What is the latest trend in getting the perfect shave? Going back to the old school art of shaving!
The Art of Shaving
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Money Savings: I mention this in greater detail below, but wet shaving is much cheaper in the long run.
- 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.