Oct 21, 2014

The Art of Shaving and Other Manly Things

The Art of Shaving  - Quality Straight Razor Set
In tradition with one of my favorite websites, The Art of Manliness, [established 2008] this article is about shaving, particularly shaving like your father or grandfather did. You will save money after the initial investment in shaving products and equipment, and shaves will be close and comfortable – especially after re-training yourself in shaving method.
When the cartridges for my Gillette Fusion razor went up to $30 for eight cartridge blades, it was time to go back to the old fashioned safety razor, still available – but generally not at local stores, thus the wonderful world of the Internet comes into play. Of course, I still have my Fusion razor in my ditty bag, but it is only because it is a special edition with US Army embossed upon it. The razor came with one cartridge and cost $20.
Italian Shaving Creme in tube
When I began shaving, I used a safety razor with the traditional butterfly mechanism, coincidentally made by Gillette. Later I stepped up to a razor made in Germany, Merkur, made with Solingen German steel with chrome finish with Wilkinson blades made in England.
After shopping around, I purchased the Parker89R safety razor, thinking because of the company name it would be made in the USA. I was wrong, it is made in India; but believe me the quality matches German and English razors. It is made in three pieces, not a butterfly mechanism – which makes it more durable and heavier, which I prefer. Three-piece razors are popular in Europe, taking the place of the old standby butterfly opening mechanism. My razor is the long handle model, making it more manipulative.
Steampunk Neo-Victorian Shaving Kit includes a period wood box
I am surprised at how many folks, guys that is, that are reverting back to traditional shaving methods. Maybe it has to do with the popularity of the Victorian Age and its modern version called Steampunk fashion and Neo-Victorian paraphernalia. Historical brands like Cardinham-Killigrew are still around, which is included in the Steampunk Shaving Kit.
The Merkur 'Barber Pole' Safety Razor (black handle) sells for less than $40 with several other models to choose from. It is made in the European three-piece style, which makes it practically indestructible. Indeed, it could become a family heirloom.
Next, I needed a shaving mug, shaving soap and a Boar-bristle brush. My first shaving mug was made of ceramic, but I found to like the stainless steel shaving cup/mug better – but more costly, of course. I prefer stainless steel because it is easier to keep clean.
Traditionally, shaving mug soap bars are used, shaped like the mugs, softened with hot water over the shaving brush and then swirled until foamy. But I have found that technology does have its fine points because the gel-foam shaving cream is by far better. Gillette makes it, but I found that the Schick Hydro Gel shaving cream is better. While Shark makes decent blades that are chrome, I still prefer the stainless steel Wilkinson classic sword brand. Except for the Hydro Gel, you will find it difficult to get a mug, razor/brush stand, and replacement blades at the local store – so shop online. My preference is Amazon because I am a Prime member and get discounts or free shipping. You can get a pack of 6 cans of Schick Hydro Sensitive Shave Gel for $17.95 at Amazon. Because shipping is free for me, I save a bit of money rather than purchasing just one can at local store.
Merkur 'Barber Pole' Razor
As far as after-shave lotion, it is like make and model of vehicles – personal preference. I am a third-generation (my son is fourth generation) who uses Old Spice Sensitive (alcohol-free) After-Shave cologne. I use the classic alcohol-free cologne with original scent. Not cheap at $25 a bottle, but it lasts a very long time.
Of course, there is a myriad of shaving cologne, oils and gels available to choose from and to match your preference.
Badger Bristles
A quality badger-hair shaving brush is important – do not purchase cheap ones because they are cheaply made and not quality badger hair. A good pick would be the Black Badger Hair brush for $22. You could spend up to $50 for a quality badger shaving brush.
You can get a stainless steel shaving mug bowl as little as$5 or as much as $40 for the Edwin Jagger Badger shaving brush with drip stand.
Quality shaving product brands are: Art of Shaving. Edwin Jagger, Van Der Hagen, Colonel Conk, Parker, and Merkur. Fro quality blades, besides Wilkinson, try Merkur  German blades.
The advantage of safety razors over electric and the multi-blade contraptions sold today is that there is less skin irritation, costs less, and the blades are readily recyclable. It is a cleaner shave as well. Granted, if it is your first experience with razor blades, you might find yourself with nicks; but that is usually caused by not holding the razor perpendicular to the facial contour – or just shaving too quickly. Shaving this classic way will also make the shaving ritual more enjoyable and even calming. 
The brush versus the shaving cream smeared on with your hand is a new experience and you soon realize a better shaving experience. A quality brush hydrates the shaving cream, or the gel as before mentioned, lathering the cream/soap under the whiskers, which helps for a smoother shave. When using a ceramic mug, you can squirt some gel in the bottom (ceramic - not metal mug) and put it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds. NEVER put a shaving cream can in microwave unless you want an explosion. You can purchase an electric heater for shaving creme/gel cans that are advertised as safe. Or spend some more cash and get a professional hot lather machine like barbers use.
Remember that it does not take much gel to produce a large quantity of lather. The heated gel is then whipped into a creamy shaving mixture with a water-heated brush. There are two types of shaving brushes- boar and badger bristles. Boar bristles are stiffer and hold less water, as well as cheaper than badger hair bristles. Badger hair bristles create more lather and feels better on your face. Boar brushes might be good for firearm cleaning, but when it comes to shaving, spend the extra dollars or pounds and purchase a badger bristle brush.
Shaving Soap
I would suggest that you try the creams and soaps traditionally used in shaving mugs. It comes in Eucalyptus and menthol and not cheap; but you may find it is worth the price. The soaps last a good while. You put your brush under hot water and then with the wet brush, lather the soap until you get a decent amount of suds. Always soak a wash rag under hot water, squeeze excess water and apply to the beard. It helps pre-soften the whiskers before applying hot or warm lather.
Most of the time shaving soaps come with shaving kits that include a razor, stand, mug and brush – the best, of course, being Merkur (Germany) or Colonel Conk (England). Colonel Conk also offers a compete kit that includes razor, brush, stand and mug. I like the one offered by Colonel Conk because it is a wooden/brass stand that holds the shaving cup as well as brush and razor. Problem is, the set comes with a double-track razor instead of a traditional safety razor. 
Colonel Ichabod Conk Merkur Shaving Set (no longer available)
The Colonel Ichabod Conk  Merkur shaving set. You get shaving soap with the chrome mug. Providing products made in England, the company was actually founded in the United States when Colonel Ichabod Conk, a Civil War veteran, married a woman who owned several barber shops and he started selling barber products. The original company closed when Conk died in 1898. The current company does not manufacture its own products, but sells re-branded products from other merchants.
Changing blades is as easy as the butterfly mechanism for the three-piece razor – just unscrew the handle, lift one of the heavy blade holders, insert the new blade, replace the holder and screw the handle back snugly.
If you really feel adventurous, you can try your hand at shaving with a straight razor. They come the traditional way that requires wet-stone and leather strop honing or you can purchase the style that offers a disposable straight-razor blade. Parker and Atiga Barbearia de Bairro are excellent choices for those with replaceable blades. Even with the disposable blades, you should also have a barber strop. A complete 5-pc straight razor shaving set is also available with everything you need except the barber towel.
How to Shave with Straight Razor like Your Great Grandpa

Art of Manliness provides a detailed instructional page for those who want to learn shaving the manly way.
In certain parts of the country, like Virginia, is bringing back the traditional barber shop shaves – something you will want to do at least once a week after your first …
Notice how the hot Turkish towel is placed, so it actually steams your face, which helps the complexion; especially when the barber uses a quality after-shave cologne that has skin enhancing ingredients.
Gone are the $5 shaves. As the video quotes, a haircut and shave is $80. But the pampering is great and the great feeling after is indescribable.
You can get a hot lather electric machine for your home barbershop.
Check out Hudson Hawk traditional barbers …
Here is an excellent video entitled How To Shave Like Your Grandpa (in my case, like my father and my first years of shaving) …
The video shows the butterfly razor – but the three-piece razor is best, as previously mentioned.
If you get nicks, you can apply small pieces of toilet tissue or do it professionally with a Styptic Pencil like grandpa used or the sealed Styptic Pen. It even comes in a travel size.
Visit the Art of Manliness site. It is full of information and techniques long forgotten in history, like:

And for the Christmas season ... Santa Claus Workout.

No comments:

Post a Comment

No SPAM, please. If you wish to advertise or promote website, contact me.