Saturday, January 17, 2009

Classic Wet Shaving

I'm beginning to explore the almost cult-like world of classic wet shaving. This is a shaving technique where shaving cream is applied with a badger hair brush and then a double edge safety razor is used to shave the beard. Classic! For years I’ve used the 2, 3 and 5-blade razors only to find that the more blades the razor had, the clumsier I seemed to be with it. Using the floppy 5-blade razors actually felt like I was slapping my face with the razor head and I had trouble getting to areas like around my nose and the sides of my lip. Gillette addressed this issue by adding a “precision trimmer for tricky spots” to their Fusion razor. OK, 5 blades plus a trimmer! How many blades do we really need? This was getting way too complicated and it began to feel more like a marketing gimmick rather than a good useful idea. And don’t get me started on the prices of these blades. I went back to using the 2-blade Sensor Excel and got a fairly decent shave but noticed that the blades were not always in stock and the blade life wasn’t very long.

My exploration of wet shaving began at the very hip yet classic New York Shaving Company located on Elizabeth Street on the lower east side of NYC. They have a good selection of razors, shaving creams and brushes. After doing some research, I decided on buying the Merkur Heavy Duty Safety Razor. Most of the shaving blogs that I’ve read suggest using this razor when starting out. It’s a very good basic razor with nice weight to it. I already owned a good quality badger brush so I only needed to pick up some shave cream. The world of classic shave creams is dominated by three manufacturers known as the 3 T’s – Truefitt and Hill, Geo F. Trumper and Taylor of Old Bond Street. These shave creams are glycerin based and all create a good lather for wet shaving. The cream I chose was Mr. Taylor's Shaving Cream, mainly because I liked the scent –clean and masculine – but the others smelled very good too. It was a tough choice. There is a definite skill involved with this technique and I will give a more detailed guide in a future posting. But for now, here are the basics: Make sure your beard is wet with warm water—after or during a shower is best. Guide the razor in the same direction that your beard grows, not against it. The heavy weight of the razor does all the work — no pressure is applied to the razor at all. I’ve been wet shaving for a couple of weeks now and have been getting a super close shave. I’m actually becoming pretty good at it.

I'll be posting more on my wet shaving experience in the future but for now the ritual of shaving has become something that I enjoy rather than dread.

12 comments:

mantic59 said...

You may find some benefit from my youtube 'how to shave' videos at www.youtube.com/user/mantic59 and my blog.

madetm said...

This post was VITAL for me. Wet shaving seems much more economically sound since the blades are so cheap. I have to admit, I am afraid to make the leap from gillette to this...

mantic59 said...

Madetm- Do not fear but rather embrace the change. If you want to make the transition a little less dramatic, learn to use traditional lather cream/soap first, without changing the razor: your shaves will be incredible. When you're comfortable with that, then you may be more confortable transitioning to a DE razor.

James said...

madetm: I've been wet shaving for a few weeks now and not only is it more economical, but it's the closest and smoothest shave I've ever had. Much better than the multi blades and I'm actually enjoying it. Go for it... make the leap! And I agree with mantic59.

James said...

Mantic59: Your youtube videos are great! Very informative and helpful. I watched them before I started using the DE razor.

Fragrant Moments said...

Ya know, as a young man growing up my father told me never put a razor to my face. As a result, I use clippers...that's what they use in the barbershops. I will admit though Jim, your post has made me want to try this. But walking into the office on a Monday morning with shaving nicks isn't a good look.

James said...

Haha... that's not a good look for outside the office either :)

Anonymous said...

Fragrant Moments: I totally understand your concern. I would love to invite you in for the Ultimate Shaving Experience.
Contact me.

John
212-334-9495
www.nyshavingcompany.com

mantic59 said...

FM- Take up John's offer for the experience of a barber shave if nothing else. Assuming they use a straight razor (or disposable blade straight) and they have skilled barbers it can be a wonderful "pampering" experience for yourself. But tell them to go for comfort and not to expect a "smooth as a baby's butt" shave. You know your face best and if the barber gets too aggressive you could look the worse for it (I had that happen to my at Truefitt & Hill in Chicago once...ugh). And when you're ready to try it on yourself, do it on a Saturday so if you make a mistake you have a day to heal back up. :)

Perfect Shave said...

What an excellent choice, Glamman! It is wonderful you decided to buy Merkur razors. It permits a close shave while still offering maximum protection from razor burn.
I must agree that mantic59 has some great videos on youtube about wetshaving.

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Md Jasim said...

This is really a nice and informative post. Thanks man you are doing a good job. I will be happy to see something like this from you. Best safety razor