Castle Forbes is known for some very amazing products. I have already posted a review of their amazing shaving cream, and will be writing one on their aftershave balm very soon. Castle Forbes was built in 1815 and is often mentioned in the product description. This really in reference to when this castle was built. The perfumery was established in 1996. I make mention this not to downplay the quality or effectiveness of their product, but more to aid in confusion that sometimes arises from this point. I have actually compiled this information from visiting a number of sites as I was only able to find snippets of the overall story on any individual site. The actual Castle Forbes site was actually quite interesting although they only have a small section on the actual perfumery Castle Forbes perfumery.(please feel free to investigate for yourselves, it is always possible that the writer is in error).
Now on to the review.
First, I must admit to any readers that I am a fan of Castle Forbes products (their shaving cream and aftershave balm are excellent) and I did have very high expectations of this product. I am constantly looking for that great non-oil pre-shave. To date, I haven’t found one that can quite match the lubrication that the oil provides, on the other I haven’t found any non oil pre-shaves that leave the residue or film on brush and sink that the oils do.
I will begin by summarizing some of the points that have been listed by some of the online retail outlets for this product.
“A Product that is not oil based, protects the skin, swells the hairs, allows the razor to smoothly glide across the face, bumps and imperfections. The Pre-Shave is left unscented because the real benefits are in the essential oils of the shaving cream and after shave. The ingredients are also to aid skin regeneration, soothe and have antiseptic properties.”
My initial intake of the product was to expectation. It arrived handsomely packaged, and with the heavy glass bottle and cap that always adds to the classic and classy appearance of my shaving station. As per product description the product was unscented and had a consistency that was much more fluid than the Castle Forbes aftershave balm. My first use was following my usual routine (see post on my usual shaving routine, I will get all the links in soon). I used it with the Geo F Trumpers coconut shaving cream. I had a very smooth shave, although I did have an unexpected nick on a smooth patch of cheek. Overall I thought I had a pleasant shaving experience. Without much thought the following day I used the product with Taylor of Bond street lemon-lime shaving cream. I could feel the blade dragging and pulling at my beard, and I ended the shave with several nicks and some unpleasant razor burn. I decided to give the Forbes pre-shave a break and retry later, maybe I had just shaved too aggressively the previous day. This was one of my earlier product tests and what I had failed to take into account was the G F Trumpers coconut shaving cream that is extremely smooth shaving on its own accord and gives me a great shave regardless of preshave.
Following the initial attempts I made all of my subsequent attempts with the Taylor of Bond Street shaving cream, which I regard as a good middle of the road shaving cream, and a very good shaving cream if we take into account cost. This was in an attempt to isolate the effects of the pre-shave as I have found from personal use that the TOBS creams are more noticeably affected by the use of various pre-shaves while some of my top choice creams are not. I will say in that due to my previous outstanding experiences with the Castle Forbes Products I gave this one a lot more chances to shine or at least glimmer than I will normally give to a product I am testing. I tried this thin and spread out, thick and applied multiple times throughout, every way that I could conceivably use a pre-shave. Try as I might, I could not manage to get a decent shave when using this product.
Conclusion: As a pre-shave I can not see this product being worth the price or even a lot less. I could not feel any noticeable benefit from the application of this product, quite to the contrary in fact, when using this product I actually perceived getting a worse shave. Now there was also the stated benefit of “aiding skin regeneration, soothing and having antiseptic properties” I found this reassuring, considering the added damage I felt after using it with a blade. Now this may work well post shave, I did not use it in this fashion, as stated earlier I already use the Castle Forbes aftershave balm, and don’t see that I should need both. The upside is this product does last a long time, even with the copious amounts I ended up using to try and ease the shave, I still have well over half of a bottle left. In fact I am quite sorry that I can no longer justify my attempts at using it and will probably discard it (I’ll keep the bottle, it is very nice). Castle Forbes makes great shaving cream and aftershaves, unfortunately I cannot state the same with this Pre-Shave.
That all being said, there are many reviews out there that state quite the contrary to my review. I am not sure in what manner they used the product, but as with all things shaving, the results can vary greatly with the individual. There was one product review that I read in which the reviewer stated the product worked so well that he could shave with it alone and forgo soap/cream. Although the thought makes me cringe, I must say I am curious as how he came to that conclusion.