Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wet Shaving: An Introduction

How was your shave today?  Miserable?  A chore?  A necessary evil to look your best at work?

I have struggled every other morning (some times less often) to drag my sorry bones out of bed, attempt to wake up during my shower, followed by dragging a blade across my face.  I may or may not have remembered to use Barbasol or some blue gel du jour.
It’s kind of a requirement to look as presentable as I can when I go to the office, even if it’s not the most pleasant start to the day.

However, that all changed about six years ago.
One day, as I was surfing around the Web, I stumbled across an article about Double Edge (DE) safety razors.  I did a little research and found a retail site with some quality recommendations.  Trust me, there are a lot more options online now than back when I started on my path to shaving Nirvana.

I was a bit hesitant on spending 30 plus dollars on a razor.  After all, I had grown up using the cheapest disposable razors I could find because the cost of razor blades had begun to skyrocket.  Seriously, a pack of 4 razors was creeping above 10 dollars a pack.
Luckily, Christmas was just around the corner.  A Merkur HD (Heavy Duty) Model 34C Safety Razor was at the top of my Wish List.

My trusty DE:

While waiting for Christmas to arrive, I read a few articles about this “new” old school shaving discipline in order to avoid severing an artery when it came time to try out my new toy.  I had the basics in mind by the time I opened my new DE. 
I started slow.  I was still using canned shaving cream and whatever after shave I had laying around.  As time passed, I got better at mapping my beard growth, which resulted in better shaves and smoother skin.

 I have experimented a lot over the last few years with different methods and products and I have finally found a shaving protocol that works for me.  The results of these experiments have given me a cheaper, more comfortable shave in the end.  A task that I actually look forward to every morning.  Yes, I now shave every day.  And twice on Sundays!
The main benefits of switching to wet shaving, for me, have been excitement for getting my day started and economics.  I was spending about 10 dollars a month for disposables not to mention the cost of shaving cream. 

Most, if not all, of the well respected shaving shops sell razor blades in bulk amounts (think 200 blades for 10 bucks), so that your cost per shave, blade-wise, sits around 3 cents.  You can find a huge array of soaps or creams ranging in price from 5 to 25 dollars.  The difference between these soaps and creams and the store bought aerosols is that they can last anywhere from 3 to 6 months.
Wet Shaving Basics

-          Safety Razor
-          Quality Blade
-          Quality Soap/Cream
-          Brush & Bowl (optional)
-          Pre-shave cream (optional)
-          Astringent for nicks/cuts (Witch Hazel)
-          After Shave (preference)

Shaving Steps
-          Open up your pores with a hot shower
-          Apply Pre Shave cream to soften the beard
-          Lather up a small bit of soap or cream with your brush
            o   Lather the cream in your hand if you don’t have a brush
-          Apply soap/cream to your face using swirling brush strokes
-          The first pass of the razor will be With The Grain (typically a downward motion) of your beard
-          Re-lather your face
-          The second pass is Across the Grain (sideways) of your beard
-          Re-lather your face
-          The third pass is Against the Grain (typically an upward motion) of your beard
-          Rinse your face with warm water
-          Apply a splash of Witch Hazel to soothe any razor burn or nicks
-          Rinse your face with cold water
-          Dab your face dry with a clean towel
-          Apply an aftershave balm, lotion, or splash

You don’t have to go crazy with the products and the steps.  It took me a few years to find the way that works for me.  All you need to get started is a razor that feels comfortable, a sampler pack of blades to try different makes, and a nice smelling soap or cream.  Maybe even throw in some Pinaud Clubman aftershave for that old school barber smell.

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