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.