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.

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