Hello, I recently have gotten into the traditional shaving culture and started using one of my Grandpa's old safety razors. I would like some advice on how to pick a good soap/cream and if there are any stores I could go to and smell some of the soaps. I've done a little research and have heard of a few good "beginner" soaps; however, most of these have poor reviews as to the slickness and post shave feeling. Ideally, I would use a cream that doesn't require me to use lotion afterwards, unscented witch hazel at most. 

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If you're really new (I don't know as how shaving with a blade is a "culture") to this, you may well be best off starting out with Noxema or Edge.

Yes, that's heresy to the brush and mug guys, but for a beginner...get the basics down, then branch out.  

Thanks (and I do use edge) haha, but I've been shaving for quite a while. I'm just new to the brush and mug culture and am looking for a nice cream that performs well, doesn't dry out my skin like canned creams, and smells at least decent.

One has possessed results satisfactory from those profferings of Proraso: http://www.proraso.com/

C.O. Bigelow makes a shave cream that did very well for me.  The scent reminds me of an "old school" barbershop.  You can find it in the wee little section in Bath and Body Works. I would suggest that no matter what kind of buffer you choose, an aftershave with no alcohol in it would be more beneficial for your face than not using one at all.

http://www.bigelowchemists.com/c-o-bigelow-premium-shave-cream.html

Would I still need to use an aftershave if I use something like unscented witch hazel? If so, do you have any recommendations for unscented products? (I don't want to end up using a sandalwood scented shaving cream and then apply a fruity, bay rum after shave and end up smelling like (and as strong) as a middle school boy with axe and cologne)

Dove makes an aftershave lotion that is light on the scent, in my opinion.  But my olfactory sense is a little dull, so you could smell both kinds (regular and sensitive) to determine for yourself.  I personally shave at night, so the scents have faded by the morning.  Recently, I purchased a pre-shave oil, soap, and aftershave from a company called The Blades Grimm off Amazon.  The scent is called Smolder, and it is a dark vanilla-like.  That tends to linger longer than the Dove brand.  Also, you could check out at http://www.themensroom.com/, and email questions to Craig the barber.  He's a professional barber, and reviews many different products.  I asked of his opinion of the C.O. Bigelow cream, and he answered back pretty quickly.  He would have many suggestions of what brands of aftershave you might be looking for.  Shaving is basically removing layers of skin along with the stubble, so applying a good aftershave aids in calming and healing your face.

http://www.themensroom.com/shaving/never-skip-the-3rd-step

Thank you very much!

You are quite welcome, sir.

I just made the switch yesterday over to wet shaving! Small world.

I just bought the "start up kit" from Walmart. It had a badger brush, a handled bowl, and shaving soap. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Van-Der-Hagen-Shave-Set-4-pc/34524596

The soap it came with was perfectly fine. Nothing impressive.

Bear in mind: whether you shave before or after shower may influence your shaving soap. I shave pre-shower, so I do not need special moisturizers or special smells. It's all going to get washed off in a moment.

Of course, my belief is that there is only folly in getting special age-defying moisturizers and such in shaving lotion/cream/soap. Reality is that your whole face needs the age-defying lotion. If you only put such lotion on the bottom of your face, then it does no good for your eye area (which is far more important as far as age-revealing features). Therefore, it's pretty much a waste to get expensive shaving lubricant.

As for soap with special qualities such as "lifting power" etc: I feel it is almost a waste of money as the brush does a fine job of lifting the hairs and prepping the face that's needed.

Then again, I'm new to this straight-blading it, so I may be WAY off.

Thanks! And yeah, I definitely don't want to blow a ton of money. I'm just looking for something that's affordable, has some moisturizing properties so I don't end up having to use heavy lotion on my face for a week just to recover from one (one pass) shave, and acts as an inexpensive, manlier, and healthier alternative to cologne. And definitely a no on any special lifting powers or anything, all I need for that is to invest in a mid-range (or even beginner) badger brush. And my Walmarts only have boar hair brushes that are all in terrible condition in the box.

That's what I've heard from a lot of people, especially as a beginner soap. I've heard a lot of people say they felt like they needed an additional moisturizing product post shave, however. Especially if I'm trying to get a close 3 or 4 pass shave where I end up going against the grain on the 3rd and 4th passes. 

Have you felt like your skin was at all in need of moisturizing afterwards?

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