Nicolaus Nemeth

Wet Shaving

29 posts in this topic

Recently, I have devoted some energies to understading men's fashion. During my endevours I encountered a small but growing group of men that have rediscovered the art of wet shaving. This means shaving with an ol' fashioned brush (to make the lather with a soap or creme), and a straight/double edge saftey razor. Well, after looking into it some more, those who adhear to this daily regiment swear that it provides not only a closer shave than today's modern razors and goos, but a far more comfortable shave as well.

I was curious. So, I looked into the matter more. I watched a series of short movies on You Tube about how to begin wet shaving. After watching the movies, I had to try it for myself. This weekend I went out and bought myself a starter kit. I've used this method for the past four days now and I have to say that I'm getting the hang of it and it is all true! It is the most comfortable shave I've ever had! And because it is so comfortable, I can actually shave against the grain for that extreamly close shave! Shaving against the grain is something that I worte off years ago as my skin was too sensitive for it.

So, I'm here proclaiming the goodness of this shaving technique. It's amazing and I love it!

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So, I'm here proclaiming the goodness of this shaving technique. It's amazing and I love it!

A few of questions.

What about cutting your face? Even the expert in the video said he nicked his face a lot during the demonstration.

What is the advantage of making your own lather? Nowadays, not only are canned shaving creams convenient but many have added ingredients that enhance the shave. The Edge brand, for instance, has some components that are expecially good for sensitive skin.

Why has the world evolved away from straight edge razors and lathering? Usually there are good reasons that allow multi-billion industries to develop.

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A few of questions.

What about cutting your face? Even the expert in the video said he nicked his face a lot during the demonstration.

What is the advantage of making your own lather? Nowadays, not only are canned shaving creams convenient but many have added ingredients that enhance the shave. The Edge brand, for instance, has some components that are expecially good for sensitive skin.

Why has the world evolved away from straight edge razors and lathering? Usually there are good reasons that allow multi-billion industries to develop.

The cutting the face thing is true. I got a few little dots, but it's not a tremendous cut (I cut myself worse when starting with modern razors) and a stiptic pencile works well. However, experience ends that. My cuts are down after only a few days.

I'm not sure about the cause, but I know that there is a difference for me between the lather/canned cream or gel. The difference I feel is one of lubrication. The lather is a much better lubricant for the razor to glide across the skin. BTW, I've also tried those "sensitive skin" ones (I've been searching for a good shave for years because I have extreamly sensitive skin) and I found them no different than the regular canned creams/gels.

As to why the world's evolved the way it has in the shaving realm, I'm sure that individual reasons differ. As for myself, it was a lack of knowledge of the choice. When I started shaving I went to the store and chose from a Gillette or Shick multiblade razor and cartridges, and canned shave cream/gel. Even when I realized that I wanted a better shave, I still chose "modern" products, just the ones that were labeled for "sensitive" skin. When I saw old saftey razors in the store I always wondered about who'd want to use them to shave?! I thought, my face is irritated enough by these modern razors, let alone that bare peice of sharp metal that seems to hang menicingly from the head. It didn't even occure to me that the other, older methods might be better until last week.

According to some of the shaving sites I've been on recently, the US is one of the few countries in the world where shaving is so skewed toward the cartridges and cans. Now, those sites almost uniformly blame the "horrible state of shaving in the US" on marketers and large corporations somehow duping the public into believing that their inferior, modern ways are better. There are also some who treat it like a religion they call "method shaving." They believe it's up to them to crusade and convert everyone! Of course, I enjoy it and think it better, but I'm not going to stop somebody from enjoying another way, or annoy people with my insistance that it's the only proper way to shave.

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According to some of the shaving sites I've been on recently, the US is one of the few countries in the world where shaving is so skewed toward the cartridges and cans.

Perhaps that's because the United States is one of the few countries that can so thoroughly afford items like disposable cartridges and canned shaving cream.

Enjoy your newly found shaving experience Nicolaus (and keep those cuts to a minimum!). I do not mean to take the experience away from you, but having myself gone through the transition from the old to the new, I must say I greatly prefer the new and do not pine at all for the techniques used in the past. (I especially do not miss those never ending nicks. :))

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A few of questions.

What about cutting your face? Even the expert in the video said he nicked his face a lot during the demonstration.

What is the advantage of making your own lather? Nowadays, not only are canned shaving creams convenient but many have added ingredients that enhance the shave. The Edge brand, for instance, has some components that are expecially good for sensitive skin.

Why has the world evolved away from straight edge razors and lathering? Usually there are good reasons that allow multi-billion industries to develop.

I utilize BOTH shaving methods depending both upon the amount of time I have available to do the job and the occasion: I have found that the "wet shaving" method requires more time to complete effectively and, therefore, is reserved for those special occasions when it is imperative I look my very best. Consequently the "wet shaving" method for me has come to represent something special or, rather, a special pampering.

The "wet shaving" method does result in a singificantly closer, cleaner shave (like a baby's bottom). Of course, this does mean that there can be a greater problem with nicks and cuts on the face. I've found that a swipe with an herbal septic stick (applied immediately to the cut) as well as proper rinsing and toning after the shave can help to alleviate the problem. These steps are, in fact, just as important as the shave itself. I rinse thoroughly with plenty of water starting with warm and progressing to cold (very important for shrinking the pores). I follow this with the application of the old-fashioned Lilac Vegetal to the shaved areas of the face and neck (there are other after-shave products available (though fewer than in the past), but I find Lilac Vegetal to be the best).

As for lather . . . while some swear by their shaving soaps (NEVER, under any circumstance, use ordinary soap since this can dry the skin), it isn't really the lather itself that I find to be the crucial factor. Rather, it is the application of the soap with a good bristle brush that is the key: the brush (as good a quality badger brush as you can afford is a must) not only massages the skin, but its bristles help to "lift" up the hair in preparation for the blade, something fingertips alone simply can't do. Furthermore, although I do prefer using proper shaving soap when wet shaving, I have found that the use of a canned shaving cream with a dollop of Edge mixed in works equally well so long as it is applied with the bristle brush and in the proper "painting" strokes! This is also quicker, less messy and, ultimately, more convenient in a pinch.

Based upon the above and my own experience with respect to the time required for a proper wet shave, I suspect the reason the world has "evolved away from straight edge razors and lathering" is just that . . . a matter of TIME.

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Thanks, Stephen! Just out of curiosity, why do you like the cartridges, etc.? Now that I've gone on about my new-found shaving techniques, why don't we get some celebration of other techniques? :)

Vespasiano, you say that the brush is the key... why is that, do you suppose? I do have some regular shaving gel left over, I'll try it with the brush and see how it works. I've also tried it with just the lather and a cartridge razor, and that alone was a superior shave than the gel.

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Thanks, Stephen! Just out of curiosity, why do you like the cartridges, etc.? Now that I've gone on about my new-found shaving techniques, why don't we get some celebration of other techniques? :)

Vespasiano, you say that the brush is the key... why is that, do you suppose? I do have some regular shaving gel left over, I'll try it with the brush and see how it works. I've also tried it with just the lather and a cartridge razor, and that alone was a superior shave than the gel.

Badger shaving brushes, in particular, are superb at holding water (in this regard, they beat out brushes made with any other material). In addition to the things I mentioned above (massaging the skin, helping to lift up the hair), the water used is HOT and the hot water used in the lathering process provides not only an additional layer of lubrication on the skin during lather application but keeps everything warm. Perhaps this accounts for the differences you've experienced.

Incidentally, although I never used one, there used to be -- once upon a time -- shaving cream heating units available on the market. My barber still has one and applies this heated cream by hand (after several wraps with heated towels and cocoa butter moisturizers, etc.) in lieu of shaving soap and a brush. And, of course, he uses the old style straight razor. I always find this barber shop shave to be the "creme-de-la-creme".

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Thanks, Stephen! Just out of curiosity, why do you like the cartridges, etc.?

I use the Gillette M3POWER system. The power-activated triple blades give as smooth a shave as imaginable, and I cannot remember ever cutting myself even once. I always start with splashing hot water thoroughly over my face, and I variously use one of the several Edge gels, alternating with something like Gillette Foamy. Fast, effective, and the AAA battery lasts a very long time. These are all technological marvels, missing only a wireless internet connection. :)

(Gillette now has the Fusion, a 5 blade system that also comes in a powered version. When I run out of my current stock of M3POWER cartridges, I will try the new one. A slave to technology. :))

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I hate shaving so bad (as does my skin) that I am seriously considering getting a laser treatment all over my face.

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I have been wet shaving for about 4 years now and love it. I completely agree that the brush is the most important part. When I first started, I used to just apply the lather with my hand, and it didn't get nearly as close and there was some discomfort if I went a couple days without shaving (which is a pretty frequent thing with me).

I've never made my own lather and that sounds like a little too much trouble, but I do much prefer modern cream lathers to the kind that comes in a can. The brand I especially recommend is Lab Series for Men, which is available at Sephora. It has benzocaine in it, which numbs the face (just a little) and makes for an incredibly comfortable shave even when there's a lot of growth to take care of.

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(Gillette now has the Fusion, a 5 blade system that also comes in a powered version. When I run out of my current stock of M3POWER cartridges, I will try the new one. A slave to technology. :))

I use Fusion already, and it's a very smooth and efficient shave.

I don't think I'll ever use the wet shaving method, but I'm going to look into getting a badger brush. It's not that I want a closer shave though; my concern has always been ingrown hair, and I've found Neutrogena products to be most helpful in minimizing this problem.

Does anyone know if the badger brush would help?

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I've never heard that a brush would help with ingrown hairs. I think that it's mainly a problem of how much curl their is in your facial hair, and not with how the shave is done. I know that a lot of black guys have huge problems with ingrown hair for this reason.

What I do know helps is a good exfoliant at night before you go to bed. It will sort of dig up any growth that has occured during the day and lay it back on top of the follicle, rather than turned inside it, so the hairs don't ingrow during the night. It's not 100%, and I've never really had a problem with ingrown hair, so I can't test it myself, but I've heard it helps.

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What I do know helps is a good exfoliant at night before you go to bed. It will sort of dig up any growth that has occured during the day and lay it back on top of the follicle, rather than turned inside it, so the hairs don't ingrow during the night. It's not 100%, and I've never really had a problem with ingrown hair, so I can't test it myself, but I've heard it helps.

I appreciate your advice very much. Thanks!

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I have a very light beard, so daily shaving isn't necessary. I use the Fusion and really like the smoothness of the shave it provides.

Also, I find the best time (for me) to shave is right out of the shower.

For what it's worth...

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I just replaced an old Panasonic electric razor with a new Panasonic razor that spins at 13,000 rpm. It's effective enough for me, as I prefer electric shaves over razor shaves, it's much faster, and I can do it without a mirror. To me, it's a tangible benefit of technological progress.

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I just replaced an old Panasonic electric razor with a new Panasonic razor that spins at 13,000 rpm. It's effective enough for me, as I prefer electric shaves over razor shaves, it's much faster, and I can do it without a mirror. To me, it's a tangible benefit of technological progress.

I have the 13,000 RPM Panasonic ES8077S, but no matter what I do, no matter how I try to use it, I just cannot get a clean shave. It always leaves a small layer of stubble. What's your secret?

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I have the 13,000 RPM Panasonic ES8077S, but no matter what I do, no matter how I try to use it, I just cannot get a clean shave. It always leaves a small layer of stubble. What's your secret?

I agree. My dad bought me the top of the line electric shaver a few years ago when I broke my right collar bone and couldn't shave. I used it a few times and decided it would just be better to learn how to shave left-handed. Not only was the shave not close enough, but the razor irritated my skin. I tried a few times to see if the irritation problem would go away, but it didn't. Because of the time issue, I would love to use an electric shaver, so if there is a secret, let us know!

I haven't tried the wet-shaving method, and I don't think I will simply because I don't want to take the time. Though perhaps that will change later.

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I have the Panasonic 8016, which uses essentially the same motor and blade combination that you have, Stephen (but without the fancy extras). The "trick" is not caring that my shave is not as baby-bottom smooth as I could get from a triple blade razor and shaving cream. That level of smoothness would only last half the day for me anyway. Maybe if my facial hair was black, or I was a politician kissing babies all day long, it would be a bigger deal to me. Regarding irritation, I remember getting more skin irritation from blades than electric razors. I changed to electric so many years ago, I don't recall the initial results. Maybe the comments in the electric razor instructions are true- that one needs to use an electric razor for 30 days for one's skin/hair to get used to it. Or maybe it just works for some skin/hair combinations better than others.

I think also important is to not approach electric shaving in the same way one approaches razor shaving. Extra pressure doesn't make for a closer shave, and may increase irritation. Subtle pulling/stretching of your skin to make the hair approach the razor at the right angle seems to be more important.

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Why has the world evolved away from straight edge razors and lathering? Usually there are good reasons that allow multi-billion industries to develop.

Probably for the same (good) reasons that fast food is a multi-billion dollar industry. :)

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The "trick" is not caring that my shave is not as baby-bottom smooth as I could get from a triple blade razor and shaving cream. That level of smoothness would only last half the day for me anyway. Maybe if my facial hair was black, or I was a politician kissing babies all day long, it would be a bigger deal to me.

Tell that to my wife! :)

For me, if I am going to bother to shave, it might as well be "baby-bottom smooth." I guess there are so many optional things involved in shaving that there is enough to accommodate everyone's differences.

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Why has the world evolved away from straight edge razors and lathering? Usually there are good reasons that allow multi-billion industries to develop.

Probably for the same (good) reasons that fast food is a multi-billion dollar industry. :)

Sometimes -- rarely, but sometimes -- a single sentence carries the weight of pages of argument. This is one of those times. Thanks, Doug.

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I learned many years ago (oddly, from a comment made by Wayne Green, who was the publisher of many early computer magazines, on time saving techniques) that the easiest and probably best way to shave is to do so immediately after taking a shower. All of the hair on your face is wet and soft and it is not necessary to use shaving cream (which is just more trouble to apply and remove when you're done.) It should be the first thing you do after showering, otherwise the facial hair will dry out.

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Probably for the same (good) reasons that fast food is a multi-billion dollar industry. :)

I'll agree with Stephen and give my praise for this statement. I'll also add that these reasons seem to be at work in just about every facet of life. I discovered this "new" shaving technique while researching men's fashion, which is in a similar state to food and shaving. However, I think what's really interesting is the backlash to the way the world has moved in the past, oh, fifty years.

It seems that from shaving, to fashion, to food, our country has recently become obsessed with quality. There are legions of "foodies;" people who search for great tasting, healthy food made from as-unprocessed-as-possible ingredients. Then there is this wet shaving movement where men around the country are turning shaving into a relaxing ritual of lather, double edged razors, and silky smooth faces. Fashion is also making a comeback. Men flock to websites and books to help transform themselves into modern dandies turned out in impeccably tailored, hand made suits. Martha Stewart and luxury cars also seem to fit this new movement.

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UPDATE

After a few weeks of shaving like this it has only gotten better. I never cut my face and I've refined my technique so that it is even more comfortable than ever. ;)

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UPDATE

After a few weeks of shaving like this it has only gotten better. I never cut my face and I've refined my technique so that it is even more comfortable than ever. :D

That sounds great!

So, how much do you charge for a shave and a trim? ;)

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