March 1, 2007

Wet Shave Update

Posted in shaving at 11:39 pm by a11en

A tip of the hat to Merlin over at Merlin’sTower for talking about the wet-shave. I completely agree with him. A wet-shave is something I look forward to, compared to the chore that shaving used to be. It also produces much better results. I figured it was about time to update how things are going with my wet shaving. Before, I do, one disclaimer: I haven’t taken the plunge with an old style safety-razor and haven’t started in on straight-edges yet. I may get up the cojones to do this sometime this year (my small shaving goal), so, my method still includes a Mach3 at this time. [Feel free to convince me to get off my keyster and try one of these two out.] But, a standard shave for me now consist of using shave-soap and a badger-brush, as mentioned in my previous posts. Here’s a bit more about my process… (I’m no expert, so if you have suggestions, please let me know!)

Before I get into the shower, I soak my brush. I use a coffee-cup (an old RV mug if you must know) to soak my badger brush in hot water. So, before I get in the shower, in goes my badger brush into the water to soak. Immediately after the shower (trying to keep the beard wet), I usually start in on my shave. I first replenish my mug with piping hot water for the brush, and let the excess drip out of the brush before I start. My shave-soap at this time is Taylor of Bond Street Lavender. It’s lasted over a half-year now, with regular shaving every other day (luckily I’m fairly decent for a day- that might change in the future when I’m in the real-world… at school, this is more than adequate). I still haven’t hit bottom on my shave-soap bowl (nice wooden bowl), and hope to go for a full year! We’ll see. I lather (created in the shave-soap), shave, and repeat once (sometimes cross-grain)- but the first shave is usually adequate, and I use the second only to catch anything that was missed with the first (and touch up the side-burns etc.). After the shave, I go ahead and wash my face with my anti-zit soap, then I dry my face and use a 50/50 mixture of Bay-Rum and Witch-Hazel. A bit of a warning- pure Bay Rum, while smelling wonderful, and reminding me of my heritage, actually will feel as though your face is burning off your skull. So, I’d suggest you don’t use it, unless you really want to. šŸ˜‰ For the longest time I’ve used WitchHazel, which is extremely cheap at your local grocer, for my after-shave. Does a great job. Finally, if I feel some sort of moisturizer is needed I use either Aveeno or my American Crew after-shave lotion. May be overkill, and mix of scents some may not like, but for me, this does a fine job. Again, some days I just stop at the Witch-Hazel, and I’m good. Some other little tips- I use the water from the soak of the brush to clean the brush afterwards, then use this water to take care of the stubble in the sink. I also tend to use a face-cloth on the front of the sink (usually at this time I’ve got my pants on in the bathroom- no need to scare your SO or anything…) to keep my pants dry from any splash around the sink. My method of using the soap and brush means that things get a bit messier than using a bowl to make your shave-foam. I tend to create the foam on my face, which removes a step, but tends to be messier and may not kick up those amazingly thick foams you sometimes see online. But, I gain the advantage of a great soap on the skin, and a brush that picks up my hairs and gives me the closest shave I’ve had with any method to date. [Again, I haven’t tried everything yet.]

So, very little has changed since I started. My soap is lasting forever, even when used copiously. I’ve gotten better at making my lather, of course, and also the addition of the Bay Rum is a fun change from just Witch-Hazel (remember my warning- you won’t soon forget if you try it yourself). But, all in all, I’m quite happy with the results. I’ve heard that things get even better with an old safety-razor, as well as with a straight-edge. Having the straight-edge available for interrogation use may also prove useful, so I may just go for that. A good friend of mine would say (about anything quite pointy and sharp): “You could make someone talk with that!” šŸ™‚

I think the wet-shave may be taking me a bit longer in the morning than my old method, but it’s so much more effective that I can’t see myself returning to my old sticky shave-cream from a can (yuck!!). I’m still extremely happy with my Vulfix brush, amazing price compared to some, and it’s doing wonderfully. There is only one thing that I’m having mild trouble with- my little plastic brush holder (the brushes need to dry pointing down, so as to improve drying and extend their life). The brush holder, while cheap, just isn’t too stable- I could mount it on the wall, but prefer it seated, and in that position it loses the brush at odd-times (falling into the sink with a nice klunk klunk klunk…) So, when I have the funds, I’ll likely spring for a good brush holder, and a few other niceties.

There’s something about having these small luxuries in life that makes life more fun to live. Some may say the expense isn’t worth it (after all, the travel Mach3’s and some regular old soap may get the job done)… but, with how long my soap is lasting, how long the brush will likely last, and the cheap after-shave (Witch Hazel is like $1.30 for 4months worth)… I suspect I’m not doing that badly with cost. Besides, if your girlfriend is anything like mine, she spends the amount it costs for a single shave-brush during one trip to the cosmetics counter. This isn’t metro-sexual… if anything it’s uber-sexual… the manly man… after all, they had to kill a badger for the badger-hair brush… and considering the secondary use of a straight-razor, I think you could easily stop your friend’s laughing at the smoothness of your chin. Hell, I’d respect anyone using a single blade to cut their beard with. [Now, if only I could learn how to do that… the sheer loss of blood scares me…]

I strongly suggest trying out a good badger bristle brush (not the $5 store kind- that’s likely boar’s hair), and a wet-shave with good shave-soap. It has been a joy to do my shaving ritual, not a chore, and the results keep me coming back. [Merlin looks as though he’s doing a small series on the wet-shave, so don’t fail to visit his blog for the video and next installment!]


  1. Merlin said,

    Wow That is quite an interesting article. Just to mention I have not stepped up the the single blade razors either – I am using the Mach 3 – The same ones that the art of shaving guy on Martha mentioned. But he did say a few things – normally using the can of shaving lotion you can only get reasonably 5 shaves from a Mach 3 blade – But he said using the Brush and Soap Method he can recommend at least 12 to 15 shaves from it. He said the soap is not as harsh to the blades and it can be cleaned easier so this is also a bigger cost savings as well. And the Cabtree and Evelyn Shaving Kits ($85 to $200) use the Mach 3 Cartridge – So it is good enough for them then it is good enough for me too.


  2. a11en said,

    Hey Merlin!

    Thanks for dropping in, BTW. I hope you don’t mind I jumped in spurred on by your post! Loved that first video! Let us know more about your shaving experience in your next post as well- would love to know what’s working for you well, and how you like it. I personally feel much less irritation on my skin, and the shave appears to me to be much closer than I had with the goopy shave-cream from the can. One thing I don’t do is use the cold water after my shave. I may try that. And the Bay-Rum has a *lot* of alcohol, so I really don’t suggest it. I couldn’t tolerate it even a second time. But, a mixture of the rum along with Witch-Hazel (which is usually only 5% alcohol) is doing quite well. I may just go back to Witch-Hazel in the end. (Greg Pease got me hooked on the Witch-Hazel- see rising from the ashes blog).

    My Vulfix super-badger was a great price… I have to admit that I think it was much cheaper than most I’ve seen at Crabtree and Evelyn and Art Of Shaving (the thing would have been well over $150 at AoS I believe). I was able to drop in at both of those stores when I take my treks up north. While I liked their products, their prices are high. I just haven’t been able to drop $90-$200 on a mach3 razor handle yet. šŸ™‚ While I might like to, I think I’ll probably move to a straight-edge first. [Although I may go with a safety razor- I think a local antique store may have a few.]

    The Isle of Man link with Vulfix brings me a bit of pleasure as well, as some of my family hails from there. šŸ™‚

    I will say, though, that my Mach3 blades have *definitely* been lasting longer. I noticed that a while back… just didn’t feel I needed to change them as much- the sharp edge lasted. I’m really intrigued as to what good knife-steel could achieve- but will mention it if I finally take that plunge. šŸ™‚ Like I said.. I wouldn’t mess with anyone that uses a single sharpened blade to shave with. šŸ˜‰ ha ha ha.

    I have to admit the Mach3’s do a great job. I was quite surprised at how much better my shave became when I started using good soap and a good badger brush. As mentioned in the video you linked to, I started with a cheapo brush from Walmart, actually- thing smelt horribly, and was extremely rough… but when I started my shave, the characteristic sound of a wet-shave happened… I felt my cheek, and I was sold. Even the crappy brush seriously improved things. It was then I asked for my shaving supplies for my birthday from my SO. It’s one of the few presents I’ve used almost every other day on a continual basis, and I’m very happy with the purchases. I did like the smells of the C&E shaving supplies, and may have to try them out. They appeared to be great products, and a friend of mine swears by one of them. At both places (C&E and AoS) the salespeople were very helpful and attentive to all my questions.

    Sorry for the lengthy post and comment- sometimes I go overboard. šŸ˜‰

    Cheers, Merlin!

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