The One

There are a lot of threads on shaving forums dedicated to the question, “If you could only have ONE…what would it be?”  That one thing could be anything: one razor, one cream, one brush, etc.  The question is asking what product is your most trusted, most favored, most relied upon.  It’s one of those questions that people ask so that they can get to know the people that they’re talking to better, but it’s also used by newbies to help them try to get a better handle on the myriad and seemingly endless list of shaving products that are available to them.

Most folks do not have a good answer for this question, not because they don’t have a favorite soap or most often used blade, but because the idea of limiting themselves to just one product is intimidating.  How can you choose just one when there are so many good products out there?  The reality is that, before entering the world of traditional wet shaving,most of us did use just one razor and one cream or gel, and never thought twice about it.  Most of us would have found it insane to have a collection of razors or creams.  But, like so many other things in life, when you find a better way to do something you want to know more…and in the world of traditional wet shaving there is a whole lot more than any of us could have ever imagined.  The question isn’t difficult to answer because of all of the products that we use on a regular basis, the question is difficult to answer because of all of the products that we COULD use on a regular basis.  After a brief period of experimentation most of us settle down and gravitate toward a core set up that is only occasionally altered.  I may have dozens of soaps, but I really only use four or five on a regular basis…the rest are just there for when I’m feeling squirrelly.

I have thought about this “one product” question a lot and while my answers have always been a bit mercurial and evasive, the truth is that I do have a solid answer.  There is one cream, one soap, one razor, etc. that I would gravitate towards if I could only have one set up.  I do have a set up that always does well and that always produces excellent results.  I think that most folks, if they’re really honest with themselves, would be able to say the same.  For me, the other razors, and soaps, and things are nice, but are hardly necessary.

My core set up is almost boring in how common and simple it is.  There is nothing particularly spectacular about the products that I find most trustworthy, nor is there anything in my set up that could not be easily replaced.  There is no one of a kind soap or hard to find razor, there are just good, solid products that can be relied upon each and every time I use them.  While I may have a few honorable mentions in each category, when I am really honest it wouldn’t be difficult for me to have just one set up to use every day.  Without further ado here is my “just one” set up:

–Pre: Shave Secret.  I love this stuff.  It’s easy to find, smells good, and works beautifully…all for under $4.
–Razor: RiMei.  A solid, low cost razor with an excellent grip and a well designed head.  It’s just top notch.  It’s a very close contest between this razor and the Parker SRW, but the RiMei edges the SRW out by virtue of that fact that it’s quicker, easier, and less expensive.
–Blade: SuperMax Titanium.  There are many good blades and a few that come very close to the SuperMax Titanium (Lord Platinum, Astra SP, and Croma Diamant), but no blade exceeds the Titanium.
–Brush: Mixed loft boar/badger.  Until recently I was never really blown away by a brush, but this one has done it. It’s a Chinese knot from eBay paired with a simple plastic handle.  It looks great, and performs extremely well.  There are softer brushes, brushes that hold more heat or water, and brushes made of better materials, but there are no other brushes that make me gravitate toward them over and over again.
–Lather Bowl: VDH Premium Shave Set Bowl.  I bowl lather roughly 75% of the time and when I do I use either a $1 La Coccina salsa bowl or the VDH Premium Shave Set bowl.  I use to dislike the VDH bowl because of its small size, but lately I have discovered how to use that to my advantage, creating denser and more concentraited lather in the smaller area.  Thanks to this revelation I now find myself using this bowl almost exclusively when I bowl lather.  It’s a nice, compact bowl that’s easy to find and inexpensive to buy.
–Soap: Van Der Hagen Deluxe/Glycerin blend.  I take one puck of Deluxe and one puck of Glycerin, melt them and mix them together, and pour the mixture into either a Kingsley dark wood bowl or a twist up shave stick container and I end up with the perfect soap…all for under $10.  It smells good and works great.
–Cream: Kiss My Face Cool Mint.  When I’m in  hurry or need a cool down, KMF Cool Mint works wonders.  It’s fast, easy, and not so cold as to completely freeze my face.  11oz. costs less than $8, and I can often get it on sale for as low as $5.
–Post: SAL Alum.  This stuff is inexpensive, effective, and easy to use.  I know that my skin is safe when I use SAL Alum.  The only thing that even comes close is T.N. Dickinson Witch Hazel, but when I need my skin ready to be abused by sweat and heat without having to worry about irritation, I always turn to SAL Alum.
–Blade Disposal: Tin can blade bank.  There are a lot of options for blade disposal, but none are as effective, customizable, and low cost as a DIY tin can blade bank.  50 cents gets you years of safe blade disposal, for me there was never another option, the tin can blows everything else away.

So that’s it.  Nothing fancy.  Most of that stuff I can get locally and none of it costs more than $10, but it’s all good, solid gear.  I know what to expect from these products and I can recommend them without reservations or qualifications.  In fact, it’s the exact set up that I used today…and my skin is baby butt smooth, so really what more could I ask for?

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