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Shaving tips, or, 'how I remain Gillette’s bitch'

shaving brush

About six months ago, I read this excellent MSNBC interview about shaving (via the wiki’s shaving page), and I ended up experimenting with bits of what it suggested in my own periodic attempts at grooming. My results to date:

  • Water is good. AKA “The wetter the better.” Keeping your beard moist before and during the shave is job one. Shower first, and go nuts with a moisturizing soap. Not allowing time for your whiskers to fully saturate will make for a painful and joyless shave.
  • Get a brush. Even if you start with a $4.00 cheapie like I did, you just won’t believe the difference when you start with a brush. Even if you just use it to apply $2.00 drug store shaving cream, this will significantly change your shaving experience. A brush ensures that every little hair has been pummeled into submission with soap and water, and brother, will you never want to go back. I recently moved up to a moderately-priced badger shaving brush, and I love it.
  • Consider splurging on shaving cream. I’ve tried a bunch of soaps and shaving creams, including fancy Gillette gels and Italy’s popular Proraso, and, so far, my reluctant ruling is that it only really makes a difference at the high end. I’ll admit that I plunked down $17.00 for the article-recommended tub of Taylor of Old Bond Street, but, wow, was it ever swell — plus it makes you smell like a clean grandfather. Foamy, moisturizing, and it takes very little product to make an exceptionally generous beard of foam.
  • Safety razor? Meh. I tried it — bought a pretty nice Merkur safety razor, and stuck with it for 4 or 5 shaves. For me — and loathe as I am to admit it — the Gillette family leaves it in the dust. During the original Bush administration, I was a bleeding-edge “Sensor” sucker, and have upgraded annually or so to whatever model my masters at Gillette have offered. I’m currently a happy-enough Fusion man, although I’m not entirely sure it’s much of an improvement over the mighty Mach 3; that was Gillette’s “Abbey Road,” as far as I’m concerned. Your mileage may vary.
  • Finishing off. As smelly liquids go, I love Taylor of Old Bond Street’s “Eton College” after shave (“combining sparkling citrus oils with rich woody undertones”), but it seems the best finisher for the health of my face and neckal area is just lots of cool water and copious handfuls of regular old witch hazel. I break out like a teenager if I shave more than thrice weekly, and the witch hazel seems to really help with curtailing the damage.

What about you?

Got a shaving product or trick that you swear by?

Davy McDonald's picture

I saw the Shaveblog site...

I saw the Shaveblog site a while back and decided to try this all out and I'm delighted at the results. I always suspected I was doing the whole shaving thing badly and now I know I was. I stuck with the Merkur razor - despite the non-existent instructions, nearly killed myself with it until I discovered that '1' was the safest setting and '6' was the most dangerous (I started with it on '5'). Now I am used to it the Merkur is way better than any other razor I've tried, and I can't go back to paying almost £1 per blade for a Mach 3 when the safety blades are a mere 30p for TWO shaving edges. Make sure you put decent blades in the razor, Merkurs or Swedish Gillettes are good, strangely these blades seem to need 'wearing in' and I think I get a better shave after the third one. The whole morning shave is now a far better experience, I use a good badger brush with the Taylors Avocado shave cream and Taylors or Trumpers after shave balms (essential after the shave). Its a great start to the day, very civilised - I feel the public ought to be doffing their caps to me as I promenade with my now almost ceramic complexion.





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