Great Shave Basic Essentials: Back to the Future in "Wet Shave"
Dec 2, 2009
Whether your afternoon stubble is barely noticeable or it can chip paint off of a car like mine, you will benefit from quality shaving. If I use the words classic or traditional please don't jump all over me, I simply mean deviating from a can of shaving cream and a five blade super duper rechargeable flashlight razor. I will leave the classic vs traditional and DE vs Straight Razor debate for blog sites. Also I am not shaving pro., this is what I know about Double Edge shaving. Please feel free to correct me and also create your list and add some good info. if I miss something.
Hate shaving, hate the irritation hate the cost? Double Edge Wet Shave is the answer to your shaving problems. There are tons of resources out there that teach you the basics and beyond about wet shaving. Youtube has a ton of videos most of them hosted by Mantic59. His videos are very educational and cover getting started to advanced razor techniques. Also manufacturers and retailers such as Merkur, West Coast Shaving www.westcoastshaving.com, www.RoyalShave.com, and many more.
I use Merkur Futur Double Edge Adjustable razor, German made high quality razor. I have used some others, all Merkur, I liked them all. The other razor is a straight razor, it is typically seen in western movies or barber shops. I have no experience with a straight razor but there are die hard straight razor people out there, it is a option for those braver than I.
I use Merkur Double Edge (DE) blades. Unlike the standard cartridge razor out there with 3 or 5 blades that dull quickly and are very costly, DE blades are a single blade. They are typically high quality, super sharp, offer two blade edges and are very affordable. I don't know when Madison Avenue started pushing all the multi-blade disposables. I don't know who abandoned the DE blade and who followed. And I have no idea why the consumer fell for that pitch. Maybe "Don Draper" had something to do with it. $45 for 16 Fusion disposable cartridges and that's at our Costco. I buy 50 blades, they last me over a year and cost maybe $24, maybe. The minute you properly lather and start shaving with this a DE blade, you will not go back to the cartridges. If you have razor bumps, frequent cuts, breakouts, redness or whatever the DE blades can probably help you. As I said in the intro. I have a wicked beard and these blades glide right through.
Shaving brush is essential, essential, key, essential, important and one of those things you just have to try out to know what is right for you. The brush is what will create the lather, massage your face and apply the lather, very important. There are typically two types of brushes "Boar" and "Badger". Boar is the type you find in local stores. They are considered the lesser quality of the various brushes, not very soft and does not retain water well. The Badger brush is the next step up, it typically has four grades of badger hair: "Pure" being the beginning grade, "Best" next step up and usually the most reasonable, "Super" one below the best but sometimes and depending on the manufacturer is considered the high-end, "Silvertip" the finest, high-end of the badger brush. The things to consider is bristle count, height, handle, water retention and on and on and on. The higher up you go in quality usually means softer bristles, higher count and more expensive. Dimensions are very important in the world of the shave brush. As I mentioned in #1 videos and manufacturers offer great detail. Mantic59(Youtube) has a great instructional video on understanding Shaving Brushes. Also synthetic brushes are an option, I have tried two and I do not like them at all. Brushes vary in price from $2.99 to $1500. If I am going to have to pay $60 for a quality synthetic, I would rather cough up another $15 and get me a good "Best" or luck out with a "Silvertip"
If you go the "Wet Shave" route with a DE or Straight razor, you are more than likely going to ditch the can of shave cream and go with either Shaving Soap, Shaving Cream (Tube or in Container) or both. Most DE Shavers I know use both and tend to mix them together to get a nice rich lather. The soaps are the traditional disc style shaving soaps such as Col. Conk, Proraso, Omega. Most contain a decent amount of glycerin. The cream usually comes in a tube and one of the favorites out there is C.O. Bigelow from Bath and Body. The shaving soap and creams when used with a shaving brush create a great rich lather that allows the already fine shaving razor to glide through the beard and protect your skin resulting in a GREAT shave. It is a shave that I believe is unattainable with a cartridge razor. Learning to mix and create a lather is almost an art. Much like art there are many variations: consistency, richness, scents, temperature...
These are also very important tools in the DE wet shaving process. Dishes are used to store your shaving soap and assists in the allowing you to control the soap when loading your brush. Cups anything you want to create your lather in, it can be a standard coffee cup or a high dollar custom shaving cup. I use a metal BBQ/grilling style metal sauce pan with a metal handle. The cup portion is about the size of a softball and the handle helps in controlling the cup when creating a lather. I fill the sink up with hot water and float the cup in the water, the thin metal bottom and walls heat quickly and keep the lather nice and warm. That brings me to the scuttle. I love the scuttle, they are very similar to the self watering violet pots and many DE shavers use the self watering pots for scuttles. One it is much cheaper and two easy to get, hardware stores usually carry them. Basically two pots one smaller then the other the smaller one sits inside the larger one. The outside pot is filled with hot water, you create your lather in the smaller pot and place it in larger pot. The hot water keeps your lather warm while you shave. Check out "uber lather" by Jocky41 on youtube. Real shaving scuttles can be found online but they are price, but very very cool. Stands come in all shapes and types, basically place your Razor and brush in and on if you like.
I use Dermalogica products, I just was given some as a gift and they treat me well. This is a very important step in the shaving process that many people skip. I compare it to stretching when working-out, you know you should do it and always complain afterward when you don't. Find something that works for you and do it!