Simpson’s Vanilla and Rose: By now, you should be familiar with my love for the Simpson’s shaving creams. A true hidden gem of shaving, their creams have a bizarre formula that prevents drying and airiness, even after adding an impressive amount of water. A slight homage to the ever-popular “Rose Parade”, their Vanilla and Rose scent is by no means to be regarded as a “feminine” scent. The rose is a dry, “green” floral, and the vanilla note is similar to vanilla bean: aromatic, yet warm and inviting.
C&S No. 88: Taking an edgier, more complex approach to a rose profile is Czech and Speake’s No. 88, one of their very first keystone fragrances. No. 88’s profile is lavished with notes of bergamot, geranium, rose otto, cassie, and frangipani, all on a sensual bed of vetiver and sandalwood. Combined with the slick, highly-praised Volabra soap base, and you’ve got an award-winning shave. Finish off with the impressively-sillaged aftershave splash to start your day with confidence.
B&M Reserve Lavender Soap (and splash): When I think of the New Year, I imagine beginning the year in a state of eager anticipation, of calm following the (often) tumultuous family get-togethers, and a moment of reflection on the past year. Barrister and Mann’s Reserve Lavender immediately comes to mind. A warm lavender is surrounded by subtle, yet present “green”, floral notes. Whether you’re starting off your day of errands or prepping for a black tie event, this versatile soap will invite you with its enticing, comforting lavender and (virtually) unparalleled soap performance.
Imaginary Authors Bull’s Blood (musk and rose): If you thought rose was just for women, hopefully we’ve proved otherwise by now. If not, then take a gander at Imaginary Author’s Bull’s Blood fragrance. Modelled after the story of Devante Valéreo, a Spaniard growing up in a dusty village renowned for bullfighting, this scent is intended for the most confident of men. Aggressive, yet sensual notes of patchouli, rose, costus root, black musk and (of course) “Bull’s Blood” make for a scent so complex, so dark, that those near you can’t help but draw near in fear.
D.R. Harris, Arlington (Soap and splash): A timeless classic, D.R. Harris has been crafting wonderfully well-rounded scents since the 18th century. Arlington is a light fern fragrance consisting of notes of lemon, bergamot, orange, neroli, fern, rose and musk. This uplifting fragrance is - though simple in composition - a very refreshing, lightly complex profile that I believe could be worn and enjoyed by everyone! With a slick, easy-to-load soap base rewarding you with an awesome lather, and a strongly-infused aftershave means you’ll be smelling fresh well into the afternoon.
Taylor of Old Bond Street, Jermyn St. (Soap and splash): Another staple classic in the wet shavers’ den, Taylor of Old Bond Street has crafted and mastered a plethora of timeless scents. Their Jermyn St. is a fresh, bright fougère with a subtle background of dark woods, leather and musk. Perfectly befitting for the confident gentleman looking to start off the year with a fresh shave and a cool air.
Stirling Soap Co., Mountain Man (soap/splash/balm): A nod to Creed’s “Silver Mountain Water”, Mountain Man is a dignified fragrance of bergamot, mandarin, and neroli surrounding a heart of green tea and blackcurrant bud, lying on a base of sandalwood and musk. The citrus-forward top notes yield a very light, silvery air to the scent, while sandalwood and musk round out the fragrance to be somewhat animalic and dark on the dry-down (assuming you’re wearing the aftershave splash). This reminds me of an early morning trudge through silvery, glistening snowfall surrounded by tall conifers.
Barrister and Mann Latha Limon: Oftentimes overlooked by limited edition scents and incredibly well-refined packaging and labels is the “Latha” line by Barrister and Mann. Marketed as their “value” lineup, the Latha series takes a minimal approach to all aspects - labelling, packaging, scent profile, and soap base - compared to the standard line, yet being done so in a tasteful way. A simpler soap base does not sacrifice on performance, as Argan oil, shea butter, and Vitamin E work as powerful skin protectants. Limon’s effective, crisp profile of lemon, orange, and rose make for a refreshing start to your day and year, while rose warms and dries down the scent.
Chatillon Lux Y/R/P: Chatillon Lux reigns as champ of eclectically-scented aftershave with rich history and background. Though complex, obscure scent notes and combinations dominate most of founder Shawn’s fragrances, his Yuzu Rose Patchouli scent is just that; yuzu, rose, and patchouli. I find this simple scent combination works well as a finishing complement to B&M’s Latha Limon. Yuzu and Rose make for a pleasant, nostalgic air of dry florals and citrus peel, while subtle patchouli works its animalic magic by warming the scent with a mysterious ambience. Just enough alcohol is added to close and disinfect the pores, with a pleasant warmth gracing its presence, only to be subdued by a gentle touch of menthol.
Soap Commander Shaving Soap and Aftershave Balm, Honor: For me, there's no better way to start the year off with a fresh cut. More of a mental change than physical? Sure. But it's an experience that, when I walk in, reminds me to keep my image sharp and carry a confident air about myself. Soap Commander's "Honor" Shaving soap puts me straight in the barber's chair. One of the truest American barbershop scents, Honor is a clean blend of bergamot, orange, basil leaf, oakmoss, patchouli, spices, honey, and tobacco. The Shea butter-infused vegan soap will ensure you a smooth, soft shave, while the post shave balm will seal and heal your pores with a gentle menthol addition.