This week, I got the pleasure of opening up a box from The Shaving Shop/Peter Charkalis and in it was a soap I had ordered the previous week named Hookah Lounge. The story about the idea for this soap evidently is that Peter, while in Los Angeles on business, met with Mahsam Raza of DUA Fragrances at a Hookah place in Beverly Hills.
The scent profile of Hookah Lounge is Bergamot, Amber, Oud, Sandalwood, Rosewood, Cade wood & Tobacco. Peter’s description from the website is that Hookah Lounge is a “smokey, spicy, mysterious scent that is absolutely superb.” It was commissioned to Shannon Soaps a couple of months ago and Peter’s right, this scent is amazing.
A few months ago, I had mentioned to Douglas Smythe that I was looking for a New Age shop smelling soap, one that would basically give the aroma of walking into a place that sold crystals, incense, stuff like that. I think I had even asked about a Nag Champa scent – and I think Ginger’s Garden said they either had one or they could develop it.
Well, again, when I opened this well-packaged soap from The Shaving Shop, I suddenly found that scent right there in that jar. I had no idea the ingredients mentioned above would create this particular scent. It’s a very exotic, mesmerizing scent, and I am so glad I got it.
I first tried a Hookah pipe while dating my wife Melanie (she is of Lebanese descent) and it was kind of what we now joke as a small test by the male cousins of the family. When they asked me if I’d try it, I threw caution to the wind and said, “OK!” We went outside and I think the tobacco was more of a cherry or apple flavor, I can’t remember. But it was sure different. I actually have a Hookah pipe but rarely break it out. It’s not that I don’t like it, I just am not a smoker. It’s more of a party thing anyway in my book.
With winter approaching, I think warmer scented soaps, so this particular soap, I think is perfect for the season. I don’t have the aftershave, but I think it matches up perfectly with some aftershaves I already have – although I can’t wait to get the perfectly matched one. Examples of which aftershave to use with it would be say, the PAA Tamanu Noir II – which I commented that as a combo, it made me smell like an Opium Den from the 20’s as I imagine it would have smelled like… which then reminded me of a favorite movie of mine that starred Bill Murray called “The Razor’s Edge.” These scents that are coming out then are not only connecting with one imagined scent, they are compacted into scenes from movies. I love this about the soaps being thought up and created now… they are appealing to me for many different reasons, not just the maker, but as a form of nostalgia.
Do I recommend The Hookah Lounge soap? YES! I love this weird scent. Now, Melanie isn’t too fond of it – she would much rather have me wear The Shaving Shop’s Hedonisme every day of the week, but you know how we wet shavers are, we must have that variety!
Go order it today here!
A scrappy young Journalist is sitting at a train station, waiting on a train to head up to Chicago to go see the White Sox play against the Cincinnati Reds in the third game of the World Series at Comiskey. He’s been excited about this series his young life, and he is fortunate to have the pleasure of being sent to it for free by the newspaper he writes for.
He has a little time for a shoeshine, so he decides to step over to the shoeshine man at the station, where he plops down and tells the man he’d like a shine.
The Journalist is wearing lace-up brown oxfords, nothing special, just your Regular Joe model as he’s a bit on the practical side. He’s clean cut and uses Pomade in his hair which looks like a slick dark wood floor. All the gentlemen in his era wear hats – most of them anyway, but not this fella. He’s not gonna mess up his hair.
Between the Brilliantine scent from his hair, the old newspaper smell, the cigar smoke from the cigar that the shine guy was smoking and the broken-in brown soft leather chair he’s sitting on, it’s this comfortable scent he’s familiar with.
Maybe it’s from the train station itself too – that smell of business and pleasure mixed in with the aroma of people from all walks of life. He is home when he’s here, as he’s spending much more time out and about than at his small run-down apartment in Downtown Bloomington, Illinois.
Perhaps he’s still smelling that Lumberjack Breakfast from the Department Store Diner he just was at this morning (Dollar size pancakes doused with fresh maple syrup along with sunny side up eggs and sausage from the local meat market).
The ol’ Philco radio is on, playing a tune he knows real well… “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”
Then it hits him.
A familiar floral perfume fills the air from a dame who’s dressed to the nines complete with a mink coat & smoking a cigarette lodged in a holder that clashes wonderfully with everything he’s been smelling in this old shoeshine chair for the last two minutes. For a split second, he thinks about it. “Man that gal looked familiar.”
She disappears into the crowd and he sits there, remembering way too much from his past and the gentleman tells him, “That’ll be two bits, sir.”
The Journalist gives him a one-dollar bill and says, “Keep the change.”
The shoeshine guy says, “Her name is Margaret, she comes through here a lot as she comes to see her Mother who’s been ill for the past few months. You’re headed up on the same train.”
A smile suddenly appears on the Journalist’s face. He realizes what’s about to take place – Margaret is an old flame who had moved up to the big city and they’ll be trapped on that train for a while so they’ll likely see each other. She’ll have a few choice words for him but he’s up for the challenge.
Those were Wet Shaving Times back then and the scent he just had the pleasure of smelling again was everything he loved about life.
When I started Wet Shaving, Badger & Blade was one of my first sources of information about grooming. I spent some hours going through that site and it is, in all fairness one of the best websites out there to learn about the industry. There are some fantastic people in there, and I found that I really enjoyed the professional look of the website as well.
And then it happened.
You know that thing where you have heard rumors about a place and you haven’t experienced it before but then one day, the same thing that happened to your friend happened to you? Well, after being kind of a quiet member in Badger and Blade, I decided to update my Bio to include the fact that I now write articles and essays for WST about my experiences in Wet Shaving and to discuss the various goings on… They wrote me a nice note explaining that my Bio was in violation of their terms. I had included a link to Wet Shaving Times and actually, the whole thing was pretty innocent.
When I protested and actually said that linking my bio to my site, which was Wet Shaving Community related, was a good thing, the gentleman who had emailed me said they weren’t backing down and I needed to change my bio.
No fucking way. There was no way that I would do this, even if it meant that I had to press for someone else to discuss it with me. They countered that there would be no discussion about it and I needed to do it immediately.
Within their terms, it does mention that they would be willing to discuss any concerns with members. Evidently, this particular issue was so important that they decided they would no longer discuss this policy with anyone. They also threatened that I would be booted out of membership.
I let it ride.
Within a short while, they sent me another email stating that I had received an infraction due to a Temporary Ban – 7 days. They thanked me for my last private message and it was worth 1000 points. The way they put it, it may result in restricted access until it expires. They added “Serious infractions will never expire. All the best, Badger & Blade.”
So I sat there and did what any other person would do in this circumstance. I contacted others in Razor and Brush, a very popular group on Facebook. I asked the group about their opinions about and experiences with Badger and Blade.
I got a few responses, but it was clear that what I experienced is not unique. Many people have been booted from this group for silly reasons and impossible terms.
My position is that I should be able to include a link to my blog within my Bio in Badger and Blade because it’s Wet Shaving related. If it was something about horseshoes or my passion for vintage cars, that’s one thing… To be able to link from their site to mine within my own space in Badger and Blade makes sense.
Someone explained to me that they could not control my content and they would not own it if I did that, and this is why they would not allow this to happen. My counter is… SO WHAT? It’s my blog.
Look, of course, publicity for my blog ultimately is what I want to accomplish here and I would like to do it within sites that I feel would maximize my exposure, and I think it’s a fair thing to ask as I have promoted their site with links and discussion about their website.
So, I guess what I am going to end this with is that I personally love the website, but this policy should be reviewed. That is all I want to say about it at this point publicly except that I wish them well, and I don’t think they are not my type of group.
It’s the stupid policy I don’t agree with.
When Kevin Kish contacted me about trying out one of his new razors from line West Coast Shaving currently has available now, I was really excited. This hadn’t happened in quite a while. I tend to think I’m not really a reviewer, I am more of a storyteller and tend to write from a very personal place in this blog. I happily accepted the offer and I was quite pleased that it came in the mail within a few days of the initial email.
General Info about the Razors:
All the heads are zinc alloy and coated in chrome or black. There is a choice of open or closed comb, and I received the Stainless closed comb, a type of razor I haven’t shaved with in a while.
The razors weigh between 37 grams to 175 grams, depending on the razor handle you choose. There are not only stainless handles, there are 4 made from wood. Link to the razor on their website is here.
Here are the different prices:
Stainless Steel Handles are $16.98
Stainless Steel Razor with the choice of head are $21.96
Stainless Black coated Handles are $18.98
Stainless Black Razor with choice of head are $23.96
Wood Handles are $16.98
Wood Razors with choice of head are $21.96
The idea with the razors was to provide a good razor at a great price. Also, the idea is to have the option of choosing your head preference. If there is a head you already use, you can just purchase the handle. I know I’ve enjoyed switching out handles with the razors I currently have in my Shave Cave.
The are 6 handle styles that are the stainless steel and they made the same 6 in a black coated finish. The Wood handles come in different shapes with 2 different wood finishes. In total, there are 16 handles.
They are available on the website at this time.
My Experience of the Razor and Handle:
To be honest, I was a little hesitant to use the head that I was sent. The reason why is I use the Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements DOC all the time, and I just don’t want to nick myself due to non-practice with a standard safety razor.
I have been using both the head sent to me by the company and have switched out the DOC head on the handle. I have not really experienced any other blade in it besides the Astra. I really love the heft of this handle. The weight provided an easier glide when shaving and it was much more pleasing to me than my current handle that I use which is the iKon Bamboo.
Sweet Almond Shaving Soap
With the shaving soaps, they also wanted to go with a price point that is affordable. Right now they have 6 different scents. They cost $12.98 each. They left them a little loose in case people want to take the soap out to put in another container.
I got the Sweet Almond, and it provided a nice lather with a strong scent of Almond. In comparison to say, the RazoRock p160, it is much stronger. I do not know how the other scents are, but I was very happy with the Sweet Almond soap and plan to use it in my regular rotation alongside soaps like Martin de Candre and Wet Shaving Products Tobacco.
Here is a link to the soaps: https://www.westcoastshaving.com/search.html?Attribs=280&k=ss-wcs&mt=&nsrt=&ps=60
Here is a link to all the new safety razors: https://www.westcoastshaving.com/Safety-Razors_c_8.html?ps=60&Attribs=280
Special thanks to Kevin Kish from West Coast Shaving for sending me the razor, razor handle, and the Sweet Almond soap to test and review. I really have enjoyed using these products and I highly suggest those who are reading this and are in the market for any of these to give them a spin. You just might enjoy them like I did!
For the last week, I’ve been thinking about the different things I am thankful for this season. Beyond being thankful for my core family (my wife and daughters) and those who I don’t see too often on my side of the extended family not to mention my “newer” family here in Illinois…. I’m thankful for the food in our fridge and the clothes on our backs, and all the things we are able to have such as heat in our house, running water, and electricity. I am thankful that my wife and I both are able to work, let alone keep the faith that life is as it should be this holiday season.
My thankfulness then relates to what has truly impacted me – whether it’s the art I’ve consumed and enjoyed like the movies I’ve watched or the music I still love after all these years. Yesterday I listened to David Wilcox‘ cd called “Airstream,” and it was recorded in a trailer all across the country. This cd is one of my favorites of his because there is a song that starts off the cd called “Right on Time.”
The song is about how love meets you right on time. He’s right, it does, and what I want to say here is that my face due to Wet Shaving improved right on time. Wet Shaving came to me right on time.
My face has taken its share of abuse – not like, from punches but from the weather, from the sun that burned my face ever so slightly when I wasn’t wearing sunscreen as suggested, or the wind that brushed against it ever the years with great force. My face has suffered from acne and sores that I felt ashamed of and I didn’t get to see a dermatologist early in life, I just struggled through it.
Wet Shaving, when I started really getting interested in learning about the soaps, creams, witch hazel, tonics, aftershaves, brushes, and razors became more than just about self-care, it became about interest in the people involved in making those products.
It came to me at a time in my life when I wasn’t sure how I was going to take care of those little problems that kept coming back when I was using those stupid cartridge razors by Gillette. Sure, it could have been user error and yes, I was pretty concerned about the heavy price point at Sam’s Club when I’d buy those massive packages with a few blade cartridges, but it’s not just the price I paid before, it was what I was missing as far as a community and culture I truly enjoyed.
When I got started in Wet Shaving, I was watching the videos by Douglas Smythe, Christopher Bailey, Michael Bustamente, Ray Pope and so much more and that is what got me interested in participating with promoting products by the Artisans while sharing my input and views about the products just like they did.
What I realized was that I liked writing about it much more than doing videos, so I focused on that. That decision, then got me interested in starting a blog – Wet Shaving Times, and yes, I’ve had high hopes for this blog, much higher than where it is today.
I am thankful for Wet Shaving because I didn’t realize there was a whole community behind it. I would have never thought there were a bunch of people who had gone through similar experiences and then all of a sudden, all these people were there to talk to and share with, and it’s brought this whole new depth to my life just like songwriting did in my younger adult years, just like skateboarding, baseball & tennis did in my youth and teen years.
I am grateful to all the Artisans who have sent me products to try, and to all the Artisans who have put their efforts forward to better our shaves.
I am grateful to the Vendors who get their shipments out on time so I can then get all excited when I open up my mailbox and bring them inside, eager to share my latest purchase with you all via the “Mail Call.”
I am grateful to my fellow bloggers/influencers – particularly those I’ve mentioned and others like Con from the Stray Whisker, Mark Herro (Mantic59/Sharpologist), and David Gonzales from So Sharp Shaving.
I am grateful and so thankful for everyone involved in the Personal Care/Grooming world, whether it’s a picture they took or a video they made just to share what they loved about the products they are using – as it HAS been so much fun to watch them and learn from them.
Thank you for reading my blog, even when it’s not a popular subject. Thanks so much.
Happy Thanksgiving, Fellow Wet Shavers and Future Wet Shavers who found this blog by accident. I hope we all can have great shaves, thought-provoking discussions, and solid relationships for many years to come. From my house to yours, may you enjoy this Holiday with those you love and hopefully get some really good shaves in these next few weeks. May it be the ritual that gets you through and inspires you to do your best and be the best person you can be.
This morning, I decided to do something a little different. I would normally just put on Pandora and listen to some station I created like the Mary Lou Lord one. Today, I checked my Wet Shaving Times Daily email and I came across a curated video of Chris Bailey’s.
Much to my surprise, I got inspired to react to that video entitled “The Soap Sky Is Falling Part 2” and you can watch it here. Chris (TSE) does these Sofa Sessions where he discusses his opinion, and that’s fine. Now I get to share my point of view – perhaps, a different way of thinking than him and it’s definitely not in agreement with his points.
He said “The Holy Grail (of soaps)… we’ve ALREADY FOUND IT.” “It’s not going to get much better – the improvement will likely be incremental.”
Oh man. IMHO this thinking is so backward. We start thinking in those terms, and that is discouraging to the upcoming Artisans who want to get into the game and do their part to further the quality and the competition.
We must not do that as consumers and fellow bloggers. We must encourage the new Artisans and I’ll tell you why. I’ll use an example that might make sense, especially to those guys and gals reading my blog who are Independent Bands and Artists out there. Maybe I could even compare it to say, those kids who want to be Actors and Actresses.
Any veteran songwriter will tell you that one of the most interesting songs they have heard had been something that came out after they put out their album – HELL, it may have even been INSPIRED by them. Case in point and this is a rough example, but Weezer was produced by Ric Ocasek of The Cars. It’s debatable that The Cars wrote better songs, but wait a second, Weezer is inspiring more people to do their thing and put out their music.
How about an actor example. Robert DeNiro is one of the best actors out there. Freaking loved him in Taxi Driver. He ended up working with Chazz Palminteri as a director for “A Bronx Tale.” What an amazing, touching story. DeNiro didn’t say, “Chazz, there’s no room for you in show business, I can’t have you be a part of it- I’m the best.” He NURTURED that story and made it happen.
The newer Artisans push the older Artisans to up their game. They push them to make their product even BETTER. You just don’t want to discourage the newer Artisans.
The Veteran Artisans when they first started out noticed a need and they fulfilled that need. People wanted better stuff. They wanted better quality, they wanted unique scents. The “Newbie at the Time” Artisans wanted better quality and scents. They worked their asses off to make sure their products were top notch. They have never stopped working on their products. They are always seeking to improve them.
Imagine if someone said “The products from today will only get better incrementally” YEARS ago and one of the best potential Artisans had been discouraged enough to not try to put out a better product or a scent they have never smelled before in a product.
To discourage innovation or purchasing product from newer Artisans is foolish.
Artisan innovation matters because, without it, Wet Shaving would be boring. Hell, I LOVE the fact that Douglas and Fran of Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements are coming out with new products month after month. It’s FANTASTIC for the industry.
Same with the rest of them. I love the fact that new Artisans are throwing their hat into the ring.
That is part of the JOY of this hobby. You never know what soap or aftershave is really going to inspire you to do something great.
Sure, be loyal to the Artisans who are already out there, but give those newer Artisans a chance. You can bet that a NEW ARTISAN just might blow your socks off.
Hey, I would like to support ALL the Artisans not only out there, but who are coming up on the horizon. I believe they will add value to the Wet Shaving Community as a whole.
Thanks for considering these thoughts – it’s been an interesting day today so far. I wasn’t really expecting to write my next article based on a reaction to someone else like TSE, but hey, someone’s gotta do it.
Recently, I had an interesting discussion with my barber. He told me that he thought that wet shaving was a fad and that it probably would die down in a few years, just like a lot of pop culture things that quickly rise and fall.
The main points I have about Wet Shaving and why it won’t go away anytime soon:
- Innovation. It hasn’t stopped. In the early years of razors and creams, the public had a few things to choose from. But as time went on, so did the invention process. Many people have come up with unique razors since Gillette and they keep coming and coming. With Harry’s being added to Target‘s lineup of razors and newer products arriving in the larger stores, the grooming market has been increasing steadily over time.
- Artisan Growth. Many Artisans have developed their skills over time out of their need to create a business and tap into a skill they had or was curious about.
- Curiosity. I got interested in Wet Shaving at a time in my life, when I was wondering what I could do to better serve my grooming needs. It wasn’t desperation that brought me to it, it was a sense of needing to improve the feeling I was getting when I was shaving. I didn’t like using the newer Gillette, period. I had to find something a bit different for my grooming needs, and the products I found as I did the research served me well.
- Vanity. This lifestyle attracts a kind of man/woman that is concerned about that stray whisker, you know? The man who shaves doesn’t want to miss a hair.
- Lack of Expense. It attracts the man/woman who is sick of using mainstream products, yes, but it also attracts the budget shaver, because, as we know, it is very inexpensive to buy the double edge razor blades at a cheaper price than going to Costco or Sam’s Club to purchase a pack of the very expensive cartridge razors. Better on the budget, simplifying our lives.
- Variety. There has been an influx of soaps, aftershaves and other products in the last few months and also a large need for those products. I have noticed more and more that the shavers I’ve come across in the community love variety rather than just sticking to the old same product day after day.
- Fun. It’s a lifestyle that is enjoyable. It’s quite an adventure and on a personal level, it appeals to the kid in me. I have seen some people compare a soap/aftershave release to be like Christmas or their Birthday. They are so excited they can barely contain themselves about the thrill of the new product and what it will be like.
- The Collectors Have Stayed. In the last few years since I’ve been seriously following the Wet Shaving community, I have seen one basic truth. It’s a collector’s market. With all the innovation, items such as Razors, Handmade Brushes, Specialty Items and more, the collector mentality kicked in. What if all these items are collectible? What if one of these razors is a hit in our future, just like the Gillette razors have? This, to me, is an interesting factor of the Wet Shaving Life.
- Diverse Community. I might touch on this again in another post, but I believe that the community as a whole is expanding and reaching to people of all ages and nationalities. The truth is, grooming is grooming, and people want to look good. We have always been a society of image, both on a personal level and professional one. Most people, I believe are anxious to improve their grooming experience.
- The Camaraderie. There is a sense of community within Wet Shaving that is strong. So many people are looking into it by logging into Facebook and just joining groups and pages. I think people sometimes see the excitement and realize they want to join in because of the camaraderie. So many people are into this lifestyle, it’s become a true movement of thinking. I am not saying it wasn’t there, I am saying it always is there and there is a true potential for stability and growth.
- The Transition from Meetups to Conventions. With the rise of meetups last year to full-fledged conventions, this is certainly helping Wet Shaving in a big way. Who would have thought that people would be partying in ballrooms and hotels all over shaving?
In closing, I have to say that as winter approaches, I am truly getting more excited about shaving my face daily. Maybe it’s the warmth of the face lather. Maybe it’s the warmer scents that I am picking over the aquatic ones – as scents like Bay Rum and Clubman are the ones that appeal to me more in colder weather.
Wet Shaving is not a fad, believe me. It’s here and I see the potential of it not to just stick around, but change society as we know it. Better shaves, I believe, cut to the core of happier and more confident people.