Proraso Pre-Shave Cream
Okay, so I hit the shavegeek forums every couple of months just to see if they've come up with anything interesting beyond "OMFG TEH BURBLE SOAP IS LESS SANDALWOODY THAN THE GURBLE SOAP I H8 U". And a couple weeks ago they were all abuzz about the famed Proraso brand Italian shave soap being carried in Target of all places.
I used to troll Italian import places in North Beach who laughed at me to my face for asking about this stuff: "Oh, you'll never find that around here!" It's an anomaly in shavegeek accoutrements. All the ingredients say wrong wrong wrong: it's mentholated, confabulated, and extracted and yet it is somehow a formula that wins real fans. If you thought the Nancy Boy altoid effect was strong, well Proraso's menthol and eucalyptus is like having the Halls of mentho-lyptus all over your face.
So I wrote to Pedro because there was a big fight on the forums about the US formula. Supposedly the ingredients list for the Target stuff doesn't match the imported stuff. Lots of European shaving cream manufacturers have been reformulating to meet with European Union FDA-type regulations, but we don't really know why they chose to do this. However, the rundown of all those threads is that the one change they made was:
...to ditch Lanolin and replace it with sodium borate.
This was good news, since Uncle Pedro is allergic to lanolin. It probably also makes Proraso a vegan formula, which could be handy for lots of other folks.
So I shaved with Proraso shaving soap a few times, and it really felt as though my face were going tingly-numb. It has a strong medicated feel to it, and I think that I got a little careless as a result. The shave I ended up with was rough and overscraped, and I really couldn't tell how brutally I was working myself over with this anæsthetic stuff on.
Now, it's probably fantastic stuff for the summer. The cooling effect would be such a great thing on a hot day that I'd probably dab the stuff behind my ears and along my neck for relief from the heat. But I think I'll leave my little $4 tub of the shaving soap alone for now.
However, lots of shavegeeks rambled and raved about the pre-shave cream. Some folks groused that it was no better than a "proper prep" (which I assume means seven minutes of hot towels and a deep-tissue massage), but others swore by it. So I figured what the heck and went back to Target to get a jar.
So this morning I put the stuff on under a layer of Taylor's avocado, and did a quick shave with a four-day-old blade that had already been giving me grief. It's possible that I just mixed the lather a little richer than usual, but the shave was flawless. The metholated cooling was more muted than when I used the proraso soap, but I still felt like my face was a little tingly-numb. Still, I emerged baby's arse smooth without so much as a single bump.
I'll definitely try a bottle of Nancy Boy pre-shave oil to compare, but I think this category of goo may be the next big thing for me in blowing petty cash on vanity grooming products.