The Art of Shaving – 10 Steps to the Perfect Shave

© Joshua T. Farnsworth

What is the latest trend in getting the perfect shave? Going back to the old school art of shaving!

The Art of Shaving

UPDATED 01/25/2016:

Shaving with a cartridge razor  was always a terrible experience for me, and shaving with an electric razor was especially traumatic. Luckily, last year I discovered the art of shaving with a Double Edged Safety Razor (commonly called Wet Shaving or Straight Razor Shaving).

Lately I’ve received numerous requests for a shaving tutorial, and my advice on shaving products, so here you go! Just don’t make too much fun of my video (click here if you can’t see the video):

 

Why Wet Shaving?

I’ve often been asked the question, “why wet shaving?” Here are 5 reasons why I wet shave:

  1. Bigger Profits, lower quality: The marketing and profit maximization of big shaving  companies has not only increased the cost of shaving, but has also lowered the quality of the shave, all with the excuse of trying to save a minute or two in the morning. Personally, I’d rather spend 3 relaxing minutes shaving like my forefathers, than agonizing over razor burn.
  2. A closer shave: Wet shaving gives you a closer shave than newer shaving methods. Gillette could make a Mach10 and it still wouldn’t get a closer shave than traditional wet shaving.
  3. Less skin irritation: Ingrown hairs are a major problem with the newer razors and the electric razors. The Wet Shaving method leaves your skin feeling great!
  4. Money Savings: I mention this in greater detail below, but wet shaving is much cheaper in the long run.
  5. It’s really cool: John Wayne did it, JFK did it, and your grandpa did it. Doesn’t it look cool seeing manly men shaving with the old-time Double Edged Straight Razors?

 

Which Shaving Products Does Josh Love?

Lately I’ve also been asked the question, “Josh, which shaving products would you recommend?” My purchases were based off of functionality, comfort, user reviews, and value for money spent. Here you go:

A. Safety Razor: Merkur Model 180 Long Handle Safety Razor

I found a fantastic deal on my Double Edged razor (DE). It’s the “Merkur Model 180 Long Handle Safety Razor.” It’s a fantastic value, between $27 and $37. It’s the most popular safety razor on Amazon.com, and I’ve been very impressed. You can spend hundreds of dollars on DE safety razors, but this razor is very sufficient. My shaves are much more comfortable since switching to this safety razor.

***UPDATE 20 JUNE, 2014: My Merkur razor broke when dropping it on the carpet (carpet?), but I found an even better razor for the price, the Parker 99R Butterfly safety razor. I’ve been using it for a year and it’s awesome and much faster to load razors in. You can buy it through this Amazon link:

NBC’s Corey Greenburg cracked me up with his commentary on the importance of a high-quality razor: “The next tool you need for wetshaving is a razor. And by razor, I mean whatever highquality, NON-DISPOSABLE razor you feel most comfortable with. I know, I know, disposables are cool because that’s what they hand out in jail, but they’re extremely hard on your skin because the quality of the blades isn’t as good as a cartridge razor, or better yet, the kind of razor that serious wetshavers use: the classic double-edge safety razor!” (Click here to read Corey’s great article on shaving).

B. Razor Blades: Merkur Double Edge Safety Razor Blades – 10 Count

This is where you’ll save big money in the long run. Because of high reviews, I purchased the platinum-coated “Merkur Double Edge Safety Razor Blades – 10 Count” for around $6 on Amazon. Depending on your hair growth, this 10 pack of Merkur platinum razor blades will last you 10-20 weeks. I did the math & compared these 60 cent DE blades with my former $2.50 cartridges for the Gillette Mach3. A 10 pack instantly saves you around $19!

Here’s a convincing case study I created: If a 30-year-old scruffy guy uses 1 Mach3 cartridge per week, it’ll cost him $130 per year to shave with a Gillette Mach3. If he switches to a safety razor, he’ll only spend $30 per year. That’s an astounding savings of $100 per year. If he lives to be 80-years-old, then he will see a savings of $5,000! The numbers speak for themselves. I only spent $50-$60 on all my initial wet shaving products, so my investment has been a smart one. You can buy these blades through this Amazon link.

***PRODUCT UPDATE (2016): Merkur blades shot up in price since 2011, so I went on a razor blade hunt. I’ve discovered some new shaving razor blades that hold a better edge, cut hair better, and cost much less than the Merkur blades. Here they are on Amazon (click here).

C. Shaving Brush: Colonel Conk Progress Model 1001 Standard Pure Badger Shaving Brush

A shaving brush is the most important shaving tool you will invest in, so if you don’t use any other advice, make sure you use this. It’s the best way to prepare your face for a smooth shave. There are several reasons for using a shaving brush, but the main reason is because it lifts your whiskers higher, enabling a closer cut. The best brushes are made with Badger hair, and range in price from $20 – $600. I purchased the highly rated “Colonel Conk Progress Model 1001 Standard Pure Badger Shaving Brush” for $22 (on sale), and it has worked wonderfully. Boar hair brushes tend to be more stiff & scratchy, so I’d stick with badger hair. You can buy my brush through this Amazon link: click here

***PRODUCT UPDATE (2016): I’ve had this brush for 6 years now, and it still works fantastic!

D. Shaving Cream: Proraso Shaving Cream 5.2 oz

After much research I decided to purchase the “Proraso Shaving Cream” for around $7 – $11. Despite the budget price of $7, this glycerine-based shaving cream is actually up there with the expensive English creams. This amazing stuff is made in Florence, Italy, one of my favorite cities! You can definitely spend more money on other shaving creams or soaps (e.g. “Geo F. Trumper” or “Taylor of Old Bond Street”), but Proraso works perfectly and feels amazing.

You can buy Proraso shaving cream through this Amazon link: click here

***PRODUCT UPDATE (2016): Since I wrote this article, Proraso came out with a new formula, which I don’t prefer. It is too foamy, as opposed to the creaminess of the original formula. So I’d stick with the original!

E. Aftershave Lotion

An aftershave lotion is much better than an alcohol-based after shave. I have really enjoyed the “Every Man Jack” face lotion, which you can buy at a super price here: click here.

***PRODUCT UPDATE (2016): I’ve been using this stuff for 6 years and still love it. Since I only need to use a small dime sized drop to moisterize my face, one bottle of this stuff easily lasts me over one year!

F. Razor & Brush Stand: Colonel Conk Evernice Model 775 Chrome Safety Razor Stand

A razor & brush stand is optional, but I highly recommend using one. At first, I decided to not purchase it, but I found it inconvenient trying to dry my safety razor and badger hair shaving brush. My “Colonel Conk Evernice Model 775 Chrome Safety Razor Stand” was definitely worth the $15 I paid on Amazon. You can buy it through this Amazon link: click here.

***PRODUCT UPDATE (2016): after six years this stand is still working perfectly. The chrome has not come off (as I expected it might) so I still recommend this shaving stand.

Josh’s 10 Steps of Wet Shaving

1. Change blade (if needed)

If you are Wet Shaving for your first time, just pop a new blade into your Double Edged Safety razor. If you’ve used your blade for awhile & it drags, go ahead and switch it for a new blade.

2. Soak Shaving Brush

Soaking your badger hair shaving brush in hot water will soften the brush hairs and coat them with water, in preparation for your shave. You can use a mug or a shallow bowl. I use a cheap ceramic bowl that I bought while living in Mongolia, and it works great.

3. Take a hot shower before shaving

Be a multi-tasker! Let your brush soak while you take a hot shower. Be sure to really rub the hot water into your face. This will open your facial pores and soften your whiskers, making the hair removal process much easier. Having hot water between your skin and the shaving cream keeps the blade from dragging across your face. “The key to proper wetshaving is keeping your face as wet as possible at all times during the shave.” (Corey Greenburg).

4. Mix the shaving cream

Empty the bowl of water & shake most water from the brush. Use a dime or nickel size squirt of Proraso shaving cream in a bowl or mug. Use your brush to vigorously mix the cream, until it comes to a creamy consistency. Watch my above video for a clear view.

5. Rinse your face again with hot water

Your pores may have started to close by this time, so keep them open by splashing your face with hot water from the tap.

6. Apply the shaving cream

Give your shaving cream one last mix. If it has dried up too much, add 1-2 drops of water, then mix again. Swipe the brush up and down on your face until you’ve got a good coverage. Once the cream is on your face, you can tell if it is too wet or too dry, by how well the blade glides. If it’s too dry, just add a couple drops of water. If it’s too wet, keep mixing, or add a bit more shaving cream.

7. Shave your face

Before shaving, set the razor head perpendicular to your face, so that the head (not blade) is touching your skin. Slowly tilt the razor head downward, until you start to feel the blade touch your face. Keep it at that angle, and no closer. Keep minimal contact with the skin. Don’t push or pull, but let the weight of the blade softly cut downward, or you’ll end up bleeding! Always shave in the direction of the hair growth (downward).

Be especially careful when shaving around the nose, as it’s easier to cut yourself in the nose creases.

Continually clean your razor with hot (not scalding) water. You want to keep your blade clean and your face hydrated, hence the name: “wet shaving.” Don’t worry if you get a few small cuts starting out. It happens to most people who start out with wet shaving. And definitely don’t get distracted or in a hurry!

8. Rinse with cold water

Rinse your face and neck with cold water to close the pores. Then rinse your double edged safety razor & brush.

Shake the water off, and hang them to air-dry on your safety razor stand.

9. Pat your face dry

Pat your face dry with a clean towel.

10. Ditch the Alcohol

Instead of an alcohol-based aftershave, use a good quality aftershave lotion or moisturizer. Just squirt a small amount into your hands, then rub onto your freshly shaven skin.

Best Shave Guaranteed

I promise that by using the above-mentioned methods and products, you will not only protect your skin, but will have the finest shave of your life! Please share your comments and questions below.

© Joshua T. Farnsworth

© Joshua T. Farnsworth

Comments

  1. 1
    Marc Ellsworth says:

    Thanks for the great demo and information. I am actually going to purchase my new shaving gear today (thanks for the links) and give it a go!! Hey, I am a dad now…time to do things the manly way!!

  2. 3
    Brenton Hoyos says:

    Josh,

    You now have me seriously contemplating buying a set — maybe I can tell my wife as a Father’s Day gift idea. I agree with Marc — “time to do things the manly way!”

    • 4

      Brenton,
      I’m glad you’ve seen the light my friend…please pass this on to your friends! And if your wife questions your wisdom, pull out the math that I shared. Guys love cool stuff, but women love saving money!

  3. 5
    nadia drake says:

    wow! great pix. I’m gonna go out and buy that stuff for my man! you should get this published. super fun and cool

  4. 7

    Fantastic job, Josh – I have never liked shaving andf now go to a barber about twice a month for a hot shave, mostly go scruffy the rest of the month =)….I like the idea of that Proaso shave cream, I will give that a try…..also, I will forward to my dad – he has gotten into different shaving products of late – again, great job!!

    • 8

      Erich, I’m glad you enjoyed this article! Going to a barber would be nice for sure, but expensive. This has really made shaving enjoyable, so I’m glad I could help! Be sure to buy the products through my Amazon links 🙂

  5. 9

    This is really great! I love your style.

    I really enjoy using Burt’s Bees aftershave. It’s all natural, smells very manly, and is quite rejuvenating.

  6. 11
    Kieran Tomlinson says:

    Would you still recommend a double edged razor to people with acne?
    I don’t have bad acne but it can sometime flare up around the jawline and neck

  7. 13

    Great video! You have convinced me to ditch my gillette fusion. Do these DE razors give you a close enough shave without going against the grain?

    • 14

      Hi Brad,

      Thanks! Yes, this shaving system gives me a much, much closer shave, and I never shave “against the grain”. The platinum blades are super sharp. Thanks for reading!

  8. 15

    Hey thanks for the video and info. I at one time used some very expensive creams, oils, and aftershave from the art of shaving, I loved it, but am contemplating switching to the proraso brand, as I need to save money while still getting a great shave. I am getting married in May and am also going to school to be a preacher/ theologian, gotta look good for the wife and to look presentable. D you have any more ideas/ information that I could use???

    • 16

      Hi Timothy,

      Yup, you don’t need to fall for the expensive marketing gimmicks to get a great shave. I’ve already saved money switching over to the products on my article (please buy through my Amazon links!) from the old Gillette Mach 3 and canned cream.

      Congrats on going to school to be a preacher! I did something similar for a couple years & loved it.

      Other ideas? Hmmm. Not any marriage-improving grooming tips right off the bat, but lately I started re-reading “How to Win Friends & Influence People” and have realized how powerful that book is for a marriage. May I suggest you heavily use that book in teaching your congregation, and in your marriage? I’ve read it many times and still keep seeing ways I can improve.

      Hope this helps!
      Josh

  9. 17
    Dante Williams says:

    Hey Timothy,

    I am an African American Man and recently I have tried every single shaving method from electric clippers, electric razors, and your standard Gillette 5 Blade razor and for some old reason I still get irritation and razor bumps. I read in the NBC article that using DE razors might actually be a better method for African american men because of our curly hair, I was wondering do you any tips or thoughts on that??

    Thanks

    • 18

      Hi Dante,

      Yes, I have heard the same thing about African American men using Double Edge razors. I know that the razor setup I mentioned in my article has not only saved me a lot of money (you don’t need to spend big bucks…I found the best products for the lowest price), but has really removed all razor burn. It’s strange that you can get a better shave for less money! Will you please do me a favor? If you decide to buy the DE razor & products I listed in my article, will you please let me know how it goes so I can add your experience in my article? I think a lot of African American men are also looking for a solution to their shaving irritation. Just make sure you follow the instructions closely so we can test my process on your skin.

      Good luck!

      Josh

      • 19
        Dante Williams says:

        I will absolutely keep you posted on my progress with the DE Razors. One last question, do you have any recommendations for a great aftershave lotion for me to use.. Either scented or unscented, preferably scented???

        Thank You Josh!

        Dante

        • 20

          Hi Dante,

          I’m still looking for an amazing face lotion. I currently use the “Every Man Jack” face lotion. It is unscented and inexpensive, which is nice. I wouldn’t mind finding something that smells good. Perhaps you can let me know what you find out there?

          • 21

            I am African American and started using a double-edge razor a few weeks ago. I love it! I’ve tried about every shaving/method product you can imagine, including cartridge razors and electric razors (including Panasonic, Braun, Remington, Norelco and Wahl). I’ve even used products specifically designed for African American men with some, but limited success. I read up on DE razors and thought “what the heck?” Now I am getting great shaves with virtually no bumps (I got my first, hardly noticeable, bump today under my chin). I use the Bump Patrol Cool Shave Gel and follow up with the Bump Patrol post-shave product. (I haven’t tried other creams or aftershaves yet…I’ve used Anthony’s Ingrown Hair stuff with other shavers, and it’s ok.) It took some getting used to (i.e., I endured a few nicks learning to shave with the DE), but now, I don’t want to shave any other way. My shaves are smooth, but not too close to cause bumps. It’s great.

          • 22

            T Dub, thanks for your shaving comment. Sorry about my extremely detailed response..for some reason, my comments aren’t being delivered to my email inbox. Yes, I’ve heard from many other African American men who have reported that shaving with a double edge safety razor really reduces razor burn, and makes shaving more enjoyable. Thanks for your comment!

  10. 23

    I’ve used the same razor before, I’ve been using a DOVO straight razor lately. My problem is, I’m not a blond/straight haired guy like yourself. I’ve got a curly coarse beard that grows in multiple directions (so I have to go up/down/across in three passes. Add to that that a face with lots of curves and not a lot of straight lines, and shaving isn’t easy… But, I’m learning what works. I use “The Art of Shaving” brand stuff. It’s a little more, but high quality. I bought over 100 little boxes of Merkur blades (that I use for “clean-up”) – super cheap in bulk and they last forever in storage… Blessings!

    • 24

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment! Props to you for using a straight razor. From what I understand, it takes a lot of practice to safely use a razor like that, but it gives you a great shave. Is that correct?

  11. 25
    Steven Meditz says:

    Hi Josh. After watching your “Art of Shaving” video, & several others, I decided to jump on the wet shaving band wagon several months ago, & now I have to say I really enjoy shaving. Prior to switching to more quality shaving products, I found shaving to be a tedious routine, often which I hated doing. One thing I recently noticed is that Proraso has changed the formulation of several of their products, including the shaving cream you use. Have you tried the new formulation yet? If so, how do you rate it? I currently have the old formula, & I like that. I hope this formulation change does not affect how great this product is.

    • 26

      Hi Steven, Thanks for your comment, and I’m thrilled that you’ve started enjoying shaving as well! I haven’t tried the new formula, but I’ve read many people’s forum posts that they like the new formula even better. So I guess we’ll just have to give it a try, right? The old formula is still available, so if you don’t love the new, just revert back to the old.

  12. 27
    Jason Spiegelman says:

    I watched your video and took almost all of your advice. I just ordered a Merkur 180 (23c), 10 blades, and the Proraso cream. Skipping the aftershave lotion (for now), and already own a badger hair brush. Going to use one of my old coffee mugs as a bowl for now. I hope this works because the Proglide cartridges are just too damn expensive now. Have never shaved like this (wetshaving with a safety razor) and hope I don’t carve up my face. Thanks for the video. Any advice for how to do this when I keep a goatee and need to trim around the edges carefully would be appreciated to my email box. THANKS!

    • 28

      Hi Jason, thanks for taking my advice, and thanks for your questions. How’s it going now? Yes, a coffee mug is absolutely fine. Not too much advice to offer on shaving around a goatee..just decide on what you want to keep and what you want to shave! 🙂 All the best!

  13. 29

    I have yet to try a DE blade yet, but will after reading this article. i currently use the POWER gillette fusion 5-blade razor. power, you say, how is that possible? well, the handle contains a battery that vibrates the blades ever slightly and the smoothness of my skin is just amazing. for the power version (they also have a non-powered version) they reduce the distance between the blades and increased the bevel angle for a sharper blade.

    gillette suggests that shaving against the grain is possible, and yes, it is and it is essential to produce a super smooth result. it does appear to dull the blades more quickly than shaving with the grain, but as one of the other shavers mentioned, that is not actually possible since the grain changes angle rapidly around my mouth.

    another essential ingredient is the shave cream. the fusion brand lotions and creams are good, but can produce some irritation. i use neutrogena’s shave cream and after shave lotion, both of which do not irritate my skin and increase the yummy smoothness factor.

    finally, i have been alternating weeks with my brush (with Neem shave cream, an anti bacterial agent) and the aforementioned cream (no brush), and while changing nothing else i find the latter to be superior. i think it depends on one’s skin tolerances and hair toughness. plus, the cream is much faster than building a lather, and does not require as much attention to the blade angle.

    you also might mention something i heard, that the purpose of the brush is to pull hairs away from the skin, making them stand up for a close shave.

    i suggest that you try MY system, which will cost you about $40 to setup, and report back. i agree that spending $3/week on blades is somewhat pricey, but the time saved, especially in the AM, is sometimes worth it. it’s nice to have a choice, at least for my skin type and hair type.

    • 30

      Hey, thanks for your suggestions Gregg, and thank you for the time you took to leave a nice comment. (P.S. Sorry for the late reply to your comment..for some reason, these comments haven’t been emailed to me lately).

  14. 31
    Veronica HInojosa says:

    Hi Josh I have seen the links and actually I would love to buy 3 sets but do you have any idea if I could get anywhere a combo price for the razor, the cream , the brush and the holder, of course for the after shaving cream also…Buying independently it is much more expensive that having in a set…do you know if anyone has a set price?

    thanks

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