As someone who would require multiple shaves per day to remain “clean shaven”, I’ve never been a big fan. Face feels funny afterwards. It may or may not burn or feel “tight”. Little bumps and such – it’s just not fun. While it’s not my favorite thing to do, I have come to appreciate a great shave as well as the tools and process required to make that happen.

The Tools

First off, get some good equipment. It might cost you a few bucks but your face will thank you for it and it will help you to “feel” like shaving when the time comes to do the deed. You’re going to need a good brush. There are two main types, boar and badger hair. The boar is a little less expensive ($15-20) and coarser so you’ll get more scrubbing when you use it but it will also break down quicker than the more expensive badger ($25-80+). Here’s the current brush I’m using: Colonel Ichabod Conk Pure Badger Shave Brush (BTW, if you’re looking to order from a “brick-n-mortar” I can recommend The Shave Shop as they have wonderful customer service). The soap is a key piece here and the quality of your shave is going to vary greatly depending on this. You can certainly buy the $1 soap you can find at Wal-Mart or wherever but you’re not going to get the benefits of a real quality soap and your shave will suffer for it. I’ve been using this glycerine soap and recommend it. What you are looking for in a soap is one that holds it’s foam well and provides good lubrication for your razor. If it’s got moisturizers and other such things, that’s nice but not really necessary. The last piece is your razor. Many shaving purists would cringe at me suggesting this but if your current razor has more than 2 blades and you like it, stick with that. If you decide to move to a safety or straight razor (yikes!) later on, you sure can but I don’t think that it’s critical at this time.

The Process

Along the way, I have picked up a few things that I wanted to pass along for the shaving process. I always thought that I needed to shower after I shaved to try and “clean up” the nicks and cuts I had but this is not only inaccurate but backwards. If you do this correctly, you shouldn’t have nicks and cuts to deal with so it’s not a big deal. When you shower, be sure to rub a good amount of hot water on your face to help open up your pores. Next, get the water in the sink running HOT (not warm) and use that to moisten your face again. Wet down your brush but be sure it’s not too wet or you’ll have a harder time getting a good lather put together. Hot water makes the best foam and will help to keep those pores open while you are shaving. As soon as you’ve got the lather ready, start “mucking” your face. Basically, you’re just going to slather it all over at first but you should finish the lather with an upstroke so that you stand the hairs up as much as possible. Fill the sink with COLD water and use this to clean the razor head as you shave. This will cut down on the razor bumps and cool your skin as you shave. Shave one stroke at a time and be sure to rinse after each so that you don’t clog up the razor – especially if you’re a Sasquatch like me. Once you’ve finished up the shave, you should rinse your face with cold water and splash some witch hazel on so you get those pores to close up. Also be sure to put on some moisturizing after-shave to help with skin irritation. Here the moisturizing part does matter so get something that makes your skin feel good. If you get that “skin is too tight” feeling, you have got the wrong stuff – get something with more moisturizer. Personally, I tend to error on the side of sensitive skin products.

I hope that you give this a try and find that shaving doesn’t have to be the hum-drum pain in the butt that I once believed it was. While you may not find it a strictly pleasurable experience, I hope that you can make the whole deal a little more enjoyable.

David O’Hara is a Senior Consultant with Improving Enterprises in Dallas, Texas.


8 Responses to Shaving…

  1. Ghosty says:

    I’m quite sure is was one of the few posts you’ve written that *didn’t* go soaring over my head. Shaving supplies? And yet … I’ve a beard I could sand a ship with. Perhaps I’ll give this shaver a look 🙂

  2. Ghosty says:

    Ah, my bad. It’s the brush. Not the shaver. I learned to shave using a brush like this, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and it does add a certain level of pleasure to the experience. Not to mention, using a brush makes shaving a lot neater!

  3. Karthik says:

    Good tips. I’m planning to go all out and get the brush/soap shaving gear soon.

    If you want to get the brush/soap locally you can try to find a Crabtree & Evelyn:

    Also in Dallas’s Galleria and North Park Malls there’s an Art of Shaving store that carries all manner of blades. I also hear they let you have an old fashioned barber shave with a razor of choice to “test it out”.

  4. Chad Myers says:

    I used to think my Dad was crazy for going to the 9’s with his shaving routine, but now I understand why.

    Interesting, though, he uses good soap, a good brush, and various oils and powders and such, but he uses the cheap-o disposable razors. He laughs that I spend so much on the ‘Mach-3 crap’. I bought him one for Christmas one year and he said he liked it and I think he still uses it, but I’m guessing it doesn’t make that much difference.

    This leads me to conclude it’s all about the water, soap, brush, oils and powders he was using.

  5. Trint says:

    Almost every Christmas and Easter, when my church puts on our holiday shows, I get made fun of for the fact that I can’t grow a beard. I end up either playing Pontius Pilot or just looking stupid with stage-make-up stubble.

    But when push comes to shove (or steel comes to face) I get the last laugh.

    I shave religiously every Tuesday and Friday using a 20¢ Bic disposable and water. No cream, no soap, no fancy expensive blade. And the result is a baby smooth face with no rash or burning or cuts.

    Challenge my manhood if you will, but my face feels great!

  6. LeisureGuy says:

    If you’re wanting to actually enjoy your shave, investing a little money in the right equipment and a little time in learning can pay an enormous return. More information here.

  7. Ronald says:

    Has anyone looked at the edge of various maker’s double edge blades under a 10 power magnifying glass, or, better yet, a microscope, to see if they can see a difference in the blade edges?
    I looked at a Schick and a Merkur under a 10X glass. The Merkur has a rough edge. The Schick has a much smoother edge.
    I checked this out after using one of each blade. The Schick gave me 25 good shaves before it started pulling,
    The Merkur blade gave me a worse (it pulled more) shave on the first shave than the Schick did after 25 shaves.
    I used to get 60 good shaves out of the Gillette Blue Blade. Now I am doing good to get 30 out of stainless steel, platinum, etc.
    Seems the blade makers are just not putting as good of an edge on their blades just so they will get duller faster.
    I have not tried the Feather Blades yet, but have ordered some, as they have a reputation for sharpness.
    A person should be able to tell just how long, comparatively, a blade will last just by looking at its edge under a microscope.
    The whole thing seems to be a “sting” operation though, as sharp blades could go out for weeks and then the makers of these blades start sending out less sharp ones.
    It does seem near miraculous to me that in a century no one has come up with a way to sharpen and strop these double edge blades.

  8. Merkur Lover says:

    Great article !! I remember the first time I shaved with a safety razor… It was a disaster !!! It takes time and practice to achieve a perfect shave. Also remember to use a shaving soap from Geo F Trumper, it’s for sensitive skin, une merveille !!! 🙂

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