Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Shaving, Part 8

The shaving "adventures" continue. I decided to order a cheap mass-produced razor, a sort of replica of a Gillette Tech razor, called a RiMei. I paid a whopping $4 (shipped), but was not completely impresses by its performance, but thoroughly impressed by the case and mirror! Then, on a trip downtown, and a visit to an antique store, I picked up a Gillette Tech from around 1938 to 1945 (made in Canada, too). I also found a Gillette Rocket Aristocrat Jr., probably from 1949. Both were quite inexpensive, and proved to be comfortable razors.

As an aside, I performed 2 passes with the Aristocrat Jr. this morning, and I suppose I was too flippant in my technique, resulting in some razor burn. Of course, this was nothing that some Old Spice couldn't remedy.

I also took a trip with some friends to one of their family cottages. In the garage, I spied a strop, a leather accoutrement for the sharpening of straight razors. As my colleague was also trying to rid his life of leather objects, he happily passed it on to me. I suspect that this is not a sign of straight razor shaving to come.

Now I am waiting for a special package from my parents with more surprises!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Shaving, Part 7

I realized quite early on that, while I had a brush, a scuttle, and a razor, many blades, a lot of cream, and even some aftershave, I was missing a very important item: a stand for my razor and brush. In doing some research online, I found that a brush stand could be gotten quite easily for an extremely reasonable amount of money, except that there is free shipping from many of these sites only when you spend a more significant amount. You might have figured out by now that I spent quite a bit of money thus far on this little hobby, and so I was reluctant (and even encouraged by those around me) to consider an alternative.

Hanging a shaving brush bristles-down is not a requirement for proper maintenance of said brush, but I thought I would figure something out to make that happen. After a cursory look on the Internet, many made stands from pieces of wood, finely sculpted and stained. Others used wire coat hangers bent into proper shapes. The latter seemed more my style, though I couldn't locate a wire coat hanger in our home (imagine!). But then I saw a bottle!

The bottle is a very nice blue colour, and I found some nice embroidery floss that matched the colour of the bottle (I didn't really try that hard, in case you're wondering how long I took on the project). After a few tries tying dental floss around the brush, embroidery floss seemed the better choice. And so my razor and brush stand was complete! And it cost me nothing (except for a few tasty beverages).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Shaving, Part 6

Now onto the enjoyment of wet shaving: there are certain ways of doing things that make shaving actually pleasurable. There is a strange satisfaction that comes from making proper lather, from the cooling sensation of menthol soaps like Proraso green, and from the sound that the razor makes as it cuts stubble from your face. It really is quite enjoyable. The razor burn, though, is not. I have been told over and over again that it should not occur, but the culprit is probably pressure. To use a DE razor, one must have an extremely light touch.

I read about a sort of concoction that further enhances the experience: one should take Williams shaving soap and, just before lathering, add a few drops of Aqua Velva. The resulting lather is called a "Blue Willie," apparently a wonderfully cool thing to do on a hot day, and because of some magical ingredient in the AV, a particularly rich lather. So, off to the local drugstore went I, looking for Aqua Velva. The only one that they had is stock was a Sport scent, but the price seemed right and so I bought it (I didn't smell it).

I should mention here, if my readers are sad and anxious, that the AV does not smell bad. It smells fine but not really nice. Of course, there is a reason why, as children and young people, we used to make fun of people wearing cheap aftershave. It is what it is. But it did make me want to buy more aftershave.

So off I went looking for Old Spice, my favourite "go-to" when I was young (a cheap aftershave wearer that got made fun of). They still make it (though those in the know say that you should look for the Shulton version made in India rather than the P&G version made in North America) and it's in a familiar (plastic) bottle. As an aside, my father is famous (among his wife and children, anyway) for having a stash of old aftershave in one of his dresser drawers. This week I asked my mother if he happened to have any old Old Spice in a glass bottle, and my mother checked and found that he had two. I asked that they be mailed to me immediately.

By the way, I tried the "Blue Willie" concoction. I enjoyed it. I should mention, though, that I apparently used the wrong version of Aqua Velva, perhaps the source of my olfactory dissatisfaction in the first place. I was to use the Ice Blue Classic variety rather than the green Sport variety. I think I will call my version the "Lesser Green William."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Shaving, Part 5

After trying to shave with a DE razor, I realized that perhaps 3 passes was too many for my extra-sensitive face. Also, it seems that the evils of cartridge shaving taught me bad "technique": I pressed the razor into my face (don't worry, the injuries were not as graphic as one might think, considering I mentioned pressing). The fine folks at the website seemed to think that lather was a problem, and so off I went in search for soap. And I found lots!

At the mall, I went straight to the shaving aisle, to find some shaving soap. The first thing I picked up was a cheap soap "puck" called "Williams," an old brand that doesn't seem to have much prestige attached to it, though some swear by its ability to produce a lather. Next to it was a blue bowl of soap manufactured by Wilkinson Sword, and so I immediately picked up that as well. These were not particularly expensive products: the Williams soap cost less than $2 and the Wilkinson Sword bowl cost around $5.

I continued the search at a local drug store and found a seeming motherlode of shaving accoutrements, namely a pre-shave lotion (to be used before shaving, obviously) by an Italian company called Proraso (which I had heard all sort of good things about). Beside the pre-shave lotion was Proraso shaving soap and shaving creme. So, I decided to buy all of these products, of course never satisfied with just, say, a $2 puck of soap!

I was also told that perhaps my Feather blades were just too sharp, and so I was pointed to Astra Superior Platinum blades, which could be obtained for around $18 on Amazon. You might not be surprised by now to learn that I ordered 100 of those as well.

I was certainly not going to save money doing this, this was certain, but would it be enjoyable? The answer is forthcoming!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Shaving, Part 4

After the first shave with my new DE razor, following the instructions that I found in the excellent Youtube video, I found that I had cut myself quite formidably. Thankfully, I had also purchased an alum bar, a post-shave solution to razor burn and any nicks or cuts that might have been suffered as a result of lax lathering or sloppy shaving. I should remind you that I had followed the instructions in the video. I performed 3 passes with the razor, at 4, 4, and 2 (the settings on the Merkur Futur adjustable razor). I only realized later that 6 is the most aggressive setting; that is, more of the blade is exposed above the safety bar of the razor.

The alum bar is a bit of an aesthetic conundrum: it is obviously utilitarian, shipped to me in a simple cardboard paper box, not unlike a bar of soap. But it is a beautiful thing to look at, and a nice thing to touch too. Plus, when you wet it and apply it all over your face, it stops the bleeding.

It seemed, though, according to my friends at Badger and Blade, that I was unable to lather. It might not even have been technique, though there are very helpful tutorials available there. I needed to go shopping. Again.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Shaving, Part 3

You may recall that I ended the last post suggesting that my visit to Badger and Blade was a bad one. This is not necessarily the case. If one considers the bottom line according to my pocketbook, then one would have to agree that the visit was not necessarily a good one. But there are other factors to be considered.

After visiting Badger and Blade, and reading various posts, I decided that I would invest in a Safety Razor, one of those old fashioned razors that my father doesn't seem to remember using (nor do I remember ever seeing him use) which come with a removable and replaceable blade. I visited Fendrihan, a Canadian retailer, and found a "kit" that included a particularly expensive (at least to this new shaver) razor and a purported 4-year supply of (very sharp) blades.

I happily received my new Merkur Futur adjustable razor, and eagerly tried it out, following the prescribed advice on the following video:

Unfortunately, a minor bloodbath ensued...

Monday, August 05, 2013

Shaving, Part 2

You might recall that the last entry explored my dissatisfaction with contemporary shaving tools and their monetary costs. My concerns were not allayed by what my wife bought me for Father's Day in 2013, but her gifts made me think strongly about how to solve these problems. At the very least, it made me consider spending more money, which was not the intent.

In any case, about a week after Father's Day, I received a package in the mail which contained some shaving items. The items were a few "pucks" of shaving soap, a rather plain-looking boar bristle shaving brush and a really beautiful shaving bowl (otherwise known as a "scuttle"). The package was from an Eastern Canadian company called Anointment Natural Skin Care, and the scuttle was homemade from a Prince Edward Island potter called Right Off The Bat Pottery.

With my new items in tow, I went eagerly to the sink, in order to begin my new shaving routine, with a brush, and soap in my scuttle and so forth. My first difficulty came with lather, but I figured that I was doing something wrong. I then went to check on technique at Badger and Blade. This turned out to be a rather fortuitous move for me, though it did cost me a bit of money...

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Shaving, Part 1

I thought I would begin and document my transforming world of face shaving. While this might not seem to be the most exciting thing to write or read about, it is certainly an interesting subject and experience to work through. To force myself to write about something, I thought, why not shaving? So, here is the first entry of many that chronicles my foray into what is called (by those who know) "wet shaving."

For those of you who might wonder why it is called "wet shaving," when the other sort of shaving (the regular way) also uses water, I can't really answer that question. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that water is used to create the lather; regular, everyday, contemporary, mainstream shaving uses creams and foams that need only a splash of water to function. Soaps and creams used in so-called "wet shaving" require lots of water and lots of time.

So, at the start, I thought I would show you what my world (and those of my contemporaries) is (was?) like. I used a cartridge razor with three blades on a single "head," and my particular model had a small motor in it that allowed it to "buzz" while I shaved. The "buzz" was apparently to "wake up" the hair (vibrate it into standing on end) in order to achieve a closer shave.

I never complained about the quality of the shave; I was never really concerned with the close, "soft as a baby's bottom" shave, much to the chagrin of my wife. Rather, I was not particularly happy with the cost of cartridges. While I used the same cartridge for a month or so (I was never sure how long one could actually use a cartridge effectively), I was always saddened and dismayed when it came time for me to purchase new cartridges. The cost for four of said cartridges was around $16 to $20, and so I would skimp on the foam required, my go-to favourite, Foamy Lemon-Lime, which only cost a couple of dollars.

Because of my dissatisfaction with buying cartridges, I decided to subscribe to a monthly shave service, that sent blades to my address for a small cost: around $7 a month. I figured that I would have a small stockpile of blades in no time, and that I could cancel the service and live off of the spoils for years.

I decided early on that I wasn't happy with the quality of the blades, and cancelled the service, but continued to live off of those spoils.

Then I got a gift for Father's Day in 2013...