Shave Soap Hotrodding

Posted: June 20, 2017 in Shaving Articles

In a recent review, I wrote about The Body Shop’s Maca Root shave cream. It is a very high performance cream, perhaps the slickest cream available from any vendor I have tried. It performs at least on par with the best of the English creams, in my view. However, this product has a very neutral, somewhat uninspired scent. I am not alone in this assertion, as this generally seems to be the only complaint levied against the product.

As much as I liked the performance of the Maca Root cream, I found myself using it only rarely, as there are so many great soaps out there, many of which have wonderful scents to fill the shave den with joy.

The Idea: 

But…perhaps I missed the great opportunity that the Maca Root cream presented. We aren’t without agency and recourse in our shaves. We can experiment, combine, and customize our shave experience to suit us. The lack of a strong or present scent in the Maca Root product, combined with the great performance, makes it a great candidate for “mad science”.

The first soap I did this with was the Mitchell’s Wool Fat, as it also has a lack of scent profile (other than just a sort of soapy smell). While that does work, Mitchell’s is tricky enough to lather without starting to complicate things with a lot of additional ingredients (for me). The Maca Root cream, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to lather, so there is no impediment to the experimentation.

The Components: 

Pinaud Clubman Special Reserve is a grand old scent, available for cheap. It is, unlike some of the inexpensive cologne/aftershaves, quite strong and lasting. To me, it’s a great smell, one that reminds me of dudes when I was a young kid. I really like it, but it’s a bit too much for me to wear in most situations, as I get fatigued with the scent well before it begins to die away. Thus, it has languished a bit.

A little light popped on in my head, and I started thinking about how the potency of Special Reserve and the great performance of the Maca Root cream would go great together. With this in mind, I went in to have my nightly shave, and put them in combination.

The Method:

I put a slightly greater volume of the cream into my lathering bowl, dipping a finger into the cream and depositing about as much as a few stacked dimes in the bottom. I then shook about as much of the Special Reserve into the bowl as I’d use to splash on my face (a few healthy shakes). With a soaked, squeezed brush holding a bit less water than I’d normally use, I went to work. The lather built like you’d expect, and the great scent of the Special Reserve filled the shave den. The water balance was just fine, and the potency of the Special Reserve worked right into the lather with no additional difficulty. Success, at least this far along.

The Results: 

With the great lather that one expects from the Maca Root cream, I now had a nicely fragrant shave cream. The added scent totally dominated the light scent of the underlying cream, and there was no negative interaction there that I could smell. The shave came off great, and though some of the scent lingered after the shave, it wasn’t nearly as intense as splashing it directly on the face. For me, I shower after the shave, so I didn’t have to worry about having a long engagement with the Special Reserve, and growing tired of the smell.

What Did We Learn?

If you have a reasonably potent aftershave or cologne scent that you’d like to utilize in a shave soap, but said soap isn’t made (or at least is not in your possession), you can make it happen. Just take a high performance, low scent soap base, then beat the added fragrance into the lather and you’re off to the races.

For the base, I think it’d be hard to go wrong with The Body Shop’s Maca Root cream. It’s so easy to work with and performs so well, that you’d be somewhat hard-pressed to find fault.

It isn’t simply fragrances that can be added. I’ve added some Osage Rub to give a menthol and eucalyptus kick, along with some lemon essential oil. That shave was a beautiful, summery affair, reminding me more than a little of Proraso White. All you need is your imagination and a few additives to experiment with. I’m sure that all the old-time scents you can still get at the drug store, like Old Spice or Brut, could easily be put into the mix with good results.

Final Word: 

Don’t stand around the shave den lamenting products that are good, except for that one thing. Don’t look into your morning coffee and sadly wish for a scent that no one seems to want to make into a soap. You have the power to do some hotrodding and get what you want. You might have everything you need to make it happen, already in your shave stash.

Cheers,  and happy shaving!



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