One of the more frequent questions we receive for the Ask Aaron articles is with shaving blemishes and problems affecting the skin. Many complain of razor burn, redness, irritation, bumps, ingrown hairs and many other maladies. These issues can make shaving difficult at best and painful at worst! Thankfully there are many solutions to these problems to offer relief!
First let us deal with what is the most frequent complaint, razor burn. Razor burn is usually a redness soreness, or inflammation of the skin. These conditions are cause by the blade scraping against the skin removing the top layers of epidermis. To ease the inflammation and burn, if possible, give your face several days rest from shaving. Apply a moisturizing after shave balm such as Proraso, The Bluebeards, Taylor of Old Bond Street, Men-U, Castle Forbes, and E-shave to aid in helping the skin to heal. Use as little pressure as possible while shaving. If you are shaving with a double-edge razor make sure the angle of the razor is around thirty degrees, and you keep your wrist locked using your whole arm for the movement instead.
Ingrown hairs are less common than razor burn, but the more painful affliction shavers complain about. With an ingrown hair the hair grows under the surface of the skin causing damage, spots, and sometimes infection. The human hair has the same hardness as copper wire of the same diameter, so no wonder it hurts as a freshly cut hair grows and digs under the skin! If you currently have ingrown hairs avoid shaving the area for a few days and use a gentle scrub to bring the hair up to the skin’s surface. You can also use an old, clean toothbrush to brush at the hair and pull it to the surface as well. Keep the area well moisturized with lotion or balm to aid the healing process. Another remedy is crushing and creating a simple paste out of an aspirin or vitamin C. Applying the paste to the affected area helps to apply the healing acids in the aspirin and vitamin C and gives some pain relief as well.
To prevent ingrown hairs avoid shaving against the direction of hair growth, especially if your hair grows closely parallel to the surface of the skin. Also consider using a razor that has as few blades as possible to shave with. Modern cartridge razors work on the principal of the first blade pulling the first hair up, the following blades cutting the hair, and the cut hair settling back down under the surface of the skin. With the freshly cut and sharp hair this is an immediate setup for an ingrown hair, especially if you already have trouble with them or have very curly hair.
“Masking” or a discoloration of the shaved area of skin is a malady that can be caused by poor technique or product, too much pressure, an allergic reaction to a certain ingredient (lime and sandalwood essential oils, or preservatives being the most common irritants), or a variety of other common factors. As with other troubles examine razor angle and technique, use a healing ski food or balm, and if possible allow the skin to rest for several days before shaving again.
If you use a multi-bladed cartridge razor and are experiencing these or other skin problems, try a transition to a double edge razor. Many of the men we have corresponded with experience an alleviation of symptoms after switching. If your symptoms persist after trying the solutions above or worsen consider a consultation with your doctor or dermatologist as there may be underlying issues that may need addressing. We hope that if you are experiencing some of the problems above that you can find some relief in this advice soon! As always we wish you smooth and happy shaving!
Here at Shaving Shack, our mailbox is flooded with gents often complaining, and rightly so, about the high costs of cartridges and asking advice about how to get started traditionally shaving. It is undisputable that shaving with a double edge razor is less expensive than using modern cartridges. Just a simple cost comparison shows that for the same price of a pack of 4 replacement cartridges, you can buy 50-100 double edge blades. We love hearing from you our loyal customers and would like to offer you some practical points on how to get started!
The first place to start would be the equipment: razor, blades, brush, soap/cream, and aftershave. It seems like a lot, but once you get these main purchases down they will last you for many years, decades, or life. As with many purchases start with what you can afford, and as you get used to traditional shaving explore and find which items suit your needs best.
Double Edge Safety Razors
Your razor should be one with good reviews and from a reputable company such as Merkur, Muhle, Edwin Jagger, or The Bluebeards Revenge. I personally recommend The Bluebeards Scimitar, Merkur 34C, and Edwin Jagger DE89 as great beginner razors.
Shaving Soaps & Creams
Soaps and creams can be found in a huge variety of scents and flavours. If you know your water type, creams tend to work better in hard water and soaps better in soft water. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and good technique can overcome most water quality issues. Many of the most popular companies to produce soaps and creams are Bluebeards, Taylor of Old Bond Street, Cyril Salter, Mitchell’s Wool Fat, and Proraso amoung many others.
Double Edge Razor Blades
Blades are the most subjective of the wet-shaving experience, but it is best to start with a good standard blade and as your technique improves, then find a blade that more suits your face. Some of the most popular blades are Derby, Feather, Personna, Shark, and Wilkinson-Sword.
An overwhelming variety of choices can be found for the shaving brush, with the hair type being the most obvious. Choices of boar bristle, badger hair, and a variety of synthetics are available on the market. If your convictions lead you to stay away from animal products, you are in luck as many advancements in recent years have led to great strides in synthetic fibers being able to function as natural hair. The Men-U brushes have received rave reviews in their ability to hold water and produce good lather. The Bluebeards Vanguard brush should also be a good bet to try as well. For a natural hair brush, boar bristle brushes tend to be less expensive, but perform well. The Semogue 830 and 1305 are quite popular, as is the Vulfix Grosvenor, and the Bluebeards Revenge Dubloon. The badger hair brush has been used for many many years, and is the most desirable. It has a superior water retaining quality, softness on the face, and a superior lathering ability. There are many to choose from and a few recommended would be the Bluebeard Privateer, the Kent BK4, Simpsons Duke, with Plisson being the cream of the crop. As mentioned above buy the best you can afford, the quality will reward you with a better feel, and longevity.
The Perfect Shaving Routine
To perform the shave, first shower or hold a hot wet towel to the face; this softens the outer layer of hair allowing for an easier cut. Prepare the brush by soaking it in water, then gently shaking the majority of the water out. Gently press the tips of the brush into the cream or soap gathering enough material to shave with. Lather your soap in a bowl or on your face using a whipping motion and adding water as needed to create a thick lather that resembles whipped cream or meringue. Holding your razor against the face an an approximate 30 degree angle, shave with as little pressure as possible in the direction of hair growth. Remember to use short strokes and rinse the razor often. After you have completed the first pass, re-lather and shave across the direction of hair growth, then rinse the lather from your face. After rinsing apply your choice of aftershave, whether a balm or alcohol based splash.
A few tips as you improve your technique: keep your wrist locked and use a whole arm motion, a pre-shave oil will help those gents with tougher beards to retain moisture and provide glide, leaving 2-3 days between shaves gives the skin rest and leaves longer hair to shave. With these general gear guides and tips we hope you will have the information to choice your equipment well and have a fabulous shave!
If you have any questions for Aaron please submit them here.
Ultimate shaving guides
Chris Walker, from Hungry, asks:
“Hi there, I was wondering what next to invest in to upgrade my shaving kit? I currently own 2 DE razors (A Merkur 11c and a Muhle 89R) and these are great but I have a very cheap drugstore brush and cream. Which would you recommend buying first? A quality shaving brush or quality shaving cream to upgrade?
Many Thanks, C.”
I would recommend upgrading to a better cream next. Using a better cream will much improve your shave and you can still use the inexpensive brush for quite some time and still get good results. I would suggest you try Bluebeard’s Revenge, Taylor of Old Bond Street, Edwin Jagger, Truefitt & Hill and many others you will find here. Good luck and enjoy the new cream!
Do you have any burning questions you would like ask our wet shaving expert Aaron Wolfenbarger?
In today’s market of endless possibilities, one can’t help but feel dizzy when having to choose a shaving cream (or any item for that matter).
After all, when it comes to shaving, making a poor choice is more than a waste of one’s money, it also means a poor shaving experience, which as most shavers know could set the tone for the entire day.
In order to ease the process of finding the most suitable shaving cream for your needs, I’ve created a list of what I consider to be the top 10 shaving creams available on the market today. Please let me know if you agree or disagree with my selection by posting a comment below.
1. Proraso Shaving Cream Tube
The Proraso brand, which comes from the beautiful city of Florence in Italy, is a piece of Italian history which dates back over 100 years. It is considered to be the oldest industrial cosmetic product in Italy, and its unique recipe has been passed down from generation to generation.
The Proraso Shaving Cream Tube contains key ingredients like eucalyptus, menthol and glycerine; Which in turn gives a refreshing, tingly sensation on the skin that lasts long after the shave is over.
However, don’t let the eucalyptus and menthol put you off, this shaving cream doesn’t smell “mediciny” at all, it actually has a nice subtle scent which kind of reminds one of an old school barbershop.
One of the most amazing things about the Proraso Shaving Cream Tube is that a small drop of shaving cream, about the size of a dime could be used up to lather one’s entire face.
It comes in the form of a tube as a container, which is quite unique, and helps one squeeze out even the last drop. Both these facts enable one tube of Proraso Shaving Cream to last for approximately 4-5 months.
The pricing of the Proraso Shaving Cream Tube, is quite surprising, as it is one of the most affordable Shaving Creams available today, with a price of only £6.09 (150ml). This, combined with the fact that the Proraso Shaving Cream is considered one of the best shaving creams in the world (if not the best), almost gives me a sense of guilt whenever I purchase it.
2. Musgo Real Shaving Cream
The Musgo Brand comes to us from an uncommon country in the field of shaving, the country of Portugal. Far from being a new player in the market, Musgo has been around since 1887.
Musgo are considered unequalled in terms of combining lanolin in their shaving products.
Their successful combo of lanolin and glycerin creates a fantastic moisturizing effect which makes it possible to begin the shaving process quicker than almost any other shaving cream in the market without having to settle for the quality of the shave.
Its wonderful fragrance is due to the fact that it contains Patchouli, a herb of the mint family which has been used for centuries in alternative medicine and in perfumes. It is also responsible for the enjoyable cooling down sensation during and after the shave. This, as well as the fact that it contains alcohol could be a downside for those with extremely sensitive skin. However, most individuals with sensitive skin who have tried the Musgo Shaving Cream reported no such issues.
3. Trufitt & Hill 1805 Shaving Cream Bowl
Like the Art of Shaving, the Trufitt & Hill Shaving Cream is glycerin based (which locks and maintains the water and their moisturizing effect). But while the Art of Shaving is relatively a new player (having been founded in 1995), Trufitt & Hill have long stood the test of time having been in operation since 1805, a time when they provided service to all the reigning monarchs of the Victorian Era. They have also recently received a Guiness book world record for being the oldest barber shop still in operation today.
The scent of the 1805 Shaving Cream is considered by many to have the best fragrance of all the shaving creams offered today. This is due to the fact that it is infused with their famous 1805 cologne, which has a fantastic oceanic fragrance.
The Trufitt & Hill Shaving Cream is also known among shavers to give an unusually close shave, which is ultimately the goal of most shavers (knowing the products you’re using were also used by King George III is also nice).
4. Castle Forbes Lime Essential Oil Shaving Cream
The Castle Forbes brand hails from the beautiful country of Scotland, and is named after the famous Forbes Castle built in 1815 by the 17th Lord Forbes, which is still being run and used today by his great-great-great grandson Malcolm Forbes. After deciding to help his wife’s passion for perfumery, Malcolm decided to turn the old dairy near the castle into a perfumery. With the help of their friend and perfumer Andy French, they soon thereafter began offering quality perfumes under the Castle Forbes Brand, as well as Shaving Creams, Aftershaves and Soaps.
The box containing the Lime Essential Oil Shaving Cream has by far one of the most beautiful presentations of a shaving cream I’ve ever come across. The jar is pretty small in height, yet very wide which makes it extremely helpful when you load your brush with cream. Inside the jar you’ll find a very thick cream which has a terrific sweet scent of lime that is claimed by many to have the best fragrance out of all the lime scented shaving creams in the market.
The Castle Forbes Lime Essential Oil Shaving Cream contains many ingredients including glycerin, lime essential oil and coconut acid. It also contains aloe vera to help sooth the skin, and ease the shaving process.
In terms of latherability this cream performs incredibly well. It lathers quickly and creates an extremely thick and rich lather with exceptional cushioning.
What I find most impressive about this product, is that it is able to moisturize the skin in a perfect balance by not leaving the skin completely dry nor over moisturized.
In addition to the Lime Essential Oil, Castle Forbes also offers : Lavender and Cedar & Sandalwood Scented Shaving Creams.
5. Geo.F. Trumper Extract of Limes Soft Shaving Cream
It’s almost impossible to make a complete list of high quality shaving creams without mentioning the Geo. F. Trumper brand.
Geo.F. Trumper has been in the industry for more than 135 years, and is considered by many to offer the best shaving creams in the world.
The jar of the Trumper Extract of Limes Soft Shaving Cream comes inside a pink cardboard box which may sound a bit peculiar at first, as most lime scented shaving creams usually come in green colored packages. The pink color was actually chosen as a replacement for the original color during World War I due to a shortage of green color, and became its trademark ever since.
Inside the jar there’s a nice, foamy light green shaving cream which has a fabulous mild fragrance that resembles citrus. The cream lathers very quickly and builds up to a rich and thick lather which provides great cushioning during the shave and also keeps the skin moisturized longer than most shaving creams.
In addition to this magnificent lime scent Geo.F. Tumper offers six more scents: Almond, Coconut Oil, GFT, Rose, Sandalwood and Violet.
6. The Bluebeards Revenge Shaving Cream (100ml)
Launched in the summer of 2010, The Bluebeards Revenge has quickly become one of the leading shaving brands in the UK. This product is aimed at guys who suffer from ultra tough stubble as it contains an ingredient that can actually reduce the appearance and density of hair growth (with regular use). I would not say I’m one of these “rugged” guys but I really love the performance of this cream and it really makes shaving a pleasure. From an almond size amount and a little water, you should have enough luxurious, thick and creamy lather to load your brush for at least two passes of the razor, not to bad really.
This excellent shaving cream smells divine, is paraben free and suitable for vegetarians. A must buy for any wet shaving enthusiast.
7. Omega Shaving Cream
The Omega Shaving Cream belongs to the Pennellificio Omega S.p.a. and is being manufactured for them by Proraso. Most shavers argue about the differences between the Proraso Shaving Cream and the Omega as they are strikingly similar. So what are the differences?.
1. The Omega Shaving Cream is considered more subtle than the Proraso, containing less Eucalyptus.
It also contains Lanolin, which the Proraso does not.
What is Lanolin?
Lanolin is a unique ingredient which is made from the wax taken from sheep’s wool, and is done so without harming the sheep during the process.
It is used medically in order to treat rashes and burns and has an incredible moisturizing effect as it binds the water from escaping the body as well as rejuvenates the skin cells.
2. The pricing of the Omega shaving jar is £4.09 as opposed to the Proraso shaving jar which is 5.69. Both are of course amazingly cheap considering they’re quite possibly the best shaving creams in the world.
I prefer, and also rank the Proraso way above the Omega because I find that the Proraso does its job almost perfectly, and is both time tested and the original.
8. The Gentlemens Refinery “The Standard” Shaving Cream
The Gentlemens Refinery brand was founded by Perry Gastis, who has a rich history of working for both The Art of Shaving as a master barber, and an executive barber for Truefitt & Hill in North America. Needless to say he has the credentials.
Dissatisfied with the use of synthetic additives present in most men’s grooming products, Perry Gastis decided to develop his own line of products, with a focus on using the rarest and finest natural ingredients.
The Gentlemens Refinery “The Standard” Shaving Cream arrives in an elegant black box with silver lettering, which gives it a lavish look. When opening the jar there’s a light “soapy” smell of coconut.
The cream contains glycerin and coconut oil, French lavender oil, sandalwood oil, as well as the unique Ylang Ylang Oil. The Ylang Ylang Oil is a natural moisturizer commonly used in anti-aging treatments.
“The Standard” Shaving Cream is also alcohol and paraben free, which allows it to be more forgiving on the skin.
Overall, “The Standard” Shaving Cream performs quite well and creates an excellent lather lubricating your skin throughout and after the shave. However, I see no added value that could justify its price tag of £17.5, which is nearly triple what the Proraso Shaving Cream Tube costs.
9. The Art of Shaving Shaving Cream – Unscented
The Art of Shaving is currently one of the hottest names in the men’s grooming niche.
They specialize in providing Aromatherapy based, alcohol free products.
While they offer a variety of shaving creams with unique scents, the unscented shaving cream is definitely their best product. It is hypoallergenic which is perfect for men who have sensitive skin and suffer from razor burns, ingrown hairs or simply hate the smell of scented shaving creams in general.
The thick formula contains key ingredients like glycerin (which locks the water and sustains their moisturizing effect), coconut oil and essential oils. It is perfect for handling a thick beard due to the thickness of the foam.
A major downside for the Unscented Shaving Cream, as well as most of the products offered by The Art of Shaving is the high prices. The Unscented Shaving Cream costs around £18, and offers a poor value for the money as it does not surpass its more affordable competitors mentioned above.
10. Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream
Located at the well known Jermyn Street in London, the Taylor of Old Bond Street is a veteran in the field of luxury grooming products for men, with an experience of well over 150 years.
It is considered an alternative to the somewhat expensive Geo.F. Trumper brand, especially when it comes to their Sandalwood Shaving Creams.
Some of the ingredients of The Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream include : Sandalwood, Cedar, Rosemary, Jasmine, Rose and Lavender.
The latherability of the TOBS Sandalwood Shaving Cream is definitely up to par with the Geo.F. Trumper, some would even say it is slightly better, as it gives one of the most durable lathers of almost all the shaving creams offered today.
There are two main reasons for the TOBS Sandalwood Shaving Cream to be ranked lower than the other shaving creams mentioned in this list.
1. The scent of the TOBS Sandalwood Shaving Cream is way too powerful and intrusive, and even if one enjoys the smell of sandalwood, this specific shaving cream tends to bring a somewhat artificial sandalwood scent.
2. The moisturizing effect of the TOBS after the shaving process does not have as much of a lasting experience as some of the other shaving creams in the list, and tends to leave the skin dry at times.
Still, at the end of the day, if you decide to give The Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream a try, you are most likely going to have a very luxurious and affordable shaving experience.
For the price of £7.95, the Taylor of Old Bond Street Sandalwood Shaving Cream is a great bargain, especially compared to the Sandalwood Shaving Cream offered by Geo.F. Trumper for £14.
In case Sandalwood is not your cup of tea then you’ll be glad to know that there are eight more scents for this shaving cream including: Almond, Lavender, Rose, Lemon & Lime, Avocado, Eton College, Mr. Taylor and Shaving Shop.
Additionally, Taylor of Old Bond Street offers two shaving creams which are made especially for men with sensitive skin, both parabens free.
Charlotte Tipping, from the UK, asks:
“Hiya, My fiance has asked for a shaving brush and cream as a gift. He asked for a fragrance free cream, and I was just wondering if you could recommend one as there are so many to choose from!”
“Ms Tipping, kudos to you for wanting to give this gift to your fiance! I think you’ll both be very pleased with the difference! These following products will probably have a clean, soapy smell to them but will have no-added fragrance. For fragrance free products try The Bluebeard’s Revenge; Taylor of Old Bond Street Sensitive skin and Jermyn Street formulas; The Art of Shaving unscented cream. These are just a few of the creams manufactured for sensitive that I think you both will be very happy with!
Do you have any burning questions you would like ask our wet shaving expert Aaron Wolfenbarger? CLICK HERE TO ASK AARON YOUR QUESTION
Philip Morgan, from the UK, asks:
“I am thinking of starting to use a DE razor after a lifetime of overpriced Gillettes and not very good Azors. However, I am utterly bewildered by the choices on offer, from pre-shaves to post-shave products, especially brushes, razors, and blades. Re the razor I would like one razor, instead of several different razors for different levels of “aggression”. I have a beard that is quite tough in places, and currently have to shave against the grain to get a decent result – shaving with the grain leaves my face only half shaved. Any advice you can give me across the whole board of shaving products would be greatly appreciated.”
Thank you very much for your question! As wet shaving becomes ever more popular the number of choices and options grows exponentially! Confusion is easy, and I hope to help with that. Regarding your razor choice, I highly suggest going with the Merkur Progress. It is one of the most popular adjustable razors on the market right now, and is well loved by anyone that I’ve talked to that has used it. Another thing that will greatly affect this end of your shave is the blade. Buying a blade sampler is a very good way to find out which blade works best for your skin and hair type.
Regarding a brush go with a badger hair brush around 20mm in diameter. This will give you the all around best general application brush that you can use for now, and you can choose the grade of hair (Pure, Best, Finest, Silver tip) that suits your budget.
Any of the other products are really kind of up to you. Many of the top brands have complete lines of products that go from pre-shave to post-shave with everything in between. My suggestion is to go with a well known brand such as Bluebeard’s Revenge, Art of Shaving, Geo. F. Trumper’s, Taylor of Old Bond Street, Truefitt & Hill, Proraso, Speick or another of many numerous others and pick the scent that you like the best. This will give you great products to use and in a scent that you will enjoy!
Do you have any burning questions you would like ask our wet shaving expert Aaron Wolfenbarger? CLICK HERE TO ASK AARON YOUR QUESTION
Three of our luxurious shaving creams have been named as some of the very best on the market.
Dave Alexander, editor of the men’s grooming section on About.com, recently published an article, titled ‘My Picks for the Best Shaving Creams’.
The Bluebeards Revenge, which can reduce beard growth by up to 40%, topped this coveted list.
“Could there be anything better than the classics like Truefitt & Hill and Geo. F. Trumpers? When it comes to shaving cream, the British really know their stuff – I use the traditional shave lathers almost exclusively in my morning ritual and The Bluebeards Revenge is now one of my ‘must-haves’,” said Dave.
“This product takes the traditional shaving cream and throws in a little science for an outstanding shave.”
”Since 1854, Taylor of Old Bond Street has been churning out some of the best men’s shaving products in the world and this product is no exception,” said Dave.
”The rich lather and excellent lubrication will give you one of the best shaves you’ve had. The fragrance of this one is amazing, too, with notes of lavender, bergamont, and geranium – it’s rich and leathery. Good stuff!”
The American men’s grooming expert was also full of praise for the Truefitt and Hill 1805 shaving cream.
He said: “Truefitt & Hill has been in the barbering business for over 200 years, so you can imagine they know a thing or two about shaving. In fact, they’ve been operating a barbershop on St. James Street in London since 1805.
”Their 1805 Shaving Cream creates a rich, luxurious lather and has plenty of great lubrication for a close, smooth shave. While their most popular 1805 Shaving Cream has a very clean, fresh fragrance, their Lavender Shaving Cream is one of my personal favourites with it’s rich, earthy fragrance. This product works well with or without a shaving brush.”
You can read his full article by clicking here.
In the last article we set the scene where a man may not know where to start when it comes to selecting an appropriate shaving cream that will work in tandem with his skin.
Finding the right one for you is not always that simple, and so it is worth considering what you want and need before scouring the market for suitable wet shaving products.
For those that have particularly sensitive skin, it is necessary to consider shaving creams that offer moisturising properties as one of its benefits.
Even if you do not have skin which is sensitive, these products can still offer a close and smooth shave when you use a quality razor blade. You can also look out for shaving creams which contain fewer chemicals and ingredients which may cause reactions in some people.
If you want to get excellent results from your shaving experience some of the luxury shaving creams on the market are really effective as they can be used to create a rich creamy fragranced lather.
When you have decided on the things you want from the shaving cream, it then comes down to products and ultimately the brand. While it may be the safe option to go with a recognised global brand such as Gillette, you may find that some of the smaller – yet still well-established – brands like Cyril Salter, Taylor of Old Bond Street and DR Harris are certainly worth a look as their shaving creams come highly recommended by experienced wet shavers.
The beautiful Taylor Of Old Bond St Two Piece Gift Set comes in at number five in our list of the top 15 gifts to buy Dad this Father’s Day.
This fine shaving gift set comprises of the very popular Sandalwood fragranced shaving cream (150g) and fine quality pure badger hair shaving brush.
So why not treat the old man on June 20 to a luxurious shaving gift set that will ensure you stay in the good books for at least another week!!!!
A bargain at just £24.99.
Please check back on Tuesday for perfect Father’s Day gift number four.
7 days and counting… Father’s Day is just one week away! And what better way to show Dad how much you really care by treating him to a luxurious gift from the Shaving Shack on June 20.
And they don’t come more impressive than the Taylor Of Old Bond St Sandalwood Soap and Bowl.
“Taylor old Old Bond Street are renowned for their fantastic shaving cream and soaps, and this is no exception!” says Tom Trueman, customer services manager at the Shack.
“As well as smelling great it produces a rich, thick and creamy lather. The 100g soap fills the lovely wooden bowl and promises excellent value.”
The Taylor Of Old Bond St Sandalwood Soap and Bowl is gift number six in our top 15 gifts for Father’s Day.