Caffeine - Not Just for Drinking Anymore

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For a long, long time I was a man that thought nothing more of shaving than it being a somewhat regular and time-consuming experience. Instead of just hopping in the shower, getting out, and then running off into the day there was this occasional need to rid my face of hair. Then Kellie took it upon herself to introduce me to a few new tools for my repertoire that have led me to a more pleasurable shave, clearer skin, and an unexpected caffeinated product that really finishes off the whole experience.

The cheapest ways aren't always the best way

Being impatient and having started shaving in early adulthood, like most others I reached for the easiest tool to handle the job quickly and cheaply. My hair-slaying weapon of choice: the generic drug store, 4 blade disposable razor. Everyone knows the type. It is hardly any better than one of the complimentary ones you could get in a pinch from a hotel lobby. On top of that, I would hardly use any type of real shaving cream, and afterward I would slap on some Old Spice and call it a day. There was no ritual, there was no enjoyment in this process, and there most certainly no care taken to the skin that I just skimmed over so carelessly.

Finding a new way...Which is actually an old-school way...

Come Christmas time about 2 years ago, my then fiancée and now wife Kellie took a leap and gifted me a straight razor set. It was awesome, confounding, and slightly scary. 

The set contained a few items foreign to me:

  • Straight razor handle with half-blades
  • Shaving cream puck
  • Shaving cream cup

I had expressed some interest in attempting this method in the past, but was never brave enough to put a real straight razor to my throat. I always had vivid images of old movies where someone would get their throat cut in a barber chair, and initially shied away from using it properly.

After weeks upon weeks of timidly following along with Youtube videos on shaving, and many cuts later, I finally got a good grasp on the process and began to actually enjoy shaving. But there was still something missing.

I was using all of the new tools to have a full shaving experience properly. Creating a nice thick lather on my face using the badger-hair brush. Gently running the blade over my face and giving myself the closest shave ever, but I was still using Old Spice as my after-shave. My ache just wasn't getting any better or worse than before, and everything else I have been using is a brand new method, so it finally dawned on me to try something new at the end of my routine.

It was the only thing I had not switched out yet for something new, and it was possibly the most important part with regard to how my face feels all day after a shave, and here I was sticking to Old Spice instead of branching out.

New After Shave on the block

My full shaving kit

Because I've changed my shaving routing, caffeine is now a big part of my day in a way that I had never thought it could, and it makes total sense as an after shave product. Caffeine is best known for its role in coffee and energy drinks, but there's a whole new world to incorporate caffeine in, the bathroom!

Caffeine is, in scientific terms, a vasoconstrictor and an antioxidant. This makes it perfect as a post-shave product when your pores are exposed to the elements and in a tender state after an extremely close straight razor shave. That awesome combination along with Argan oil and spearmint enhance my morning ritual leaps and bounds. The smell of opening the container is refreshing and minty, and is neutral enough in that sense to not offend your senses in the early morning. Instead, it helps liven me up, because it is both crisp and refreshing.

Rather than being shocked by the intense nature of Old Spice on raw skin, which is a similar experience to McCully Culkin's in Home Alone, Pacific Shaving Company's After Shave is a lotion that provides a nice smooth transition after the shave (Hah, I just got that's why it's called 'After Shave'). It takes no more than a small drop of the lotion to completely coat my face, and the result is both immediate relief of the spearmint and soft lotion, as well as continuing comfort and hydration on my skin for hours to come.

After several weeks of using this product, and I say this as someone who has struggled with acne on my neck for as long as I can remember; my acne did actually fade away some. Not entirely mind you, I still get bouts of it when overly stressed out, but it has not been as intrusive on a daily basis and I attribute that to not only the After Shave, but also the whole change in my morning shaving process.

To be fair to acne-fighters everywhere, I had never used a lotion on my face before as they always felt slimy and made me uncomfortable, but this one does not leave a coating that is noticable on your skin. In that sense, it's more of an After Shave, and not a lotion because it doesn't leave that film on your face that a traditional lotion might, and that's great to me.

The cost of a good shave

All together this entire kit, with the 100 pack of new Shark blades, Cup, Brush, Handle, and After Shave... you're looking at around $50 retail. That's 50$ for an entire kit that's going to last you, at least in my experience, 6-12 months before you need to refill any particular part of it (after shave or cream). Compare that to a refill set of cartridges for a 5-blade traditional razor that alone costs $50 or more, and this becomes not only economical but a new pleasurable part of your morning routine that just so happens to have everyone's favorite stimulant, caffeine. Oh, and this awesome After Shave is usually on Amazon for a very reasonable price.

I find myself chuckling to friends when I recommend this after shave for their shaving woes. I still can't believe that caffeine hasn't been used in these kinds of products earlier, but I think there's a golden era of caffeine approaching. One in which everyone recognizes the benefits of caffeine as a vasoconstrictor and an antioxidant, and tries to find a place for it in every beauty product possible to help reduce inflammation.

What about the other contents, are they safe?

Check out the list of ingredients on this bottle:

Click to see zoomed in picture

While it's a mess of ingredients, some of which I can hardly pronounce, I can tell you one thing that the bottle doesn't explicitly say: this After Shave is Gluten Free in addition to being Vegan. 

Because of Kellie's Celiac disease we've become engrained with a certain amount of over-cautiousness when looking for ingredients that may trigger a reaction from her. Looking through this list of items, unless it's processed in a facility that Pacific Shaving doesn't feel is completely Gluten-Free (Which we appreciate), there isn't a single mention of a gluten ingredient (Wheat, Barley, or Rye) in any shape or form. In fact as a thickening agent they've chosen Xanthan Gum which we use often in baking and other Gluten Free recipes personally, and is completely natural. However, we weren't willing to rest there, we contacted Pacific Shaving and they confirmed it is gluten free.

While Kellie doesn't use this product directly, she does come into contact when touching my face. With normal contact to something with gluten her skin will break out in an allergic reaction, and I can assure you she has no such reaction when touching my face after I've gotten done using this awesome After Shave.

Parting Words: If you love your face, change how you shave

Using disposable razors or expensive multi-blade razors might be a quick fix, but if you want to turn a nuisance of your mornings into something enjoyable, please give straight or safety razor shaving a shot. There is long-term cost savings with this approach if that is your bag, but there are so many other benefits. The ritual of slowing yourself down to fully lather up, carefully running a sharp blade over your face, and then capping that off with the cooling application of some caffeinated after shave will brighten your mornings, possibly clear up some acne, and I dare you to give it a try.

Pacific Shaving Company also has a caffeinated shaving cream, but I have not tried that yet. I might try it in the future after I work my way through my last puck of sandalwood shaving cream. 

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