Proraso

As connoisseurs of history, we sometimes find styles, habits and turns of phrase from the past that we wouldn’t mind bringing back to the present, Doc Brown-style. This time around, we’re dusting off classic shaving cream.

By now, you’ve heard from the shaving trads.

The ones that swear by the straight razor. The ones that let nothing but badger hair caress their virgin cheeks.

So we won’t waste your time proselytizing the old school barbershop shave—but we would like to draw your attention to the most important and most overlooked element of the holy ritual: the classic shaving cream.

This is the heart of the old school shave. The straight razor is just show. (Half the old school barbers we know shave their own faces with a Mach 3.) The real thrill comes from that smell, a faint odor of eucalyptus and barbicide wafting from the hot towel, the chair…and most of all from the shaving cream. That numb tingle in your face is the menthol, another gentlemanly pleasure you won’t get from gels.

The only downside: it’s a little more complicated. It comes in concentrate, so you’ll want to mix up a dab of the stuff with water. (That’s where your badger-hair brush and mortar come in.) As for finding the goods, our favorite is this Proraso tube, but you’ll get the same Eucaplytus-and-menthol jolt from Musgo or Taylor of Old Bond Street. Mix it up right, and it’ll be better than coffee.

Well, almost.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom