My New Year started off beautifully. I woke up suddenly around 9am, entangled with my loved one, and had the startling and somewhat shocking revelation that I was completely hangover-free. I hopped out of bed, had a cup of coffee and some toast, and set about deciding what my first shave of 2011 should look like.
Nick from The Shaving Shack had recently sent me a box containing the Bluebeards Revenge Scimitar double-edged razor and a tub of the Bluebeards Revenge post-shave balm. This, then, was the way to go. I knew a review needed to be written, a beard needed to be shaved, and… Well, it was time to get moving.
My initial impression of the razor was that it was similar in nature to most other higher-end modern razors (see Merkur as a fine example). It displays the Jolly Rodger skull-and-crossbones proudly on the top piece, echoing the “Bluebeard” pirate theme that runs throughout their product line. The fit and finish were absolutely perfect, and the heft and balance of the razor definitely felt great. Perhaps my only complaint – out of the box – was that the grip was a touch slick.
After a hot shower, I popped a fresh Japanese Feather blade in, lathered up with Truefitt & Hill’s Lavender cream (which has quickly become my standard go-to luxury shave cream) and set to work. The razor was just slightly more aggressive in feel than my trusty vintage Gillette Superspeed. I’d put it close to setting 4 or 5 on the Gillette Fatboy adjustable, though very smooth and forgiving at the same time. It made short work of my beard and left me feeling quite happy with the results in 3 standard passes.
I finished up with a thorough rinse and a shot of witch hazel, and then opened up the tub of balm. The consistency was quite thick, so I popped a finger in, grabbed a dollop, and rubbed it in quickly. The first thing I noticed about the balm was that it burned as though it was an aftershave splash, which of course screams “alcohol!” to me. I’m not normally a huge fan of alcohol in my balms – if I want it, I’ll use a splash. In this case, however, it works. I was a little surprised, to be honest, just how WELL it worked. The balm absorbed into the skin, leaving it feeling fresh and moisturized without even a hint of oil or shine. The scent of the balm was pleasant as well, a nice classic barbershop style, though it lingers much too long for my taste.
I continued to use the two items every day until this morning, and the only change in my technique has been a switch to Art of Shaving’s excellent lemon shave cream. The razor has completely knocked every other double-edge out of rotation. My Superspeed, Fat Boy, the uber-1970′s Krona, even my Merkur slant – they’re all sitting unused in my medicine cabinet. I’ve not touched the other shave balms I’ve accumulated over the last few years at all lately, and even with daily use for over a month I’m still not even 1/4 of my way through the tub of aftershave balm.
My only suggestion for a change is that Bluebeard should release a completely unscented version of the shave balm. Otherwise, I’m extremely impressed with both products and would heavily recommend them to anyone entering the wetshaving world.
For millions of men, the daily act of shaving… sucks. We tear our faces up with overpriced razors with blades that go dull quickly and foams that numb the face, deal with ingrown hairs and irritation, and more often than not have stubble within a few hours. That’s the reality that so many of us wake up to every day. It doesn’t have to work like that, though. Shaving doesn’t have to suck.
There are communities on the web that pride themselves on shaving the old-fashioned way, with a safety razor (or straightedge!), a brush, a high-quality cream or soap, and a combination of aftershaves selected with meticulous planning. The group eschews the multi-bladed monsters with their overpriced refills and the cans of foam and gels that mostly numb the face and don’t really help shaving that much… but…
The dirty secret in the “wet shaving community” is that the multi-blade systems work, and for many people work reasonably well. They can produce a clean and irritation-free shave. For many people, a quick shave and shower IS a part of life, and they’re good with that.
The problem is that it doesn’t work for everyone. The multi-bladed razors leave me irritated and with horrible ingrown hair issues due to my fairly sensitive skin and a very thick beard. That combination is disaster when combined with the drugstore razors. For me, wetshaving isn’t something I do because I enjoy it (I do enjoy it, but that’s secondary). Wetshaving is something I do because I HAVE to do it. I use a brush and a cream or soap because the exfoliation and beard softening effects help to prevent ingrown hairs. I use a good aftershave balm and witch hazel because they help to repair the damage done by scraping a sharp blade across my skin. I use a safety razor because it efficiently slices the hair in my beard off closely to the skin without going too far.
For many, that morning chore of shaving and just dealing with the pain of irritation and ingrowns is something they just don’t know how to avoid. For me, it was an accidental click on a blog that led me in the direction of wetshaving. One thing led to another, and over the couple of years I’ve been doing it I’ve now acquired creams, soaps, aftershaves, razors, blades, brushes… and it’s all been a good experience. Shaving went from something I dreaded to a way to kickstart my day in the right way. Rainy and cold outside? Sandalwood soap and aftershave. Hot and humid? It’s a Proraso shave, baby! Face irritated from a bad shave recently? Speick cures all.
The kicker, for me, has been that it doesn’t add that much time to my morning rituals around my shower. Instead of a 3 minute shave I might take up to 7 or 8 minutes. And it’s WORTH IT. I save money by not blowing through the 15 dollar cartridge refill packs every week or two, I save my face with good products, and I feel pretty good starting the day. If you haven’t tried wetshaving yet, there’s no time like the present.
Jeremy is a wet shaving expert and blogger. He runs popular wet shaving blog Punkrockshaving.blogspot.com.