Van Yulay - Red Dawn
Ever-Ready SE | Gem PTFE
Van Yulay's tallow and clay base is laden with skin nourishing ingredients, and I've been a fan for a couple years, now. Theirs is the best use of clay since Stirling's retired base, but it has a much wider water tolerance. That said, where I might typically advise pushing the water, I've found many people make the mistake of neglecting to load enough product when it comes to Van Yulay. Furthermore, you don't have to work this lather for long, revisiting the water periodically to achieve its optimal state. It's almost instant lather, and you know it when you get it, but it happens sooner than other clay-based soaps I've used. The pay-off is a dense but compact, creamy, super shiny paintable lather. When you get that, quit playing with it, and start shaving. First swipe and residual slickness are both above average, and the post-shave is always phenomenal.
When you say "Red Dawn" to me, I think of the depressing 1980s disaster flick staring the expected headliners (Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, C. Thomas Howel, and Harry Dean Stanton). However, apparently Van Yulay was working up a different angle, attempting to convey the feeling of daybreak in the woods with a full day of mental cleansing tree felling ahead. I am intimately familiar with that feeling, and this accord captures it quite well.
Skip the off-the-tub whiff, unless you like gasoline...on second thought, you know you like the smell of gasoline, so take a big whiff. I kid. The chemical flash is there, but it's faint, and when you lather it, that burns off within seconds and is anything but a novelty fragrance. That initial vaporous scent steps right into a crisp cedar. With further distribution of the lather, darker damp and more resinous woods invade, but ultimately oakmoss prevails. Red Dawn tries to come off as an oriental but settles closer to a woody fougère. It never becomes murky, but rather maintains a slightly green undertone with any earthiness being an extension of the moss. In the middle there's a surprising peppery note that's reminiscent of shredded Virginia Creeper vines. It's this peculiar note that spices up the accord, effectively disrupting my ability to declare this fragrance's placement. However, the note definitely belongs here. These notes could easily become convoluted and thick, yet the overall accord has something just shy of iciness, thereby keeping true to the image of a crisp early morning in the woods. A coffee note would probably be too much, but you may feel inclined to have a cup during your shave.
Most of the time, Van Yulay's alcohol-free splashes initially have a distinct musky creamy impression that abates quickly, relenting to the intended accord. However, in this flavor, whatever is being used as the "gasoline" note mitigates this creamy base scent and ushers in the cedar, then oakmoss and so on.
Even if you relate more to the 80s verge-of-apocalypse flick as opposed to an early morning tree cutting, if you like woody mossy fragrances, you'll probably like Red Dawn. In terms of an associated finishing fragrance, it would work equally well with a spicy oriental as well as a woody fougère depending on which way you lean.