For the most part, the wet shaving world is an a la carte sort of place. Find a soap, find an aftershave, so on and so forth. Mix and match. As you please.
That said, there are some makers that endeavor to provide you with a full “system” of products to shave with. In some cases, the company will go out of of its way to talk up the advantages of using their full line of products. I suppose that, if they didn’t it would be something of an oversight on their part. Ad execs are not known for the slow roll.
On the upside, doing this will typically give you a cohesive scent profile, and it is possible that dermatologists have been in on the game, trying to create a sensible approach in terms of PH balancing and otherwise taking care of your skin.
Downside? Well, it doesn’t involve a lot of agonizing, picking, choosing, and otherwise “metashaving” like we like to do. What shall we do with our time and mental processor cycles, if we’re not spending them all on the bits and bobs we’re going to use to shave that night? We may have to read a book or take up another hobby. The horror.
In the spirit of science, I picked a few brands and bought up a few of their products to give them a shot. Let’s see if this whole “system” business has anything to commend it.
The Body Shop:
The first product like I tried was from The Body Shop. I purchased the maca root-infused products in these three capacities: 1) Face Wash 2) Shave Cream 3) Post Shave balm (Razor Relief).
I used them together multiple times, and here are my thoughts:
Face Wash: This is a gel wash. It has a smell similar to the other products in the line, which I find to be mild and slightly floral. They smell okay. Nothing to write home about. I didn’t find the face wash to provide any unusual benefit later in the shave. It appears to be mild enough, but it takes a good dollop to function, and didn’t strike me as anything that I would go out of my way to use on a daily basis. There are a million face washes out there. This one will serve the purpose, no more.
Shave Cream: This is, far and away, the best part of the system. Very quick to lather, and probably the slickest shave cream I’ve ever tried. If it had a scent that I could hook into, it would be among my favorites. With a nondescript scent, it still ingratiates itself.
Razor Relief: This product is a fairly runny aftershave balm. I found it to provide no better post shave feel than, say, Arko aftershave, or simple Aveeno moisterizin cream. Both of those mentioned are far less expensive per ounce than the Body Shop brand. The Arko has much better scents on offer, while the Aveeno gets out of the way and lets your aftershave speak for itself.
Overall: The Body Shop products are all okay, though I would only recommend the shave cream. The other stuff is pretty forgettable, and probably significantly overpriced. You can match or improve the performance of the ancillary stuff elsewhere. The scent, or lack thereof, also doesn’t score anything in its favor for me. That said, it would serve men or women equally, as there’s no masculine component here to speak of. I should point out that I have no stand or orthodoxy in terms of what smell someone likes. Whatever you’re into, good deal.
What it’s missing: No post shave astringent/tonic. Some may not need it, but I just don’t feel like the shave has come off correctly without some aftershave splash. Sure, it isn’t strictly necessary, but to me, it feels like an omission. Also, the lack of something I would think of as a definable scent is sort of a miss for me. The smell doesn’t have to linger, but having something going on in that department seems like a minimum requirement.
The second product line I tried was from Lucky Tiger. This one featured these three products: 1) Face Wash 2) Liquid Shave Cream 3) Aftershave Tonic.
Face Wash: This product, as all the others did, has a nice orange scent to it, with a little undertow of other scents, like calendula and chamomile. Very pleasant, and very much appreciated by me. It would be applicable to men or women, I think, though it has no “foofy” element to it. Just a nice citrus tang. I found that the face wash felt nice on the skin and seemed to work just fine. It left my skin refreshed, and seemed to have reasonable yield per ounce. Not bad.
Liquid Shave Cream: This is really nice stuff. Lathers super quick, gives a good shave, and doesn’t require much to make it happen. Scent is a dead ringer with the rest of the products in the line, and if you like natural smelling orange, this will be right up your street.
Aftershave Tonic: I believe that, for Lucky Tiger, this is their core product. It’s easy to understand it, because this is a fine tonic. If you prefer a non-alcohol splash after your shave, this one is a winner. I would say that it’s certainly every bit as nice to feel on the face as, say, Thayer’s witch hazels. Soothing to the face, smells nice, and leaves the skin feeling clean, calm, and easy. This is not a moisturizing balm, however, so if you’re in need of that, you’ll need to provide it afterward.
Overall: This system works. It has a cohesive smell, and every product seems to hold up its end. Because the scent is much more enjoyable, and I find the peripheral products to all function, I would give it the win over The Body Shop. That said, I think that the Body Shop cream is possibly better than the Lucky Tiger stuff, by virtue of its slickness.
Lucky Tiger produces a moisturizing balm in this line, though it appears to be unscented, and seemed a bit pricey. I can’t say, then, that the line lacks that portion. I simply didn’t discover its existence in time to include it with this test. Because of the unscented nature of the balm, I would say that any balm that has a scent along the same or complementary lines would work as well. None of the Lucky Tiger products have a drying component to them, a balm would only be required if climatic and cosmetological reasons called for it.
I think that it’s a noble effort to create a full line of products for shaving. For me, Lucky Tiger hits the mark just a bit better. With The Body Shop, really only the shave cream made a big impression. My sense is that there’s no compelling reason to “system up” your shaves, unless you just like to do so for your own reasons (scent, OCD, whatever).
For instance, neither of the face washes could hold Noxyzema’s shoes. The moisturizing balms, where tested, didn’t bring anything special to the party. Certainly, there are a lot of other great shave creams out there, with every scent known to humankind. No, I think that it’s still probably just fine to mix and match your shaves. Find the best part of multiple “systems” and you’ll have the best chance at a great shave.
Cheers, and Happy Shaving!