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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?

inkling's picture

I too was a Gilletteer...

I too was a Gilletteer until I read that same MSNBC article last October. After 20 years of weak shaves and chin bumps (and now that I have some gray whiskers -- more ingrown hairs), I took a modest work bonus and took the plunge. I procured a Vulfix silvertip badger brush, a Merkur razor, Taylor Sandalwood soap and alcohol-free aftershave gel from ClassicShaving.com. It made all the difference in the world.

For the first time, shaving is something I look forward to. When my wife complained about my ooh-ing and aah-ing over the experience, I informed her that I was now into "Tantric Shaving."

It took a while to get used to the Merkur, but I'm happy I endured the nick-rich learning curve. Not only is my shave better, but I'm saving a mint on Gillette's true cash cow -- the cartridge refill. When I've been traveling or in a hurry, I've used my old Mach 3, but then the bumps, etc., return with a vengeance.

Also, the Taylor of Old Bond Street creams and potions are well worth the price (and they last forever). Every time I smell the ancient aroma and look at the stately aftershave label ("Since the Reign of Queen Victoria"), I start talking like a British ex-pat touring colonial Hyderabad. This is how I discovered that I do a really crappy British accent.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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