If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that...
Shaving is seen as a chore, a necessary evil; so much so that Lockdown (the original) saw a lot of men choosing to eschew the razor and let their chins run free, until they discovered that growing a beard isn’t as low maintenance as they first thought (but that’s another blog).
But why? When I perform a shave I always get comments about how “wonderful” it was and “how soft the skin feels”. So, I thought I should share some of my expertise and help turn the daily/weekly shave into, if not a ritual, then at least something reasonably pleasant.
Let's start with equipment. What are you using?
Let me guess….a big brand multi blade and spray foam.
I’d say 9 out of 10 times this is the answer I get; so it’s no wonder shaving is literally a pain! Let me explain….
More blades = more irritation.
Every time you pass a blade over your skin it ‘scratches’ the surface, a mild abrasion. Using a multi blade, you increase the abrasion 5 times. And don’t be fooled by those adverts that say your beard hair has learnt ‘duck’ the first 2 blades - hair doesn’t have thoughts, it cannot learn to duck, it's a myth.
Spray Foam. I don’t care if it says moisturising or sensitive, this stuff is full of chemicals and dries the skin out. It’s vile, get rid, end of.
Say hello to my little friend…the Safety Razor.
The double edged ‘safety razor’ as we know it was first produced by Gillette in around 1904 and its design hasn’t changed much since, mainly because it's pretty darn near perfect.
The razor head clamps the blade at the correct angle to remove the hair and the end result is the smoothest shave you may ever have. Once you’ve bought, inherited or been gifted the right razor, it should easily last the rest of your life.
It does take a little bit of practice, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll never look back.
Our razors are made in Solingen, the ‘City of Blades’ in Germany, where they have been renowned for their blade making since Medieval times.
Their razors are beautifully balanced, sit comfortably in the hand whilst easy to manoeuvre.
The best blades on the market come from Solingen, as we’ve mentioned, or Japan. Both honed (no pun intended) their skills over the centuries from swordsmithing to razors. It begins with the forging and folding of the steel and that then informs how the steel can be sharpened, without being too nerdy, the end result is a smoother, sharper blade that doesn’t dull as quickly as the inferior ones do. Different blades work better with different beard types but you can easily get 4 - 8 shaves before you need to change it; which not only saves you money but is a lot less irritation to the skin.
The brush, cream and bowl. Why are these important?
The brush not only helps create a light, creamy foam it helps prep the skin and hair for shaving.
The brush helps exfoliate the skin, lifting away dead cells and dirt and ‘lifts’ the hair ready for shaving.
Unless you have particularly oily skin this amount of exfoliation is enough and it won’t leave little gritty bits on the skin which can get caught causing damage to both your blade and your face.
Traditionally they are made of badger bristle but you can get synthetic brushes too.
The best brushes we’ve found are made by Simpsons, the bristles are hand knotted into the brush so don’t shed, and again, will last for years. You can buy cheaper alternatives but these tend to be glued into the handle and with use will begin to moult. I've found that synthetic brushes aren't quite as good at the job, but it is the more animal friendly option.
The right bowl sits comfortably in the hand allowing you to whip the cream into a thick lather. For this it needs something to add friction and air, this could be bumps, swirls or indentations. Some people whip their cream in their hand or the basin, which will do the job at a push, but its not quite the same, and if we are aiming at making this a pleasurable experience then lets do it properly.
These can come from a tube or a tub, it matters not. What does matter is how good a lubricant they are for your razor, too oily and the razor won’t get a good grip on the hair, leaving you stubbly; too dry and you’ll get drag and burn.
Many contain too much soap and other chemicals, which strip the skin, leaving it dry and tight.
I have tried LOTS and my favourite by far is the CR Salter range. Predominantly natural ingredients, no synthetic fragrances, leaving the skin soft and moisturised, even on dry, sensitive skin. A little goes a very long way, easy to whip and create just the right amount of slip to let that razor glide smoothly across the skin. And they smell heavenly!
The Alum bloc is a clever wee beastie and can be used in many ways.
Naturally antibacterial and antiseptic, it can be gently rubbed over nicks and cuts to stop bleeding without the need for bits of loo roll stuck to your face.
If you have particularly sensitive skin and are prone to redness, I recommend rubbing it over your damp face prior to lathering up. This creates a mild anesthetic effect and helps stop irritation. It can make lathering up slightly trickier, but not much.
It can also be used to soothe and clear insect bites and as an extremely effective natural deodorant. It is a natural salt crystal, so needs to be allowed to air dry or it will disappear much quicker than you’d like.
Post shave balm; thankfully the days when men using moisturiser was deemed “soft” are nearly behind us. Today the choice of post shave balms is varied, some with added anti-aging ingredients. I recommend finding one with as few chemicals as possible; you’ve just dragged a sharp blade across your face, why chuck harsh chemicals at it? The Mr Masey range is as natural as you can get, so its especially good for sensitive skin; the gentle fragrance is 100% natural and again, a little goes a long way. In fact, the first time I used this on a client I did the usual couple of finger tips worth and ended up rubbing it into my forearms it went so far. I had nice soft arms though!
A shave stand, not only does it keep your razor and brush tidy it stores them correctly so that they can air dry and avoid damage. Plus it looks very smart.
How to safely dispose of spent blades? Don’t throw them in the bin as guaranteed, someone will end up cutting their finger, and as we try to move towards being a little more environmentally friendly this will help you cut down on waste.
Once your blade is done, pop it into this little tin, simple as that. The blade can’t fall out and once it’s filled (which will take about 18months) you chuck the whole thing in the recycling bin. Safe, responsible, eco.
Invest in yourself, turn shaving into an act of self-care. Right now, I think we need that more than ever.