Shaving Brushes

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In the past I was a canned shaving cream or gel kinda guy.  As I mentioned in an earlier post about shaving soap, I’ve recently moved over to using shaving soaps for a richer lather and better experience.  One of the key parts of this system is the shaving brush.  Seeing the old brush and mug always makes me think of Floyd the barber from The Andy Griffith Show.

When I decided to get one I figured one brush was as good as another.  I was wrong.  With a multitude of choices available it was a little difficult at first to know what to look for and why.  For starters I would recommend looking for a 100% Badger Brush at the least.  Why badger?  Badger hair is ideal due its ability to absorb and hold water.

As it turns out, all badger hair is apparently not created equal either.  Qualities of brushes vary depending on where the hair for the brush is harvested from on the animal.  The neck and under regions being of higher quality.  Most of this is best left for elitists to debate about.  What matters, and what you really want to look for is a brush that’s not too stiff that mistake it for a hedgehog doesn’t smell like a wet badger!

The Escali Badger Brusescalih is about $12.95 at time of writing and is a good brush to get started with.  It has no smell to it.  It will be a little stiff at first but breaking it in is as simple as wetting it and pushing it around your hand a bit.  The brushes tend to shed a few bristles at first but if it continues losing them its no good.

For a little more money WSP makes very nice brushes like their High Density Badger Brush or if you desperately need to rid yourself of about $130 you can go for the King of Shaving Brushes.  Feel free to send me one too!  As for shaving bowls, you probably don’t need one.  Most soaps come in a container of some sort and a ceramic mug works just as well if they don’t

Safety Razors

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This is a story of how a razor saved the world!  Okay maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit, but it is a post about a razor saved my neck, and my face.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, shaving has never been an enjoyable experience for me.  Over the years I’d tried different creams and razors with very little effect.  Eventually I settled into what would become my routine.  Shave, have irritated neck and face, avoid collared shirts, wait 2 or 3 days for irritation to lessen, and repeat.

About year ago I came across an article that really resonated with me.  When you strip away all the gimmicks like vibrating handles and aloe strips (yes the strips are gimmick), you’re left with blades.  Each new razor seems to add even more blades, but perhaps shaving is an instance were less is more.

Despite what shaving commercials portray, I don’t know of anyone that shaves with a single long stroke of the razor.  We shave in short at least partially overlapping strokes.  One swipe with a 5 blade razor is essentially 5 passes.  Given that these passes overlap or that we often go over the same area more than once, two or three actually swipes can give you the irritation of 10 to 15.  You may be thinking, “Why not just use a single blade disposable razor?”  I did, and it did help a little, but the second part of the issue is the quality of the blade.

Enter the Safety Razor!  The closeness of a straight razor without the work and possibility of separating your head from your neck.  Safety Razors when incredibly popular at one time, so what happened?  Did they become obsolete in the wake of startling new advancements in shaving?  No.  The problem with safety razors, and this is documented by the way, is that they were too good.

Good razors with long lasting blades translate to slower and less frequent repeat sales.  By creating cheaper, disposable razors and blades you have a cyclical repeat business model.  This isn’t conspiracy, and from a business standpoint its brilliant!  From a consumer standpoint however the view is a little different.  Blades for Safety Razors cost mere pennies, are higher quality, and last much longer.  When was the last time you picked up 100 razor blades for around $10.00?

The razors themselves run between $25 and $35 as of the time of this writing and I personally like and use Merkur.  I am a big fan of the $1 shave club, and if you use disposable razors its a good way to go.  If however you are liking me and fighting a lot of irritation and redness I would encourage you to give a safety razor a try.  Shaving with a Safety Razor made a big difference in the closeness of my shave and the amount of irritation afterwards.

Shaving Cream – Proraso Shaving Soap

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Shaving was never an enjoyable experience for me.  From the moment I started in my teens until a few months ago, shaving has always left my neck irritated and red.  I tried many things over the years in my pursuit to minimize the discomfort including various “Sensitive Skin” shaving creams and gels.

Some products like Nivea’s Sensitive Skin Shaving Gel and Aveeno’s Shave Gels seemed to work better than most, but it wasn’t enough to keep my neck from looking red and feeling irritated by the end of a day.  At most I could shave once every 2 to 3 days without doing any serious damage.  Any sooner and I risked prolonged irritation.  Heat and stress only compounded the issue which is why the redness of my neck on our wedding day could only be hidden with the magic of lots of Photoshop.

prorasoShaveCreamIt wasn’t until a year or so I decided to try something new that I had been on the fence about.  I had heard and read a lot of good things about Proraso Shaving Soap, but having been burnt so many times in the past I was skeptical.  After a particularly irritating shave I took the plunge and ordered it from Amazon.  The difference was TREMENDOUS!

Not having tried non-canned creams or gels before I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The consistency is lighter and fluffier than “hockey puck” style soaps I have seen.  A little water a good brush stirs up a really nice lather.  I could tell the difference from anything else as soon as I used it.  The coverage was thicker and my skin actually felt different.  Shaving felt different but the real test would be afterwards.

I chose a Eucalyptus scent which was very subtle when shaving and essentially undetectable afterward.  However they do make an Ultra Sensitive Skin Shave Soap that both my wife and I also like.  After shaving I immediately noticed that I didn’t have the burning sensation that I had become so accustom to, and the irritation and redness at the end of the day were significantly reduced!  My wife who is a tougher critic, also found that it made for a much better shave.

I think my only regret in all of this is that I didn’t discover it sooner and waited so long to try it.  Whether you have sensitive skin or not, if you shave, take the chance and give this a shot and you won’t be disappointed.

You can pick it up in the following 3 variations:

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