Some of the biggest names in traditional shaving manufacture nothing, they are merely retailers, they put their brand name on a range of products made by other people. And the most prolific suppliers to these brands are Progress Vulfix, the brush maker, on the Isle of Man and Creightons of Peterborough in England who make some of the best and most expensive shaving creams.
Whether you are shopping in St James’s in London, at an upmarket American grooming supplier or from a famous global brand the chances are very high that what you buy is made by Creightons. But there is a way to buy Creightons products without paying a premium for a fancy brand, because Creightons have three of their own brands. Bottom of the heap is The Real Shaving Co with straightforward products that can be bought at low prices from discount retailers. Next comes The Natural Grooming Co brand in disconcertingly similar packaging, this is much the same but without the parabens and with “more organic ingredients”. The top brand is St James of London, which alludes to where many of Creightons’ customers have their shops, these premium products are available at upmarket retailers like Waitrose or by mail order directly from Creightons.
Creightons marketing people very kindly sent me a box of The Real Shaving Co goodies to sample (I already had bought and use some of them) so it only seems fair that I tell you about my experiences.
Professional Formula Daily Facial Scrub. For years the girls have been exfoliating with body and face scrubs. Basically these are creams with something mildly abrasive added. Something like apricot seeds. Rub it in and it removes some of the dead skin cells, which is, seemingly, a good thing. Previous generations (like the Romans) used pumice stones for the same purpose but these would be a bit rough on the face. And now as part of the explosion in male grooming we have face scrubs for men. I find that using one of these before shaving has a significant and profound effect. The shave becomes a whole lot easier, everything just works better. And the end result is a closer and smoother shave. I don’t do this every day but do it when I want to look especially well groomed.
The Real Shaving Company version of such a scrub does the job just right, it is easy to use and is not too aggressive, it is only very lightly perfumed and just does the job.
Pre-Shave Self Heating Face Mask. This stuff is intriguing, on the pack it says “hot towel style treatment to soften beard & prepare skin for shaving.” The instructions say massage in a liberal amount and leave for 5 minutes. When you apply it to your skin there is a brief burst of warmth that is not too hot and the cream contains exfoliant granules so the massage works the same as a face scrub. There is a fair bit of glycerine and tea tree in the formula so it is going to be kind to your face.
When I tried it the mask worked exactly as advertised and it came off quite easily in the shower (which is where I usually shave), but obviously it adds more time and procedure to the whole shaving process. Online this is what we English call a Marmite product, you either love it or hate it. I think I come into the former camp and will keep this as a weekend treat.
Professional Formula Shave Cream double concentrated. Absolutely excellent stuff and with advertising law being what it is how do they get twice the effect of normal creams? I am no industrial chemist but it looks like they took two routes. Firstly most soaps are sodium salts of fatty acids. It looks like Creightons used neat Stearic acid and Myristic acid instead of the tallow and palm oil that they usually come from, in other words more concentrated ingredients. Secondly shaving creams are basically soaps that are softened with water to make them easier to use. It looks like Creightons used a whole lot more potassium salts than sodium salts here. These potassium salts are much softer so less water is necessary, thus increasing the concentration.
Post Shave Soothing Balm. This has Glycerin, Lanolin, Aloe and Tea Tree in it, so lots of good stuff. It absorbs quickly and leaves your face smooth with no shinyness. A very good alternative to the Nivea, which is what many would buy at this price point.
Conclusion. Good to very good products at very reasonable prices indeed (if you shop round). They are very lightly and inoffensively perfumed and the plastic tubes they come in are very convenient for travelling.
Paraben watch. There is none in the shaving cream. All the other three have parabens in them. These can be avoided by buying The Natural Grooming Co products from the same manufacturer, except for the Self Heating Face Mask, which is only available in this brand.
Disclaimer. I did not pay for these products.