April 8, 2008

The lost art of scraping your face with sharp bits of metal, and how to make it suck less.

By Daniel

Those of you that know me in real life know that, at any point in time, my facial hair is somewhere between “five o’clock shadow” and “hobo”. It’s not that I enjoy looking that way, it’s the simple fact that if I shave more often than about once a week, my face and neck become excruciatingly painful, and an angry red sea of ingrown hairs adorn the underside of my neck. Given a choice, I simply wait a week and shave then.

Having heard the same not-funny jokes too many times, I resolved to find a way to improve my shaving experience. Enter my other hobby, perfuming, and the group of enablers I keep company with, Basenotes. I posted a thread to the effect of what I have just written, and received several recommendations, many of them as cheap as one could ask for.

I bought nearly everything possible that they recommended, minus a new razor. I’ve got a few unused heads for my Gillette Fusion and I will be using them up, thank you very much. All the time in the world to buy a safety razor after these are gone. So I find myself with shaving cream in a tube not unlike a toothpaste tube, a boar-bristle brush, and some sort of miracle product that allows me to get an entire shave’s worth of lubrication out of 3 to 5 drops. Right.

Before I did battle with my face, I learned. Namely, I learned how to shave. Sounds a little backwards, but one of the members of the shaving website Badger and Blade was kind enough to make a lot, and I mean a lot, of YouTube videos covering nearly everything you’d want to know about shaving. The first video in a three-part series that I watched is here, and by the time I watched all three I felt ready to give it a try.

After my first attempt at wetshaving, I’ve got to admit it was the most pain-free shave in my life, and quite nearly the closest shave I’ve ever given myself (and the ones closer than that left me in pain for a day or two). I’m a convert, a changed man moving back to an old-fashioned tradition that just works better.

The stuff that I bought, and do recommend, is:

C.O. Bigelow Premium Shave Cream with Eucalyptus Oil – $10 at Bath and Body Works
Shave Secret Shaving Oil – $3 at Wal-Mart
Van Der Hagen Natural Shave Brush, 100% Boar Bristle – $5 at Wal-Mart

And the Gillette Fusion runs about $10 for the whole thing, and then another $10 for 6 replacement heads. And you’ll need a coffee mug which hopefully you’ll already have. So thirty bucks for a whole new way to shave, twenty if you already own a razor.

A note on the Shave Secret, I used it as an aftershave, three drops applied to the fingertips and massaged into the skin will leave you pain-free. And it smells like clove; when’s the last time you said you smelled like clove? Never, that’s when.