July 18, 2006

The “Wet” Shave

Posted in FountainPens, Pipes, shaving at 3:55 pm by a11en

So, for ages I’ve been toying with the idea of doing wet-shaving. A bit of background as to where this was coming from…

Something about the old way of things intrigues me. Perhaps it’s just my limited experience:

  • Pipe smoking is just fantastic- if you’re gonna smoke, for the love of God, please smoke a pipe- everthing else is just ick (or a cigar- both of these are much much better for you than smoking cigarettes into your lungs). I’ll have a page on pipe-smoking in the future when I get some time. (For now I’ll assume that most of you won’t be interested in this.)
  • Handkerchiefs– ok, before you guys go ape-crazy and say: “That’s disgusting!”- have you ever pulled a tissue out of it’s box and seen particles fly all over the place into the air? When the voices in my head talk to me- they say that this is all part of the grand scheme to make me purchase more tissue, ’cause I always sneeze after using ’em. 😉 Normally, I figure it’s just too expensive to keep the powder out of the box during manufacturing. Let’s just say it’s so much better to use cloth than powdery paper. The trick is to buy lots and change them out every single day, so you’re always with a fresh hankie that isn’t nasty as hell. 😉 ‘Cause honestly, without a cold, how often do you use a tissue?
  • Fountainpens– are smoother and more enjoyable to write with than any of the ballpoint pens, gel ink or not. Not to mention there’s a huge array of amazing ink colors, and even the option to scent the ink for writing romantic love letters to your muse. Don’t even get me started on vintage pens, and proper paper…
  • Hats as umbrellas– Unfortunately, somewhere down the line, we’ve missed wearing hats. I don’t wear mine all the time, but to keep the sun and rain off your head, out of your face, a hat is an excellent thing. I’ve been in downpours, and between my hat and my teflon-coated barn-jacket, I’m dry as a bone. Everyone else is running for the hills when the rain starts. I just mosey down the sidewalk enjoying the rain: cool mother nature’s shower.

So, the things of old appeal to me for some strange reason. Weird, I know, because in the past I loved everything super-tech- hell, I have a Roomba for gosh sakes. 😉

Now, where was I?- Oh yes- If you think of luxury in a man’s bathroom, you have to somewhere see the badger bristle brush for shaving. It’s a classic. What person hasn’t seen a man’s brush and mug used in a movie for a shaving scene? So, for a long time I’ve been thinking about the “wet-shave”. When I saw a Burt’s Bee’s man’s shaving soap on sale one day at Wild Oats, I snagged it, and shoved it in the back of my cabinet. Then finally this week, I was purchasing some items for Chel at the local Walmart of all things and saw a “natural” bristle brush for like $5. Now, this is definitely not a badger brush- likely it’s boar’s hair. Luckily, a natural bristle is better than plastic bristle. So, I’m up there, but down in the fact that it’s gonna be a very rough brush and not hold as much water as badger.

So last night, I tried it out. I started by moistening my beard- did this by using a washcloth with hot water, held to the face for at least a minute… then washed my face with a good soap. Next I moistened again, and started my work with the brush. With a light hand and circling the brush on the soap, I could work up a nice lather. Definitely wetter and lighter than normal foam shaving cream. I worked the brush in little light circles on my beard, and ensured I had a nice lather on my face before shaving. With hot water in the sink, I proceeded to shave. I have to say it was an interesting experience!! I noticed the difference immediately. I got a very close shave. Much closer than I normally do. I tend to use higher-end cream shave foam and it just didn’t even come close to how smooth my face was when this shave was over. This afternoon, my face is as smooth as it normally is when I shave with a shave foam/gel. So it appears I got an extra 12 hours on my shave. Time will tell, however, if this is true, but, I’m sold. Next up is to try and find a great badger brush and try out some wonderful lavender soap. I’ve heard some wonderful things about Vulfix brushes, and being that some of my relatives were from the Isle of Man, I suspect I’ll be getting one sometime very soon.

For more info on the wet-shave:

Finally, some thoughts: I’m starting to wonder if in the race to achieve bigger, better, faster- we’re slowly losing sight of doing things “well”. Or perhaps Pirsig would say, doing things with “Quality” [2]. We’re so hell-bent on getting ink to paper, that we neglect our handwriting and enjoyment of nib on paper, use pens that lack a range of color that used to be standard, and come in throw-away plastic tubes ready for our consumption. We run from place to place in the rain instead of donning a hat, we don’t share a clean hanky with a lady who might need it as a gesture of care, and we don’t really care how we get the job done of shaving, as long as it’s quick and painless ’cause “we’re late for work.” We’ve also lost a bit of that old politeness that seems to take so long these days. I’ve heard all sorts of stories (from friends) of children disrespecting adults (especially surrounding the smoking issue)- horrible behavior completely foreign just 30 years ago. Now, I know it’s dangerous to yearn for the days of old, especially since they lack air-conditioning <yikes>, but- I think we’re loosing sight of some of the good things. Surely we can have both time saving devices and good things? Perhaps a few of these old good things that take time will actually help us slow down and enjoy our lives a bit more? 🙂 Maybe we can regain some of that “now-ness” for the things we’re about in our day to day lives: reminding us that living is a good thing- that we should enjoy it. What better way than to start our day with a bit of luxury in a wet-shave?


  1. Digital Alan said,

    I have to agree on your article here – Everything old is new again.

    Plus I love my Tilley Hat – I was given it as a gift and have not stopped wearing it. Nice as a sunblock or even as a you mention a Rain Hat.

    Check out http://www.DuluthTrading.com for some tilley hats – I have purchased quite a few things from them and can fully recommend them. And if you are thinking about purchasing one soon they are currently on sale there. (Trying not to sound like a web sales ad)

    And I would like to agree with you about your last paragraph. Slow down – Enjoy life for what life is.

    Enjoy the Luxury of the good things in life. Work is work – but why work so hard if you can’t enjoy the benefits of working so hard.

  2. leisureguy said,

    You may be interested in a guide to the gourmet shaving experience, which summarizes everything I’ve learned to date about wet shaving.

    And, indeed, you may be interested in this post. You seem like that kind of guy. 🙂

  3. glpease said,

    I’ve been “wet shaving” almost since puberty, and it’s the only way to go. Right now, my favourite shave cream is the sandlewood stuff from Crabtree & Evelyn that comes in a tube. A pea-sized amount in the palm of the hand, a nice wet brush, a good frothing, and the lather is amazing.

    It’s funny to be reading your post tongight, as I’ve just shaved off the goatee that’s been adorning my chin for the past five or six years. It’s a strange feeling, but I’ll get used to it. Or not. I keep it pretty short, so by Wednesday, no one will have to ever know that I’ve gone through this folly…

    You are SO right, my friend, about people needing to take time, and enjoy some of the good things. A nice wet-shave is a fantastic experience! But, there seems to be some sort of ridiculous race going to see who can fit more blades into a cartridge. I think they’re up to five, and I’m still trying to get used to three. Two were plenty…

    I spent several years shaving with a straight razor. It’s a real joy to have something permanent to shave with. You need to care for it, to give it the respect it deserves. Since the little guy came along, I’ve adopted the n+1 cartridge things, but one of these days, I’ll have to pull out the straight razors and treat myself to a real shave!

  4. a11en said,

    Hey Greg! Great to have you pop in, man! Hmm… Crabtree&Evelyn, I keep hearing good things about that cream. I’ll have to check it out at some point. So, you’re clean-shaven, now eh? 🙂 I always threaten Chel with getting a Goatee, but she always says I won’t be kissin’ her anymore if I do. 😉 Hard decision…

    Your comment on the number of blades reminds me of that silly SNL skit the mach10 was it? 🙂 Hilarious.

    I have to admit, even when I say we all need to slow down, often I’m not doing a very good job of it. My procrastination often causes me unrest, and doesn’t allow me to have peace in relaxation. [More on this in my Now Habit posts in the future.] But, I’m learning. 😉 When you’re young you try to do everything perfectly and don’t want to leave anything by the way-side. Sometimes it’s important to remember you can’t do everything, and certainly can’t do everything perfectly. Covey would say: “A saw that isn’t sharp won’t cut wood.” I need to learn my rest and peace is as important as my work, as it is the fuel which feeds it.

    Yikes- the straight-razor- I’d love to eventually pick one up- they’re great to shave with, I’m sure, and much more fun to use as an interrogation tool… (my old friend Steve would say: “You could make someone talk with that!”) 🙂 I’ll warm up to it eventually, I’m sure. For now, I pride myself with as little loss of blood as possible. 😉 ha ha ha…

    Ok, on to do a bit of a post here… long time coming…

  5. I had to come and check see if you wrote anything on pipes on your page – I too forgot that you smoked pipes. I agree with you – Pipe Smoking is much better or a cigar for that fact as well my two vices that I admit to freely. 😉

    The tobacco blend you mentioned I have never heard of before Hearth and Home Blend. New to me – I usually just enjoy a wonderful House Blend at the local smoke shoppe. They have over 100 blends there and I just called and they don’t carry Hearth and Home. I will have to dig up some info on it.

    I also smoke a nice Honey Blend and a Raspberry Blend to be different when in a change of pace.

    BTW I have always looked that the Pilot Pen you mentioned the other day. I have been afraid to order one. Was not sure if the clip would get in the way of holding it and writing with it.

    Digital Alan – Merlins Tower

  6. a11en said,

    Hey Alan!

    Thanks for dropping in! 🙂 I really should send you some e-mails as well. 🙂 Lots to talk about now that I know you’re into pipes. 😉 he he he…

    Hearth and Home- they’re made by a fantastic blender, Russ Oulette out of NY. Here’s the website for the shop:


    Feel free to ask to chat with Russ if you have questions about the blends at all, I’ve had nothing but good experiences purchasing from these guys.

    Also- we should talk about types of tobacco as well. Russ makes some aromatics, but I’m really into non-aromatics… his Virginias are awesome, and he does amazing things wth English/Balkans as well.

    A note about pipe-tobacco in many pipe-shops… many of them are merely “Lane Blends” which are re-named for the tobacco shops, and really aren’t blended there at all. There are very few shops that actually have blenders anymore. Could probably count them on your hands at the most, and one hand at the least, would be my guess. Lanes blends are all well and good, but there are so many others out there that are much better. I whole heartedly recommend any Dunhill brand (even though they’re no longer blended by Murrays and Sons, but Orlick)… as well I love Greg Pease’s creations. (other than Russ, of course) Here’s Greg’s site:


    About the Vanishing Point Namiki/Pilot pen- it’s fantastic. I’ve heard it’s a love it or hate it pen… I for one love it. So convenient not to have to remove the pen cap constantly. Just push the button, and the nib retracts, and it doesn’t dry out- ready to write immediately after pushing the button again. Wonderful design. If you purchase it at a good rate, I’m sure if you can’t use it, you could sell it for the same price on FPN. But, better check there first for pricing- as I’ve seen a few go by that were decent prices. Sometimes hard to find at a great deal.

    I’ll try and e-mail you soon!

    Cheers, Alan!

    ps- there’s a sampler on Russ’ page that gets you quite a bit of tobacco for a great price. I can give you an idea of what might be good depending on what types of tobacco you like. It appears you mostly like Aromatics- I tend to find them poor on flavor, and big on smell… the non-aromatics are great on flavor and poor on smell… 🙂 We’ll talk soon. 🙂

  7. Merlin said,

    I just stopped in to update you that I went to the Allegheny Smokeworks near me and they carry all the G. L. Pease tins – I ended up purchasing the Haddo’s Delight – I will be writing up a review on my blog.
    I also purchase a tin of Cornell adn Diehl Pirate Kake – I nice blend with lots of Latakia. This I had on the way home – Nice flavor. A little overbearing but good. Reminds me a bit of a nice flavorful cigar.


  8. Peter said,

    It is wonderful that you now know how to achieve the perfect shave. Wet shaving is a lifestyle and also an art of removing facial hair using a double edge razor or a straight razor. Some men use Merkur razors because it permits a close shave while still offering maximum protection from razor burn.

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