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.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Scratching the Surface

Well it has been cold and rainy the past few days, just the way I like it. Unfortunately real life intruded on my normal routine, and I wasn't able to do my usual breakfast, relax, shave routine as I had some things that I needed to get done. I still had time to shave though, and I especially didn't want to skip it today, as I got my stuff from West Coast Shaving yesterday. This included Proraso shaving cream, the Merkur 34C HD razor, and their sample pack of cheap razors.

My first impression of the Merkur razor was "It's small". It's a nice little razor though, very hefty and compact and it is all in chrome. I'm used to my Schick Sensor Excel which has kind of a longer handle, so it was a little strange to have this tiny thing in my hand to shave with.

The Proraso shaving cream looked pretty much like its picture, like a tube of toothpaste. When I opened the top and smelled the shaving cream, my first impression was "It doesn't smell like anything" which was kind of surprising, I thought that it would have that menthol/eucalyptus scent just pouring out, but nope.

The razors weren't much of a surprise, they looked like the pictures, I was slightly surprised that the Merkur razor came with two blades in it's box I didn't think it came with anything. I've read from other forums that I should just throw the razors out as they aren't good, but I tend to like to use the bad stuff first so that I know what the good stuff is like, so I took the factory razors and put it right in the razor.

Now when it came time to shave, I did the normal routine, but of course I used the new tools. First the shaving cream: slightly different than soap as I just squirted some out into the mug instead of lathering up the soap first. It's kind of nice as it takes a little less work. It's not like using soap puts a huge burden on things or anything, but using cream instead of soap seems to take less time to lather up.

The lather was pretty good, as I get used to wet shaving I think my lathering "Technique" is getting better, and I think I do pretty good, but I didn't notice a huge appreciable difference in the lathering capability of the Proraso vs. the Classic shave soap other than the aforementioned ease of use. One thing I did notice though is the smell of the Proraso to me smelled a bit "mediciny", probably because of the menthol. I've been used to smelling the sandalwood from what I already have so I noticed it much more. It's not an overpowering type of thing, but it is there.

After lathering up, I started in with the Merkur, and found that something wasn't quite right. The thing was pulling at my whiskers, and none of them were coming out. So this kind of hurt, and I usually have a pretty tough face. Tried again, this time putting a little more pressure on the razor, and it ended up hurting more. I picked up my old Excel and tried that... Nope everything working ok there. So I went back to the Merkur, and went for another go, and this time things went pretty easily. What happened was when I went back to the Merkur, I stared using a different side of the razor, so I found that one side of the razor does pretty good and the other side doesn't do much except hurt my face.

I'm not quite sure what the story is with that. I will have to find out if that is normal or not. The razor didn't come with any instructions or anything so it's back to the blogs and forums for me. However the side that did a good job whipped right through my whiskers, so I was pretty happy. There are still things to learn about the wet shave process, so I think this will continue to get better. It is fun to shave with the Merkur, it feels nice, if a bit small, in my hands much better than the piece of plastic I'm used to.

There are all sorts of razors out there as well with longer handles and all sorts of things. I'm already keeping my eyes out for the next thing to get, although I do think my next acquisition will be a new shave brush as I'm content for now to continue my shaving with the Merkur and experience the differences in blades and work on the whole shaving process.

One final thing, as I was shaving, and especially when rinsing my face off with cold water, that Proraso really puts the cool on ya. It is indeed very refreshing to have the menthol cool your skin as you shave, and that is very nice and I imagine during the hot weather that will be a very nice shave experience.

So the journey begins, sandalwood during cold weather, menthol for the hot, and for the spring? We shall certainly find out!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The form and function of wetshaving

It's bright and sunny today in So Cal, 63 degrees this morning. Unfortunately I don't have any different shaving cream just yet to take advantage of the warmer weather. I went to the site to order my new shaving stuff, and a few things were out of stock, so I decided to just wait and order everything at the same time. I found other websites that had the items I was looking for, but all of them were more expensive than West Coast Shavers.

I've decided the next thing I'll get in addition to the Merkur HD 34C and the razor blade sampler pack is Proraso shaving cream. As I continue to lurk through the hallowed halls of the wet shaving Internet websites, I can see lots of consensus among the wet shaving group on certain products, and who am I to buck the trend when so many have gone before me?

Anyway, Proraso has been described as a great cream, with lots of lather and the kicker for me was the cool eucalyptus for warmer weather which I described in my last post is something that I would like to try. It is from Italy which is nice, I only wish it didn't look like some drug store toothpaste tube or hair gel tub. You can't judge a book by it's cover, but honestly, I just do like the look of a good book cover.

Thinking of packaging though got me thinking about all the other shaving products out there and how they are packaged. Schick and Gillette do a great job packaging their products. It is one reason for their success. Like I said, I love great packaging, I think presentation is a big part of enjoying something. So it is a little tough to ignore the commercials, and the can designs and all of the high-tech looking razor cartridge systems.

I don't begrudge these companies, I think there is a place for the disposable razors and shaving cream. For guys like me that can't stand waking up in the morning there will always be the need for the quick shave before going to work, and I think that these products work for that. But I've seen wet shaving described as a "steak dinner compared to eating at McDonald's", and I can't think of a better analogy.

I have no problem eating at McDonald's, but I'm not going to eat it every day, and of course a steak dinner is simply better meal. The big shaving companies, just like McDonald's, do a great job of packaging and advertising their product not only to get you to buy, but also to drown out the alternative products. However, a good wet shave, just like a great steakhouse, is simply a much better proposition than disposable razors and cream in a can.

Presentation plays a part in this. A great steak restaurant has much better presentation in their restaurants than the "eating area" of a McDonald's, just like the products for wet shaving have better presentation than the mass produced ones. Shaving soaps often come in wooden bowls, Shaving brushes can be made out of rare and exotic materials, and razors are made of real metal and finely honed blades. I love the fact that these things have a history, and a following, and techniques and all of that. The presentation is part of what makes all of this fun.

For me, the Proraso packaging just doesn't do it for me. I'm a big advocate of "function over form" so if there's a better product in sub-par packaging, I'm going for the better product. I have a feeling the cream will occupy a place in the back of the cabinet hidden behind all of the better looking products, but from what I've read I also have a feeling it's the one I'll be reaching for the most, so I'll have lots of space to be able to get to it easily.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Razors and Creams and Soaps (Oh my!)

It's been raining here in Southern California for the last couple of days, which I mentioned in my last post is kind of an unusual thing. While normally I love it when it rains, these days I've been rather ambivalent about it. The rain has definitely been nice, but it's also still been pretty warm at the same time. When it rains, I like it to be freezing cold. If mother nature is going to make it bad outside, she might as well go all out. Besides, there's something nice about waking up on a cold rainy morning in a nice warm bed, and going and having a nice hot shower, and of course a good shave.

This morning, I got to thinking about the effect of the weather on me and my Sunday morning shaves. Specifically it got me thinking about using a different shaving soap or cream to shave with depending on the weather. I've read about this a little bit on other shaving sites and blogs, but it never really registered on me until today as it came to me as a sort of revelation.
When I used to shave with cream from a can, I would just have one cream that I would use all the time. No matter what the weather was, either hot or cold, rainy or sunny, it would be pretty much shave with the same can of cream, why would I ever switch around? However this morning it dawned on me as I was lathering up the ol' sandalwood soap that it sure would be an even better shave if the soap or cream I used matched the weather, or heck even my mood.

Now, I'm not much of a collector. I tend to throw out things I don't use much. I've read about the dreaded "Shaving Brush Acquisition Disorder" or SBAD, and I don't pretend to be immune to it, but the idea of having 20 shaving brushes hanging around my bathroom doesn't match up with my personality much. BUT, I can sure see my self succumbing to the SSAD or the SCAD (Shaving Soap Acquisition Disorder and Shaving Cream Acquisition Disorder respectively).
The idea of using a nice eucalyptus shaving cream in the summer to get a cool refreshing shave, or a warm and cozy shave with a sandalwood soap when it is cold outside seems pretty neat. Heck, if I'm feeling sort of in the "Go getter" mood (Which is rare), I could use some sort of equivalent shaving cream or soap to get me going all the more.

So as winter begins to slide into spring, I will be looking for the matching scents and combinations. So far the sandalwood is still my only soap. This is perfectly fine for me for now, as I have been practicing my "lathering technique" using it. So I will be really ready for the new soaps and creams and get the best use out of them when they arrive.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've also been looking into which razor blades to use in my future purchase of a DE razor. I've decided that I will follow other's advice and get a sample pack of blades. From what I've read, the definitive answer to which is the best razor blade is "Whatever feels the best to you".
There are so many different brands of blades out there. The one thing I've never seen on any of the blogs and forums is anything particularly BAD about any one blade. As with the shave soaps and creams, there are different uses for different blades, and from everything that I have read, it all comes down to a matter of preference.
There are some blades that are not as recommended for beginners as others though, and the Feather brand blades come to mind. I've read that they are super sharp and have a tendency to cut first time DE shavers. So I've kept that in mind as I look around at the various on-line shops.

My goal for this blog is not necessarily for it to become a product review blog, or instructional blog. There are tons of other sites and folks out there that do a better job than I and I am certainly no expert, so I won't go into heavy detail about the different brands and benefits of one blade over another.
Suffice to say I'll be getting the Economy Sampler pack from West Coast Shaving that contains the Crystal or "Isreali", Derby Extra, DORCO Platinum, and Red Pack Isreali blades. I'll then be trying them out, and seeing if there are any blades that I enjoy using any more than another.

All of the differences between blades, differences in soaps and creams, differences in razors is one of the things that has really gotten me into the enjoyment of the shaving process, and makes the best day of the week even better.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Sunday Morning Shave Kit

It was a pretty nice Sunday in So. Cal. this morning. While the rest of the nation freezes, it's a balmy 75 degrees here. It's always nice in Southern California, which most people enjoy. I would rather it be 75 outside than have to wake up and shovel snow, but I do sometimes get tired of it always being sunny and nice. There's something to be said for a little change now and then, and waking up on a cold brisk morning has its charms.

I thought this morning I'd write about what I'm currently using to shave with. Since I'm just starting out, my shaving kit reflects my "noobie" status. As I learn more about the art and science of shaving, I plan to upgrade my tools. I'll also be going pretty slow, as I intend to get to know each piece and enjoy the process. For example, it will be fun to learn what makes a silver hair badger brush better than a pure badger brush by actually experiencing the difference rather than simply reading about it.

Which brings me to my brush. Currently I'm using a Vulfix No. 2198 Pure Badger shaving brush. From what I understand, Vulfix is a good, decent brand. Perhaps not the best, but not bad either. The company is located on the Isle of Man, in the British Isles, and has been in business for over 60 years.
I like the feel of the brush, it has some weight, the handle is made out of "polyester plastic rods and hand turned on lathes". It would be nice to upgrade at some point to something other than a plastic handle, but what I have now is light years better than nothing at all, so I am content for now.

The razor I use is a Gillette Sensor Excel. As much as I haven't had much preference for razors throughout my life, the Gillette has always done a pretty good job for me, so I've used that same brand for years. I've tried the latest Mach 3 razor, and just didn't like it. At the time I tried it I likened using it to "Trying to shave with a canoe". With 3 blades it felt just huge on my face, and it was hard to get around the corners and contours of my face. The Sensor Excel was just more "nimble".
The Sensor Excel, being a modern cartridge razor is anathema to the wet shaving community though. As such it is the next thing I plan to replace. From my research, the way to go is at least a double edged safety razor (DE Razor to those "in the know"). There are a lot of folks who are even using straight razors, and claim that is still the best shave you can get, but most folks agree, a good DE razor is good for beginners. After looking around at the on line community, I'll most likely be getting a Merkur 34C Heavy Duty Safety Razor. It is apparently one of the best beginners razors.
I will need to do research on the blades that are needed for the razor. Just like all the other pieces, there is a lot to learn even about the blades.

I'm using Classic Brand Sandalwood Premium Shaving Soap for my shaving. At this stage, there's no particular reason I'm using that brand soap, other than it looked pretty good. My girlfriend picked out the sent, and I do like the sandalwood. After this I will probably try a cream and see what the real difference is. Again though for now I'm content with what I have.

For aftershave, I'm using American Crew Aftershave Moisturizer. I'm using this mostly so that I can get rid of it. I don't particularly like it, but I also don't like to waste things, so I don't want to just throw it out. I'll be upgrading after it runs out.
It does the job, and I do really like the smell, but I know there are better products out there, and this tends to feel rather heavy on my face. I've known for a while that it is best to use an aftershave with no alcohol in it, and between that and the smell is why I started using American Crew in the first place.
I also like the "atmosphere" of American Crew. The packaging and way they market their products just appeals to me. I know I got suckered in by packaging, but still I like it better than the packaging of other products, and the atmosphere of shaving is a big part of what makes it fun.

Finally, I have a chrome shave bowl for my soap and a nickel stand for my shaving brush. To create the lather, and keep it warm, I've discovered a wonderful set of videos on YouTube that showed me how to use a latte mug and leave it in the water to keep the lather warm. I just happen to have a latte mug handy, and now that is in my shave kit as well.

So there you have it, my shaving starter kit. It all combines for a pretty good shave. I had a nice time today shaving after watching some interviews with president elect Obama this morning. As I was shaving I was thinking about him and the interviews, and I'm just very happy that the guy appears to be just a smart guy with good common sense.
The country is in pretty bad shape, and I hope that Obama can live up to the hype of all the news media. After watching his interviews both before and after the election, it seems to me that he has the ability to do just that. I think he's not only a smart guy, he's also realistic. I don't believe that after Tuesday everything that's going on in the country will instantly turn around, but of all the people I've seen running for president, I think he has the most potential of being able to put the brakes on our economy's downward spiral.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Morning Shaving

For the most part I'm a shaving noobie. When I was a kid, my father didn't teach me how to shave (that's another blog :-) ). When I was about 15-ish I saw that I had a few hairs on my chin, and pretty much picked up a can of shaving cream, grabbed a razor and swiped the cream off of my face. Seemed easy enough, I don't even remember what kind of razor or cream it was. Probably a Bic, and probably some sort of Gillette shaving cream. I just shaved like I saw on TV and the movies. I did think it was pretty cool to shave, but just as a sort of "I'm a man now, I shave" kind of thing. I didn't get much into the act of shaving.

That's pretty much the way it went most of my life. Buy disposable razors, buy whatever shave cream or gel looked the best, and just shave. My beard doesn't grow very fast, and my skin for the most part has never really been sensitive, so I never had a need to be very careful. There have been many times in my life where I've shaved with the same disposable razor for months, and used plain ol' hand soap as shaving cream. It didn't bother me at all, although it did hurt more when I was shaving with hand soap, but it only lasted a few minutes, then I was done and on my way.
Throughout most of my life, I've always found I like the way I look with some stubble as well, so that's another reason I never really took to shaving in a big way. Also the fact that when I was young I didn't have a ton of money since I was just starting out, so spending money on shaving wasn't really a priority.

The one thing about shaving I knew I didn't like was using an electric razor. I've tried different electrics over my life, and have never gotten a decent shave with them. I know a lot of guys do use them, and the commercials all say you get as good a shave as a razor, but I've never found that to be the case. I've always found that shaving with an electric takes more time than shaving with a razor too, so that pretty much clinched it for me that razor shaving was the way to go.

Now that I'm older and have more disposable income, I've gotten more interested in taking care of myself, and spending time on my appearance and health in general. I suppose that's a function of age. I don't particularly look back and think I should have done this years ago. When you're young there are more pressing issues at hand than shaving.

So what's this Sunday Morning Shaving all about? Well, I tend to have a particular routine that I do on Sundays. I work hard Monday through Saturday, so I take my Sundays very seriously. I try very hard to put away all work (Most times I'm successful), and just relax on Sundays. Part of that relaxing on Sundays is the morning shave, which is part of a general routine I go through:

First, I wake up Sunday morning as late as possible. Like everyone else in the world I usually have to wake up early to go to work, and I hate waking up early. I'm not a morning person, so at least one day a week I sleep in.

I then make myself a really nice breakfast. Usually this consists of eggs, bacon, toast and orange juice, but it can be whatever I feel like. For most of the week I try to eat a healthy breakfast, usually by going with a bland no-sugar cereal with soy milk, so my Sunday breakfast is reserved for the artery-clogging, good tasting food.

After sitting around for a little while watching TV or something just digesting my breakfast, I then head to the bathroom, for my big grooming session, which consists of trimming my hair (I use clippers for my hair both to save money, and because I don't have a great mop on my head that I could actually do anything with at a salon), brushing my teeth, trimming any stray hairs on my body (Nose, ears, and any other gross places hair starts growing when you get older), and finally culminating with the shave.
Pretty much for the rest of the week, I don't shave. I work at a place that mostly doesn't care what you look like, and doesn't require shaving. As I said before I also like the way I look with the stubble, and my beard doesn't grow that fast anyway, so I just let it grow until Sunday. I'll shave if I have to, like if I'm meeting with someone important, but for the most part, I'm too in a rush in the mornings to get to work on time to worry about shaving. So shaving on Sunday is like hitting the reset button for my beard.

And now we come to what this blog is all about. I've done this routine for a few years now, and up until recently the shave was nice, but I didn't do it particularly well enough to write about it, or get into it enough to actually look forward to it other than part of the routine on Sunday Mornings, until this past Christmas.
I recently discovered the wide world of "wet shaving" and all the tools that come with that. The whole process got me interested in find out more, but what I really discovered was the use of shaving brushes in the shaving process. So for Christmas my girlfriend bought me a shaving brush, some shave soap, a bowl and a stand.
Well, using the shaving brush was pretty darn cool. More fun than I thought it would be actually. Something about having a nice shaving brush and using hot water and lathering up the brush and using it to apply a nice lather to my face just really contributed to getting a really good, relaxing shave. It's better than squirting shaving cream on to your hands and wiping it on your face. Once I did that for the first time, I thought, man this will be a really nice part of my Sunday routine.
So this blog is about my Sunday morning shaves, and also about what I learn about wet shaving, shave brushes, razors, soaps and creams, all of that stuff. Most of the time I'll be talking about shaving brushes. I've been having a great time learning about what makes a good shave brush, who the good manufacturers are, what they are made out of and all sorts of things. I love that there is a history of shave brushes, and that people are out there making hand made brushes, and just the atmosphere around men's shaving and shave brushes.
It contributes not only to a great shave, but also such a great Sunday morning routine that helps me de-stress and re-energize my batteries so that I'm better able to handle the stresses and rush of the upcoming week.

So if you're reading this, I hope you enjoy my posts, and get excited about this stuff as much as I am getting excited.
As I learn more about all of this stuff, I will post to my blog and hopefully as I learn maybe someone else like me looking for information will also learn and come to enjoy a great part of something that has a rich history.