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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?

Dinesh's picture

I use Geo Trumper (...

I use Geo Trumper ( http://www.trumpers.com ) Coconut Shaving cream (with a badger hair brush of course). It's lovely; very rich and moisturising. Some men may prefer the fresher feel of Geo Trumper's Lime Shaving Cream but I found it quite drying (more obvious on dark skin).

Use plenty of water; the foam should be very 'wet' rather than foamy (the point of the soap being to reduce surface tensing allowing water to 'flow' on your whiskers and the point of the foam being to hold a mass of water against your face). Leave the foam on for a couple of minutes to do its work and soften the hair. I too am a Mach 3 fan (whatever happened to the British Wilkinson Sword companies products - sign?). I did toy with the idea of using a open razor but chickened out.

Use the razor in the same direction as the growth or sideways across it, never against it unless you like razor burn. If you have a really tough beard save twice gently rather than once hard. Rinse the razor frequently. Rinse face with hot water. Then splash cold water on your face and rub a wetted alum block on the shaved areas (that's really old fashioned, my dad doesn't even bother doing that any more - but if you're an aspiring old fogey like me...)

Finally I use Clinique moisturiser to finish.




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