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My Old-Timey Shaving Odyssey

Jish1969

Familiar Face
Messages
95
Location
Buffalo, NY
After shaving with both the GEM Micromatic and the Gillette Super Speed a few times each, there are definitely plus-sides to each of them. The Gillete is smooth, light, and embodies the definition of a safety razor; that said, I have to do a thrice over under the neck until it feels close enough to pass a Navy inspection. I think this is augmented by the fact that you feel as if you're not even shaving when the Super Speed is in your hand.
The GEM on the other hand, is heavier, single edged, and really mows the lawn without applying too much pressure. I've noticed that I have to be more attentive when using the GEM though, because one slip and it can be unforgiving, but overall it provides a clean, quick shave.
I'm not in the habit of ranking things, especially things which I have just acquired in the last week, but both of these razors have their merits, and if they are the only two in my scabbard for the rest of my life I wouldn't mind one bit.
I also just wanted to recommend to all again the joy of using aloe vera with lidocaine as an aftershave. You fair skinned folks may already have some lying around for sunburn care. Try it if only for an experiment...you won't be disappointed.

This also brings me to a question: When I finish shaving I rinse the brush and flick it to dry, but the soap I only rinse out the lather with cold water and leave in the dish. Does anyone do anything different with their soap?

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Gin&Tonics

Practically Family
Messages
899
Location
The outer frontier
Can someone recommend a good aftershave? My skin gets dry and I should nourish it after a good shave. I'm hoping for something available at Target, Wal Mart, etc.....

This is what I use: http://www.amazon.com/Herban-Cowboy-After-Shave-lotion/dp/B000OP79FK

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The stuff is 100% natural, has very low alcohol content (there seems to be a tiny bit) and is chock full of nutrients for your skin. I absolutely love this stuff, and when I use it I can literally feel the difference. It makes the skin feel great and has a nice, manly odor. It only takes a little dab, so the tube should last quite some time.
 

skyvue

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,221
Location
New York City
Since this thread has been active of late, I'll ask here: I bought some shaving soap and a cheap brush (in case I don't like this style of shaving). I'll stick with my Sensor Excel razor for now, but I'm confused by what it says on my shaving soap (Genuine Ogallala Bay Rum): "This soap will fit any size mug. Melt in microwave and into mug. Cool."

I have no microwave. Is it required that one melt the soap first, or is that just about getting the soap to fit "any" mug?
 

Gin&Tonics

Practically Family
Messages
899
Location
The outer frontier
Since this thread has been active of late, I'll ask here: I bought some shaving soap and a cheap brush (in case I don't like this style of shaving). I'll stick with my Sensor Excel razor for now, but I'm confused by what it says on my shaving soap (Genuine Ogallala Bay Rum): "This soap will fit any size mug. Melt in microwave and into mug. Cool."

I have no microwave. Is it required that one melt the soap first, or is that just about getting the soap to fit "any" mug?


Welcome to the world of the traditional wet shave! Starting out, it's perfectly fine to use a modern cartridge razor provided it's a decent quality one. Your sensor excel should do fine. My strongest recommendation is to spend a little time doing some research on the proper techniques to use, as that is the single most important factor in having a pleasing shave. The second most important is the products (IE. soap/cream/aftershave etc.) This thread has links to various sites which provide a plethora of knowledge on the subject, so provided you use the proper techniques, I think you'll find that your shaving experience is drastically improved.

If you find you enjoy shaving this way, I highly recommend trying out a safety razor. They have numerous advantages over modern cartridge razors.

When I used to shave with crappy edge shave goop in an aerosol can and a mach 3 razor, I HATED shaving and it inevitably ended with pain and bleeding. Now that I use shave soap, a brush, aftershave, and grandpa's old safety razor, I love the experience of shaving, and even when I get little nicks from time to time, they're easily remedied with my styptic pencil and aftershave balm, leaving my face smooth as a baby's butt and feeling fantastic!
 

1930artdeco

Practically Family
Messages
656
Location
oakland
I bought some Van Der Hagen soap for $3 just to try it out and practice with my boar brush that cost $9 I think. Well I found out that it doesn't lather up that well so I going to look for a badger brush or it is my technique. I did find some at Target for about $10 so I am assuming they are the lower end of the scale of brushes-but they are softer than my boar brush. Either way the shaves have been MUCH better than my electric. It sounds like from the Badger & Blade site that blades only last about 3 shaves and you chuck them. I have stropper type box/tool and was wondering what it was used for? It is designed for the disposable blades, will I get an extra few shaves out of the blades?

I also got my sample blade pack in today along with me Arko shaving stick so I am waiting for my Proraso and then I am going to start trying things out. Yippeeee!

Mike

P.S. thanks for returning me onto this!
 

DeaconKC

One Too Many
Messages
1,640
Location
Heber Springs, AR
Okay, the VdH soap can give a very good lather with a boar brush. BUT, if you start out too wet it ain't gonna work. So, shake most of the water out first then as you go if you need more, then dip the ends of the bristles in the water and add more. And the VdH likes very hot water.
 

skyvue

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,221
Location
New York City
A quick report on my first shave using a brush:

I didn't get the kind of lather I hoped (not even close), but I understand that could be a combination of my very cheap brush, possibly the soap (though it's gotten some decent reviews elsewhere) and the quality of the water in NYC (I don't know if it's hard or soft or in-between here).

However, I don't have a heavy beard, and even the limited lather I was able to stir up seemed to work okay. I didn't have to go back for a second swipe against the grain, as I often did when using the Alba cream shave that I've been shaving with for some time. I felt a bit more of that prickly razor-burn feeling after this shave than I'm used to, but it wasn't too bad.

I'll keep at it for a few days at least.
 

tealseal

A-List Customer
Messages
380
Location
Tucson, AZ
Can someone recommend a good aftershave? My skin gets dry and I should nourish it after a good shave. I'm hoping for something available at Target, Wal Mart, etc.....
gdc: If you haven't already found one, I'd like to offer my recommendation for the Nivea Aftershave Balm for sensitive skin. Its a while liquid with a subtle scent that was my absolute go-to aftershave for years (even before discovering the wet shave). Available at any of those big box stores you mentioned.
OTOH: A friend recently gave me a gift certificate to the Body Shop and, I'll kid you not, their men's razor relief balm and Arber-scented aftershave work very well for me. Bit more pricey than the Nivea, however.
 

Shangas

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,115
Location
Melbourne, Australia
It can be very tricky to whip up good lather. I find that the trick to good lather is good drainage. If there's too much water in the bowl, then it all gets sloshy and slushy and...crap. And that's no good on your face. It just slides off and makes a mess.

I use an old-style shaving-scuttle with the holes in the top. You can lather up in the soap-dish, and any excess water on the brush/soap just dribbles down into the lower chamber. That way, you don't end up with a whole heap of soapy slush to slap onto your face, and the results are much better.
 

tealseal

A-List Customer
Messages
380
Location
Tucson, AZ
I bought some Van Der Hagen soap for $3 just to try it out and practice with my boar brush that cost $9 I think. Well I found out that it doesn't lather up that well so I going to look for a badger brush or it is my technique. I did find some at Target for about $10 so I am assuming they are the lower end of the scale of brushes-but they are softer than my boar brush. Either way the shaves have been MUCH better than my electric. It sounds like from the Badger & Blade site that blades only last about 3 shaves and you chuck them. I have stropper type box/tool and was wondering what it was used for? It is designed for the disposable blades, will I get an extra few shaves out of the blades?

I also got my sample blade pack in today along with me Arko shaving stick so I am waiting for my Proraso and then I am going to start trying things out. Yippeeee!

Mike

P.S. thanks for returning me onto this!

Mike,
You've discovered that wet shaving has many MANY variables. While it may be your technique, it may also be your water temperature, water hardness, effectiveness of brush soak, length of brush soak, and beard characteristics.
The first thing I'd mention is that a badger brush, while more expensive, MAY NOT BE BETTER for your needs! For example, I have a $10 Omega boar brush I bought at Walgreens as well as a Vulfix Pure Badger I picked up for $70. I never EVER use the badger because it's too soft for my beard! I need the stiffness of the boar bristle to stimulate my follicles and get my facial hear to "stick up" out of my face because the hairs are so thick. The badger just glosses over everything and I end up with razor burn almost every time (and I've tried everything the internet has to offer on this; finally I asked a barber and he said "your face just requires a boar brush!"). I've got a Semagogue 1305 in the mail.
However, they DO lather differently: A badger brush hold water better than a boar. The best way to lather a boar brush from a soap is (in my experience):
1) Fill up your sink or a shaving scuttle with HOT water.
2) Put your brush in to soak
3) Add 1 tbsp of the hot water to your soap mug
4) Shower
5) Dump out/empty ALL the water from soap
6) LIGHTLY squeeze the water from the boar brush (for a badger, you'll practically want to strangle it but because the boar holds less water, you'll still want some)
7) WHISK the brush over the soap; don't press/plunge/stab, but pretend you're making scrambled eggs. Do this until you experience a noticeable auditory and tactile difference and the brush bristles "clump" with soap. Depending on your water hardness, this could take up to 2 minutes (3 for me).
8) Wet your face and apply shave oil if you wish (HOT WATER!); build the lather on your face, occasionally dipping your brush in a trickle of HOT water to stimulate the lather.
9) WIN AT SHAVING! :D

I change my blades every Sunday. After lots of science I have discovered that Astra Platinums, combined with how I prepare my shave, last me 7 shaves.
 

1930artdeco

Practically Family
Messages
656
Location
oakland
Tealseal, thank you for the info I will try you method along with experimenting a bit. This morning I just barely wet the brush and really loaded up the brush. I then started lathering up my face and it looked like it was working really well. I had lots of lather on my neck but when I started on my cheeks it started to thin out. After while the lather just started to disappear from my face-like it evaporated. So I may have hard water or I am not lathering long enough.

Mike
 

tealseal

A-List Customer
Messages
380
Location
Tucson, AZ
Tealseal, thank you for the info I will try you method along with experimenting a bit. This morning I just barely wet the brush and really loaded up the brush. I then started lathering up my face and it looked like it was working really well. I had lots of lather on my neck but when I started on my cheeks it started to thin out. After while the lather just started to disappear from my face-like it evaporated. So I may have hard water or I am not lathering long enough.

Mike

Mike,
You'll have to do some experimenting, of course. Hope the tips I gave were beneficial. Boar brushes are tricky because they don't hold as much water. The key with boar is to soak it so the bristles soften up and open up, then squeeze until it's slightly damp. With a badger, you can get a good lather by simply running the brush under the tap for a while then squeeze it "dry"; it will still retain enough water to work.

The evaporation thing is an issue: A lather with soap involves reaching the perfect ratio of water to soap. Conventional wisdom says to have lots of soap, then slowly add water. I add water by turning up my brush in a trickle of hot water. Thing is, you need LOTS of soap (though it's still more economical than a cream).

Recently I've noticed a problem with things evaporating too quickly (Arizona summers). My boar brush dries up very, very fast. What I've done is: Normal, discussed above, brush preparation; when the brush is so loaded that the sound of it on the soap changes I apply to neck. Next, a dollop of warm water and then back to the soap to re-load and apply to one cheek; repeat for the other. THEN, I can start lathering up my face using water as needed.
Give multiple loading a try if you're having those sorts of problems!

Cheers,
-TS
 

Doublegun

Practically Family
Messages
773
Location
Michigan
Ok, razor (Mekur) - check; good blades - check; steptic pencil - check; badger brush - check; soap - check; witch hazel - check. Ok, tomorrow morning I'll give it a go. Question: what's the proper way to use an aftershave (Bay Rum)? Every time I use it I feel like I am using too much and I smell like Bay Rum for a couple of days.

Thanks,

JDG
 

tealseal

A-List Customer
Messages
380
Location
Tucson, AZ
Ok, razor (Mekur) - check; good blades - check; steptic pencil - check; badger brush - check; soap - check; witch hazel - check. Ok, tomorrow morning I'll give it a go. Question: what's the proper way to use an aftershave (Bay Rum)? Every time I use it I feel like I am using too much and I smell like Bay Rum for a couple of days.

Thanks,

JDG

Add an alum block to your kit! Your face will thank you. I stick to aftershave lotions, personally, but there was a time I used bay rum. My method was to pour a dime or nickel-sized amount in one hand, clap a couple times, then apply to face. Don't douse! I always smelled like bay rum for about three hours, which was perfect.

Edit: Despite all my posting about these things, I am NOT an agent of the alum block industry
 

1930artdeco

Practically Family
Messages
656
Location
oakland
I just ordered an alum block and I know they stop bleeding at a nick. But, is it something that you rub over your whole face or just nicks?

p.s. I just ordered a horse hair brush from Spain so I am anxious to try it out and se what it is like over my basic boar brush.


Mike
 

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