Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wet Shaving

What is Traditional Wet Shaving? It's a lost art. It's something that the men in our culture don't know how to do, or have lost the desire to do. It's something yourgrandpadid. It's how John Wayne would do it!

Traditional Wet Shaving is not really something you can define or pin down. It's almost a "Zen-like" feeling. And yes, it is a skill (some may laugh). It usually involves applying a warm, fragrant lather with a brush, and using a single blade razor. Usually, the lather is made with the brush from soaps and creams of much higher quality than you would find in the super discount stores. Most have natural ingredients, oils, and moisturizing effects.

If you're around my age, then you probably grew up using disposable or cartridge razors to shave, and using that blue or green goop that comes in a pressurized can! The problem with this is that every year, there is a new razor or new product that is better, helps reduce irritation, or has more blades, and usually has some type of vibrating mechanism in it!

Wow... This is useless. These companies makes it sound like ingrown hairs, shave bumps, and irritation are a normal everyday common thing. Well, it didn't used to be, back in the good 'ole days (or so I've heard). I've noticed that within the last 10-15 years, I've seen at least one commercial a day about having better and more improved products on the shelves. Let me tell ya, men are still irritated (pun intended) with their razors! And that shaving goop in a can? Yeah, it's worthless. You still get cut, they dry out your skin, don't last long, and take up space in landfills.


I'm very new at this. But from what I've read, and have now personally experienced, I see no turning back to the old ways of using those over-priced plastic razors and chemical enhanced goop to shave with.

I've recently learned that proper hydration of the face, using quality products, applying with a brush, and using a single blade razor can turn shaving from a chore into an enjoyable hobby. Let me explain a typical wet shaving session and you can read for yourself.

First, a hot shower to cleanse the body and soften the facial hair. Next, soak your badger brush in hot water or a mug to temper the hairs in the brush and to soften them a bit. Next, use a face soap or scrub, and thoroughly wash the face. This helps exfoliate the skin and help rid the face of dirt, debris, and dead skin cells. Once the face is clean, some men prefer to use a shave oil or other product to soften the whiskers and massage into the beard. Next, using a high quality shave cream or soap, one would then start making a lather with their badger brush in a mug or bowl.

Shaving cream - If using a shave cream, most would place about an almond size dollop into a bowl. The shave cream usually resembles toothpaste or thick suntan lotion. Then start swirling and mixing the cream with the soaked badger brush. This will take a few minutes. Once thoroughly mixed, the mixture will be warm, fragrant, and thick. Shaving cream shouldn't smell like deodorant. It should smell fragrant and natural. Like spices, woods, herbs, and floral. Find something you would enjoy! There are many choices out there.

Shave soap - Most shave soaps are made into "pucks" that you drop into a mug, or are made to fit into bowls. While soaking your badger brush, some men like to soak their soap in warm water for a minute or two to soften the soap, then drain off the excess water. Then, taking your badger brush, give it a few good swirls on the soap, then brush the soap onto your beard to create the lather on your face instead of in the bowl or mug like the shave cream. You can make the lather on top of the soap in the mug, but i find it a waste and a little overkill.

Once you have made your lather, use your brush to massage it into the beard for a good minute or so. This seems like a long time, but the brush is lifting the hairs, any remaining dirt, and exfoliating the skin as well. This also helps hydrate your skin and hair properly. Once you have lathered up, you should have a soft, thick cream on your beard. You are ready to start shaving!

The razor usually is either a straight razor for those who like danger, skill, or like to be a bad A, or a double edge single razor. The double edge razor is usually is much safer to handle, and is easier to use than a straight razor. For blog purposes, and my informational knowledge, I'll go with the double edge razor here. The double edge razor uses a stout metal body housing, usually made of stainless steel or chrome. Some razors are more fancy than others, plated with titanium and even gold. Usually, the top of the razor head either unscrews from the body, or has a twist to open top. Then you are able to place your safety razors in.

Because you have thoroughly prepped your beard and have moisturized your face using the traditional method, you won't have the need for a moisture strip from your razor's head, or little rubber fins to help pull and straighten your hair as you cut. No. Your goal here is hair REDUCTION, not hair removal. Instead of smearing goop on your face and hacking with the disposable razor and removing hair in 60 seconds flat, you'll take your time. You'll enjoy shaving. You want to let the weight of the razor do the cutting for you. You'll go WITH the grain of the hair and not go over the same spot more than once because you have already removed the lather from that spot on your face. Because you have properly prepped your face, you'll have no problems lathering up again for the second pass, which will go ACROSS, not against the grain. If you're new to the process, you may want to stop here and let your face handle this new way of shaving. After a while, once you get the hang of it, you'll be comfortable going 3 passes. With the grain, across the grain, and against the grain for that "smooth as a baby's butt" feel.

Once completed, you'll need to rinse VERY thoroughly with warm water to remove any leftover soap or cream residue, and then splash and rinse with COLD water to close the pores of your face. You'll want to make sure and take care of your investment by rinsing your razor and brush very well, and storing it in a well ventilated area. To help your face recover, you'll want to use a high quality shaving balm, lotion, or splash to help your skin heal and retain the moisture. I usually tend to use balms in the winter because the cold weather dries my skin, and splashes during the summer or hot months.
Too extreme of a procedure for you? Well, if you are tired of spending an average of less than 5 minutes shaving to get a poor result, then you may want to try the Traditional method of Wet Shaving. Me personally, I had lots of ingrown hairs, I had never been able to get the hair in those hard to get areas on my neck, and was never really satisfied with my shave. Now that I've made the switch, I've had better and more close shaves, and haven't had any problems!

Stay tuned for some reviews of some products that I use personally!

1 comment:

Tuned In said...

I agree with you here. I used to use a Mach3, and sometimes still do when I don't have 30-45 minutes to shave. And goop. I've since switched, and my current razor is a 1958-60 Gillette Super Speed. Thanks to my knife restoration skills, I was able to clean it up, remove spots of rust, and sanitize it. Luckily, the razor was free. It has a short handle, so that took some getting used to. I make 3 passes with the grain, except on my throat, where I have to make 4. And I use cold water. That's what works best, is cold water because it makes your beard stiff and the razor hacks through it like a skilsaw through a 2x4. Then after, a coldwater rinse and either lotion(regular lotion) or a splash, and the splashes I use tend to be some old school product. Aqua Velva I use alot in the summer, since Alabama's heat and humidity is pretty intense. Plus, the cold water method is a good way to keep from sweating to death whilst shaving during summer. And if Arkansas is anything like Alabama, then you've only got two seasons: Summer and Winter.