When one has tested various shaving routines for the best part of thirty years, it is truly exciting but also a bit unsettling to come across a near perfect shaving cream. What can you say about something that is doing its job so well and so easily? Let’s go back to basics. One wants a shaving product to do six things in chronological order: (1) be easy to apply, (2) be relatively pleasant (i.e. not greasy, not perfumed or the like), (3) prepare the hair quickly, (4) deliver a truly close, but comfortable shave, (5) rinse off the razor easily and (6) leave the face and neck free of blemishes and razor burns and, optionally, to feed and relax the skin. Dermalogica ($16) scores near perfectly on five of these six actions and this is truly a great performance.

It is easy to extract a small nugget of the cream from the simple, clean-looking and large white flexible tube. The fact that you do not need more than a small amount to generously lather the entire face area is really satisfying. It feels like there is no limit to how far this cream will spread and no spot is left untreated: as a result, the cream is also truly economical to use. The cream is thick and odorless. It emulsifies ever so slightly on contact with the stubble as it is massaged on the face: you almost feel the hairs rising in anticipation of the blades!!

Shaving (tested with two different multi-blade razors, including a worn-out one) is really smooth which means it is comfortable. It feels really safe and almost never results in a cut which means it can be really fast. Critically, it is very close leaving the skin truly shaved. On the whole, a very special and efficient experience. Where the cream fails is that it is so thick that it is necessary to rinse off the razor very often which is itself quite difficult to achieve. I have found that hot water at full pressure was the only way to do this and sometimes it even requires taping the blades repeatedly against the sink. If this is price to pay for all the qualities of the cream, so be it. Lastly, a simple splash of water on the face and a thin layer of the moisturizing Daily Defense Block SPF 15 and the operation is finished.

Within minutes the skin is relaxed. After a few days, reddish neck marks disappeared and never re-appeared over the last four weeks. Not once did I have to shave again in the evening before going out. No pre-shaving malarkey ever needed. These things are truly great achievements in my book.

A few weeks ago, I was grumbling about a very badly thought-through and appallingly executed Pre-Shave Guard in the same Dermatologica series (click here for an account of Pascal's miserable experience). With hindsight, I should have been even more scathing as, in view of their great success with their Soothing Shaving Cream, the Pre-Shave mishap is all the more perplexing and unforgivable.

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Jimmy's review of Daily Defense

Ingredients in Dermalogica Soothing Shave Cream

Water (Aqua), Palmitic Acid, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Propylene Glycol, Polyquaternium-11, Potassium Hydroxide, Triethanolamine, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Symphytum Officinale, Leaf Extract, Sambucus Nigra Flower Extract, Arctium Lappa Root Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium Hyaluronate, Allantoin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Panthenol, Bisabolol, Butryspermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Melaleuca Alterniflia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Santalum Album (Sandlewood) Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Menthol, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG-8 Distearate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol.

Ingredients in Dermalogica Daily Defense Block

Active Ingredients: Octinoxate (7.5%), Octisalate (3.0%), Oxybenzone (2.0%).
Inactive Ingredients: Water(Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Methyl Gluceth-20, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dimethicone, Lactamide MEA, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Hydrolyzed Opuntia Ficus Indica Flower Extract, Mahonia Aquifolium Root Extract, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Tocopherol, Carbomer, DNA, Lavandula Hybrida Oil, Allantoin, Panthenol, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate Polyquaternium-10, Cetyl Alcohol, Palmitoyl Hydoxypropyltrimonium Amylopectin/Glycerin Crosspolymer, Lecithin, Glycerin, Disodium EDTA, Aminomethyl Propanol, Citric Acid, Benzyl PCA, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 60.