A while back, I wrote some tips and advice for beginning wet-shavers. I tried to answer some of the basic questions that might not be so obvious, as well as addressing issues of a lighter note, such as what to expect on a forum full of wet-shaving fanatics. That piece was so well recieved, I thought I might try to hit a few notes I missed the first time around. So, here goes…
This is also not your father’s shaving advice.
1.Add a little salt. Shaving is a lot like cooking. While we all might like vegetable soup, some of us like it a little saltier than others. In a similar manner, we don’t all enjoy the same qualities in a shave. Just because a lot of guys are touting the laser sharp shaves they get from Feathers or Red Pack Isreali Personnas, it doesn’t mean that you are wrong for getting a secret delight when you open a new pack of Danny Boy razors from Dublin.
2.Turn up the heat. There’s a reason that hot towels are so popular in wet-shaving circles. The heat from the towels helps to make your skin a little more elastic by relaxing your pores, and it softens the hair on your mug. Soft hair cuts cleaner than stiff hair and that means a smoother shave.
3.Cool off a little. While it may seem counter intuitive to use a stinging alcohol based aftershave splash, the cooling effects of alcohol and menthol (and sometimes peppermint) can make for a pleasing cap to an otherwise mediocre shave. Menthol and peppermint are especially effective at masking the irritation that a less than stellar shave elicits; that’s why Aqua Velva continues to be a strong seller.
4.It’s there to make you ask questions. Those numbers on your blades? Yeah, the little numbers next to each edge of the blade–those don’t mean anything, at least not as far as you should be concerned. Some speculate that they’re there to facilitate the production process and others think they have some purpose in an other-than-shaving application of the blades. From a shaving perspective, they mean nothing.
5.Look! It’s a zebra! Those stripes on your blade? Yeah, there’s one near one edge and two near the other– You could use those to help you remember which edge you shaved with last if you set your razor down between passes. Many will tell you though, that it doesn’t really make that much difference. As long as you flip the razor around periodically (I try to do it with each stroke) you’ll get pretty even wear on the blade. But hey, if you’re a little obsessive compulsive, those stripes can be a great boon.
6.I’m stuck on you. If you buy the type of blades that come wrapped in little wax paper envelopes inside a cardboard or plastic box, you will no doubt find little “dots” of an oily/waxy substance stuck to the top of your blades. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt you. That’s there to keep the envelopes lightly sealed. Think about it, would you want to LICK anything that close to one of those blades? No? So doesn’t that waxy oil make sense now?
7.Just Hangin’ Around. Once RAD sets in, you’ll start looking for a way to keep your razors. A lot of guys go the budget route and use a toothbrush holder. Does it hurt to store your razor lying down? Probably not.
8.We’ve secretly switched his Bay Rum with Folger’s crystals. Wetshaving is alot like coffee. Some guys are totally gear obsessed, investing in premium equipment, buying only the highest end coffee, and grinding/roasting their own beans that they specially imported from Lower Cantpronouncestan. Other’s are thrilled to grab a cup of the black tar that they scrape from the bottom of the company caraffe. Likewise, some shavers swear by $100 an oz. aftershave, $40 luxury creams, $300 brushes, and $200 razors, while others are quite content to lather up a puck of Williams with their Burmashave brush, shave with a Bic disposable and finish it all off with a splash of “Smells Exactly Like Old Spice” from the Family Dollar. It’s okay if you’re either one of those guys.
9.There’s a reason safety razors became so popular. For many shaving with a double-edge safety razor, there comes a time when you start to look longingly at the straight-razor community. There is something undeniably manly about a man who shaves with a straight. Just because you don’t shave with one, however, doesn’t make you less of a man. Men moved away from shaving with straights for more than one reason; It’s really easy to hurt yourself badly with one, they’re a lot of work to maintain, and mastering the use of one is a daunting task when you don’t have a hands on demonstration like your forefathers had from their fathers. Does that mean you shouldn’t try your hand at the strop? Absolutely not! You’re learning, and you want to experience all that fits your personality, so don’t let me or anyone stop you from ordering that pearl handled carbon steel beauty on ebay. Enjoy. And if you cut yourself, I won’t laugh. But I would love to see the pictures, maybe they’ll convince me to put off ordering my razor for another month.
10.People hide from Jehova’s Witnesses. Once you’ve reached wetshaving nervana, you’ll want to share with everyone you know. At least try to limit it to the people who actually shave. Most people are perfectly happy to have a miserable shave and they don’t want to hear you wax on ad-infinitum about how wonderful your shave routine is. Mention that you’ve taken up wetshaving with “grandpa’s razor” and then let them ask you more questions. If they don’t ask, don’t press the issue. You serve the community better by not revealing that we’re really a cult in a clean shaven disguise.
So that’s it. A few more friendly tips from your Uncle Albert– He never gives you fatherly advice.