A Close Shave on the Road

A Close Shave on the Road

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Life on the road is much easier for men than women.

Instead of putting on their face every morning, they just have to take the hair off it.

But which of these choices offers the best way to get a close shave when you’re traveling?

Shaving Cream IMG_1540

imageForget that giant 11 oz. can of shaving cream. It won’t fit in a toiletry kit like many guys carry.

The 2 oz. Gillette “Foamy Regular” is the only “travel size” aerosol can of shaving cream that I can find in drug stores where I live. Even though it’s bigger than Godzilla, it’s easy to pack, and probably doesn’t violate TSA’s rules on carry-aboard aerosol cans.

But like its bigger “cousin,” it’s easy to squirt out way more foam than you need. So you can waste a lot of the product and, on an extended trip, run out of it.

It turns out that a bottle of “shaving oil” packs smallest, lasts longest, and gives guys a clean-as-a-whistle shave.

I’ve purchased shaving oils from two online sources, one in the U.K., the other in the U.S.

I learned about Somersets Shaving Oil from a 2008 article written by one of my travel writing mentors, San Francisco Chronicle Travel Editor, John Flinn. Back then, and when I last ordered some, you had to buy it through the company’s U.K. location. But now its available from its U.S. outlet.

There’s more than one “flavor” of Somersets shaving oils, but I’ve only used the “Original No. 1 Shave Oil” which comes in a 15ml ($6.99) and 35ml ($14.99) size. Somersets also sells gels and “pre” and “after” shave products which I haven’t tried.

Somersets claims that “one 15ml bottle yields up to 90 shaves and is ideal for travel.” I used it on several trips over the last 4-5 years and have found that I get a closer shave with it than if I used a conventional shaving cream from an aerosol can. I wet my face with water, apply 3-4 drops of shaving oil, shave off most of the overnight growth of stubble, then repeat the process to mow imagedown the last of the facial hair.

I haven’t kept a head-count on the number of shaves I’ve gotten out of a bottle of Somersets, but after spending a month in Europe, I still had most of the oil left in the 35ml bottle I started the trip with.

Since my last bottle of Somersets is nearly empty, I recently opened “The Battle of My Beard” to another competitor: Pacific Shaving Company “All Natural Shaving Oil” from Travelsmith.com. You get two 0.5 oz bottles for $14.00, plus shipping. You can buy that size, a 2 oz. bottle ($22.99), and other products, directly from Pacific Shaving Company.

The smallest bottles of Somerset (15ml) and Pacific (0.5 oz.) shaving oils each cost $6.99. But the 2 oz. Pacific is a somewhat better value at $22.99 than the 35ml (1.2 oz.) bottle of Somersets.

This morning I staged a “face-off” between Somersets and Pacific shaving oils. I dabbed Somersets on the left side of my face, then “turned the other cheek” and put Pacific’s on the right.

After the first pass with a razor, my wife thought that the Pacific “All Natural Shaving Oil” had a slight edge over Somersets. But after applying both oils and running the razor over my face a second time, neither she nor I found any significant difference in the final results.

The only downside to Somersets Shaving Oil is that you won’t find it on the shelf in a nearby grocery or drug store. Pacific Shaving Company products are sold in some retail outlets, which in my area includes Whole Foods and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

I can’t promise you that using either company’s shaving oil will turn you into the “dominant male” in any crowd of guys, but I;m willing to bet that you’ll find shaving oil will rid you of that “5 o’clock shadow” more effectively than shaving cream out of a can.


Add if you’re looking for another “close shave” from the British Isles, check out this trailer for one of my favorite “Wallace and Gromit” films.

 (Somersets products, and Pacific Shaving Company “All Natural Shaving Oil” in 0.5 oz. and 2.0 oz. sizes, are also available from Amazon.com, as is “Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave” on DVD. Purchases from Amazon.com made through links on this page helps Tales Told From The Road continue to bring you a wide range of travel-related stories.)

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3 Replies to “A Close Shave on the Road”

  1. Most useful information, Dick. Joel’s old electric gave out some months ago and he’s returned to the ‘old way’ which has prompted the search for small sizes you’ve so aptly described above. He needs to read this post — soon!

  2. Glad to hear you’re enjoying our All Natural Shaving Oil! And thanks for the great write-up. Always *especially* appreciative of our vocal advocates. Tell your wife we sell women’s products too!

  3. Good write up, I was just doing some research on shaving oils. I was never sure if the lack of lather would make it a rough shave, or if it would be as good as the trusty Gillette foam stuff.

    Think I might have to order some online to give it a try…been experimenting with some different beard styles lately :).


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