( Yeah I said I’d write this post to several people. Yes its nerdy. Short version: You owe it to yourself to get a good brush, good shaving cream and good aftershave. Do it now. )
Well a while back I gave myself a close shave with a titanium edged (seeeeeensitive skin) Wilkinson Sword Quattro, and gave myself horrific razorburn, and I thought “There has to be a better method than this!”
I first started shaving with an electric razor, which I had until I think my second year of Uni. It wasn’t bad, but periodically would irritate my skin badly (not changing blades or covers fast enough? Just random chance? Poor quality aftershave? You be the judge). And eventually I thought “There has to be a better method than this!”
So I went out and obtained aforementioned cartidge razor from Wilkinson sword, along with some Gillete sensitive skin shaving foam and a fresh pot of Nivea hypoallergenic aftershave. This combination seemed to work better than an electric, but as pointed out above not fantastically. As long as I kept changing blades rapidly it was okay, but it still tugged a bit on long hair (it was good on the lower neck however), but the speed I could wear down blades was scary.
So I got irritated and hit up google, whereupon I stumbled upon the fantastic site: The Art of Manliness, specifically the excellent article: How to Shave Like Your Grandpa which is a reasonable overview of double-edge safety razor shaving.
That article combined with mantic59’s Youtube tutorials on shaving (summary: pre-shave oil, lather face, hot towel, lather face, shave down to reduce hair, lather face, shave 45 degrees to grain to reduce hair, lather-rinse-repeat to reduce hair until its gone, then rinse face with cold water, air dry for 30 seconds then apply aftershave).
The fantastic Badger & Brush review and discussion site equiped me with enough information to buy a DE razor, brush (imitation badger seems fine, and requires less moral peril) and cream and start shaving properly. Specifically Edwin Jagger seem to make good, simple, cheap DE razors in the UK, Taylor’s of Old Bond Street seem to do good cream. I’m also playing with Derby Extra blades at the minute, which seem acceptable, but I’m looking forward to playing with other types.
I’m pondering how how it could be to mix your own pre-shave oil, since the ingredients in the random one I picked seemed to be olive oil and some other basic veg oil. Presumably just wang them both in a bottle, shake and magically save money. [Edit: Other people have noticed this as well, the recipe seems to be to mix caster (or grapeseed, or jojoba, or…) with an olive oil base about 2:1 or 1:1 depending on who you talk too (the consistency should be thicker as opposed to runny). Then 5-10 drops or so of essential oil to scent if you want.]
Now I’ll admit it takes a bit longer in the mornings (about 10 minutes if I’m really pushing it, 15-20 otherwise including other bits of daily cleaning routine on an average day) and it takes time to develop the skills to get the angle right, but it does seem worth it.
Not only goes it give you the closest shave I’ve had without irritating my skin (as long as you do all the lathering, heating skin, then finishing with cold), but it adds an element of skill to the whole bargain, as opposed to the blind luck of “is this cartridge sharp enough”, or “Will my skin just get in a sulk”, or “Will the 4 blades of this cartridge just block up with hair and skin and become useless”.
A DE razor blade is always unclogged and they remain properly sharp for a good few days (5-7ish) as opposed to cartridges which I could make go bluntish (well not proper sharp) in 2-3 days, but I had to keep pressing on using because they cost cash.
They also make you feel like a badass (badarse just sounds like your ill), although for more points read How to Shave Like Your Great-Grandpa for details on straight razor use from theartofmanliness.com, I’m not that crazy yet.