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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?

Ed's picture

I agree that Gillette's Mach3...

I agree that Gillette's Mach3 is the closest thing to being a revolutionary advancement for shaving. It's only downfall is the difficulty in trimming sideburns. The Fusion, which fixed the sideburn problem, is better if you don't have anymore than everyday stubble, but the Mach3 really cuts through my ritual of not shaving Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I find that I break out if I don't give my face a rest for a few days.

As to the shaving cream, I've tried most of the items mentioned, and some good old fashioned ones too. My favorites: Burt's Bees shaving soap - Good old-fashioned mug and brush with a round of soap to lather up. It's scented like Bay Rum, so while it's a classic, it's not your typical stuffy old-man variety scent.

One stellar find in the area of cream/lubricants is "Shave Secret" (www.shavesecret.com). It is in a small eye-dropper type bottle, and the directions call for using 3-5 drops on a wet face just before shaving. I've used it for about a year now, alternating with the Burts Bees soap, and all I can say without reserve is that it is the ABSOLUTELY smoothest shave I've ever had - no foam, no soap, no brush, nothing but the drops you rub on your face and your razor, and it works like a charm. Again, it leaves you smelling spicy like Bay Rum. Plus, it acts as a great moisturizer for dry skin. Plus, in a pinch it can tame really unruly hair. Plus, the cost is extremely reasonable. A bottle costs about $4, it can be found at WalMart, and it last for about 4-8 months.

I can't say enough good things about it.




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