When I was new to shaving, which is to say in high school, my skin was awfully sensitive to the cruelty of dragging a blade across my skin. My neck was seemingly perpetually red and inflamed, swatted honey bee-angry. In my senior year my mother discovered a shaving cream made by some company better known for women’s cosmetics than men’s skin care, a concept which was at that time still exceedingly novel and prone to suggestions that the user may not have been the most manly among men.
Fortunately, my shaving cream wasn’t subject to public scrutiny. It stayed in a medicine cabinet I shared only with my sister.
I’d forgotten that I ever used the stuff until recently when I opened a tin of Rapha’s Shaving Cream. The consistency was that of buttercream frosting—creamy and with a stickiness that showed an affinity for skin. The moment I dipped my finger in the tin, I was transported back to 1982. Actually, the experience was kind of eerie. I even recalled how my mom told me the stuff was expensive, but if it helped, she’d keep getting it for me.
I don’t recall how long I used it; I don’t recall the brand or when I stopped using it, but it was some time in undergraduate school. My strongest memory of the stuff, aside from its consistency, was how much happier my skin was as a result of using it. Generally speaking, I think almost all shaving creams are created equal, if inferior. Foam or gel, it’s all about the same.
The Rapha Shaving Cream, which at $20 for a 4-oz. (125ml) tin is even more precious than some Napa Cabs, takes that man-care shaving cream and goes it at least one better. Frankly, it smells more amazing than most embrocations. The aroma comes from a complex blend of ingredients but what hits you when you open it is a lovely blend of lavender and conifer.
While I don’t suffer skin irritation the way that I used to, there’s no doubt that my face is happier when I use this stuff. Same for the insides of my thighs when I shave my legs with it (which I’ve done all of twice). Shaving my face with this is plenty; my household really can’t tolerate me being that amazing.
Were I English, or at least based in Europe, I’m aware that the price on this stuff wouldn’t seem outrageous; the exchange rate skews the cost from merely expensive to ungodly.
A word to our friends in Rapha’s product management: Can you please change the color of either the Winter Embrocation or the Shaving Cream? Identical black tins, both residing on my bathroom sink, is a disaster in waiting.
Which brings me to the Rapha Post Shave Lotion. At $27, it’s even more expensive than the shaving cream, but given that the pump bottle is 5 oz. (150ml) and how little you use following each shave, it’s a good deal better value. It also can’t be mistaken for an embrocation, so there’s that, too.
The Post Shave Lotion benefits from the same minty-lavender aromatics and can calm anything from the angriest razor burns to crazed meth heads. I would even nominate this stuff as a possible hostage negotiator.
Using these two skin care products reminded me what a peasant I am at heart. I absolutely love both of them, but my sense is that together they make me more terrific than I deserve to be. Of course, if I needed to charm the wallets out of a Wall Street board room, this stuff would rate as a daily necessity.
I’m being silly here, but that’s truly the point. I can’t explain it, but I get a bit giddy when I open the tin and prepare to shave. And that’s why I’m writing; I hadn’t planned to review these products and ought to be embarrassed to reveal that, but I really don’t care. These products are my new definition for luxurious.
Pardon me, I haven’t shaved yet today.