Thursday, 15 October 2015

The shaving ritual

Shaving has taken-up a substantial chunk of my life, but on the whole it is a positive experience - a ritual.

As such, it has very specific ritual equipment.

  • Badger bristle brush
  • Pears transparent soap
  • Erasmic shaving Soap
  • Bic twin bladed disposable safety razor (for sensitive skin)
  • Johnson's Baby Lotion

...Yes, it is all rather let-down by the plastic disposable razor; but these are simply the best that money can buy - for my needs (as well as being unmatched value for money). Anything else cuts my face.

(I would also note that the late great broadcaster Alistair Cooke was a user of Bic disposables.)

Bowl of warm water - chuck in the brush and razor. Wet face, then rub it with the Pears soap. Take brush and rub brush first onto Pears soap, and then give it a good frothing in the bowl of Erasmic shaving soap. Use brush to apply creamy froth to face, and massage into face with brush ad lib. Shave. Rinse. Dry. Apply Johnson's Baby Lotion. 

The strangest aspect is the use of two soaps - all I can say is that this combination results in the creamiest and most effectively lubricating type of froth.

Badger bristle is acknowledged to be the best - my brushes were very expensive (both gifts) and are about twenty-plus years old. My understanding is that the contributing badger died of natural causes after a happy life.

Note: If you mess-up and nick yourself under the ear, so that you have one of those rapid-flow cuts - then I recommend dry it then instantly applying a dab of Driclor - which seals it with an invisible skin; as previously described: 


Bruce B. said...

A few years ago, I bought a metal safety razor (the old fashioned type with a drop-in two-edged razor) from a German company. I also bought an inexpensive boar-bristle brush that was made on the Isle of Man. I still use the brush but the razor is now a paperweight.
If you learn to use it properly and take your time you can get a very close shave but more often than not I butchered my face. I also found that if I miss even one shave, it’s painful to use.
I have the unfortunate combination of a heavy beard and sensitive skin so I hate shaving. I now use a cheap disposable that I can use to safely hack at my face – I don’t get a very good shave.
The worst part of the face to shave is the lower neck – I’m envious of guys that don’t have whiskers growing on their lower neck/throat.
Maybe I’ll try some of your techniques.

GFC said...

Haha Bruce, I also do the wet shave ritual and it is a positive experience - never expected for it to be so, but it is relaxing and a little meditative. That experience compared to when I shaved with an electric razor is a little microcosm of the problems that modern "efficiency" raise of the experience of living. I'm sure you've tried everything, but I shave with a German safety razor made by Merkur. It's solidly built and gives a great shave, and the blades are quite cheap. Have you tried a razor like that?

Bruce Charlton said...

GFC - Yes, that's what I first tried - but I have to admit the sensitive skin disposables do a better job for me - I think the blades are set at only a slight angle to the skin.

Donald Glick said...

I find that the most aggressive double edge safety razors give me the best shave, such as the 2011 Muhle R41 & the iKon Tech. It does require good technique and full attention, but gives a cleaner shave with less irritation IMHO.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DG - From your photo on Google plus I would have to say that it doesn't look like a very *close* shave... you have a beard!

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I'm afraid I have to agree with Byron, who in Don Juan described shaving as "a daily plague which, in the aggregate / May average on the whole with parturition." I've tried disposables, electric shavers, five-blade monstrosities -- everything -- but it has never come close to being a positive experience. I also happen to have been blessed/cursed with a very thick and fast-growing beard (perhaps as a sort of compensation for my premature balding), so it is actually a twice-daily plague for me.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - It's a very individual thing - I have a 'Nordic' complexion (as appropriate for someone descended mostly from Northumbrians - which was part of the Danelaw in the late Anglo Saxon times - most of the long-term locals are similar to me) with blue-ish eyes, fair skin and hair, and a fairly thin beard - but easily cut myself.

I have tried an electric shaver, but having begun by wet-shaving I didn't much like the feeling - my skin feels 'buzzy' and roughened after an electric shave (I have used my son's rotary Philishave in emergencies).

When I was younger, I used to enjoy the tonic, bracing effect of alcohol-based after-shave lotions (as a teen it was Old Spice usually, sometimes Brut or Hai Karate... which dates me!) - but now I like the clean shaven feel plus the soothing effect and smell of baby lotion.

(I started using pink Johnson's baby lotion when the children were small and there was always a bottle of it around - and I get a nostalgic charge from continuing to use it. Also, unlike most creams, it does not provoke acne.)

Stephens said...

My current shaving favourites are the Palmolive shave stick (50p Tesco) rubbing it into the beard and then face lathering.
I settled on the Gillete 7 O'clock Yellow double edged blades at £13 per hundred and shaving every other day as the shaves are closer than I was getting with my previous Sensor Excel twin blades.
The blades are used with a Muhle R89 safety razor which is fairly mild and forgiving. I never seem to cut myself or get the skin irritation/ingrowing hairs that I had with the Sensor cartridge blades.
Most of the Badger hair, nowadays, is imported from China, where they are classed as a pest and culled in large numbers. I myself spend far too much of my time putting my lawn back together after the Badgers have paid a visit so I have a slight affinity with the Chinese on this matter! Luckily it is a seasonal issue and they allow me the spring and summer months off :)
Ironically my most expensive shaving item (£35) is a Muhle Silvertip synthetic shaving brush which means I am doing my little bit to protect the very creature that taunts me with its nocturnal vandalism!
I like shaving a lot more now than when I used foam and cartridge blades. More therapeutic than time-wasting chore. Also a lot cheaper in the long term.

Bruce B. said...

Bruce, I forgot to ask. How many times do you use a disposable razor before you throw it away? Wonder if I’m the only one that reuses them a bunch of times.

Bruce Charlton said...

@BB - Yes, 'a bunch of times' just about covers it - they usually last a few weeks (but blades vary) - when the razor first starts to cut me, I chuck it and get-out a new one.

Karl said...

So you use two kinds of soap. I use more kinds than that! Commingled in my shaving mug are all the leftover odd bits of soap from the entire household.