome shave with it.  A couple weepers on the against-the-grain pass but that’s expected from a slant.  But today’s shave resulted in the very definition of baby-butt-smooth..

So I skipped my normal toner application and went straight for the sample pack of Baxter’s.  I squeezed it all out in my hand, and then immediately realized I shouldn’t have because this stuff is so slick and awesome that it could have lasted maybe three applications.  For something smaller in thickness than a typical wetnap, I was very impressed.  So I kept about half of what came out of the packet and applied it to my freshly shaven skin.

“Yeah….” I literally said that as I was putting it on my face… This stuff is just fantastic.  First off, it’s alcohol free, a quality that is becoming increasingly more sought after aftershaves, as it is known that alcohol is not the best thing for a freshly shaven face.  But this isn’t a tame substance!  Oh no, there is a hint of menthol under a bed of citrus.  It’s a truly invigorating sensation for the senses.  Your nose gets blasted with a clean fresh scent while your face feels a warm tingle of menthol.

And it really hydrates the skin well.  Consistency-wise it’s like a gel-balm hybrid, that goes on cool and warm at the same time.  Honestly, as I put it on and massaged it in, my skin feels very well hydrated, and also protected.

The ingredients list is long and has a lot of hard-to-pronounce words.  It’s not the worst thing in the world, but I’ve been trying to align myself with products with more natural ingredients, something that is fairly easy to do when it comes to shaving soaps and creams.  That said, this is still some fantastic stuff that really calmed down the razor burn and left me feeling smooth, hydrated, and protected.  Baxter’s After Shave Balm is one of the best closers I’ve put into the game in a long time, and I think I am going to be getting a bottle of this stuff to add to my rotation.

Review: Klar Kabinett Shaving Soap

Klar Kabinett Shaving Soap

Klar Kabinett Shaving Soap

Klar Kabinett.  For those not well-versed in the ways of wet shaving, you might mistake this for a pack of butter, or maybe some old… cabinet cleaner?  Then you dig a little deeper, and find that this is a very special soap indeed, one that is loved by many traditional wetshavers.  Like my review for Art of Shaving’s Lavender Shaving Soap with tallow, this one is a little unfair because Klar Kabinett is about to become a thing of the past.

Klar Kabinett comes in two 250g sticks, very much like a pack of butter.  Considering that most shave soaps come in 100g pucks, to get 500g of a quality shave soap for almost the same price is pretty astounding.  Add to that the fact that Klar has discontinued the Kabinett soap, this is a steal.  I just purchased one of the last pucks available from Fendrihan.com only a couple weeks ago.  I say this confidently because they are now out of stock, as is all other wetshaving suppliers that I know of.

So this review may be one for the archives, which is a shame because it really is a great shaving soap.

The scent is straight up rose.  There may be other background hints of other scents; my untrained nose picked up hints of eucalyptus and maybe geranium.  But all in all its a very light, powdery rose scent.  It’s extremely subtle, and probably on the too-light side.  But then again, it may be just exactly right.  Its very light when smelling the bar, but comes more to life when mixing up the lather and while shaving.  All in all a very pleasant and soft rose, that gains strength as you use it.

The lather is exceptional.  It doesn’t need much water either.  It was extremely slick.  In fact as I was rinsing my face between passes I was amazed at how slick my face felt while rinsing.  And it provided great cushion as well.  And the super rich lather lasts and lasts.  With a very average amount of loading the brush, I got enough lather to last two 3-pass shaves.  I could have kept on going and going….

Today I shaved with the first DE razor I ever bought: my Merkur 34HD, loaded with a fresh Personna Medical Prep blade.  I had a completely nick-free and super smooth shave and my skin feels great afterwards.

  • Scent – 4
  • Lather Performance – 4.5
  • Lather Life – 4.5
  • Overall – 4

500g of this soap is going to last me for a very very long time.  That to me just screams value.  It’s a fantastic soap, and if you are a true fan of rose, you need to keep an eye on the B/S/T boards on Badger & Blade and hopefully someone might want to share some.  Good luck, gentlemen.

Review: Taylor of Old Bond Street – Eton College Shaving Cream

Taylor of Old Bond Street - Eton College Shaving Cream

Taylor of Old Bond Street – Eton College Shaving Cream

I am continually impressed by Taylor of Old Bond Street.  I picked up a tub of TOBS Eton College Shaving Cream recently, and have been using it the past few days.  I would love to be schooled enough about Eton College to go off on some literary journey about the history of the school, a campus where the children of dignitaries around the world were educated shoulder-to-shoulder with young English royals.  And perhaps they all loved citrus so much that Taylor of Old Bond Street crafted this citrusy fragrance just for them.  But I don’t know about any of that.

What I can talk about is the lather.  I have reviewed several of TOBS’s creams, and mostly have the same things to say over and over again.  And the lather of Eton College is no different.  This stuff lathered up just the same as many of the others I have reviewed, using a very small amount of cream to whip up a very rich, thick, slick, and cushioning lather.  And it lasts and lasts and lasts.  After my third pass I had enough lather for at least another full three-pass shave.  Fantastic.

The scent is mainly citrusy.  It’s a very light and brisk cologne scent.  Off the top you are hit with a decent lemony-orange flavor, with floral notes backing them up.  This is all over very slight woody/patchouli basenotes, which bring the cologne feel into the scent.  Those basenotes are not very strong.  Actually the entire scent is not very strong in this cream.  Overall it smells like a light citrus-fronted cologne.  If this sounds like something you’d like, I am quite sure you’ll love this stuff.

Personally I am not so much a cologne guy.  I have found some exceptions to that rule as I go along on these reviews, but I don’t think Eton College is for me.  I can’t say a single bad thing about the lather, but the scent broaches too much on the cologne edge for me to stick with this cream.  I’d probably personally stick with TOBS’s Grapefruit and Jermyn Street shaving creams.

Review: WM. Neumann – 1911 Aftershave

WM. Neumann - 1911 Aftershave

WM. Neumann – 1911 Aftershave

I so enjoyed their 1907 aftershave, that I decided to go back-to-back to try out WM. Neumann’s 1911 Aftershave.

This has all the same ingredients as the 1907 version, with lots of organic, moisturizing, skin-friendly ingredients.  So what I said in the last review hold for this item as well.  It goes on really nicely, especially when you were a bit brash with your shave-work, as I was today.  I used a brand new Personna Medical Prep blade in my Weber DLC safety razor.  I also shaved with Tabac soap, which I am loving more and more each time I use it.  So I can safely say, with that entire lineup, and the very skin-friendly 1911 aftershave, my face feels super smooth and moisturized, and smells really good.

1911 smells as close to those modern-day colognes at the department store.  I say “modern-day” because one of the best aspects of WM. Neumann’s products is that they come from the scribblings of a turn-of-the-last-century apothecary, who happens to go by the same name.  He developed a number of fragrances and that notebook of scribblings became the founding of this company.  And 1911 was their signature fragrance.

The scent feels high-class.  As the company website will attest, it’s a burst of “crisp citruses blended with the rich woody essence of sandalwood, rosewood, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, and spices”.  The woody notes stand out the strongest and really bring this into that modern-day cologne feel.  As I sit here a half hour after application, I am beginning to pick up more and more of those other scents that are mentioned.  It is indeed rounding out nicely into a spicy fragrance with a hint of sweet behind it.  But overall this is a very unique and masculine scent that will go great both during the day and also at night.

Review: WM. Newmann & Co. – Signature 1907 Aftershave

WM. Newmann & Co. - Signature 1907 Aftershave

WM. Newmann & Co. – Signature 1907 Aftershave

Ahh, aftershave.  I go through so many shaving creams and soaps that I sometimes neglect the roots of this website.  A long time ago I ordered a sampler pack of aftershaves from WM. Newmann & Co.  Primarily I was interested in their bay rum scent, of course.  But the rest of these samples sat on a shelf.  And sat they did as I went through a myriad of other products, so that I could provide you, the reader, with one man’s opinion of them.  Well today I reached for that ziplock back of samples and pulled out another: WM. Newmann & Co. – Signature 1907 Aftershave.

So today I had a great shave with only a couple nicks on my neck that I admit came from careless impatience.  You see, I have this band of sideways growth on my lower neck that can get hacked if I go too fast against the grain.  Today I learned that lesson…. again….

Anyway, I am really happy with the tools I used today.  I used my Weber DLC razor loaded with a Gilette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge blade.  My shave cream was Taconic’s Bay Rum Shaving Cream, which smells and performs awesomely.  One of the best non-tallow creams I have in my arsenal.  I also regularly use a Razorock Alum Stick directly after each shave, to help soothe the skin and also to help stop the small nicks from bleeding.

Then I grabbed the small sample vial of 1907.  I was expecting a bit of a bracing jolt, as this is an alcohol-based aftershave, but I quickly realized that there wasn’t one.  It went on rather mild!  And then I remembered why.  WM. Newmann & Co put some amazing ingredients in their products.  They list their key ingredients on their website:  organic aloe, witch hazel, slippery elm bark, marshmallow root, chickweed, kosher veggie glycerin, green tea, blue-green algae, nettle, milk thistle, black willow bark, and tea tree oil.  Ummm… Hello?  Did you catch all that?  All I can tell you is that this stuff and your face will have a relationship that would make any madly-in-love couple jealous.  It felt awesome going onto my slightly chewed up face, and still feels awesome now as my face feels very nicely moisturized.

The scent is cologne-ish.  A woody sandalwood base with fruity top notes and spicy middle notes.  It’s a really bright lingering scent with a good deal of masculinity.  I’m not into modern cologne-type scents, but this one smells really nice as I carry on in my day.  It’s not too strong, but also not too light, wafting into my awareness every once in a while.  Smelling it from the vial I was worried it would be too strong a fragrance, but it really opens up once you put it on and smells wonderful.

I’m really happy with 1907 and if you’re interested, I suggest you order some or at least try a sample. At the time of this printing, a sample of all of their scents is available for $2 plus shipping!

Review: D.R. Harris – Windsor Shaving Soap

D.R. Harris - Windsor Shaving Soap

D.R. Harris – Windsor Shaving Soap

Not too long ago I ordered a few samples from Garry’s Sample Shop (that is an unrequested plug for Garry, who runs a wonderful service).  It was in this sample pack that I requested some D.R. Harris soaps.  Well for the past couple days I have really been enjoying one of them, D.R. Harris’ Windsor Shaving Soap.

The lather whipped up nice and thick.  This is one of the last major English soaps to still use tallow in their ingredients.  Tallow provides a rich creamy lather which has only been matched a few rare times by non-tallow creams/soaps in my experience.  And, as expected, this lather got better and better with each pass.  I tell you there is some magic that happens while the brush/lather are resting as you shave each pass.  The lather was better-than-moderately cushioning and slick as I shaved, shaved clean and rinsed clean as well, leaving a hint of the very nice Windsor scent behind.

Windsor is a great fresh morning scent, perfect for your shave routine.  As D.R. Harris describes it, Windsor starts “with citrus overtones, maturing into a warm, leathery scent with notes of black pepper and vetiver”.  To the guy who doesn’t know what that means, that “fresh then warm” description is right on.  That vetiver is what warms it up on the tail end of the scent.  As I said it’s a great scent for the morning.  As I went through the shave I felt the scent was light, and perhaps it is best left that way.  Too much stronger and it would be a bit overpowering.  Any lighter and it would smell like soap.  So I think the gentlemen at D.R. Harris have done a find job.

All that said, I think I prefer the fougere (citrus/fern) scent of D.R. Harris Arlington over the leathery scent of Windsor.  You may disagree.  And that’s cool with me.

  • Scent – 3.5
  • Lather Performance – 4
  • Lather Life – 4.5
  • Overall – 4

Review: Taylor of Old Bond Street – Lavender Shaving Cream

Taylor of Old Bond Street - Lavender Shaving Cream

Taylor of Old Bond Street – Lavender Shaving Cream

I have been consistently pleased with Taylor of Old Bond Street’s products.  And I was super excited when my last shipment of shaving creams arrived in the mail because I have lately been really getting into the lavender scent and today is the day I got to finally try Taylor of Old Bond Street’s Lavender Shaving Cream.

In the bowl this cream was a little on the dry side, closer to a croap than a cream.  For those who don’t know a “croap” is a cream that has a denser, dryer consistency, that seems more like a solid soap than a cream, however yields to pressure.

The scent is wonderful.  Taylor of Old Bond Street describes their take on lavender:  “A natural lavender interpretation with hints of orange, floral notes and cedarwood.”  I would say that the extra notes of orange, floral, and cedarwood are very light notes, as the lavender scent in general jumps out at you.

However I have learned from the scent of their grapefruit shaving cream, that if they just put the single note of lavender in there, the scent would be very one-dimensional and probably off-putting in the long run.  Having these extra notes in there on a very subtle level is what really rounds out the scent and provides a faint yet complex depth to the overall fragrance of this cream.  If you’re a fan of lavender, you will love this take on it.  It’s pretty strong out of the tub.  It’s light yet present while you’re whipping up your lather and is just wonderful while shaving.  Not too strong, not too light.

Personally I found the lather just slightly lacking oomph.  Having shaved many times with their avocado and Jermyn Street creams, I felt the lather whipped up a little on the light side.  It was cushiony and slick, but slightly less so as I went along from pass to pass.  I can tell you one thing though, I had a 100% nick free shave.  Smooth as silk and not a single drop of blood, honest.  I may have had not enough cream in the mix and will keep trying.  If I get a better result I will come back and update you all.

  • Scent – 4
  • Lather Performance – 4
  • Lather Life – 3.5
  • Overall – 4

Hard to complain with such an amazing shave, but I thought the lather would be a little richer than what I was able to procure.  The scent and the end result of the shave were fantastic tho, and so I can still recommend this stuff, especially if you like lavender.

Review: Queen Charlotte Soaps – Green Irish Tweed Type Shaving Cream

Queen Charlotte Soaps - Green Irish Tweed Type Shaving Cream

Queen Charlotte Soaps – Green Irish Tweed Type Shaving Cream

It’s good to be back!  I’ve had a few rough weeks, that started with packing up for a move, then moving, then unpacking and finally getting so sick that I lost my sense of taste and smell for a week.  Well folks, I am back, ready to shave, and better yet, ready to write about it!

While I was sick, I decided to sell some of my shave den supplies that I don’t use much, and replace them with things I have not yet tried.  I recently picked up a bundle of barely used shaving creams that are new to me, and they arrived today.  First up?  Green Irish Tweed Type Shaving Cream by Queen Charlotte Soaps.

Let’s talk scent.  The scent is light and fresh.  Citrusy up top, floral in the middle, over a mysore sandalwood base.  I know that it’s hard to imagine the scent.  Those of you who know Creed’s Irish Tweed scent will know what I am talking about.  I would also hazard to say it smells a bit like Irish Spring soap.  Maybe a bit warmer to the nose.  It’s not heavily scented.  You have to go really close to the soap to smell it out of the tin, and even when lathering and shaving it’s still a light-handed approach to a scent.  Personally it’s not my favorite scent.  But I wanted to give it a try.  That said, it’s not a powerful scent, and is quite clean and provided a nice little spark to my morning.

As for the lather, it was great!  First off, the shaving cream made by Queen Charlotte Soaps is frequently described as a “croap”, somewhere in between a cream and a soap.  It’s hard but softens to pressure.  And it didn’t take much to whip up a this tallow cream into a nice thick yogurty lather.  Some cream lathers I have tried recently have disappointed me in that the lather whips up a little light and foamy.  Not QCS.  This lather, like I said is nice and thick.  It provided a nice cushion and plenty of slickness for my razor.  The lather also rinsed clean, leaving just a slight hint of the sandalwood base for me to smell after the shave.  And on top of that, it did that thing that I love: it got better and better with each pass.

  • Scent – 3
  • Lather Performance – 4
  • Lather Life – 4.5
  • Overall – 3.5

I gave this cream a 3.5 rating only because the scent is not for me.  Otherwise, it was a really great shave.

Oh and Queen Charlotte Soaps gets a big hi-five for ingredients too.  Almost entirely natural, and with great stuff for your face, especially aloe vera and vitamin E.  If you have not tried any of their soaps or creams, do yourself a favor and give them a shot.  They have a wide array of fragrances and their creams and soaps perform exceptionally well.  I even love their shampoo bars!

Review: Taconic Bay Rum Shave Cream

Taconic Bay Rum Shave Cream

Taconic Bay Rum Shave Cream

Here’s what I have come to love about the “bay rum” scent.  It is a vehicle for a brand to express itself.  Unlike more specific scents, like sandalwood, orange, or rose, “bay rum” is completely open to interpretation, and as such the “bay rum” scent differs from one brand to another.  The classics are the classics and probably stick closer to what would be considered the classic barbershop scent.  And then there are newcomers to the shaving software game, who usually produce a completely unique scent.

Let me also mention that lately I have been swooning over tallow-based soaps and creams, and finding non-tallow soaps to be a little lackluster, even when they come from the biggest names in classic shaving soaps and creams.  I mention this because today’s review is of a non-tallow bay-rum-scented cream that I am blown away by:  Taconic Bay Rum Shave Cream.

Let’s talk scent.  This bay rum is unique from all other bay rums I have tried, and I have tried a lot. Scent is a very subjective element to judge.  You might love the scent of X soap, and hate the scent of Y cream.  And the next guy will feel exactly the opposite.  So when I say that this is one of the best takes on bay rum I have ever sampled, you may feel differently.  You’d be wrong, but … well no you wouldn’t be wrong, but I’d ask you to step outside so we could settle the matter like gentlemen.

I can’t seem to find a website for Taconic, so I haven’t found any official description of the scent.  I will give it my best shot though:  On top, it is hard to tell if there is a citrus scent, but if there is I would guess its some variation on orange.  In the middle it has a relatively strong cinnamon note with a slight bay note.  And beneath that would be hard to tell, but I believe there is a sweet note holding down the fort, possibly vanilla.  Overall, it’s probably more of a sweet-cinnamon scent than the classic “bay rum” scent, but personally, I friggin love the smell of this cream.  It actually reminds me somewhat of Juicy Fruit gum.  It smells great in the tub, It smells great in the mug when being lathered, and it smells great while lathered on my face.  It’s simply awesome.  If anything it could be a touch stronger.

Before I go into the lather, let’s talk ingredients.  Taconic’s Bay Rum Shave Cream specializes in using “certified organic” ingredients when they can.  It is a non-tallow soap, so vegetarians will be happy as well.  There are two very interesting ingredients, honey and spiced Jamaican rum.  Yes!  This captain is very pleased.  Overall, the ingredients are mostly natural, certified organic, and great for your face.

Alright lather junkies.  The lather from this non-tallow cream is easily on par, if not better than, many tallow-based soaps I have tried.  I have used this cream 5 days in a row, and I have gotten amazing lathers every single time.  Is it the honey?  Or maybe the rum?  Stearic acid is the top ingredient, and it’s great for lather.  It makes a very creamy lather, and I suspect it’s a big part of the success of this cream.

The lather builds up spectacularly from a small dollop of cream.  It gets better with each pass as well, thickening more and more as you go along.  It’s goes on thick and creamy, providing excellent cushion and slickness, but rinsing cleanly.  Seriously, this lather is amazing.  As always, your mileage may vary, but for me this ranks with the best latherers.  I have had an awesomely smooth shave each time.  If you try this cream and find the lather a little lacking, I would suggest adding either a little more cream, or whipping it a little longer in a mug.  I have not tried face-lathering this cream, but in the future I will try it out.  For now, I have excellent results in the mug.

The only complaint I have about this product is the tub it comes in.  I like to swirl my brush in the tub, and to me this tub is a little on the small side.  A slightly wider tub would allow some play for my brush.  Yup, thats about my only complaint.

While I have yet to try a lot of more well known creams, I would have to say that Taconic’s Bay Rum Shave Cream is my favorite cream at the moment.  I really love this stuff.

  • Scent – 4.5
  • Lather Performance – 5
  • Lather Life – 5
  • Overall – 5

The scent could be a touch stronger, but is still awesome.  And the lather is exceptional for a non-tallow formula.  I really love this stuff, and it’s going to be hard to reach for a different cream to shave with, so I can’t imagine giving it anything less than an overall 5/5.  And if anyone out there knows if this company has a website, leave me a reply below, I would love to check it out.  Thanks!