The Manly Art of Shaving: Part 3

I’ve been going for sometime trying to switch back to the old ways of shaving using double edged blades because they were cheaper and shaving soap, also because it’s cheaper and I’ve finally come to a decision: I’ll have to do a modified form for our modern times.

The double edged blades worked, but I was getting nicks sometimes and they also took me a long time to shave and prep, so I’ll have to put the double edged blades aside. The shaving soap will stay because it’s actually a rather pleasant feeling to put on your face and there’s very little difference between the soap and canned shaving creme except cost.

Now I have the dilemma of what blade to use since while I’ve become used to the five blade Fusion blades I can’t stand paying close to $5/blade for a blade that lasts me almost a month. That was until I came across an ad on Facebook that I actually clicked on. Dorco USA that also makes the first double edged blade I tried also makes a pretty close duplicate of the Gilette Fusion blades only these have six blades and cost less than a dollar a blade.

I purchased the starter set of holder and two blades for $4.75 at their website. I really didn’t notice a difference between the Fusion and the Dorco. So now I can shave for about $12 per year instead of around $60/year and the best part is it’s faster with the multi blades.

I’ve also found I don’t have shave right after I get out of the shower in the morning so let me share my technique with you.

1. Take a washcloth and turn on the hot water and make the water as hot as you can stand. Drop your brush in the water and run some water over the soap.

2. Take the hot wet cloth and run it all over your face for about a minute. If water is dripping off your face you’ve done it right.

3. Grab the brush and start working it in circles in the soap until you’ve got a good foam up.

4. Cover your face in the foam which should also now be hot to warm. Badger brushes tend to hold more water than boar brushes so you’ll get your face wet and lubricated better.

5. I like to run the blade under some hot water as well to warm it up and then start shaving.

6. While people tell you not to do this, I always shave against the grain and start with my throat and move to the cheeks then do the chin and mustache area. I do it in this order because the chin and mustache area are always the hardest to shave and you want the water to soak in a lot.

7. Once you’re finished rub around your face to see if there’s any place that need a little more work. You should still have enough of the soap left over that you can do the clean up just fine.

8. Once you’re finished splash your face with witch hazel and then water.

9. Rub off any water left with your hands then apply a suitable aftershave moisturizer.

By doing this I only have to shave every other day and when I’m finished I’ve got baby’s butt smooth skin. Try it and see how it works and let me know.

My Manly Man Experience First Week

So on my first chance I tried the new double edged razor and shaving soap and found them to take a bit more time and needed some help at the end from the fusion razor to get a good close save so I decided to test in various combinations to see which would work out the best.

Next shave was with the 5 blade fusion and shaving soap. It was faster, but just as close a shave as with the double edged razor [probably because I finished up with the fusion]. I can see using these in a hurry, but I’m also used to shaving against the grain with the 5 blade fusion which probably was why it’s faster. In both cases no nicks or blood in either case which in my opinion is good.

Third time is the double edge with fusion gel and shaving against the grain. No problems here. Took a little less amount of time, but I still had to finish off with the fusion in a few places. I’ve been told while reading around that the Dorco blades that came with it are not very aggressive, well now I understand that means they are so sharp, but I did get almost as close with a double edged razor blade than I did with a five bladed razor that cost about $4.87 each as opposed to the double edged blade that I can get for around 8¢.

Four time is the double edge with Col. Conk shaving soap and against the grain. Still not as close a shave. I think I have to get some sharper blades since I once again had to finish off with the five blade fusion, but it was faster. I have a sample pack on order from West Coast Shaving and should have them by Monday. From what I’ve read the Dorco blades that came with the razor aren’t considered very sharp. In the mix of blade is a set of Feather blades which are supposedly not for the timid or untrained in double edged shaving. I think I’ll wait a bit until I’ve had enough practice to try those, but I think I’ll have this down in no time. So far not a single scrape, nick or cut. If anyone out there still uses double edged blades and has some blade recommendations I’d love to hear them.

I Am Now A Manly Man!

I talked about old school shaving once before and I on Saturday I received my shipment of old school equipment. San Francisco has it’s fair share of high priced shaving stores such as Art of Shaving, L’Occitane and Nancy Boy [really? You all know that’s a British euphemism for a gay guy]. I went even more old school and for $50 I managed to get shipped to me a full on old school shaving kit.

I received a Weishi 9306c butterfly double edged razor with 5 Dorco blades in a case, a British made badger bristle brush [a preferred style] and a 3.75oz bar of Col. Conk’s shaving soap. West Coast Shaving delivered quickly and at a good price. I am very happy with the products I received and can now begin to feel more manly in the mornings when I shave.

To switch over to a safety razor takes a bit of getting used to. You don’t shave the same way you do with the multi-blade or disposable razors. It takes a bit more finesse, but in the long run will save you a lot more money. First off a blade will last you a week or two and only costs you about 10¢ or less if you know where to shop. The shaving soap will last you a year if not more so after your initial investment figure you’ll be spending about $6 a year to shave versus what I was paying which was over $6/month for Fusion shaving gel and 5 bladed razors.

Now let’s talk about the products. The Weishi 9306c is modeled after the 1959 Gilette safety razor and is a gun metal black, not blue and has a lot of weight to it [can you say heavy metal razor?] It feels good in my hand and it has a really beautiful old school look to it. When I put the first blade in I realized something I hadn’t realized in years — Razor blades are f*cking sharp! I actually scraped off a bit of my finger nail when I accidentally hit the edge of the blade and have a small cut on my finger because I was a bit sloppy getting it out of the paper wrapping [judging sharpness of a blade usually suggests scraping it against your finger nail at a 90° angle]. Once I had it in the razor and clamped it down things were fine.

Something you have to consider when you go back to old school shaving is that the paper and blade that you use with a safety razor are fully recyclable. The soap that you lather up with doesn’t come from a can and it usually very earth friendly glycerin based so you’re not polluting our waters and not supplying more metal to recycle if you remember to even toss the can in the recycle bin and not in the trash. Then there’s the brush which I found out was not made from the hair of slaughtered badgers or boars, but is actually shaved off the animals once they are sedated so they can grow back more hair to be shaved again [because honey badgers don’t take sh*t from nobody!] Pretty nice deal for my animal loving friends.

Now let’s get down to the shave. One of the things I first remembers from years ago was that after letting the brush soak in hot water and then applying it to the soap is that the I was actually getting hot lather on my face. Canned shaving gel/soap is always cold. There have been products to warm it, but they never quite work and then there are those that add chemicals to add warmth to the gel/soap that probably aren’t the best for the environment. The soap lathers up richly and covers my faces thick and efficiently. Now it’s time to bring in the tool of Sweeny Todd. Well, maybe not the same as that was a straight razor since this is a safety razor, but you still have be careful as you have more chance of cutting yourself that with a more expensive disposable blade. Keep the blade at a 45° angle and start your first shave with the grain of your beard. I being someone who never had to use a safety razor aways shaved against the grain to get done faster and have a hair and skin composition that this works well with. You’ll probably have to do a second pass, but if you’re a beginner with DE safety razor’s this version of the Weishi 9306c is a good choice. It is very forgiving. It was so forgiving that after the second pass I grabbed the old fusion razor to finish up to a baby’s butt smooth finish, so next time I’ll try against the grain again. Next time I try it I will take the risk of going against the grain since while I have somewhat sensitive skin, I have a light beard.

After your first attack you’ll have to lather up again and go for a second pass. Now depending on your face and hair texture you can go against the grain for a smoother shave. I have baby’s butt skin and not too course hair so I am lucky. After I’ve shaved you could lick my face and not feel a rough spot anywhere [not that I’m asking for anyone to do that.] The upper lip and chin or goatee area of the face take a little more work, but once you get the hang of it you’ll get them all smooth. I was surprised at the number of videos on on how to shave with a safety razor, but I have to say that they helped me a lot.

First time, two passes and I’m baby butt smooth. Afterwards I splash on a bit of witch hazel as an after shave since it doesn’t sting and rinse the smell off then add a finishing moisturizer to seal off my skin and keep my skin looking better than some people in their 20’s.

While it may not be for everyone there is just something about the feeling of going old school in the shaving realm and if it ends up cutting your cost of shaving to less than a 1/10 of what it was with the mass market products which will give you money to spend on other things then I say go for it. I would also suggest getting a sampler pack of various blades as each person’s face deals with a blade differently.

The Manly Art of Shaving

I have decided for a number of reasons to go back to old school shaving. Part is the cost of the modern day cartridges and foaming gels and the other is because there’s just something about pulling out that old mug of soap and lathering it up with a brush that I want to get back into. There are many upscale stores in San Francisco that will charge you a pretty penny to go old school, but it doesn’t have to be that expensive.

I moved up from double blades, to triple blades, quadruple blades and finally five bladed cartridges. These cost me close to $5 each. Now I only shave every other day so I can get a lot of life  out of a blade. I take good care of my blades and after I’m done shaving rinse them off in water then dip them in 90% isopropyl alcohol to completely dry them. I can get close to a month out of one of these blades. It starts to show at the end of the month when it makes it harder to get a close shave, but I never get any cuts.

I did for awhile use shaving soap and found out that a single bar lasted me about a year. I actually used the cheap Williams soap that I think including the mug cost me about $2.99. That’s a good price for a year’s worth of shaving cream. When you add hot water to the soap and then soak the brush in hot water for a few seconds and start building up the lather the first thing you’ll notice when it goes on your face is that it’s warm, not cold. This including the liquid helps soften your beard to make it easier to remove. I’ve even heard now of men who use a pre-shave oil on their face to help relax the beard stubble. Many of these are expensive, but you can use Cornhuskers lotion that you can get for about $3 and save your money.

I’ve never tried a double edged safety razor before, but Dad swore by them. I’ve found them online ranging in price between $15-$150 and while price does matter to some extent you don’t have to go top shelf at the start. You’ll have to find the blades as well which so far I’ve only seen online. I’ll start with five blades at first, but if it all goes well I’ll get 100 which will drop the price down to around 20¢ each. I’ve heard you can get about 5 shaves out of each side so with me shaving every other day that means it’ll cost me about $3.80/year for razor blades. Far less than for the cartridges. Merkur blades seem to be the standard of excellence people are recommending. There are many suggestions for how to use a safety razor and youtube has tons of videos. Some of them are quite good like the one posted at the bottom.

You’ll have to consider the brush as well. There are three types, boar, badger and synthetic. Boar is the most common, but comes in three grades the cheapest and worst usually what you find in stores. Synthetics have varying results, so I’ll suggest a badger brush since from what I’ve read they seem to be the most consistent and best overall quality. It’s also what I’ve had in the past after trying a boar brush. Badger brushes hold water better and you can find them in a few stores in San Francisco at a relatively cheap price. Oh, and by the way skip the after shave lotion and just use a squirt of witch hazel afterwards followed by a few splashes of water on your face followed by any decent after shave balm or moisturizer.

Overall, it looks like from my research that I can get into this for about $30 investment and that should hold me at least a year with only having to buy a bar of soap and some new blades for the next year. Which would add only another $5 each year. Sure the disposables and cartridges are convenient and I’ll probably take one along when I travel, but I think for the overall cost savings I’m going to give it a shot.

The Rat Pack: Three Guys Who Influenced How I Think.

I was a kind of strange kid growing up. I had older tastes for a young kid. While I always liked rock music there was something about a bunch of guys on TV that made me want to be like them and that was the Rat Pack. Started as a group of guys who hung out with Humphrey Bogart, they came down to three guys that were the main attraction, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop were kind of honorary members who were included at times, but it was the big three that I wanted to be like.

Being a member of the rat pack wasn’t very healthy by today’s standards. In almost every picture of them they all had cigarettes and a glass of scotch. I’m convinced that’s where I got my love of scotch. I would sneak a beer or two as a teenager, but when I turned 21 there was nothing like the look of sitting and talking with other people with a glass of that dark brown wonder swinging from your hand. I started smoking as well, both of which aren’t good for you as my liver told me one day and when I started to have trouble breathing. So I had to cut back. Besides, having your friends refer to you as someone who drinks old people drinks didn’t help my character as much during everyone else’s beer days. I was always of the mind that real men drank scotch or bourbon, not cosmopolitans.

This isn’t what this article is really about though, this is about the old times and some things that we used to do that we don’t anymore and we might be able to save ourselves some money in this economy if we thought about some of them.

One of them to me was shaving. When I started shaving they had two bladed razors that were pretty good. I never had to used the old safety razors, they were starting to be on the outs then so you went with what was available. Then came the three blade, four blade and now five blade razors. I moved up with each one and realized the other day that even when I’m buying my razor blades online I’m still paying close to $5 for a blade that doesn’t last me a month. With the three blade razors I used to get around 2-3 months out of them before I had to replace them. I learned at an early age how to take care of a blade.

The five blade razors don’t seem to last as long though and I notice that not only is it harder to get the hair off my face, but after a week I start to get more nicks from them. I’ve always taken good care of my skin and I rarely have gotten cuts from shaving, but now I’m noticing them appearing more often.

I want to go back to the old safety razor days. I’m not willing to go for a straight razor as I’d probably slit my throat since you have to manually sharpen them, but the single bladed Gillette and Wilkenson blades of yesterday seemed to be just fine for my Dad and they were cheap as well. You could get like 25 blades for a buck and you’d just replace them once a week. To me that’s a deal.

When King Gillette started the disposable blade business in 1904 he started a revolution. He sold the holders at a loss knowing that men would pay more over time for the blades. It was a success and I heard the other night that because of Gillette and the disposable double edged blade that that is part of the reason all Presidents to this day no longer have beards. It used to be a cumbersome act to go to the barber where a person who was professionally trained with a straight razor would carve the hair off your face. Now everyone could do so in the convenience of their own home.

Another thing that I miss that I did use at one time was shaving soap. Sure it’s convenient to pull out a can of shaving creme and spray some into your hand, but during a period living on my own when money was in short supply I switched to shaving soap with the old fashion boar bristle brush for applying the soap to your face. You know what I found out? It wasn’t much different than the spray foam and a bar of the stuff would last me over a year and cost me a couple of bucks. There was just something more manly about using the soap on your face before shaving. It was old school before people used the word old school. It was a relaxing methodical process that had the benefit that if you wetted your soap with hot water you got a hot lather on your face to make the shaving easier.

So now I’m on a quest. The going back to old schools single blade shaving with shaving soap is making a bit of an odd comeback, but at a higher price. I think I can find something out there that is affordable and will do the job right. If you’ve got an old safety razor you don’t know what to do with let me know. I’ll take it off your hands. I’m going to find the blades and soap out there somewhere, then I’ll have to go purchase some new cufflinks to go with my French cuffed shirts.