Sunday, April 5, 2009

I'll cut you!

A nice and sunny day in Southern California, 67 degrees, and no clouds. Today I went with the Proraso green shaving cream, the Merkur 34C with some new blades in it. Today I went with Derby Extra blades, and finished off with some after shave balm I found in the back of the drawer, some Anthony logistics after shave cream, which is a very nice aftershave, I just forgot that I had it.

I've gotten in the habit of putting all my shaving stuff out there in the open instead of all stuffed in a drawer. Usually I'm kind of a neat freak and want everything out of the way, but these days I enjoy building up my collection of male preening stuff and being able to choose just which things I'm going to use.

I got what I thought was a really nice shave with those Derby's and was feeling pretty proud of myself. I went into my closet to pick out my clothes for the day, and came back to the mirror and found about half my neck covered in blood. Guess I must have pressed a bit to hard on that razor, and those Derby's are sharper than I thought, either that or Anthony logistics has put some sort of acid in their aftershave, but I doubt that.

Anyway, my Muhle is still on it's way to me as well as the Truefill and Hill and I'm certainly looking forward to that!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Next Shave

Today I used a new blade in my Merkur 34C. I tried using a Personna platinum blade, the so-called Personna "Red Pack". I used the Proraso green shaving cream and had quite an enjoyable shave. The Personna blades are decent. Very much better than the Merkur blades I was using, but I do believe that so far my favorite have been the Crystal blades. From other reviews I've read the Personna's are a good blade, just not the sharpest around, and I would agree with that.

I did cut myself a couple of times with these blades, but I chalk that up to not really paying attention. The one thing about shaving is that it does force you to concentrate, which is a good thing since I tend to think about 10 different things at any one time, and forcing myself to concentrate on one thing helps to calm my mind and give it a rest. Just another reason to like shaving.

I'm trying to space out my purchases, and buy something new ever other pay cycle on my credit card. If I let my self I could go crazy spending money on the finest stuff, which would be fun, but ultimately I do need to pay the rent and my funds aren't unlimited.

With that in mind, today I went ahead with the purchase of the new Muhle shaving brush, and I also bought some Truefill & Hill shaving cream, the "West Indian Limes" scent. I chose the lime because spring is upon us, but one day I'd like to get some of their other scents.

So this round of shaving spending went a little bit to the more luxury end (Even though I know I could spend much more on a brush than the Muhle) with the silvertip brush, and very expensive cream. With any luck I'll get them before my next Sunday shave, but we'll see.

Oh and it was about 70 degrees and partly cloudy. :-)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tired Sunday Morning

Today has been cold and rainy, just the way I like it. This was unexpected as spring is starting to come through, but very nice nonetheless. I reached for the trusty sandalwood soap today.

I'm very tired this morning as I went to bed very late last night and was woken up early this morning by my job informing me of some problems. Turns out it was nothing, but after that I just couldn't get back to sleep, so my normal routine has been thrown off. Breakfast this morning is leftover pizza since I'm just too worn out to go through the whole making breakfast thing.

Couldn't let the shave go though, and even though I'm tired I managed to get in one of my better shaves. I've switched out the Crystal razor blades and used the second, and last, of the Merkur blades that came in the box to use them up, and also to see if indeed the blade that much of a difference.

Well, it does in fact make a difference. The whiskers on my face don't get cut as easily, and even though it does the job, it irritates my skin because I have to put a little pressure on the razor to get a decent shave. After a few more shaves with that blade I will toss it and move on to something better.

I've been doing some research on my next shaving brush, and so far it looks like I'm going to purchase a Muhle medium silvertip badger brush from the Nashville Knife Shop. I've decided on this one because it is silvertip badger, so it should be very soft, and the size of the brush should lend itself to more of an all-around brush for both shave soap and cream. Also the price is expensive, but not too expensive. That brush has also gotten some pretty good reviews on the shaving boards. I think it will be a nice step up from my Vulfix.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

And now for something completely different...

I awoke from slumber at about 9AM in the morning and prepared breakfast. Two eggs, two slices of bacon, two slices of toast with butter, orange juice, coffee.

As I watched the morning news and press interviews discussing the days events I prepared for the day. The economy is bad, but there are signs of hope, a good week in the stock market, retail sales not as bad as expected, but still the world is gripped in a deep recession.

After breakfast and news, I stepped into the shower to feel the warm steam begin to wash away the past week of work. Thoughts crossed my mind of the week ahead and what lays before me. The bathroom becomes a steam room as I finish my shower, but the air quickly becomes clear and invigorating as I step in front of the mirror, ready to shave away four days of growth.

I turn on the faucet, and adjust the temperature of the water, hot but not scalding, and I place my Vulfix pure badger hair shave brush into the water to soak. I choose sandalwood shave soap today. It's overcast outside, and the scent matches the day. I take my brush and swirl the bristles around the soap, picking up the lather, and wafting the scent of sandalwood into the air. I'm reminded of old world barber shops, of straight razors and wood paneling, and the discussions of the day.

I mix the lather in a shave bowl, as it quickly builds to a frothy cream that I brush on to my face. The warm scent is more powerful now as the relaxing brush bristles apply the shaving cream. I'm careful to apply the cream to all the areas to shave, and careful to make the whiskers of my face stand at attention.

I then use my Merkur 34C double edged razor with a fresh Merkur blade to begin the shave. With a front to back motion, the blade slices away half the week, leaving a trail of exposed skin. Front to back, front to back the sound the blade makes on my skin a miniature click for every whisker that passes across the steel.

The first shave completed, I apply more cream for the final passes. The blade is closer to the skin now, cutting the whiskers at skin level. The blade passes over my face on a bed of cream to decrease the irritation. The shave is complete, and my face is done.

I use cold water to splash on my face, it's bracing and refreshing. My skin is cooled and I'm invigorated and clean. I apply the American Crew after shave lotion and a new scent is in the air, combining with the sandalwood.

It reminds me that life is good, and I'm lucky to be living, healthy, and have the means with which I can experience such a pleasure.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Shave with the grain

A hazy day in southern California today, temperatures in the low 60's this morning. I reached for the Proraso shaving cream today as I need to get a few things done and the medicine-y menthol Prorasso helps to set the tone for that.

My shaves have been getting better over the past couple of weeks. I was busy with a few things last Sunday unfortunately so I wasn't able to get to blogging, and wasn't even able shave. Needless to say, it just wasn't a fun Sunday. In those two weeks though, I've learned that the right blade helps, and the right technique also helps, and this week I've found a few things that have helped even more.

The first thing I've found is that my normal routine of only shaving exclusively on Sunday's doesn't particularly lend itself well to shaving with a safety, or double-edged razor. The hair on my face just gets too long, and the single blade just doesn't hit it as well as the modern multiple blades. It will still work, it's just that it takes multiple shaves to get all of the beard taken off, and I've found that my face can actually take only about 2 shaves with the DE razor before my skin starts to get irritated.

So I've been making it more of a habit to shave on Wednesday mornings as well. I don't go through the whole Sunday morning relaxing shave thing, but just hit the beard with a quick shave in the morning to help to keep things manageable on Sunday. This works pretty well for me as it's a nice start to "hump day", and by the time Sunday rolls around, my beard is in decent shape for a shave. Very nice.

The second thing I've found is that learning the contours of my face, and especially understanding how the hairs lay on my face has helped tremendously. I never really cared before which direction my whiskers grew, but I have found that for the most part, the whiskers on my face point backwards, sort of as if I was facing into the wind, and the whiskers were being blown back.

Once I figured this out, and started shaving my face front to back instead of top to bottom (I.E. with the grain rather than across it), I started getting a much better shave. I start by shaving in that direction first for one shave, and then I re-lather for a second shave using my regular, start at the top, shave downward motion, that would effectively be a cross cut of the whiskers. Once I finish with the second shave, I feel out the face and finish off any parts I've missed with a little lather and scrape, and that's it, I'm all done.

Doing this shave twice thing is what's known as "Shave Reduction". Instead of cutting it all off at once, I reduce my beard with each shave. As long as I shave on Wednesday, I only need to go with two shaves on Sunday, and I don't get any skin irritation.

I must mention at this point, that most of this stuff I've learned from watching Mantic59's shaving tutorials over on you tube, so if anyone ever reads this looking for how to wet shave, do yourself a favor and go there to get the real scoop.

Anyway, that's all for this Sunday. I'm beginning the search for a new shaving brush as I'd like to upgrade. I'm seriously considering spending some real money and getting a silvertip badger hair brush and am doing some research on what I think will work for me. The Vulfix I'm currently using is doing the job, but I'm looking for something a bit better this time around.

See you next Sunday.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Today is 64 degrees and cloudy so out comes the sandalwood shaving soap. I'm really starting to feel limited in the choice of shaving options I have. Still, the nice sandalwood scent is really pretty good anyway, so I don't have much in the way of complaint.

I found a couple of things over this past week that has helped me out a bit with my shaving. First, it seems that at least with my Merkur 34C razor, the position of the blade within the head of the razor actually matters. I've been used to just using the cartridge razor that clicks right into the head and you're ready to go, but the DE razor I'm using requires a bit more attention. I've found that there is a minuscule gap between the holes in the safety razor blade, and the pegs that hold the blade steady within the head.

This gap means that there is room for the blade to "drift" away from exact center, especially when I tighten down the razor to secure the blade. I find that when I tighten it down, the blade will actually twist in the direction that I tighten it. The answer seems to be to hold the blade in place while I load it and tighten the screw, but as much as I try I don't seem to get it perfect, since I need to do a bit of finger contortioning to hold the blade in place while I tighten the screw, I don't think I ever will.

Is this a big deal? Not really, but it does make me cast an eye to other DE razors that I have seen. Some models seem to close down over the blade like 1950's underground hangar doors and I think that may help the issue a bit, but as I'm interested in some other shaving things already, a new razor is not at the top of the list for my next purchase.

The other thing that I tried this Sunday morning that seemed to help out my shave was to actually leave the shower running while I shaved. I live in an apartment, and the light switch in the bathroom is connected to the ceiling fan so that I can't turn the fan off unless I want to shave in the dark. Because of this and the dry Southern California air, it never really remains warm and steamy in the bathroom. As soon as I step out of the shower, I'm hit with a cool blast of air that is quite refreshing, but tends to defeat the purpose of keeping my face warm, and the pores of my skin open. I don't dry my face when I get out of the shower, but by the time I have the shaving cream ready to go, everything is all cooled down and the pores are all closed.

Keeping the shower on keeps producing steam and today my bathroom was a bit of a sauna. This certainly kept my face warm, and even helped to improve the lather of the shaving soap, presumably because there was more moisture in the air to combine with the soap. This all helped with a much more comfortable shave, though it did get a bit annoying having to keep wiping the steam off of the mirror to see what I was doing. One of those steam-free mirrors would probably do the trick to combat this.

I wouldn't actually recommend that everyone do this though. The whole time I was shaving I was thinking about how much money, water and energy I was wasting (energy required to heat the water) while I was trying to have a leisurely shave, so I probably won't do this again. It was a nice experiment though, and going forward I'll be trying to think of ways to keep that bathroom fan off or some other way of keeping that bathroom warm and steamy-like. Since I'm actually planning on moving out of my apartment into a house, I will be looking forward to being able to modify the bathroom so that I can turn off the fan so that I can get a great shave.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Today was about 60 degrees with some overcast. This morning I felt like the sandalwood soap was the best way to go out of my entire collection of 2 shaving options. I've been battling a cold lately, so it's more difficult to get a relaxing shave with a stuffy head and achy body, but one thing that is nice, is the steam from the shower and shaving helped my head to feel a little bit better as I shaved.

I actually went against my usual routine this week and shaved on Wednesday in addition to my normal Sunday shave. I guess that this shaving thing is really taking hold, as the only reason I shaved was because I just desired a good shave. On that day, I went with the Proraso as I was feeling like a little "bracing" and it did indeed give me a good start to the day. Since it wasn't my usual take all the time in the world to shave thing, the Proraso fit the bill nicely.

One reason I bring up the Wednesday shave is that during that shave I found I just couldn't take the factory blade that came with the razor anymore. After only 2 shaving days with them, I was finding that I was getting a better shave with the Sensor. Instead of slicing out my beard nicely, there was a lot of pulling of hairs, difficulty, and pain. I knew this couldn't be right, so I tossed that blade out, and started using the Crystal double edged blades from my sample pack.

Well night and day difference. That blade seemed to mow everything down very nicely. I've read that the factory supplied blades probably bounce around a lot from being shipped in the box, which contributes to a duller edge. Even though it's hard for me to conceptualize why that might be as they are all individually wrapped, I would be inclined to agree. Between Wednesday and today, the Crystal blades are doing a fine job.

I find while I shave that DE razors are much less "forgiving" than today's disposables. It seems to me that disposables are made for the lowest common denominator of shaving. Meaning that in order to work for the most people, the razors have to be very easy to use, and require as little technique as possible. What I think this does however is to sacrifice a really great shave for the safety of not having to deal with a really bad shave.

Wet shaving with double-edged razors take much more time, and requires both an understanding of your face as well as an understanding of shaving techniques. Wet shaving is also helped tremendously by the use of the right tools and products. What I find though at least for me is that instead of being a burden to learn these things, it is a joy to do. The work I put into the understanding of the shaving process and going through the procedures is returned back to me greatly in the form of absolute enjoyment of such a simple act.

I've rarely found that anything that is easy to do is worth doing, and it is indeed so with shaving. I would much rather get a great shave with the right tools and techniques than a mediocre shave with mediocre razors. Switching razor blades in the shaver to get a much better shave is just one example of how nice it is to come to an understanding of how to get a great shave. I have a feeling it will only get better.