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The Art of a Shave ... A Journey ...

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
The art of the shave--a journey.....

Over the years, from my first electric razor to gel/tech razors to learning REALLY how to shave via first Art of Shaving in NYC and then Charles Roberts, it's been a long, interesting journey to the "perfect shave". This is a great topic for most fellows. And ironically, it's something I've learned we've grown up doing absolutely the wrong way. I'm curious to know if anyone has heard of Charles Roberts, one of the two masters of shaving in the country? Here's his web site. Coincidentally, he happens to be right here in Austin, TX--I stumbled upon him on the internet in my constant search for superior shaving products:

http://www.enchanteonline.com/

Charles has several articles about shaving on his site, and they're all worthwhile. For many years, I used the common gel shave products, tech razor and shaved in the shower. I use and do none of that now. My products and technicques have changed drastically and my face has benefitted from the change.

The search to perfect the ultimate shave for me actually started by accident, as so many journeys do. I was in Manhattan on business and during some down time actually stumbled upon "The Art of Shaving", when it first opened several years ago. It was a small shop in midtown on Madison Ave

http://www.theartofshaving.com/cgi/SoftCart.exe/scstore/v3/home.html?E+scstore

I stopped in and was immediately intrigued by the old-world feel of the place and it's appeal dikrectly to something that was uniquely masculine--shaving your face. Face it (no pun inteneded), we don't pay much attention to this "chore" that we do almost every day. It's something many of us do quickly, almost as an afterthought in order to get on with the day. Well, I made an appointment to have my first barber shave, picking their "Royal Shave" and taking an hour and a half in luxury that many of us guys rarely experience. I took the shave and an education from the elderly barber who didn't mind answering my questions and providing my first lesson in "Shaving 101". I have since also taken pleasurable shaves when in London at Taylors of Old Bond Street (England's old world, was around much earlier than America's).

http://www.tayloroldbondst.com/

First, no gels--the chemicals kill your skin. No foams, same thing. Use shaving soap and a good brush (I'll let you know below what my shaving tools are). While he used a straight razor, that's not necessary and more for show. You can get a fine shave using a Merkur double-edge (and I use two razors for my shaves, which, again, I'll get to). The technique is a combination of hot water, soap, cream, massage and metal--along with using different directions to shave. I do four stages of bladework for every shave now. It takes longer, but you only have one face, eh? That experience at Art of Shaving was my start on the education. I bought their products and began using pre-shave oil to set up the beard, shave soap, after-shave balm. Still in the shower every day. All that stopped and I became a better shaver after meeting Charles Roberts six months ago, and went through a private session to learn his technique.

Now, at this point, my tools are thus:

Shaving soap cube and Trumper shaving cream, all lathered while standing together at the sink, using my hand as a "board" and the brush as my, well, brush.

Shave balm

"Cutting balm" made up by Charles

Spray tonic (again, Charles' concoction)

Simpson's Silver-Tip Best Badger Persian Jar brush (Simpsons is commonly recognized as the best brush you can buy worldwide--not cheap, but you can have them bury it with you for those shaves in the afterlife)

Double-edge Merkur razor

Mach III razor

This post has run long, and I just want to kick off the subject, so I'll end here for now. I'd encourage you to read Charles' articles on wet shaving:

http://www.enchanteonline.com/pages/men/shavinggraces/shavinggraces.htm

I can walk you through my personal method of daily shaving if you'd like to hear it, what I've learned from Charles and slightly modified for my own style and need. And make no mistake about it, this is not some excercise in spa-treatment--as quoted on Charles' web site:

"It would be foolish for a man to invest the time and money for the best clothes and ignore his grooming needs...It would be criminal not to make such an endeavor as pleasurable as possible."

Let me know if you'd like to hear more--and I'd like to hear your thoughts on technique and tools as well. I'm always open to new things.
 

Nathan Flowers

Head Bartender
Staff member
Messages
3,652
I would definitely like to hear more, if you're willing to post it. It sounds like you're a wealth of information on a subject that I'd bet almost all of us around here have a knowledge gap in.
 

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
I'd be happy to, Zohar. I'm on the way out for a few hours, but will come back later to provide further info. What method do you use to shave, out of curiosity? It would be helpful for others to share what they're doing now.
 

Nathan Flowers

Head Bartender
Staff member
Messages
3,652
Always a long hot shower pre-shave.
After shower wet face again, use Saxon beard conditioner (very hard to find, it's not alcohol based)
Lather face with glycerine soap and badger hair brush (it's a rather cheap brush). Spend about 2 minutes lathering.
Shave once with the grain.
Re lather with glycerine soap and brush.
Shave again across (sideways) the grain.
Cold water on the face to close pores.
 

Canadave

One Too Many
Messages
1,290
Location
Toronto, ON, Canada
I'd like to hear too!

Here's my routine;

Monday: Gillette Sensor with a "La Cie de Provence Shaving Cream With olive-oil".

Tuesday - Friday: Braun electric razor

(No aftershave with either.)

Saturday/Sunday: I don't shave unless I HAVE to.

That's it. I'm open to change as I realise there are some weaknesses.

David
 

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
Unfortunately, I got back late this evening and I'm about to turn in. However, in the meantime if anyone is up burning the midnight oil tonight and wants to post their current shaving regimen, I'd be happy to include it in picking back up on this thread tomorrow. I'll share with you my specific technique and incorporate the tools, and provide some commentary on your individual shaving routines.

See you tomorrow after my morning shave!
 

louisberry

New in Town
Messages
3
Paladin,

I, for one, have been anxiously awaiting the conclusion of your post. Frankly, I normally lurk around the forums...this is actually my first post.

While the idea of something more than a rushed whack at my face in the mornings (Mon- Fri only, of course) has been in the back of my mind for a few weeks, your post got my attention and I (along with other, judging by the views to the thread) am wondering where the rest of the story is.

Waiting patiently..........and thank you in advance for your insights and invaluable instructions.
 

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
My most humble apologies, gents. The week just got away from me. So I'm back and will take you through my shaving regimen--especially for the glorious Fourth of July weekend. Perhaps some of you may have some time to try a few of my suggestions! Now forgive me in advance because some of this is easier to show someone in person rather than write the instructions. But I'll do my best..........

Firstly, let me review the tools first, then we'll go into the step by step process:

1. I purchased a small metal wire caddy with handle from the Container Store that perfectly holds all my shaving supplies and implements, keep it stowed under the sink and away from my wife's complaints about taking too much room. I do, however, display my brush and Mach 3 razor (with Persian jug mock ivory handles) standing upright by the sink, the Merkur double edge on the sink to keep aired out Also a nice large cup/dish to place shaving soap cube as well for easy access and drying between shaves. All else is under the sink ready to be rolled out and placed nearby for use.

2. Tools--Simpson Persian Jug-handled best silver badger bristle brush (a worthwhile investment, makes a big difference in applying soap and cream); Floris of London Persian Jug-handled Gillette Mach 3 razor; Merkur short-handled double edge stainless adjustable razor

3. Products--Soap cube from Enchante, Trumper shaving cream in tube (there are many you can use, I also have a tube of Mr. Taylors from Taylors of Old Bond Street that are available in many fragrances--I happen to use coconut to remind me of the winds of the Caribbean), moisturizing shaving cream balm, spray tonic, cutting balm (all from Enchante).

4. Shaving technique:

a) Preparing the shaving lather or "substrate"--Usually after a hot shower in the morning (but not a necessary step), I put my brush and soap cube in the sink, letting hot running water over them. After about a minute, enough to get them soaked, I close the draine and start filling up the sink with hot water until about 1/3 full, then I turn off all cold water and reduce the hot to just a trickle (what I refer to as "firewater". I pick up the brush and soap cube and begin work the brush on the cube until I get enough lathered soap on the brush (this is where showing is better than writing about it). I then begin lathering up the soap using my left hand as a pallete, mixing up a good lather on my hand with the brush. I do that for a few minutes, then squirt about a half inch of shaving cream on my left hand. I continue working up a lather, mixing the soap and cream. Periodically, I'll pump the brush on my hand, forming a pocket among the bristles. I hold the brush briefly under the "firewater" to recharge the hot water into the brush, filling up the small pocket. Then I continue to mix the lather for a few minutes until I feel it's ready for my face. I then begin with my neck to start and beginning freely applying the lather on my face. Whenever I feel I need to recharge the hot water into the brush, I will pump the brush on my face to create the pocket and make the lather wetter and hotter on my face. Just a little trick Charles taught me so I don't have to apply water directly on my face or dilute the lather on the brush by holding it under a full stream of water. Okay, my face is now lathered with a hot combination of soap and cream, ready for my first bladework. (BTW, there's a technique I use with my left hand to keep any falling lather on the brush--it's valuable stuff for the shave! I use the pinky from my right hand--the "Trigger Finger", which I'll explain later--to wipe all lather from my left hand, or pallete, and apply to the brush.) The brush is set aside upright.

b) Facial quadrants--Okay, think of your face as divided into four quadrants. One is from your right ear, across your cheek to the center of your nose and mouth, down to the line of your jaw. The second is the same territory, only on the left side of your face. The third is from the right jaw line, down your throat, over to the middle of your chin. The fourth is the same only on the left side. It's important to use these quadrants so you have a map for your bladework.

c) Bladework--Now it's time for your first blade-run (my term, not the movie). Use the hot water in your sink to thorougly wet and heat your Merkue double-edge. Keep the razor closed to the first position, do not open--especially during the first few months of shaving. You can really cut up your face by opening an adjustable double-edge if your face (or technique) isn't ready for it. Also, because of the dynamics of a double-edge razor, usually one side has more cutting edge than the other. Get the feel for which side it is as you're shaving. Run you razor down straight north and sourth for each quadrant. While you're shaving, get the feel for your face. This is an important point. Most of us have settled into automatic pilot when we're shaving all these years. We're in a routine, we don't really enjoy it and we just need to get past it to get on with the day. As a result, we don't alow our hands to get the feel for our faces--or think about what we're doing and connect with our hands, what they're feeling and what we're thinking at the moment.

A break from the discription for an example of what I'm talking about: One of my all-time favorite TV shows from my Wonder Bread Years was "Secret Agent Man" with Patrick McGoohan. It was also known as "Danger Man" in the UK and when it first showed in the early 60's. But one thing I always noticed and admired about the character, John Drake, was his elegant method of setting up his spy gadgets. His fingers were always very nimble and almost like playing a piano. If you get the chacne to rent the DVD's of the show, take a look at what I'm talking about. He had very intelligent and elegant hands and fingers--always being in touch with his equipment and creating and using his hardware very effectively. I use this example to compare with how we utilize our tools, products and apply to the face during our shaving experience. Well, I digress.....

I'll post this in case you want to take a break, and proceed with my next post continuing the process....
 

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
4. c) Bladework continued.....

Okay, you've down your first pass at your face, the north/south. Lather up your face again, recharging your brush with "firewater" when you need it. Your next blade-run is at a 45 degree angle DOWN from your ear, to the center of your face. This downward 45 degree angle should be maintained in all four quadrants until complete. The sole acception is under the nose and the chin, under the mouth. I have a mustache so don't shave the upper lip. But if you don'[t, that should always be north to south (until the last blade-run).

BTW, what I referred to earlier as the "trigger finger" is the pinky of the right hand (or left if your lefty). When using a wet/slick short-handled stainless double-edge razor, it can get out of control I found that I was cutting myself because I couldn't control the actually razor since it was so slippery. I perfected a technique using my pinky under the handle (at it's point) of the razor to keep it steady and stable.

Next blade-run is at a 45 degree angle UPWARD from the outside of your face toward the center of your face. In otherwords, I'm almost cross-hatching my bladework. In order to lather up this time, I take my brush, wrap my left hand around the bristles, and, twisting the handle of the brush, squeeze the lather out and onto my hand. I then squirt some cutting balm into the lather and mix it up with both hands. I apply the lather mixture with both hands to my face. It's a nice cooling feeling on the skin. Once completed--and don't be afraid to work your face with your fingers--I perform my third blade run at the UPWARD 45 degree angle. Try to continue getting a feel for your face with the razor. Don't use the blade too quickly, just enjoy the time.

Alright, you have made three blade-runs so far--now it's time for your last. What is called "free-blading". It's the last cut for catching the places you missed and/or detailing your face. Rinse off all soap in the sink. Two squirts of "cutting balm" in the hand and a thorough massaging into the face and neck. Time for the Tach 3 razor. Get it hot uner the "firewater", then "touch-shave" each quadrant. This is actually running your fingers over your skin to feel where you might need the balde. I like to run once in each direction quickly by quadrant. I'm constantly running my fingers ahead of the razor in order to determine where it's needed. Almost a massage. Most gents know where the toughest place on their face is to cut. Mine is my under-chin and neck, right in the middle of my face. And that tough patch right over the Adam's Apple. For some reason hari doesn't want to be cut there. In that particular situation, I hit it with all three directions until my fingers feel it's done. I never shave in directly the opposite of hair growth, but cross-hatching. I've also perfected "blade-buffing", where I lightly and quickly wisk the Tech 3 over my chin point and under the chin to remove any stubborn stubble. It really is like razor-buffing your face. All in the strong-hand wrist and gaining a feel for the terrain of your skin with your weak hand.

That ends the blade-work, four runs. It sounds like it will take forever. But actually the more you do it and re-acquaint yourself with your face by touch, it can go as fast or slow as you want it to.

5. Wrap-up and completion--I drain the sink and wash off the brush and razors. My technique for thoroughly cleaning out the brush is to again use my hand as a pallet and hold it under the water, brushing the pallet until it's clear of soap. Briskly shake out the bristles until it's clear and ready to air-dry. Rinse off your face of cutting balm and lather. Immediately and thoroughly massage your face with the moisturizing shaving cream balm. All of your face, just go to town. It's a brisk massage and feels great. Start putting away your gear and products. Then spritz your face all over, as the balm is settling, with spray tonic and massage again--face, forehead, neck. Your face begins to feel very alive and healthy. Like you're really paying attention to it.

I always keep a towel hanging nearby to use to mop up any stray lather during the process, water, etc. Very important to keep the area clean and as dry as you can. Also keep the spouse happy.

By the time I'm done, my face is as smooth as a baby's bottom. And feeling great! Eventually you shouldn't need it, but if you require something to stop any bleeding from nicks or abrasions use an alum block. Immediately stops any pesky bleeding, just wet and run it under your chin or wherever. Now that I've been using this technique for several months, it's rarely required. As time goes on, I'll be able to adjust the setting of my double-edge during the shave to provide further cutting edge. But not until my fingers tell me it's needed.

Well, I've really whipped through the process for you here. I hope I gave enough detail. If not, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you need anything elaborated, just let me know.

Hope this is helpful. Enjoy your shave, experience a moment that's unique to the male. And be kind to your face, gents.
 

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
Canadave--BTW, an electric razor is like using a weed-eater to pull hair out of your face. No electric razor can do the job of hot steel and lather. It's a shortcut, but just doesn't come close to what you can do with your own fingers and technique.

And I forgot to mention--aftershave or cologne on the body afterward, never on the face.
 

Canadave

One Too Many
Messages
1,290
Location
Toronto, ON, Canada
Originally posted by Paladin
...Firstly, let me review the tools first, then we'll go into the step by step process:...[lots of dots!!!]...And be kind to your face, gents.

Wow, I'm sorry I asked! ;) Just kidding, that was great. I'm going to need some time to absorb it all - much like my face will absorb the soap/cream combo.

Can you describe your Merkur razor? Or point us to a picture of it via a link?

Originally posted by Paladin
Canadave--BTW, an electric razor is like using a weed-eater to pull hair out of your face. No electric razor can do the job of hot steel and lather. It's a shortcut, but just doesn't come close to what you can do with your own fingers and technique.

You're right...it's a shortcut, and one I think I'll be taking less frequently now!

Thanks a lot,

David
 

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
Here's also a link to the various products that I describe above that I regularly use:

http://www.enchanteonline.com/pages/men/caroberts/caroberts.htm

My suggestions:
Roberts Cutting Balm (get a big one, you'll use it liberally)

Aftershave moisterizing cream--Peppermint (I referred to it above as "moisterizing shaving cream balm")

Spray Tonic (I use grapefruit, believe it or not--it's great)

Shave cube

Trumper or Coates shaving cream in tube

A little tip that Charles shared with me, and I do this if I'm shaving on a day that I'll be going out for a social event or something. After shaving completely, I'll take just a touch of the Cutting Balm on a finger and apply lightly to my cheeks and chin. Just a little dab'l do ya. It gives your face a nice satin finish, an old-time fresh-shaved look and feels good too. Hey, why can't us guys look freshly barbered upon stepping out, eh?
 

louisberry

New in Town
Messages
3
Paladin,

Many thanks...definitely have to give your method a try.

I can honestly say that I never thought I would be trying a safety razor again, but what the heck. Just a quick question on the Mach 3 handle. I can find a Floris Santal Mach 3, but where did you come across the Persian jug-handled model?

Again, thanks for the education...
 

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
I don't know for sure, but it looks like it is. Mine has the plastic knob and extra blades. The one I described seems like more of the "old school" double-edge.
 

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
I was wondering if anyone had tried some of my outlined techniques. I visited Charles Roberts at Enchante on Friday and re-stocked on some of my products. He literally has gents flying in from around the country to do shaving clinics with him. I was in the shop a month ago just as someone was coming in from Chicago. If you want to experiment with my suggestions, best time to try is on the weekend when you have some free time and aren't pressed to get to work. If it sounds as if it will take too long to shave with my suggestions, it gets much shorter as you get used to doing it. Bottom line is I now give myself the best shave I've ever had. And my wife will attest to that--which as most of us know, is very important!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I'm happy to help.
 

Canadave

One Too Many
Messages
1,290
Location
Toronto, ON, Canada
I'm spending more time making sure my beard is really "wet". I wash my face, use soap all over my face...leave it on and apply my olive oil shave cream, rubbing it around well, then add some foam on top of that. Even with these basic techniques and products, I notice an improvement, even with the same razor as always.

One step at a time.

David
 

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