What is it about wet-shaving that appeals to so many? Is it a sense of nostalgia? Could it be a strongly held fascination for quaint technology? Might it be a deep seated appreciation for lost arts? Is it just obsessive collectoritis?
If you ask an enthusiast what brought you to using “outdated” shaving equipment and techniques, you will likely get as many different answers as people you ask. Some are in it simply because they are collectors while others enjoy the economy of a modest shaving set. Regardless of their reasons, they are legion and will probably be glad to bend your ear and wax poetic about “last night’s shave.”
This shaving “hobby” can be a very rewarding experience. I would like to take a few moments to offer some advice to those who have just discovered Grampa’s razor and haven’t a clue what to do next.
This first piece of advice is not completely necessary, but I feel it is invaluable; Find like minded people. The internet is the world’s town square and you can find almost anyone hanging out there at any given time. There are forums and informative blogs dedicated to this obsession of shaving with vintage tools and these places can help to prepare you for what lies ahead.
2. Get a dictionary.
It helps to know a few terms and what they mean before you get too involved in reading about the different techniques people are using. Here are a few to get you started.(But, don’t fret if you see a term you don’t understand, just ask, we’re mostly a friendly lot and will be glad to explain.)
Grain–This is the direction in which your hair grows.
ATG–Against The Grain–The act of shaving against the direction in which your hair grows.
WTG–With The Grain–The act of shaving with the grain of your hair.
xAD–This is an acronym for _____ Acquisition Disorder.–This is the obsessive need to collect some item. “x” represents a variable here that could be anything from Razors to Shaving Creams.
SWMBO/TWGW–She Who Must Be Obeyed, sometimes referred to as The World’s Greatest Wife.–Often the same person.
3. Choke up on the bat.
Many will suggest holding your razor near the tip of the handle. This is initially good advice. While holding the razor near the tips serves to teach one how to shave with a light touch, eventually you will want to choke up a bit and find your razor’s more natural balance point. Some of you might even prefer to hold the razor closer to the head. This isn’t necessarily wrong–a tad unorthodox perhaps–but not wrong.(I might suggest a Gillette Travel Tech) Remember when you’re sliding a scary sharp piece of metal around on your face, you want it to be as comfortable as possible.
4. It doesn’t matter when you shave(or where, for that matter).
Sure, some will tell you that you should only shave in the morning, but lots of us de-fleece in the evening when we have more time to devote to the ritual, and it hasn’t caused any major harm, yet. There’s also nothing wrong with shaving in the bath-tub. It was good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for you.
5. Ask questions.
When in doubt, ask. No doubt someone else has had the same question before, and will be glad to share what they’ve learned. Sometimes we take for granted that everyone understands what we meant when we say we did an N/S pass with our Fatboy set at 6, following an EVOO prep. If that didn’t make sense, we won’t laugh at you for asking for clarification.
6. Ask questions.
7. Be patient.
Wet-shaving takes time. It can almost become a ritual. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to learn about the different techniques. You probably won’t get it all straight away, but as your technique improves, your appreciation will grow. We won’t disown you if you don’t throw away your Fusion on day one. After 2 weeks, we’ll need to talk though–sometimes it’s just time to let go and move on, dude. Seriously.
8. Have a sense of humor.
If you find yourself over at the B&B and we make merry at your expense, please try to remember:
A. We kid because we love.
B. It’s all in good fun.
c. As long as they’re picking on you, they’re leaving me alone.
D. Who am I kidding, they’re probably picking on me, too.
So there it is, wet-shaver, a little advice to help you get started. Take it or leave it, but just remember, take note of what you learn on the journey that lies ahead; you never know when someone will need your advice.