A number of years ago I got into wet shaving: that is, using a traditional shaving brush, soaps and glycerin-based creams instead of pressurized foam goo, and a vintage double-edged razor, you know, with good old razor blades that you carefully stick into a plastic container and get rid of in bulk when they’re dull. None of this “disposable 3 blade cartridge with lubricating strip” crap.
Result: My cheeks were silky smooth and the soap sure smelled nice. But at first, I had a few nicks and cuts, particularly on the “problem areas” of my neck. Well, no matter; obviously, it will take me a month or so to get the hang of it.
I did not. I tried changing the aggressiveness of the razor (it was adjustable to expose more or less blade). I tried brushing the lather on differently. I switched from soap to cream and back again. I tried applying pre-shave oils. I even visited Enchanté when I was in Austin last year and had a long discussion with its proprietor, who is (in)famous in the wetshaving community, on how to improve my technique.
Nothing helped. My poor neck.
The experts: “Well, if you shaved every day, religiously, your beard would be easier to cut and your neck would do better.”
Me: “But I don’t want to shave every day. I just don’t enjoy it that much. I can get by with two days’ growth in my lifestyle.”
“Well then you must be doing it wrong, because shaving is supposed to be pleasant and fun and a luxury! You should want to do it daily!”
This is 2014, not a spaghetti western. Shaving my damn beard is not a luxury, and I don’t expect it to be. Going to a spa for an hour long couples’ massage with my wife is a luxury.
“Well I won’t. So what would help?”
“Buy a crapton of very sharp blades and use a new one every single time you shave, because dull is bad.”
Well, I guess I could buy that, because I know all about keeping kitchen knives sharp. So for a year, I tried. And tried. And tried. Nope. My poor neck.
A few weeks ago I said “The hell with this.” I pulled out a brand new cheap, disposable, lubricating-strip-with-3-blade cartridge razor from the pack my wife buys at CostCo for her legs. I still applied a little bit of oil to my face, but just a quick coat, not taking time to luxuriously massage every nook and cranny. Instead of my $50 shaving brush made of finest
Cornish ram’s bladder — er, silvertip badger hair that caresses my face in genteel luxury (while being so damn large it routinely puts lather in my eyes), I pulled out my $15 beginner’s brush with the much stiffer hairs and the much smaller radius, and quickly threw the lather on my face. I took a deep breath and put the razor on my face …
No skies fell. No blood fell, either. I got a very clean, very soft, very comfortable shave without the slightest nick, even on the bit of my neck that’s so irregular it puts the Allegheny Mountains to shame.
I did it again two days later — or maybe three. And with the same cartridge.
And again two or three days later — same cartridge. Same result, too. My neck hasn’t been this happy in years.
So I’m keeping my brush and my jojoba oil and my lovely lavender soap that lathers up nicely, but I’m going back to cheap disposable cartridges.
Sometimes the old ways aren’t the best.
Actually, after reading this, I decided to try shaving with olive oil.
Best shave in living memory, even if I did smell a bit like a pizza.
I’ve followed an similar trajectory. I started from electric shavers, switched to wet shaving found that I loved the ritual of it, but that it took too long. Then over time I found myself never 100% happy with the shave. I just switched to cheap 3 blade cartridges and a hippie gel shaving cream from whole foods (I originally got a tiny tube for traveling) and am happier with the shave than I ever was with the single blade wet shaves.
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