2/7/16

Gillette Cool Wave Aftershave: What It Means to Be A Wet Shaver vs. Fragrance "Connoisseur"


Circle from left: Feather DE Travel Safety Razor, Pinaud Styptic Pencil, Speed Stick Power Unscented
Antiperspirant, Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Shave Cream, Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Pore Toner,
Gillette Cool Wave Aftershave, Bleu de Chanel EDT, Derby DE Razor Blades, Astra DE Razor Blades



If you smell like the products in the photo above, you look like them, too.

Members of both Basenotes and Badger & Blade know that they're two entirely different communities. Obviously one is primarily a fragrance site, while the other is an organization of men who call themselves "wet shavers." The former is focused on perfume, the latter on shaving, and all that it entails. Basenotes delves deeply into the subject of smelling "good," while B&B probes the meaning of manhood via the oldest ritual of manhood itself. It's a pleasure to be a member of B&B, and I am no longer a member of Grant's site. I can attest firsthand, however, to the incredible differences in the mentalities held by members of the two forums.

The biggest difference is in the attitude toward scent, and what it means to smell "good." Basenotes is a place where people are constantly in competition with each other. It's not about fragrance as much as it's about which camp of fragrance appreciation you fall into: the hoi polloi of designer scents, or the aristocracy of niche. Generally the tastes "trend up," as the Fragrance Bros on Youtube like to put it, which means expensive perfumes are more desirable than cheapies. This is not a unanimous attitude, as many members are also openly appreciative of relatively inexpensive products by houses like Mont Blanc, Caron, Krizia, and Davidoff.

B&B, on the other hand, is comprised of men who aren't as concerned about prices. They're more interested in smelling "like men" after shaving than they are in smelling "good." Clearly they want to smell "good" also, but it's a priority eclipsed by a stronger need to project manliness and bucketloads of testosterone. And the unspoken rule on the boards is that men don't fuss over perfume. Men splash on aftershave and maybe - just maybe - follow it with a little "cologne," in the more literal sense of the word (citrus, dry florals, sandalwood, musk). Aftershave, in both splash and balm forms, is more important than perfume. And aftershave, as we all know, is usually pretty cheap.

Granted, there are now plenty of high rent alternatives to the usual drugstore fare, stuff by Taylor of Old Bond Street, Truefitt and Hill, Myrsol, and Floid, to name a few. Some of these can cost a pretty penny. Then there's the added expense of stocking up on shaving soap and brushes (if you're a true wet shaver), or bottled shave creams (if you're a cheater like me), plus razors, toners, and talcs. But when it comes to how you smell, even the expensive aftershaves aren't aiming very high. Most are interpretations of the "Barbershop" concept, that fantastical, romantic ideal of powdery cleanliness achieved with minimal effort in every street corner barbershop of the nineteen fifties. Consider reviews of Myrsol's "Blue" aftershave compared to those of Aqua Velva Ice Blue, and you'll find many men prefer AV. Yet both are simply "barbershop" scents.

The other day I picked up a bottle of Gillette's Cool Wave aftershave. I've been familiar with it for a while, and never bothered with it, but out of boredom figured I'd give it a try. Interestingly, it's made in France, and housed in glass, which is nice. From the spout it smells like the nineties mixed with a little eighties, sort of a cross between Chrome and Lomani Pour Homme. Cool Wave was released in 1993, so its old-school vibe makes sense. The chemical properties of the stuff are bare bones: alcohol and fragrance. The smell is interesting, though. It's what is known on basenotes as a "grey citrus" scent, usually a derogatory term for a fragrance, as it alludes to a failed, overly metallic attempt at lemon, lime, and grapefruit notes. Typically "grey citrus" exists as a passing phase in a scent's evolution, such as in 4711 and Claiborne Sport, where the fruits are monochrome for a minute or two, and then blush back to color as more notes appear.

Cool Wave does something different - it embraces its "greyness." In fact, the citrus notes coalesce into what seems to be a blatant olfactory reconstruction of the smell of cold steel, not far removed from how my chromed razor and its blades smell. They could have called it "Cool Chrome," as it smells more metallic than Azzaro's take on this theme, and considerably cooler, with a fleeting hint of icy menthol (despite the formula containing no menthol at all). After ten minutes or so, it dries down to a mossy vetiver that actually smells pretty good. The fragrance's lifespan is extended by Gillette's use of hydrogenated castor oil as a carrier, instead of glycerin. If you use enough of it, Cool Wave will last a good three or four hours with some real projection. And its smell complements more sophisticated fare like Bleu de Chanel very well, making it the ideal "fresh" aftershave.

As I peruse the boards on B&B, I find generally favorable reviews of Gillette's aftershaves, including Cool Wave. This doesn't surprise me. B&B members embrace products like Clubman Aftershave-Lotion (and all Pinaud aftershaves), Old Spice, Skin Bracer, Aqua Velva and AV Ice Blue, Brut, Royal Copenhagen, Tabac, Royall Lyme (and all Royall products), various Florida Waters, Bay Rums, English Leather, Osage Rub, Jeris tonics, and dollar store Avon aftershaves. If I were to be objective about it, I'd have to say that most of these guys are walking around smelling like cheap cologne - i.e., smelling "bad." After all, who wants to smell plasticky dime store aroma chemicals wafting from the body of another person? When was the last time a woman told a guy (honestly) that his Florida Water smelled incredible?

But I can't be objective about it because I myself am a wet shaver. This is more than a grooming choice - it's a way of life. Wet shaving doesn't make sense until you start doing it. When I was a teenager and a young man in my early twenties, I used disposable and electric razors to shave. My shaves were adequate but clumsy. It was a joyless ritual, merely an exercise in shaving cream under a cheap skein of metal louvers that pulled on my hairs before chopping through them. It was a bumpy, irritating ride.

In my mid twenties (twenty-five or twenty-six), I realized that double-edged safety razors were a thing, and had been a thing for decades. They're far more approachable than straight razors, which in my opinion are the scariest things ever invented. Ever see the movie Drive, when Al Brooks kills Bryan Cranston's character? Yeah.

Furthermore, DE safety razors are so much better at what they do than those awful plastic disposables with five blades. Those things are terrible. Think about it - you execute one stroke on your face, and it's equal to five strokes, four of which are redundantly scraping into bare flesh. Sound good? Didn't think so. Whoever invented those things should be taken out back and shot.

Metal DE razors are the way to go. They're classier looking. They're permanent, for they'll never break or wear out. And they're easy to use, once you get the hang of them. I was fortunate enough to get a snub-handled Feather before they were discontinued (Feather razors have since become rather expensive). Shaving with it has always been a pleasure. My skin's health has improved, and I have total control over my appearance. I admit that when I first started using it, shaving was something done on Saturdays, when I had the time to complete the ritual. My inexperience slowed the process down, and I was lucky if I could shave within an hour.

Now, nine years later, I'm able to get a close shave done in ten minutes or less. Once the hairs are gone, the fun starts. Bear in mind that the skin has been scraped by a piece of metal, probably the most irritating thing imaginable. So the strategy of restoring its vitality and soothing whatever injuries were sustained is essential to how the rest of my day goes. There are a few options: witch hazel, aloe, balm, or alcohol. Sometimes they're used together, and sometimes just one gets picked, depending on how successful and gentle the shave.

When aftershave is used, it is typically paired with something that complements its scent. If I use Clubman, I might wear Brut or Rive Gauche Pour Homme. If I use Aqua Velva, I may opt for Bleu de Chanel or Cool Water. Sometimes I spritz my face with Tabac cologne, or Royal Copenhagen. Skin Bracer, my favorite, is sometimes paired with Joop! Jump, Jeanne Arthes Cotton Club, or Playboy VIP. Rarely do I leave the house with just an aftershave on, because most aftershaves are undetectable after an hour, rendering null and void their viability as a personal scent. Yet whatever it's paired with seeks only to reinforce the sensory aftermath of my morning ablutions.

Notice the common bond between these products: they're all cheap. They smell cheap. Yet as a guy, that's how I want to smell. That's how the hundreds of guys on Badger & Blade want to smell, also. What gives?

I think it boils down to nostalgia. Men want to smell "the way real men used to smell." There's a scene early on in High Plains Drifter where Clint Eastwood visits a small town barber. He's about to get a shave, and the barber nervously asks if he wants it followed with lilac water. Eastwood's character isn't interested. But he does want the shave. And that entails being slathered in soap, and probably dusted with talc. The message is that the artifice of donning cologne is not as manly as the residual scents imparted by simply being shaved. It's these residual aromas that the cheap aftershaves attempt to simulate - the powders, the soaps, the whiffs of metal. These allude to real masculinity. These are "barbershop."

Shaving isn't something to be taken lightly. B&B members take it seriously because they enjoy it, but my best friend is someone who actually suffers from shaving. Without getting too specific about his personal identity, I'll just say that he suffers from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and is fixated on the "perfect" shave. To him, it's about symmetry. He shaves one side of his face. Then he shaves the other. Then he re-shaves the edges of his beard on the first side, followed with an equal touch-up effort on the other. That's fine, except his illness kicks in, and he's never satisfied with how his beard looks. So he shaves and re-shaves and re-shaves again, literally dragging the blades (inexplicably, he uses disposables) over hairless skin.

He does this a few dozen times before he's finally satisfied. Then he applies balms, or just keeps the aloe shave cream on his cheeks, and tries to return to normal life. Meanwhile, he just spent four hours in the bathroom engaged in a ritual that should have been completed in no more than fourteen minutes. Shaving is literally consuming his life. This is only possible because, for better or worse, shaving is an integral part of being a man. It's the reason the recent "lumberjack metrosexual," or "Lumbersexual" trend of being fastidiously groomed with a chest-length beard makes no sense. Most of these guys would look a thousand times better (and more convincingly masculine) if they eschewed their fuzzy jawlines and just got a decent shave.

Wet shaving brings with it a variety of aromas from a range of different products, and thus the wet shaver strives to emit the "aura" of having shaved, as if it is a scent of its own. Achieving this mood does not require the use of expensive perfumes, though it can if you want it to. Clean masculinity is easily projected via the use of cheap products that have their own complementary scents, their combined efforts working to project a specific historical idea of manliness.

Products like Gillette's accomplish this with minimal effort. In a wet shaver's mind, it's okay if he smells like cheap aftershave, as long as there's a functional reason for it to be wafting from his collar in the first place, and he looks the part. Unlike the fragrance connoisseur, the wet shaver needs his scent to directly correlate with his appearance.




36 comments:

  1. Great post, I really enjoyed reading this. You nailed exactly what a "barbershop scent" is: a scent that captures the feel and smell of the byproduct of a good shave. I've never heard a better description than that.

    Yeah, I find that the B&B guys just care about "smelling good", regardless of what product it is that makes them smell good. Isn't that what fragrances should be about in the first place? I go on that website occasionally, but I have to confess that after seven years of steady use of a double edged safety razor, I've given up the battle. No matter what I do, I can't prevent my face from getting carved up into a bloody mess with a double edge razor. I gave up a few months ago and reverted back to the 5-blade disposable cartridges.

    I'm not a BN member either anymore. Couldn't stand the one-upsmanship from the vintage snobs and niche snobs, never mind trying to keep track of which niche brands can produce the largest number of unwearable fragrances in the shortest amount of time.

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    1. I still check into B&B from time to time, as the absence of pretense there is refreshing, although it isn't as friendly as it was in 2009. DE safeties are generally easy to use on the downstroke, but the upstroke is the tough part. My friend tried to get the hang of it (desperately), but no luck. And I just mastered it three years ago. So don't worry, it only took me five years to get it right! It's not as hard as a straight razor, but the difference is like that of trying to learn Chinese vs. French. In other words, still tough.

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  2. I first started using a safety razor with some cheap Chinese one I got on Amazon. Weighty, metal, doesn't expose too much of the blade, yet shaves really closely.
    I picked up a Merkur after getting used to that one. The added closeness wasnt worth much at the expense of having to be more careful (especially since after an hour or two, any difference is indistinguishable).
    So I went back to the cheap Chinese one

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  3. Wet shaver here too. But I found the same snobbery and competitive attitudes also in wet shaving forums - about blades, razors, straight edge snobs vs. DE razors snobs, cream snobs vs. hard soaps snobs and so on. Doesn't seem that different, just different objects (yet I quite agree about Basenotes, although I still like being there).

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    1. The Shave Den is a bit snooty, and always has been imo. I always preferred B&B. Back a few years ago it was a super friendly forum. Even the mods would bend over backwards to be polite. It's still a good site, but a younger, ruder generation of members has stepped in, and I see testy exchanges on there now that would never have existed years ago. As for basenotes, the site is very informative, but many of the members are downright unpleasant, and the database is STILL crap.

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  4. I think - as colin alludes to above, it's really one of focus. There are plenty of people who spend a fair amount of money on their various shaving 'rigs' even if they don't indulge in cologne.

    At the end of the day it's just another variant of a particular kind of male competitive spirit.

    And at the end of the day, the biggest 'bang for the buck' shaving wise is to switch to a reasonable cream rather than foam and learn to lather up properly - lather over a wet face. The switch of cartridge to DE doesn't make as much incremental difference.

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    1. Well, let's not take the inherent pleasure out of it completely. I agree that it's a choice to focus on wet shaving as part of daily life, but I'm not so sure I see the direct connection to competitiveness. Indeed, as men, we all want to be at our "best" in the world, to have the upper hand in both appearance and general demeanor. But the ritual is itself an exercise in both introspection and extroversion. To groom one's skin and hair as finely as a blade can cut and a cream or balm can soothe is to put a measure of self respect and even-handed optimism into any outlook.

      I also agree that creams are valuable (often more so than foams), but I think the DE is more valuable than you seem to. A good DE razor is incredible. The very best disposable is barely enough to pass muster in comparison. But, to each their own.

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    2. In reference to competitiveness, it wasn't so much about wet shaving, but about the particular way in which the pursuit of an interest manifests itself. There are a number of interest-based forums I follow, and in each case there is a certain element for whom the acquiring of ever more obscure pieces of equipment is an end in itself (together with lengthy defenses).

      Your article on basenotes and reformulation reminded me of the number of music forums I've been where people will swear by particular years/minor equipment variations and so on (often without any basis in reality). For the epitome of this take a look at any AV forum that concentrates on the 'high end'.

      Incidentally, I completely agree with you on the psychological and aesthetic benefits of a well performed ritual which is why I personally use DEs. We will just have to differ on the practical merits.

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    3. Yeah, I definitely see what you mean, there's this gap between logic and enthusiasm that gets filled with a whole lotta nonsense on a steady basis, particularly on internet forums. Granted, there are plenty of debatable subjects within a given pursuit, like music to use your example (better to play guitar with a plastic pick or an ivory one?), but in the end much of what gets expressed is simply opinion with the thinnest of ideas upholding it all.

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  5. I always enjoy it when your pieces end up with a bit of social observation, and this was no exception… I have lately been interested in researching barbershop scents after realizing that the fragrances I currently gravitate towards – Caron PuH, Eau Sauvage, Old Spice- were all relatable to this ethos…This gained momentum when Christmas delivered a badger hair brush, a DE shaver (a heavy reproduction, but a great shave), a bowl of Proraso soap and a bottle of Skin Bracer. I agree with your spaghetti western reference: part of the continuity from soap to astringent to aftershave to fragrance is undoubtedly maintaining one’s internal momentum from grooming ritual to gunfight (or commute); care accuracy stake their claim as qualities worth embodying. I found myself thinking about this piece as an interesting wrinkle on your earlier arguments re: naturalism… Wet shavers are looking for a naturalistic rendering of the utility of shaving materials, but also trying to ground this utilitarian aura in the no-nonsense outlooks of their forebears. In this sense, cheapness can actually be a part of the mystique (who doesn’t buy their Pinaud at Walgreen’s?) It’s this sense of bonding between smell, image and ethos that unifies the wet shaver, I guess, whereas the uncertainties of the connoisseur (the urgency concerning price point vs. quality, the chauvinistic rallying around one camp or another) betrays a less stable sense of identity. Chauvinism among wet shaver enthusiasts seems to be more a battle between prestige and proletarian (Quorum vs. Eucris) but arguably all are in search of a heritage to which they can relate. Anyway, all this makes me curious about how to regard the postmodern barbershop fragrance. A couple of weeks ago, I found myself wandering around the mall with a two strips of paper - Azzaro Pour Homme or Maison Margiella’s At The Barber’s? Both have notes of lavender, pepper, basil, rosemary, geranium, tonka bean, moss and musk; both have citric topnotes and soap-leathery accords. The former is a reformulated old-school fougere with a Mediterranean twist, while the latter is a boutique-brand postmodern concept fragrance that retails for easily twice as much. My wife is very suspicious of Azzaro (‘smells like one of my uncles’) but likes At the Barber’s, while my twenty-year old writer/musician son (no stranger to fragrance himself) claims the Azzaro reminds him of me, or maybe anecdotes he’s heard about my father or maybe fathers in general. He says that he finds old school fougeres and powerhouses ‘comforting’, despite never having grown up with them as far as I know, and associates them with hardworking office guys – where do these associations come from? It all makes me wonder if the truth lies somewhere between the longings for ancestral authenticity of the wet shavers and the anxious fantasies of the connoisseurs, in a no-man’s land (pun intended) inhabited by whoever we thought our fathers were, or ought to have been…

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    1. The "old man smell" is a good example of cognitive dissonance at work. People want to try a perfume because they want to smell "better." To most, smelling "better" means donning an improved air of sophistication and worldliness that ticks all the right "ooh!" and "aah!" boxes, while also fortifying the slightly manufactured sense that the fragrance's wearer is sexy, masculine, manly, confident, etc.

      Then there's the first sniff, and: "Eeew! It smells too old mannish!" There has never been, nor will there ever be a man over seventy-five who wears a seventies fern like Azzaro Pour Homme. Yet somehow that style of fougere garners this type of association. But that's the association things like Azzaro Pour Homme are actually hoping people will make! Yes! Smell like an old man! Old men have SURVIVED life. They've slept with more women than you. They've been to more countries than you. They've driven more cars, cooler cars than you'll ever drive. They've learned and forgotten jokes a thousand times funnier than any meme found on Facebook, and eaten foods far more delicious than those mealy trend-fushion sushi rolls you pay a hundred dollars a month for.

      An understanding of this is what connects in the wet shaver's brain. I haven't done the subject justice in this post, because ultimately what must be addressed is the place where wet shaving and a true love of perfume intersect - the classic fougere. There's a reason people still manufacture Canoe, Brut, Royal Copenhagen, Azzaro, Tuscany, Rive Gauche, Paco Rabanne, and in recent years Bleu de Chanel (probably the most unlikely hero for contemporary wet shavers who really know what the fuck they're smelling) - these fragrances embody the ritual (shaving) and the result (looking your best) with their scents.

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    2. "There has never been, nor will there ever be a man over seventy-five who wears a seventies fern like Azzaro Pour Homme."

      But equally, when I was 8, my uncle of 40 was already an 'old man' in my mind - and so the association continues.

      A minor tangent on cultural associations - having lived in the subcontinent before I caught the fragrance bug, certain smells will forever be associated by me with the cheap sprays that barbers used to use to wet ones hair preliminary to cutting it - and by extension to the smell of sweaty bodies in close proximity on public transport.

      So to this day, the openings of Azzaro or Paco Rabanne remind me of nothing so much as 'armpit'.

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    3. That's interesting. I don't recall ever considering my dad "old," and he was in his early forties when I was a preteen. I guess the associations vary per person. Which isn't surprising. But I've never had a negative association to any fragrance. I can't think of a reason to. If dirty people were to use a certain frag, I'd just see it as people with poor hygiene using a frag that would smell better on me. Azzaro though does have a somewhat vulgar twinge of musk in its top notes, so I kind of get that association of a slightly skanky element with that one. Paco always smells like the definition of "clean" on top.

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  6. Thanks for mentioning Royal Copenhagen (my dad's favourite) I'm interested in your argument in support of Bleu de Chanel in part because I have not heard it from any other corners (either pro or con...) and it makes sense to me objectively. Subjectively, i have so far been a bit wary of Bleu de Chanel because I teach at a boarding school where some of the young dudes wear it. This, combined with the cheap-deo-meets-old-gym-sock-meets-industrial-carpeting-infused aura of a boy's boarding house has fused into a kind of overall olfactory association that may be sending the wrong messages (Young Man Smell!)
    I'll try to keep an open mind... There's nothing like working with the young to make one feel old.

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    1. Bleu is becoming one of my preferred wet shaver frags. After reading's Polge's explanation for it, it all clicked. "Aftershave." Yes. Minty, citric, woody, with that musky lotion vibe - that's Bleu. It's a reinterpretation of Aqua Velva Ice Blue, which pairs with it beautifully. Chanels need discretion, though. They're quite loud. Tell the kids to go easy. Two or three shots'll do ya!

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  7. Hi.

    Recently discovered this blog, great job!

    I am a wet shaver.

    Am on a quest for a " perfect " shave & am hunting through cheap soaps, blades & aftershaves.

    However I do tend to wear aftershaves to work instead of cologne as I work in a chemical plant & it seems a waste to use cologne, so scent longevity is something that appeals to me .

    So far out of maybe 20 aftershaves
    old spice original, clubman, brut Alaska & Gillette Arctic ice seem to have the best longevity.

    However the ones I will be keeping are old spice, Gillette cool wave & maybe Floid blue (if only the scent lasted!).

    Any tips on a interesting smelling aftershave with longevity?

    P.S my go to cologne is cool water!

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  8. Hmmm, so now a post pairing up aftershaves with colognes based on dominant accords is in order (sandalwood or lavender, musk or herbs, menthol or citrus...) Especially enjoying the mix of high and low, as this is much more fun than just getting everything from Trumper or something.

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    1. I was actually thinking of creating a post just about this. More specifically including the types of soap to use in a shower prior to donning specific fragrances. Just to give you an idea: Irish Spring = Sung Homme. (That's an easy one.) I'll try and include the aftershave/fragrance match also.

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    2. Great! Someone said Proraso Red & Azzaro, though I have not tried this firsthand... with either Pinaud clubman or Musgo Real Classic (I'm thinking the latter is basically Pinaud for guys who want a lovelier-looking medicine cabinet and/or are nervous about shuffling past the tan-coloured orthotics at Walgreen's.)

      - Personally, I enjoy Caron PuH with L'Occitane's Lavender 'Bon Mere' soap in the shower (the lavender notes are both very natural and intense)...I use Proraso Green but I'm sure other more conventional (anisic) shaving soap would also work well. Based on a sampling of Musgo Real #4, I'd say that it's a nice fit for a splash, but until I can afford that, Skin Bracer seems to provide a nice segue between the menthol of the Proraso and the lavender of PuH.

      Also great together are Crabtree & Evelyn's Juniper & Vetiver soap and Eau Sauvage... An effect that really seems to help boost the fragrance and is wonderfully stimulating. I'm not sure about a worthy splash for that one though...Until I can afford the Eau Sauvage aftershave, I am probably still reaching for my seemingly bottomless bottle of Florida Water, odd fit though it is.

      Good luck!

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    3. Thanks for the tips! The Musgo Real line is on my radar. Also intend on picking up some Myrsol this year and reviewing them. A good alternative to Eau Sauvage is Roger & Gallet's cologne, and I've read the original Creed aftershave from the seventies is very musky/citric as well.

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  9. Have been a wet shaver since my teens, never budging to my dad's attempt to convert me to electrical shaving (irritates my skin to no extent).I always shave while under the shower and the Gilette blades of today are a far cry from what was available back in the seventies, when early morning blood baths were quite common.I have never tried applying AS a n d cologne/perfume at the same time,though,let alone differnet scents.It has always been one or the other.Nice idea, might try it sometime. For long lasting AS there's none better than Tabac, closely followed by Old Spice or Brut.I have tried a couple of Musgo Real scents, but for me only "Orange Amber" is worth the bucks. By the way: There's a trick by which you can use your wet shaving blade for months on end without ever having to change it (mine is going into its 9th month !!). I might get sued by Gilette if ever I post it...

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    1. I usually turn the blade over after a few shaves, which doubles the life. Wonder what you do?

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  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi5XQCMHuAc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ADaRIqy0Dc

    Here's another method:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjSkgz3-2Ig

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  11. As possibly the only female on here-
    I went to beauty school right out of high school & worked as a beautician for a few years before going to university. My dad became weakened with cancer & couldn't shave himself so an old school barber friend taught me how to do a proper wet shave for him. DE safety razors are definitely the way to go. Depending on how coarse your beard is a hot, wet towel before shaving can help to soften your beard a bit to get a smoother shave.
    You can always tell a man who uses an electric shaver by his shaggy jawline. It looks sloppy & bad. No electric shaver/razor can ever give you an even shave around the angle of your jaw.
    My husband goes to the barber here in Nepal & doesn't know how to shave himself. So I had to teach my sons how to do a proper wet shave (they are too embarrassed to go to the barber & mom has always cut their hair too.)
    Neutrogena makes a nice sensitive skin aftershave that is glycerin based if the alcohol based ones are too drying for you. My youngest son uses it & it has a clean, generic "sporty" scent that's gone in 15 minutes.
    From a female perspective- I don't think any of these 'old school' inexpensive aftershaves you've mentioned smell cheap at all, they smell 'groomed' as in not a perfumed metrosexual but a man who has good hygiene. The cheap Indian crap called "Denim" they put on my husband at the Nepali barbers' smells like poodle spray though.

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    1. Couldn't agree more. DE shaves are the only way to go, and yes, "cheap" doesn't mean "bad." In many cases with wet shaving, it smells downright great.

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  12. Nivea shaving cream (blue tube) smells a lot like BDC, btw...

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  13. Hi,

    A cry for help - what can I use instead of Gillette Cool Wave body spray?

    Occasionally, I'll have a poke around on the internet in an attempt to resolve a niggling problem. On this occasion Google has brought me here. So I wonder if anyone can help. For many years I was a default Gillette user. I would apply the Gillette shave gel, deploy the Gillette razor (whichever one incorporated the latest "innovations") and then spray around with the Gillette body spray. It was the easy option. I have since jumped off the Gillette band waggon and now use an Edwin Jagger DE razor and Feather blades. A better shave, and far cheaper. That's all fine but the problem I have is with the body spray.

    A couple of years ago, Gillette discontinued their body sprays and, although I was fed up with chasing and paying for the latest Gillette razors, I was really happy with the Gillette Cool Wave body spray. I and the family liked the smell, and I never got any skin irritation from using it. Since it disappeared I have tried numerous alternatives but not found the right one yet.

    So what I'm looking for is a non-antiperspirant deodorant body spray (antiperspirants make me itch like mad) that smells as close to Gillette Cool Wave as I can find.

    I have never used a splash-on after-shave before, only ever used Nivea balm but perhaps the only way of getting the Cool Wave smell back would be to use the aftershave?

    I'd be grateful for any tips from those who know their fragrances what I can use to replace the Cool Wave body spray.

    Cheers...

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    1. For all its modern posturing, Cool Wave is really a direct descendent of Drakkar Noir, with an unmistakable dihydromyrcenol note shared in the two scents. In my humble opinion, those seeking a similar (and better) alternative to Cool Wave should just use the Drakkar Noir body spray. It's the original concept, and still smells great.

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    2. Aha, thanks Bryan. I'll check it out :-)

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    3. Hmm, interesting. Have just had a niff of Dakkar Noir. I think I can see where the similarity lies, but, considering how much I liked Cool Wave, I'm surprised how much I dislike Dakkar Noir! Ah well, back to the drawing board! :-)

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  14. Hi,

    I thought I'd pop back for your thoughts on this. I have just been perusing the shelves again and I spotted Davidoff Cool Water. It caught my eye because of the similarity in the name to Cool Wave. I wondered whether the Gillette product might have been designed as a similar fragrance. I know you mentioned Drakkar Noir as a basis for Cool Wave but for some reason I quite disliked that one when I tried it. The Davidoff one, however, I did like. I'd be interested to know whether, to a trained nose, there is any similarity between the Gillette and Davidoff Cool Wave/Water products?

    Cheers

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    1. There is certainly a similarity between Cool Wave and Cool Water, yes. My apologies for not mentioning it, I mistakenly thought you'd mentioned being familiar with Cool Water in a prior comment. I would add that Cool Wave is also compatible to Bleu de Chanel, at least to me. Neither Cool Water, Drakkar, or Bleu are an EXACT match, but they all sing out the same window. I'm sniffing Cool Wave right now as I type this, and agree completely that you could match it to Cool Water with no problem.

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    2. Thanks for the reply. I'll be giving it a try. It seems to be available at all sorts of prices. But the best I've found - 75ml for a tenner at Wilco. Not as cheap as the Cool Wave deoderant used to be but perhaps doable, depending on how long a 75ml bottle will last and whether or not Wilco continue to stock it.

      Thanks again for the tips.

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