As mentioned previously I don’t see myself as a wet-shaving expert. But like anyone learning a new skill or way of doing something I did make mistakes and learn from them. So here are simply some pointers which I found worked for me. Naturally, and you’ll see this said on all the shaving sites and forums, your-mileage-may-vary. What worked for me might not work for you, just try things out and see for yourself.
Don’t be stingy with your soap or cream. Particularly at the beginning I found it’s better to have leftover lather than poor quality lather through not using enough cream or soap. So keep swirling your brush on the soap for a full thirty seconds, try a dollop of cream larger than the recommended “almond-sized” amount. If using a stick of soap be generous as you rub it over your stubble, go against the grain so your bristles pick-up a good layer. You can always scale it back afterwards.
Face-lathering is my preferred method of generating a good lather. I tried bowl-lathering and found I got airy, light lather that disappeared inside the brush and had to be squeezed out to be of any use. Swirling my brush on the soap or putting a dollop of cream inside the brush and then lathering directly to my face gave me better, faster and more consistent results.
When working out which blade works best for you try the same blade in different razors. I found this out when testing Crystal-brand blades. In my Lord razor with its Merkur-style head the blade was just average; decent results but not particularly smooth. In my Gillette slim adjustable razor it turned into the smoothest blade I’d tried up to that point.
Listen to your face. When I first got into shaving with a DE razor I was so pleased that I could shave across and against the grain of my stubble that I became obsessed with trying to get closer and closer. This just lead to redness and irritation. I now know that on my neck and my moustache going against the grain is just not possible. I’ve therefore not experienced that holy grail of wet-shavers, the BBS (babies’-bottom-smooth) shave. But that doesn’t matter, because I can still get close and comfortable shaves just going across the grain in those areas. Besides, I’ll have to do it all over again the next morning, so why risk the irritation.
Try different brushes. I started with boar, but found that a badger brush gave me better results and was more enjoyable. If you’ve only known boar, try badger, and vice-versa. You can always revert back to your original choice.
When I first got my badger brush it went through its initial shedding stage that most new brushes do, but then continued to lose a hair every-other shave. I was soaking it in the sink in the same hot water I used to heat-up my face cloth. I then read that some folk used warm water and only soaked their brushes up-to the base of the bristles, saying that submerging the brush in hot water loosened the glue used to hold the bristles in place. I tried this and found that it worked; my brush has now stopped losing a hair here and a hair there.
Take advice, read the reviews but go with what works for you. Many on the forums say that Feather blades are very sharp but quite a rough blade to use, I happen agree with this. Many also say though that Supermax-super-stainless blades (blue packaging) are very poor blades, I happen to disagree with this. Many say that a lack of bristle density in a brush is a bad thing. I happen to prefer a floppier, less densely-filled brush that splays on my face as I lather. Don’t be put off by what the majority think if what works for you is different.
More articles by Richard Wall
Truth be told, when I first read that Dan was looking for people to write for his blog I wasn’t sure what I could contribute. I mean sure, I’d been shaving with a DE razor for just under a year, but did that give me ‘expert’ status? Enough experience to pass my collected shaving wisdom onto newcomers?
Then I realised that what I could do is just recount my shaving story so far. After all, being twenty-six, I had scraped some sort of blade across my face for a number of years, using a variety of different methods and equipment. In the process I’d made many mistakes, as well as many happy discoveries, turning me into perhaps not an expert shaver, but certainly a happy one.
The first razor I used was the ubiquitous Gillette Mach3, along with a cheap Wilkinson Sword boar brush and a stick of Palmolive shave soap. I guess this was picked out for me by my Dad, seeing as he used a similar set-up with a Gillette Atra in place of the Mach3. I don’t remember him teaching me how to go about shaving but I guess that was the advantage of the Mach3, you could just drag it across your face and it did all the work for you. Just rub the brush all over the soap, lather-up and shave away. At least I was already on the right road of using a traditional shaving brush and soap. It was therefore unfortunate that after a couple of years shaving this way I got seduced by the assortment of foams and gels out there and promptly took a step back.
Between the ages of nineteen and twenty-three my shaves may have been pain-free but they had turned into a chore, and not even a closely shaven chore at that. Due to a pasty Englishman’s complexion coupled with dark hair I had what’s referred to as a bluebeard, a dark shadow of bristle peeking its way through my skin, mocking my Mach3’s attempts to achieve that fresh-from-the-barber’s-shop look.
Things changed when, like many recent converts to traditional wet shaving, I discovered Mantic’s videos on YouTube. This led me back onto the path from which I’d strayed. I dusted off my brush, bought myself a fresh shave stick and soon started wondering how I’d been such a numpty in going for all those gloopy gels and foams. I also ditched the Mach3 as I was fed-up with paying out for expensive replacement cartridges; I switched instead to swivel-headed, two-blade Gillette disposables. This set-up was better. The dry tautness which came from the gels and foams disappeared and shaving itself became less of a chore, but I still wasn’t getting particularly close shaves. I didn’t seem to be able to shave across or against the grain of my beard without irritation, even with the help of Mantic’s videos.
Then in April of 2008 I went on holiday to Italy. Naturally what got me most excited wasn’t the prospect of seeing Pompeii or devouring plate after plate of delicious Italian cuisine, it was knowing that I’d be able to buy some Proraso products (available in most convenience stores) and an Omega boar brush (available in most of the pharmacies). The Omega boar was a significant improvement on my old Wilkinson Sword brush, by now shedding at least half a dozen hairs a shave.
I decided it was time to take the final step in my shaving conversion, lose the disposables, and brave-up to the world of double edge. So I trawled eBay and scored myself a job-lot offering of a Lord razor with a Merkur-style head, some Speick cream and a Wilkinson Sword shave stick. I got some no-name (said to be Personna) DE blades from Boots, lathered-up and started to shave. The first thing I realised was that going from two-blade disposables to DE wasn’t as huge a leap as I’d anticipated. I could hear when the blade was cutting properly, it travelled smoothly over the skin and the hairs waved goodbye, what had I been afraid of? I then re-lathered and went for an across-grain pass, to my surprise the blade happily obliged. With my Mach3 and disposables I’d always felt resistance going anything except with the grain, this was much better. I thought I’d better stop there for my first few shaves but I was definitely hooked, already my skin felt smoother.
Over the next few months my technique gradually improved. I learnt what my face could handle in terms of which direction I shaved, how many passes I could get away with and which blades I preferred. My by-now new hobby saw my collection of soaps, creams and razors slowly expand, as the contents of my wallet rapidly shrank, and I woke each morning actually anticipating my daily shave.
Things were going so well that on his last birthday, I decided the time was right to try and infect my Dad with the shaving bug. I updated his own Wilkinson boar brush with a pure badger, and expanded his usual routine of Palmolive stick, followed by Palmolive stick, followed by another Palmolive stick with some Taylor’s cream and a puck of Culmak soap. I also found him a Gillette flare-tip rocket to try and wean him off his by-now triple-bladed razor. So far he loves his new Culmak, badger and Taylor friends, but is sticking to his triple-blade for the time being. This leaves me in a moral dilemma: continue to coerce and instruct him in the ways of the DE? Or leave him be, give in to my desires and persuade him to part with his rocket, so it can be become friends with my other Gillette’s?
So far I’ve stuck with trying to show him the pleasures of double-edge shaving, but how long my resolve stays strong only time will tell.
More articles by Richard Wall
In this amazing Youtube video below, Mike Cook uses a simple blade struck from a piece of volcanic obsidian to shave with The Bluebeard’s Revenge.
Mike, one of the leading North American artists practicing the prehistoric art of flint knapping, said: “The Bluebeards Revenge shaving cream is so good, I get a good shave even with a piece of stone!”
And if you’re interested in a stone knife you should check out Mike’s website – Art of Ishi – which has some really amazing work for sale.
What do you think to Mike Cook guys and girls? Is this extreme shaving at its very best? The Bluebeards Revenge team want to hear your suggestions on possible extreme shaving locations.
For many people who don’t make the time to prepare when shaving, they may not be getting the most out of the experience. The application of the shave cream to work up a lather is, in fact, an important part of the wet shaving process and should not be taken lightly.
If you put a bit more thought into this, you can perfect your shaving performance and get the close shave you desire. You need to start by looking at your pre-shave preparations.
By working the lather into your face you can offer your face protection from the razor and the lubrication allows the blade to glide smoothly across the skin. Once you get this right, you will also notice your skin looks great as the lather moisturises and exfoliates the skin.
The process should begin with the use of a badger brush as this type of shaving brush can get the best results. Choose the brush carefully for a more luxurious and softer feel on the skin. Also, be sure to select shaving soap that allows for a moister and richer lather. This does three things; moisturises your face, lubricates the beard and softens it, giving it the best preparation for the shaving experience.
If you have followed the advice so far, you will have gathered all you need to make a good lather which is ideal for getting the most out of wet shaving.
The next stage is to run the hot water, getting it as hot as you possibly can. If you have bought a decent badger brush that holds moisture well then you will find that as you turn the brush slowly in the water, it absorbs and holds plenty of water.
After this you need to use the tips of the badger brush to permeate the ends with the shaving soap. A lot of force does not need to be applied here, so only do this until lather starts to form in the soap mug.
There is not much more you need to do now until you begin the shaving process. First, you just need to check that the badger brush is warm and full of water and soap, and that your face is still warm and lubricated. If this is the case you can now apply the soap using just the tips of the brush in an unhurried circular motion on the facial area.
As you start to build the lather, the soap is worked deeper into your skin, achieving what you wanted at the outset: a clean face that is exfoliated and protected from the razor blade. Make sure you work the lather evenly on the face to get the best shaving preparation.
If you follow these tips for a good lather technique you can get a much closer and better shave, plus you reduce the need to spend your hard earned money on an excess of other shaving products. However, a pre-shave moisturiser may still be required and a quality aftershave.
Three Shaving Shack products have made it into a leading grooming feature aimed at University students.
The Bluebeards Revenge luxury shaving cream, the Shaving Shack ‘Buccaneer’ Pure Badger Shaving Brush and the Parker Model 89R Three Piece Safety Razor can all be seen in this year’s Student Guide, just turn to page 167.
The popular guide, which retails for £3.99, is packed full of useful advice for surviving and enjoying university life.
The Shaving Shack is delighted to announce that we are now stocking the Goodfella safety razors.
“The Goodfella Safety Razor is a product of today’s technology. Through computer aided design and selecting modern durable materials the manufacturer has rejuvenated the old school, classic shaving razor,” said a spokesperson for the firm.
“The Goodfella Safety Razor is perfectly balanced allowing the weight of the razor to deliver the blade at the optimum cutting angle resulting in a smooth and close, yet mild shave.”
Weighing 57g each, and made in New Zealand, these razors are hand finished. Each head is checked three times during production ensuring strict quality control.
The razors have also been a hit with the media, with The Australian Telegraph saying: “The classy, Sean Connery-Bond style of the Goodfella Safety Razor makes it look straight off the silver screen”.
Luxury Magazine added: “This razor makes shaving fun again”, while Tone Magazine said it “prefers the feel of blade on bristle than the lawnmower-like grind of an electric shaver”.
Hans Henrik Appel, from leading shaving blog The Shaving Detective, was also full of praise for the Goodfella safety razors.
He wrote: “The Goodfella is a classic chrome Double Edge razor in a clean, almost clinical, design. At first, it struck me as a very small razor, but it actually handles extremely well and is perfectly balanced. The Goodfella was my first attempt at a DE razor, and I must say that it impressed me with its great looks and the gentle shave it provides.
“At first, I thought that the short and slick handle would be slippery and hard to hold once it got wet. It turned out to fit perfectly in my hand – and never slipped a bit! The centre of balance was perfect for me, but I will not guarantee that it will fit anyone just as good.
“Like it goes for any other razor, it really is a matter of preference. The Goodfella is not an aggressive razor – in fact, you have to try quite hard to cut yourself with the open comb design.”
The Goodfella safety razors are priced at £59.99 on the Shaving Shack website.
The Bluebeards Revenge™ has been given a glowing review by a leading beauty blog.
LondonMakeUpGirl.com praised the luxurious shaving cream for its consistency, smell and performance.
“The cream itself is thick, pearl-scent and rich and is easy to work into thick stubble,” said the reviewer, who had previously used Kiehl’s Blue Eagle Shaving Cream until they stopped selling the cream in tubs in the UK.
“The packaging suggests that, for best results, it be applied with a shaving brush. I’ve never owned a shaving brush – I share a bathroom with an eminent beauty blogger, I think myself lucky to still have space for a toothbrush – so I applied it by hand.
“Admittedly, I’ve no experience of brushing to compare it with but I felt that massaging it in by hand was perfectly satisfactory.”
He added: “The cream has a more ‘muscular’ scent than what I’ve become used to but I’ve grown rather fond of it. The richness of the cream made for a very comfortable shave and I’ve had no problems with it in the three weeks or so that I’ve been using it.
“Clearly, that isn’t enough time to judge the ‘reduction in beard growth’ claim but it has been long enough to persuade me to switch brands from Kiehl’s.”
You can read the full review by clicking here.
The Bluebeards Revenge™ is available to buy from The Shaving Shack website, priced at £14.99.
In the last article we explained that badger hair is particularly suited to shaving brushes because of its unique qualities. Also, there are various hair grades to choose from when it comes to badger brushes. Now, we will take a look at some of the classifications of badger hair grades available to buy online.
Pure badger hair
This is the least expensive type of badger hair as it is highly available. Pure badger is great for beginners who wish to experiment and learn their craft before progressing to a higher quality wet shaving brush. These brushes can be bought in a variety of colours and are fairly coarse which makes it useful for lathering the soap.
Best badger hair
This is the next level up for wet shavers with an improved quality over the badger hair above. It has better qualities in terms of water absorption and in creating a shaving lather. There is also a softer feel with best grade hair and you can still get good value for this product.
Super badger hair
This type of badger hair is even softer still and is much finer than the best grade. You will find it feels luxurious when used on the skin. However, you will need to take greater care with a more delicate brush such as this, and it is also more expensive. The performance of this brush is particularly high and this is why it is a popular choice for wet shavers.
Silvertip badger hair
Silvertip is the highest grade of hair and is much harder to come by. This is softer and even more luxurious than super badger hair, while also being the more delicate, requiring special care to be taken in caring for the brush. This brush has a very distinctive quality making it stand out from the rest in terms of price and performance.
As well as the types of badger hair above, you can also decide to go for one of the special grades offered by some of the leading shaving brands.
Handmade badger brushes do have a variation in colour between grades and different makes, but if you need help when choosing, it is always best to speak to the wet shaving experts on what product would be most suitable for your shaving style and the budget you have to work with.
When you are in need of a shaving brush but you are fairly new to wet shaving, it is worth spending some time getting to know the various grades of badger brush which are available. This will help you to understand the benefits of each grade and be able to select the right one for you.
There are quite a number of different types of brush on the market these days, but the most popular is certainly badger hair. The most standard grades of badger brush are pure, best, super, and silvertip. This material is the most suitable for a shaving brush due to its excellent capabilities of absorbing water.
For wet shaving novices there is no industry standard in place to work on, and so this is why it can be confusing to choose between variations of brush offered by the main brands. If you want to find out more it is important to think about shaving brush quality and how to select the right grade of brush for your shaving needs.
In the next article (to be published on Wednesday) we will look at the main types of badger brush and the particular qualities of each. This should hopefully give the newcomer more of an idea when going shopping for a badger brush.
When you go off to university for the first time there are many things filling your head, such as what to take with you, whether you will instantly make friends other students in your halls of residence as well as other important stuff. However, there is one area that is often neglected – and this could be the difference between having total confidence in yourself or not – and that is to ensure you look after your skin and facial hair while you are away.
At home it is easy to get into a shaving routine, but in the day to day life of a student this is an area that can soon be ignored. Many students don’t shave while at uni because of the hassle associated with it, leaving the facial hair to grow and grow until it becomes unbearable. However, by ignoring your skincare needs, this can often result in irritable skin and the onset of acne.
For those who are already affected by acne, devoting the time needed for wet shaving can be very rewarding in the long term as it can help you to maintain healthy skin. Instead of oily skin, which actually encourages the formation of acne, by taking a more careful approach to grooming, you will soon be able to notice the changes, with clear looking skin.
You can also prevent razor burn to your face by shaving in the right way. Once you get on top of things by wet shaving after a shower and gently massaging the lather onto the face using a badger brush, giving your face the moisture it needs, these good habits should yield effective results. Just make sure you leave enough time to shave each day and you will look and feel great for the day ahead.
And if you don’t have an effective razor already, you could invest in an affordable shaving set which will give you all you need for a smooth, close and luxurious shaving experience. These stylish products for real men are becoming ever popular as they offer traditional shaving, but with a modern look. So, be sure to consider your grooming needs when going away to uni, the effort you put into this will certainly be rewarded by how you look and feel after a wet shave.