My husband, Pascal, learned a new word recently. Or perhaps I should say the word took on a whole new meaning. The word was emulsify and its meaning has become associated with "mess", "one step too many", "too much like hard work" and "only just worth it". This is all due to Dermalogica's Pre-Shave Guard, a pre-shaving cream that is supposed to soften stubble and prevent razor burn.

Razor burn is the bane of Pascal's life. His neck, in particular, is prone to erupt in an angry, red rash after every weild of the blade. And this despite a brush made from hapless badgers and some fancy "gentlman's" soap from England. He is so cursed that he was pretty much up to try anything legal and he went for Dermalogica Pre-Shave Guard with earnest enthusiasm.

Several months later, the packaging and the pot say it all. Both are covered with white sploges and gloop. Open the pot and inside it is to be found one of the sorriest specimens known to male grooming: a splintered and broken white plastic spatula (snapped so many times that only aboit half an inch of it remains). You see Dermalogica, in its infinite wisdom, decided to make a product for the male of the species (not the most patient, nor even the most practical) that requires preparation. Baaad idea.

This is how it works. The pre-shaven man is required to take said plastic spatula and scoop from the pot a quantity of the thick pre-shave cream. Now when I say thick, you may have to recalibrate your first assumptions. Thick and creamy is is not. Think thick and rock hard. The spatula was, of course, no match. I'm not really sure what would be. Equally mysterious is how something so impervious can get everywhere. There are smudges of it on my keyboard as I type this.

Once homo-hirsute has managed to obtain a glob of Dermalogica Pre-Shave Guard, he has to get past the smell. We are talking Vick's Vapor Rub. We are talking a vast vat of Vick's Vapor rub that brings a tear to the eye. And then our man must master the art of emulsification. The cream is transferred from the broken spatula to the palm of the hand, which is then rubbed against the other palm in order to emulsify the product. I think that, in this case, emulsify really means "desparately try to create a consistency that is, in some way, usable". Easier written on the side of the pot than done. Chunks of the stuff end up on the bathroom floor and our man is left with a greasy smear that he tries to eke across his stubble.

The great irony of this yarn is that Pre-Shave Guard does actually reduce razor burn quite considerably. But at the cost of never wanting to hear the word emulsify ever again.

Water (Aqua), Stearic Acid, Myristic Acid, Glycerin, Camphor, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Methol, Sodium Magnesium Silicate, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Butylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl PCA, Eugenol.