The Origins of Apex Alchemy Shaving and What We Strive For


        Fall is upon us and Apex Alchemy has been more or less in operations for a year now. So why not delve into how we came to be and what we aim to do as a company? Since the Spring of 2015, I have been a wetshaver. I made my way into this glorious cult… I mean community because I had grown tired of dropping so much money for subpar razors and blade cartridges. I hated shaving and I didn’t even bother to use the shaving gel found in stores. I just showered and then shaved. I never looked forward to shaving back then.

Down the Rabbit Hole

It was around that time that I was watching TV that an ad came on. Rick Harrison, of Pawn Stars fame, was talking about something called the safety razor and how his father and co-star preferred it to the modern day cartridge razor. He talked about how it provided a closer shave and was just in general better. It sounded like some bullshit that he would say on his TV show. Less than a week later, I was shopping at my local Target to get some essentials, among them being another damn cartridge razor. It was there that spotted a Van der Hagen razor, some double edge blades, and shaving brushes.  Those words meant little to me at the time, but I bought the razor nonetheless. Little did I know back then that I was taking a leap into the rabbit hole of wetshaving.

I began to research how to use one and what else I needed. I looked into what was a shaving brush and what the hell was a shaving soap. As I continued to research, I discovered that there was an online community (looking at you r/Wetshaving). I also learned that there were two storefronts that I could go and check out here in our hometown of Chicago: Q Brothers and Merchant & Rhoades.  To my surprise, Q Brothers was a bus ride away from me and by a Mexican Restaurant that we frequently ate at. Being on my way my university also let me get a chance to stop by. My first visit ended with me getting a shaving bowl, a shaving brush with horsehair and a stand for the brush. From there on out, Q Brothers was somewhere to go get blades and some shaving soaps. As I read what the online community had to say, I learned of Maggard Razors and a whole lot of soap artisans.

I watched some videos from Michael Freedberg, The Clean Shaver, Nick Shaves, and Geofatboy on how to shave, how to lather, and all sorts of things. My first shave with shaving soap is one I can’t forget because I used Chiseled Face’s Cryogen. I didn’t think much when I ordered the sample, but boy does it make for a hell of a story. I have amassed a collection of shaving soaps, razors, and brushes since. I began to preach the wonders of wetshaving to friends and family. One by one, they too took up wetshaving and looked to me for advice on it.

One down, one to go

         Now that I have given an abridged version of my venture into wetshaving, it is time to talk about Brent’s story as a wetshaver.  One thing I know for certain is that I annoyed him by never shutting up about how great it was to wetshave and how cartridge razors are utter garbage. He gave in and I recommended what he should pick up from Maggard Razors. He enjoys wetshaving given that it is better for people with sensitive skin and he has discovered a few scents that he absolutely loves.

The madness of Alchemy

         The idea of Apex Alchemy came on the morning of June 2nd, 2019. It was the morning after Brent and I woke up in the apartment of our friend Jared out in Michigan because we had attended the 2019 Maggard Razor Meetup. It was our second one, having attended our first one the year prior. Sitting around the small living room, Brent came up with the idea of making our own soap. Jared and I quickly agreed to it and thus began the brainstorming. On the 4 hour ride home, we began to think about what ingredients to use and what we want our customers to get from our soaps. Given that we all studied some kind of science in college, we wanted to incorporate that into our name. Labs and Alchemy were my idea to be somewhere in the name and Apex came from Brent. The alliteration of “Apex Alchemy” had a nice ring to it and thus the name to be. We began to order ingredients that summer and made our first batch in September of 2019.

         Now for those wondering, our logo is nothing Satanic or occult in nature. We are metalheads, yes, but we aren’t batshit crazy either. The idea of our logo comes from Pokemon, funnily enough. Without getting too dorky, there is a Pokemon that resembles a lion and it is associated with the Sun. Being the weirdo I am, remember looking into several years ago and reading that it was based on the Alchemical Lion. The alchemical lion is believed to be an ancient representation of several things. One is that the lion represents sulfur or “vitriol” and that the sun represents matter and the result will be that only gold is left behind.  It is an ancient image that is basically the idea of how gold is created in alchemy; but there isn’t a single clear way to interpret the image but that is a common consensus.

Ex Nihilo

         To make something of nothing. That is the rough English translation of the sub header above and was proposed by Brent. We started this company because we want to provide a better shave, an apex shave if you will. In a previous blog, I talked about how we make our aftershave splashes with a witch hazel base. One major reason for that is because we want to help people with sensitive skin. We found witch hazel to be better for the skin based on our experiences with both alcohol based and witch hazel based aftershaves.  We have been asked if we make an alcohol-based aftershave or if we ever will. We don’t at the time of this writing and I don’t think we will. To do so is compromise the goal we have set for ourselves. We know the struggles of having sensitive skin and thus we strive to provide solutions for those with similar issues. Alcohol is drying to the skin and I avoid using alcohol-based aftershaves in the colder months. Brent swears by our aftershave and our aftershaves are part of my rotation as well. The combination of our shaving soap and aftershave splash has led to healthier feeling skin.

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