A lot of men seem to be scared of DE blades or straight razors. You don’t know what you are missing.
It’s been a while since I have taken the decision to turn the ritual of shaving from a necessity into a form of relaxation. The reasons why most men are afraid of using a traditional safety razor with a DE blade or a straight razor are all the nicks, cuts and irritations, but it doesn’t have to be like this. Of course they are to blame for the nicks and irritations, because very few have bothered studying how to shave properly.
To obtain a BSS (baby smooth shave) you have to keep in mind 3 important aspects : preparation, technique and the products you use.
(1) The Preparation – it is a very important part in the ritual of shaving and unfortunately most men do not bother with it. The idea is that you have to prepare your skin and beard before shaving and this is done in 3 stages:
a) clean the skin of any residue – do this by using a special soap or gel that is purposely made to clean the face.
b) exfoliate/scrub the skin of dead cells – by doing this you remove any dead skin thus making sure nothing stands between the blade and the whiskers to be shaven. You can exfoliate the skin using a purposely made scrub that you buy or make your own. You can find a lot of homemade scrub recipes on the internet.
c) open up the pores and soften the whiskers – this is very important when it comes to obtaining a comfortable shave and it can be done in many ways:
– hold a hot towel on your face for about 2 minutes or until it gets cold at which point you have to repeat the process with a hot one;
– hold your face above a pot of hot water for 1 to 2 minutes so that the steam will open up the pores and soften the whiskers;
– hold the shower on your face with hot water (as hot as you can take as long as you don’t burn yourself). Do not neglect the neck, it is the area where most nicks, cuts and irritations occur.
After you have prepared the face there are also pre-shave products you can use, like preshave oil and preshave creams. You apply them to your face and then apply your lather.
(2) The Technique – now that we have prepared the face we need to use the proper technique.
These tips work for when you use a safety razor or a straight razor :
– do not try to take all the beard in one stroke, take short 1-1,5 inch strokes, then clean the blade and take another stroke ;
– DO NOT PRESS DOWN !!! the weight of the safety razor or straight razor plus the sharpness of the blade are enough to cut the hairs, unlike multiblade cartridge razors like Mach 3 or Fusion where you have to press down;
– take a close look at how your facial hair is growing to know what angle of the blade you will have to use, if you are a patient person you can draw an approximate map of your face:
– do not cross with the blade from one portion of the face to another in a single stroke. If you are shaving your jaw line get done with that and only then go to your neck with a new stroke.
Depending on how fresh you need to look you can shave in 2,3, 4 passes or even in 1 pass if you really know your face and razor or don’t need a very close shave that particular day.
The passes can be :
– WTG = with the grain
– XTG = across the grain (from the ear to the nose or the other way)
– ATG = against the grain
Some men shave ATG some don’t, I do it when I want a BSS.
(3) The products you use – even if you do not want to quit your stupid Mach3s and Fusions I highly recommend you invest in a good quality badger hair brush. It will cost you some money but it can be used for years and the smooth sensation it gives to the face when you apply your lather is a million times more relaxing than the sensation 3$ supermarket plastic brushes give you.
Besides the badger brush I also highly recommend you stop using that stupid and toxic canned foam or gel. It contains a lot of toxic substances that get into your pores and do damage to the skin. Instead, use a good quality shaving cream or shaving soap. Because it’s made from natural badger hair, the badger brush is very good at retaining the moisture and heat of the water so you only have to rub the tips of it in a little cream or soap to make a nice creamy lather.
After shave ritual
– after you have done shaving clean your face thoroughly to make sure you removed all the lather and little hairs , with cold water to close the pores. Don’t be a wuss, take a deep breath in and while you hold the cold water shower in your face, breath out. Another way is to wet a towel before you shave, put it in the fridge and after you are done shaving hold it on your face for 1 minute to close off the pores ;
– take your alum block, run it under some cold water and gently rub your face. It has astringent properties and also it seals off any nick or cuts ;
– then clean your face again with cold water and dry your face by just gently tapping it with a towel , DO NOT RUB !
– now you can apply your aftershave, whether it is the old school “splish and splash” or the balm. Most men preffer the balm because the normal aftershave contains alcohol which dries the face.
– if you have done all the above you can also apply some face cream instead of the aftershave.
The traditional shave is one of the few truly manly treatments a man can get nowadays and if unfortunately the barbershop doesn’t offer this type of service anymore let’s do it at home. Don’t forget, it is a self spoil, be selfish ! Take half an hour off everything and get your shave on.