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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?

cerebrocrat's picture

I have the worst beard...

I have the worst beard in the world. Dark, steelwool bristles growing in whorls out of super sensitive skin, and growing rapidly. I can't get away with anything. And to top it off, it grows really high on my face so I look like a bigfoot if I let it go. With that in mind, three recommendations for the problem shaver: -Aveeno shaving gel for the sensitive skin. I've never tried a true badger hair brush, but this is better than anything else I've tried including a cheapie brush and some pretty good (but not the best) shaving soap. -Nexxus Humectress conditioner for the brillopad beard. Knocks those wiry bristles back to overcooked ramen noodles. -Unlike a couple of other commenters, I've had pretty good luck with Tend Skin.

On the subject of razors, I think the tradeoff between a Gillette multiblade and a safety razor is not one of the quality of the shave, but rather of the speed of the shave. I've used both, and my safety razor gave me at least as good a shave as my vibrating 3-blader if not better, and for less money. But it also took longer. I think that if you want to buy a nice heavy safety razor, and spend some extra cash on a brush and fancy shaving soap, then you're going to get a good shave and have a nice experience starting your day in the morning. But if you're still at a point in your life where just getting your ass out of the house and to work on time is a major effort, then the vibrostupidblade allows you to do a lot of work on your face very quickly with less attention. It's a lifestyle choice much more than a question of absolute superiority of method.

This has been a really excellent thread, btw.




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