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

Canadave

One Too Many
Messages
1,290
Location
Toronto, ON, Canada
Originally posted by Ardbeg98 ...
If you happen to log on to some of the wet shaving forums on the web....
Here the Mach 3 shines, taking off any residual beard left from the DE work!

Welcome! A question and a comment regarding the points above.

-Where are these forums?
-After 3 passes with the DE, I'm surprised and disappointed to hear that there is "residual beard"! Can one get away without finishing by using the Mach 3?

David
 

Blueberry

New in Town
Messages
15
Location
New York
Shaving, and the Art of it

I went into a mall in NYC and found the Art of Shaving store. I went in and had a smirk on my face as I started seeing the prices of brushes and the shaving cream. I started asking questions very politely but persisted for good answers. Then I went on the internet and found Charles Roberts web site. http://www.enchanteonline.com/pages/men/artofshave.htm. I studied each paragraph and highlighted the parts that stuck out to me. Then I re-read the highlighted parts over and over again, until it sunk in.

One of the things I learned it you need to put a water-cream base on your face before shaving. This can only be done effectively with a shaving brush and good cream. The water has to be hot to have the cream work properly. Also the foam shaving creams in the stores are not worth my money to ever use again. Every time I used them, the cream would not be wet even when applying water to it and trying to get a mixture in my hand. Plus it was too thick even when I used only a little. Of course having alcohol in any shaving product is not good. I understand that they wanted to use an antiseptic on your skin since when you have cuts; you want to clean the area. However it burns when you put it on and it dries out your skin.

I tried the Art of Shaving pre oil. First by wetting my face and then applying the oil. However it did not work very well. I was then told at the store that water and oil don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t mix so don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t use the water. The oil will soften your beard. Well I tried that it and hurt like hell. I went back to the store and complained, and they said well it works for some and not others. If oil and water don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t mix, how does the pre oil work. You are putting mixture of shaving cream and water on your face. Now you are putting that on top of an oil mixture that is preventing the protected layer to attach to your skin. The water-cream base is not effectively touching your face. Therefore no good barrier has been created. Then it was mentioned to me by someone that you don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t want to have the oil touch the bristles if you are using a brush. That will clog it up and not allow it to take in and release water from the brush. Makes sense to me. Has anyone had success with any pre oil?

So after having more education on shaving I choose the Art of Shaving Best badger which was $100. It felt softer than the $50 one and it appeared to have more bristles on it. I also choose to try out their Sandlewood shaving cream.

Well I got home and tried the brush, (my first brush ever mind you). I also bought a plastic stand as the other one?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s were over $100 which I though was too much to spend for something that will hide in my medicine cabinet. I then put hot water on my face over 15 times. I soaked the brush in very hot water and then applied a small amount of cream on the brush and worked the two together until I had a good lather in my left hand. I then applied it to my face. The brush did not feel that soft and I did not get a luxury feeling that Charles had talked about in his articles. I also felt the brush was separating too much to the outside as well. I shaved down, and then added a little fire water to the brush and applied the cream again. Then I shaved up with the Mach 3 again. Let me mention the Mach 3 turbo has blades that don?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t irritate my skin as much as the regular Mach 3.
I had to admit it was one of the best shaves I have ever had. Of course I used to use a foam cream, never mixed it with water, nor ever used a brush.
I returned the brush to the store and replaced it with the Silver tip brush they had for $180. I noticed a big improvement with this brush. Not only was it softer, but it was denser. I was told the brush is hand made. I also noticed that it has a gutter on the brush that Charles mentioned in his articles about the better brushes. It took the excess cream and put it on the outside part of the brush. Very nice. I had a little more feeling of luxury when using this brush. It may not be a Simpson, but I found it very acceptable in taking in water and releasing it into the cream.

The shaving cream they sell I found has the exact same ingredients as Geo Trumper?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s cream with the exception of a fragrance. So I feel pretty confident that the shaving cream the Art of Shaving sells is top of the line.

I then used the Art of Shaving after shave balm. It has red algae which cleans any cuts and has vitamin C and E in it. Well this stuff is great. I love it. Not only does it not dry out your skin like most other products in the store, it has no alcohol and it hydrated my skin making it feel great afterwards. I highly recommend this product.

So for me, the Art of Shaving shaving cream, silver tip brush and after balm is quite good. I would stay away from their cheaper brushes and pre shave oil.

Now I am working on my technique in shaving. This includes taking slower shorter strokes, and applying hot water after every stroke. I used to only shave down, but then by 3 o?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢clock I had a 5 o?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢clock shadow already and I needed to shave a night again. Now with shaving down and then up, I only use the razor on my chin area at night if I want to snuggle with my wife.

I am now a person who uses the wet shave method and love it. If my finances get better, I am thinking about getting a Simpson brush in the future and learning Roberts method.
 

Blueberry

New in Town
Messages
15
Location
New York
" If you are not using the Robert's method or similar approach, then there are many other fine (and more economically sensible) brushes on the market that should satisfy your needs."

Sounds reasonable to me. At this point I am very happy with my silver tip badger from the Art of Shaving. Using the brush 4 x's in a shave. Wow. I use it only twice. Is the 4 x due to going at a 45 degree angle two times, or what? Why the need to cut the beard so many times? I would think going down, and then up. What else is there?

"Finally, why a double edge (DE) safety razor? What about my tried-and-true Mach 3? Is this some kind of affectation or is the use of a DE necessary? I asked this of Charles and he gave me a very sensible answer. The Roberts Method, he said, uses large volumes of water and lots of rich, well-developed lather. A DE razor is well-suited for this kind of shaving--much more so than the Mach 3. He went on to explain that the Gillette Mach 3 System is really geared to a different kind of shaving. The blades are shallow, so you constantly have to keep rinsing the razor when you have a lot of lather. Second, as Gillette advertises. the whole approach to cutting is different with a Mach 3. There are three blades in a row. In shaving, the first blade holds the whiskers in place and the other two blades cut. (Are there any advantages to the Mach 3 over the DE? I think so: It's much easier to cut yourself with a DE if you are inexperienced.)

It seems that the Roberts method is the Mercedes approach. However some may not prefer to take the time to do this every day, especially if you are running to take a train, or drive into traffic to go to work.

I am interested at this time in knowing what is a very effective way of shaving with a good brush and good cream. To me, putting a good barrier on your face, shaving down, then reapply the cream, and shave up gives you a close shave. DONE! In being new at this whole wet shaving thing, I am wondering what am I missing here?
 

Blueberry

New in Town
Messages
15
Location
New York
Update

I talked to the Art of Shaving in regards to the pre oil. They told me they I could wet my face and then add the pre shave oil. It is suppose to soften the beard. There is also some type of pepper which is suppose to make your face warm. Due to the large molecules I was told that it would not cause a problem with the water-cream barrier. Also since there is glycerin in the shaving cream, this prevents the oil from clogging up the brush. However I am still very am un easy about the oil in pre shave. Anyone have a comment on this? Common sense tells me it is a no no if you use a brush.
 

Ardbeg98

New in Town
Messages
5
Location
Rockville, Maryland
Originally posted by Canadave
Welcome! A question and a comment regarding the points above.

-Where are these forums?
-After 3 passes with the DE, I'm surprised and disappointed to hear that there is "residual beard"! Can one get away without finishing by using the Mach 3?

David

Sorry for the non-response, Dave, I've been out of town and off the internet There are the two MSN forums that I know about:
http://groups.msn.com/WetShavers/mensgrooming.msnw

http://groups.msn.com/WetShavers/general.msnw

They cover a lot of the same territory.

About your question which is well-taken: As I get more experience with the Roberts Method, I'll be able to provide a better answer, but basically, what you are looking for is not a lot of beard, just little patches you may have missed. Paladin discussed the "touch and cut" and the blade buffing techniques in his earlier posts. His description is better than I can do at this point.

Regards.

Michael
"Ardbeg98"
 

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
Ardbeg98 and Blueberry....Very interesting posts. Sorry for not replying sooner, we bought a new home and were delayed in getting internet connection for ten days. Made me realize how addictive this internet thing is.....

Anyhow, belatedly welcome to Austin, Ardbeg98--I'm glad you made it to Charles' shop and were able to experience the instruction. Next time you're in town, email me and we'll tip a few glasses of my Macallan. And light up a Macanudo 93. I graduated from American University and still have many friends in the DC area--and great place. Charles is a unigue gent, isn't he? What an experience. I'm lucky to live here locally and be able to pop by for supplies and chat. "Chat" being the operative word. We've waxed poetic about everything from politics to religion to movies to authors to travel, among many other things. Be prepared with time to spare when visiting Charles. It's always an interesting experience.

I appreciate your kind words on my initial description of the Roberts technique. Having worked with it for many months now, I've discovered short-cuts (no pun intended) due to time on occasion, and embellishments. I find that my hands and fingers are much more fluid with it now. Similar to playing your face like a fine piano keyboard.

As for Art of Shaving in NYC, Blueberry, I started there as well. Went through their products and used them for a whle. It was a great way to break free of the commercial "gel-shave" technique. As for pre-shave oil, I used that up 'til Roberts, and use it occasionally still, until I'm done with my bottle of oil (I hate wasting things). You really don't need it, though. I find that if your products, tools and techniques are effective, pre-shave oil is unnecessary. I usually just prepare my face with hot water and launch. Moving into our new home, I have a new appreciation for soft water, by the way. We haven't had our water softening system installed yet, and shaving with hard water is like shaving with sand. Soft water makes an incredible difference in the success of your shave. And the health of your skin.

Ardbeg98, I'm jealous of your trip to Scotland. I've been to Ireland (kissed the Blarney Stone, etc) and England, but not to the Auld Sod yet. I've promised my wife a 20th-anniversary stay in a Scottish castle, renewing our vows on the moors with the pipes playing, and she's promised me time to tour a distillery or two. Until next year, "Monarch of the Glenn" is the closest we'll come.

Welcome to the lounge here, I look forward to our chats.
 

Blueberry

New in Town
Messages
15
Location
New York
How is the Merkur shaver with their platinum blades compared to the M3. I also noticed there are several Merkur to choose from. Anyone of of them better than the other. One has a knob on the botton to reove the blades, another has a slant which is suppose to contour to your face better.
 

Ardbeg98

New in Town
Messages
5
Location
Rockville, Maryland
Originally posted by Blueberry
How is the Merkur shaver with their platinum blades compared to the M3. I also noticed there are several Merkur to choose from. Anyone of of them better than the other. One has a knob on the botton to reove the blades, another has a slant which is suppose to contour to your face better.

Hi Blueberry,

It's tough to know exactly which Merkur product you are comparing with the Mach 3. And, in fact, the Mach 3 itself comes in several "flavors." The Mach 3 has evolved from its introduction in the mid-90s from the regular 3-blade, to the Turbo (with lubricant strips), and now to the Power blades (with yet more bells and whistles). All three types are still available. The prices of the Turbo and the Power are higher than the regular.

As far as I know, Merkur doesn't make a 3 blade system, but it does make handles that will work with Gillette's Mach 3 blades. These are nicely balanced and are better looking than the stock Mach 3 handles. There are of course many other manufacturers of Mach 3 handles. For example, check out the many available from Progress Vulfix, which you can get from www.classicshaving.com or from other manufactures at, for example, www.emsplace.com or www.enchanteonline.com.

Merkur does make a double blade cartridge system, which I've not tried so can't comment on. Again, you can buy these online at www.classicshaving.com. These would be comparable to Gillette's Sensor or other two bladed cartridge systems on the market.

Merkur has a full range of double edge safety razors and manufactures a nice platinum coated razor blade. These are widely available over the internet. I'm currently using these blades in a non-adjustable base (Merkur 178). This is a short handled chrome razor that is beatifully constructed, and easy to use. You twist a knob at the bottom and off comes the top so you can replace the blades. It sells in the $30 to $35 range.
Merkur also sells many adjustable models for a bit more money, but until I master the basics of the Roberts method shaving, I'm perfectly happy with the non-adjustable Merkur. Still, Charles at Enchante would be delighted to sell you a Merkur adjustable razor (in the $60 range, I believe).

About the double edge blades themselves, Merkur makes a very good blade, as far as I can tell. There are several others available which you might also want to try. All are advanced, coated blades. The most available in the U.S. are those made by the American Safety Razor Company. They are sold under the Personna brand, but this company's products are sold under a large number of other brand names as well (e.g., CVS). I can't say whether Gillette is making double edge blades still. If so, I haven't found them recently. Also, be advised that it Schick and Wilkinson are now both owned by Pfizer Warner-Lambert. I've read that Wilkinson is no longer making DE blades, but Schick may well be. (I've gotten Wilkinson DE blades on EBay recently and I like them alot.) Finally, I'm eager to try the DE blades by a Japanese company called Feather. These are sold in the U.S. by www.classicshaving.com and I'm just about to put in an order for them. Japanese tool steel can be wonderful stuff, so I'm looking forward to testing out these blades. Will let you know.

By the way, a great resource to link to various shaving sites can be found at http://www.geocities.com/safetyrazors/links.htm

Michael
"Ardbeg98"
 

Ardbeg98

New in Town
Messages
5
Location
Rockville, Maryland
Thanks to Paladin for the welcome to this thread. I agree very much with his assessment of Charles Roberts at Enchante. I'd be hard pressed to name another business owner more connected to his customers. And, by the way, if you buy just one product for wet shaving from him, try his shave cube (about $10). This shaving soap is just incredible. It can be used with your brush by itself or enriched by a small amount of shave cream of your choice. The pleasing "soapy" scent reminds me of the old fashioned shaving soaps my father used years ago. Plus, the cube is so big that it will last for months.

About Paladin's "hard water" comment, I can relate to that. Our local Montgomery County Potomac River water is pretty hard, but I'm unwilling to invest in a softening system just for my shaving. Hard water is also a culprit for other uses as well. For example, making coffee with a good tasting softened (or purified) water makes all the difference. (Hard water also places havoc with the innards of my Italian espresso machine.) Also, a good quality soft water added in small quantity to Paladin's dram of The Macallan Whisky will enhance the experience [although it is said that many Scots think that Whisky is best with a small amount of Edinborough tap water]. Paladin, do save some Macallan for me when I am next in Austin. I'd be honored. Also, for those of you who, like Paladin, are planning a trip to Scotland, consult the guidebook that many Scots swear by called Scotland the Best, by Peter Irvine. Amazon.com carries it; be sure to get the latest edition.]

Sorry to get off the topic of this thread.
I'll try to stay more focused next time.

Michael
"Ardbeg98"
 

Blueberry

New in Town
Messages
15
Location
New York
thank you for your reply. I currently am using the Mach 3 Turbo which blades are easier on my face. I am aware that the Merkur does not have 3 blades, but have been told by some that they stay sharper longer (Mach 3 turbo gets 3 days of shaving for me) and that they you get a very close shave with them. The razor you mentioned that has the knob on the bottom of the Merkur is one that I am considering getting. Not to mention the nice weight. Decisions, decsiions...
 

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
I posted a link to the Merkur DE that both Charles recommends and I use (bought from him originally). The knob at the end allows you to adjust the blade for more blade play as your face can handle it. I haven't yet, and still use it at the first setting. Ardbeg98--I'd be interested in hearing how those Japanese Feathers perform. I agree on the cube--if you enjoy it now, imagine how it would perform with soft water in your home! It really is like night and day. The lather whips up in seconds, almost too much for one sitting.

The Mach 3 is a great trimming and buffing razor. I previously used it exclusively, before the Roberts technique. But that with the cutting balm (after the DE work), is an ideal finishing run on your face. I've edited my routine to three runs with the DE, then one for the M3. Given time constraints and an improvement in my technique, I don't perform a second straight-angle run.

Your decision on a DE and handle for your M3 is highly personal. It's got to feel right, and perform to the level you desire. You may go through a few, as I have, until you settle in comfortably with your tools. But if you don't mind the expense, the journey--as I mentioned at the top of this thread--is an enjoyable one. Isn't it amazing how there are just a few square inches of territory to our faces, but so much to learn?
 

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
"Feathers"--the latest on safety razor blades...

Sorry I've been gone for a while. Just very busy with moving into a new home and business. Thought I'd share with you my discovery of Feather razor blades. Just was down at Charles' shop and he recommended these Japanese-made safety blades to replace my Merkurs. But he warned they are the sharpest he's ever had and needed to use them on his tightest razor adjustment. Well, always open to trying something new with regard to my shave, I bought a pack ($7.95) and tried one this morning. He was right--the sharpest of sharp--and they were terrific! As close as I shave now with my "method shave" and tools, these blades add even more to the shave. I'd highly recommend them. Go to the Enchante web site to order them, or do a Google search and try a pack.

Anything to provide the next best "edge" to my shave (pun intended). Hope you all are doing well, look forward to participating more. And....summertime is approaching and I still don't have the Panama hat I wanted to have made. Getting close to making a choice to have one made in time for "the season". :cool2:
 

Ardbeg98

New in Town
Messages
5
Location
Rockville, Maryland
DE blades

Paladin-I've also been out of touch for a long time, but am glad to see your report on the Feather DE blades. Just to let you know, I've used the Feathers as well and confirm that they are VERY sharp and need to be used with care. A week ago I clearly wasn't paying enough attention and came close to butchering myself. (I had to retire from my DE for an entire week, seeking safe haven with my trusty Mach III.) In addition to www.enchanteonline.com, you can also get these blades from www.classicshaving.com, another reliable online source for shaving stuff. In addition to Feather DE blades, I've also tried Schick and Wilkinson DE coated blades and of course Merkur blades. As far as I can tell, neither Schick nor Wilkinson DE blades are manufactured any more. Also, as it turns out, one corporation, Warner Lambert, now owns both and their product lines are largely overlapped. Nonetheless, you can readily get both brands of DE blades on eBay. I did and have given both several tries. Although the blades all arrived in their unopened packages, it's hard to know the effects of being "on the shelf" for awhile. So a fair comparison may not be possible. After several tries at each kind of blade, it strikes me that the Feathers are the sharpest (but dangerous in absent-minded hands like mine); Merkur blades were also fine. I also liked the Schick blades (which were made in Germany.) Perhaps because their age, the blades were somewhat variable. Some were good--others seemed not to be too sharp. The Wilkinson DE blades I used didn't produce as smooth a shave as I would have liked, so I have subsequently given up on them. I do have plenty left. Finally, I was lucky enough to get a single, unopened package of five blades of the venerable Gillette coated blade ("The Spoiler") on eBay. The package could have been as much as 20-30 years old. Who knows? I've carefully used two of the blades and liked them a lot. Smooth comfortable shaves--although maybe sentimental thinking for a time when DE blades ruled the roost.

By the way, for those of you wanting to pursue method shaving, particularly the Roberts Method (RMWS) in more detail, go to the new web site estabished by an energetic guy named Adam Mendelsohn called www.methodshaving.com. It has a small membership now, and the members tend to be devotees of the RMWS (as am I). If that appeals, then I'm sure you're welcome to visit or join.

Mike K.
"Ardbeg98"
 

Paladin

One of the Regulars
Messages
104
Location
Texas
Great to see you again, Ardbeg98

Thanks for the info on other sources for the Feathers. I'll take your warning to heart and stay aware while using. Charles told me about the new web site and I'm about to check it out over lunch. I wonder if you've found an eBay source for Feathers? I'm sold on them at this point, and will probably make the permanent switch from Merkurs to Feathers.

Glad we have a place to get back to chat again about the little things in life that matter to us. :cheers1:
 

Blueberry

New in Town
Messages
15
Location
New York
I bought the Merkur razor from Charles. It took me a while to learn not to press against my skin like I did with the Mach 3. But now I get even better and closer shaves with the Merkur. I have been using the Merkur blades now for a while and love them. I turn the knob once for my first pass and then a little more on the second .
 

BellyTank

I'll Lock Up
One of my pet peeves...

How did I miss this thread?
One of my pet peeves is utterly useless and crazy cosmetic products-
a lot of the cosmetic and skin care products are purely consumer brainwashing-
products made from the cheapest chemicals used for all other cosmetics packaged into a special package for a specific purpose- just for you.

RE: shaving-
it's as mysterious expensive and challenging as you want to make it.
A consumer survey was done her in Denmark to find the best razor(not cut-throats, just your modern variety) turned out the best shave was from the cheapest one available from the cheapest supermarket in Europe. I tried them and was amazed, it was true and I'd been using a twin blade lube-strip one for years. It turns out that it was all in the grind of the blades and the angle they were set into the head.
But everyone's shaving experience is different depending on how fast growing, how much, how thick your beard is and the condition of your skin.
The best shave I have is after a week and I'm pretty hairy by then.
I would recommend shaving only as often as you absolutely need to-
eber noticed how old mens' skin looks a bit thin and transparent? it's not just the ageing process...

As for shave-soap or foam- I've had the best luck using cheap shaving soap like Palmolive or any of the similar ones. This stuff keeps the moisture in during your shave, unlike foam that just foams out and gels that just block up the razor.
It seems recently, that the TV trendies have been saying only shave downward- what a crock- I need to shave in both directions and east and west to get all of mine off. My beard grows in a circle on my neck so it's laying in all directions.

As for aftershave- I've been making my own for the past 10 yrs, I was even selling it for a time. A good after-shave product, as a skin toner is Rosewater, it's a great skin toner and many women use it. If you want something more astringent or more drying, like if you have an oily skin, distilled witchazel is the answer.

Beware- many cosmetics and "skincare" products contain mineral oils, like Johnsons baby oil- it's just that- mineral oil- sewing machine oil- not to be put anywhere near the skin. And vaseline- another one to avoid- these things give the illusion of lubricating and moisturising your skin but they actually just slime it up then draw moisture out of your skin as they dry out and in the long run are harmful. People who use vaseline on their hands tend to use it every day- because after using it for a while- you need to use something. Same with lip balm- dries your lips out.- lip balm addiction ever noticed that?
The best things for your skin are made from un-modified vegetable based oils, pure essential oils and plant extractions.
Don't be fooled by pretty packaging and jargon- it's just marketing malarkey!
Man. I could go on and on- oops I already did.
BT
 

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