something new

10 Jun 2009 at 7:43 pm

Ever since I began shaving, I’ve been using cartridge-based razors. I started with a Gillette Mach3 and eventually moved to a Fusion. I used these razors because I knew of nothing else. I used aerosol gels from a can for the same reason. From the beginning, I learned to hate shaving. It was a nuisance, and my face loathed it. I never liked facial hair (still can’t grow a proper beard), but I never enjoyed shaving. My skin was always irritated, and I often found myself with ingrown hairs.

One breakthrough was shaving in the shower. I found immediately there was less irritation, but I was still far away from comfort. The second breakthrough was about two and a half years ago: I discovered traditional wet shaving. I came across an Art of Shaving store and purchased a starter kit, complete with pre-shave oil, shaving cream, a badger brush, and after-shave balm. For the first time ever, I was able to shave for multiple days in a row without compounding irritation. Shaving seemed luxurious and fun.

Five weeks ago, I made the plunge and bought myself a traditional, double-edge safety razor. It certainly requires more skill to use, but the results are dramatic. I’m getting the best shaves of my life, and compared to the pay-through-the-nose price of cartridges, I’m spending only 20¢–50¢ per blade.

Merkur Hefty Classic safety razor

This is the Merkur Hefty Classic safety razor. You can grab one for about $35 and a year’s supply of blades for around $20.

Using this razor has forced me to focus on my technique: gone are the ridiculously fast five minute shaves. Now, I spend time taking care of my skin. I prepare my face with a hot towel, I work up lather with proper hydration, and I maintain the correct razor angle with shorter and more consistent strokes.

Ingrown hairs and razor burn have disappeared. It doesn’t matter if I shave three days in a row or nine. My face stays healthy.

I came across many resources that helped me make the right purchases and learn the proper techniques. If you’re getting started, check out West Coast Shaving; they have a great selection at excellent prices. If you need to learn how to shave without nicking yourself to bits, read “A Guide to the Gourmet Shaving Experience” and watch mantic59’s videos. If you need more to dive into, explore Badger & Blade, an entire community dedicated to wet shaving.

Making the switch was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.