This week last year I wrote one of my first-ever blog posts – The Best Shaving Cream for Travel – from a hotel during a business trip. I described how Cremo Cream is excellent because it is easy to use, forgiving, and endlessly available. A year later, from a different hotel, I am using Cremo’s Lathering Shave Cream – in Sandalwood. Here is my review of this lathering version of my go-to shaving cream:
I’m a big fan of Cremo
I have no connection to Cremo…no sponsorship, affiliate links, or free products to be found. But in the spirit of full disclosure, original Cremo Cream is one of my favorite shaving creams.
I use original Cremo about 50% of the time, with the other 50% being a rotation of higher-end artisan creams and soaps. Yes, it lacks the charm offensive that small-batch artisan soaps have (although there is an interesting origin story that I will write about sometime). Yes, it can be picked up at Wal-Mart (which can be helpful in a pinch, but does somehow detract from the overall wet shaving “experience”).
But the stuff works…and it works consistently.
Why add lather?
One of the criticisms of original Cremo from wet shavers is that it doesn’t lather. I disagree. It DOES lather, and I always use it with a brush. The lather just doesn’t look like what you are used to. Its thin with big bubbles, but it still works extremely well.
Nevertheless, Cremo offers a lathering version for people who want the traditional experience. I believe this product has been on the market for several years, with at least one significant reformulation. I have not seen it in any stores, so I picked up a tub online for a test. I’ve been using it for about a week and here are my thoughts.
When I fist smelled the Sandalwood cream I half-joked that it “smelled like a combination of new Birkenstock Sandals and Wood – an unorthodox interpretation of Sandalwood”.
Here is why I said that, and what my untrained nose smells. The scent of wood is very evident. It is rich, earthy and deep. But it’s not solely wood…there are other rich notes like leather or something (maybe leather and cork…then it really would be a Birkenstock).
But there is something else that is harder to put my finger on. Its the good-but-indescribable scent of getting into a new car or opening up a brand new pair of shoes. It is good, and I keep taking another whiff, but in the back of my head I can’t help picturing the scent of “manufactured”, if there is such a thing.
Others who have smelled it said its “pleasant and clean”. I agree. It’s not my favorite sandalwood, but I like it well enough. For the record – I have no idea what true Indian sandalwood smells like. Everyone’s sandalwood smells a little different.
When I opened the tub I noticed the same “pearlescent” sheen of other creams. I brushed my finger across the top and realized that the cream is a little firmer than it looks. It is easy to scoop out with a finger but it has a little more backbone than some of my other creams.
The directions say to “thoroughly wet shave the brush with water”. Original Cremo LOVES water, so I did as I was told and used a thoroughly damp brush.
The lather is still thin compared to other shaving creams. It provides the satisfaction of working the brush in the bowl and whipping up a froth, but the froth doesn’t have the dense meringue-like consistency that other shaving creams have.
I have tried lathering with varying amounts of water…too dry and the lather is sticky and gummy, too much water and the lather is thin.
Personally, I value slickness over the thickness of the lather…after all, I often use original Cremo which barely lathers at all. But I imagine Cremo finds itself in a Catch-22 when formulating a lathering version. Original Cremo is a rockstar, but only after it has had plenty to drink. The water that makes it work well is the same thing that can kill a good lather. Quite a bind for a cosmetic chemist if you ask me.
Here is where I hang my head and say – as much as I want to love this cream, I just don’t love it. I don’t hate it either…it is just average.
I love original Cremo for the slickness. But the lathering version just doesn’t achieve the same level of slickness. Usually adding a little water to original Cremo will restore it to its lubricious glory, but adding more water to the lathering version just seems to thin it out without getting the slickness I’m looking for.
In fact, I have found that using the lathering Cremo a little THICKER, tends to work better, rather than adding more water. The lather is even less gratifying with less water (a little thick, sticky and pasty), but the cream seems to perform better this way. It doesn’t have the same glide that I am used to, but it does seems to provide enough lubricity and protection.
I have achieved some excellent three-pass shaves with this cream. But the shaving experience doesn’t blow me away.
Despite the fact that this is not my favorite cream, I do encourage you to buy a tub to try. One of the beauties of wet shaving is that everyone’s experience is different. You may find Cremo lathering to be the best shaving cream on the planet. But if you discount it based on my opinion, you’ll never know. I’m just one guy with skin and beard that is completely different than yours.
As for me, I will use this down to the bottom of the tub and move onto trying something else. For me the original Cremo is a superior product. Adding a nice lather would be great, but not if it detracts from the performance and slickness of the cream.
If I want a better lather with Cremo slickness I will continue to do what I do now – add a small squirt of Cremo into another soap/cream as I am building the lather. Give it a try!
What is your opinion of Cremo Lathering? I would love to hear it. Comment here, tag me on twitter (@SaveYourShave) or send me an email (SaveYourShave@gmail.com). I hope you found this review helpful.
The purpose of this blog is to share how traditional wet shaving can help men get better shaves and clearer skin. Here are some additional posts you may find interesting:
Intro to Wet Shaving – A primer on how DE shaving helps give better shaves and clearer skin
Shaving Technique – A “how-to” guide for shaving with a safety razor
DE Shaving Cost Comparison – Analysis comparing the cost of DE shaving vs cartridge shaving (spoiler: DE razors are cheaper than dirt!)
Gear for Beginners – The low-cost tools that introduced me to DE shaving
Razor Aggressiveness Basics – An explanation of what makes a razor “mild” with recommendations for beginning DE shavers