Archive for the 'Wetshaving' Category

If You Like Pina Coladas

Corey Greenberg’s unique brand of hyperbolic infotainment can be a bit much at times, and needs be read with salt and reality-checkbook firmly in hand. That said, for some reason, his review of Cremo Cream seemed somehow more trustworthy. I don’t know why; perhaps the elusive Mrs. Greenberg just has more credibility than her husband – or can reasonably be expected to be a little more realistic where toiletry supplies are concerned.

Either way, I felt compelled to try Cremo. After all, if it wasn’t as good as Proraso, my current favorite, my partner can always use it to shave her legs, right?

The good thing is, Cremo lubricates well; very, very well, even. And the shaves I’ve gotten over the last couple days have been absolutely top-notch. It’s not terribly impressive in the lather department, but I’m coming to discover that voluminous lather is rather more of a marketing gimmick than a quality metric, where shaving soap and cream is concerned. Truth be told, the coconut aroma really isn’t that strong, nor objectionable.

The tube – which I’m ashamed to admit I like a lot better than Proraso’s seriously-retro oversized-metal-toothpaste-tube, proclaims “dramatically reduces cuts, nicks, scrapes, and razor irritation”; I’m not sure about dramatically, in comparison to other quality shave creams, but it definately seems to be true. This morning, my face is perfectly whisker-free, the proverbial “baby’s butt smooth” shave, without irritation anywhere at all, or that distinctive feeling of an almost-too-close shave.

The tube also promises it “leaves your skin astonishingly soft and smooth”, and here I must grudgingly concede a point – it really does, even more so than Proraso. It doesn’t leave you with that fresh, medicinal tingle, but the impression that your now-hairless skin has been, I dunno, moisturized and enriched, or something.

Is it better than Proraso? I don’t really know. It’s a touch more expensive, and – when Proraso is now widely available at Target stores – I’m not sure the “last 5%” it provides compared to Proraso is worth the cost, or the hassle, or the almost two-week wait.

In an ideal, shave geekery world, Cremo would be available at Target, as well, or perhaps supermarkets, and advertised, and market forces could decide which is superior. In our world, though, only time will tell whether Cremo Cream can compete against the Big Green Giant.

It might be an excellent gift, though, to try and introduce friends and relatives to the wide world of wet shaving. That’s because it’s very modern, in it’s plastic lotion-style squeeze tube, and it makes no pretensions at being anything but new and modern. That, I think, might make it attractive to people who can more easily believe in a small, niche product that’s “new and improved”, but who would be otherwise skeptical of the performance of something with an old-school feel to it, like Proraso. Too, it has all the convenience of a modern shaving gel – just slather on and shave, without messing about with brushes and bowls and things. I’m not saying any of these qualities make it better – just more attractive to people who still believe in the sweet, sweet illusion of progress.

Even if you don’t like pina coladas, you should try Cremo, at least once. Your face will thank you, and, who knows, you might even come to love it. 🙂

Published in: Geekiness, Wetshaving | on September 2nd, 2006 | Comments Off on If You Like Pina Coladas

Goat-Milk Soap

So, I broke down and got some shaving soap, and a really, really cheap bristle brush. (Hey, it came free with the soap.) The soap is homemade goat’s milk soap, lightly lavender scented.

I actually used the brush first with Proraso cream, which worked quite well, and a bit better than just rubbing the stuff on my face with my hands, as I’d been doing. (It’s not that there’s anything inherently bad in the manual application, just that the brush works a lot better.) I’ve been doing that for a few days, and been happy with it. Today, though, I felt like something a little different, so I decided to try out the bowl of soap.

It did the job; don’t get me wrong. The scent was mild, pleasant, and inoffensive. It lathered really, really well, too; much more volume than the Proraso. But the lather kind of dissipated on my face, as lather is given to do, though rather more rapidly than I’m used to, even with crud out of a can.

Where it really failed to shine was lubrication, though. It got the job done, but less well than the Proraso, or even the hand soap I’d been using before that. It was still better than foam inna can, but kind of a letdown after almost two weeks of really, really slick shaving. I don’t know if it’s an inherent characteristic of milk soaps, or if it’s just a quirk of this particular brand, or batch.

That said, I’m getting a lot better with the Super Speed; I really think that you need to use a new razor for at least a week, possibly longer, before you adapt to it and learn it’s “sweet spot”. By the end of today’s shave I came to feel that I was almost getting as good a shave as I have been with the Star single-edged razor. Probably, by midweek I’ll have achieved that level of smoothness and satisfaction.

I’ve broken down, by the way, and added a category for wet shaving posts; previous posts on the subject have been added there, but this is the first one to get posted anew there…

Published in: General, Wetshaving | on August 27th, 2006 | Comments Off on Goat-Milk Soap

Razor Acquisition Disorder

I’ve been shaving daily with a 1912-patent Star single edge razor for about three weeks straight, after switching back and forth between that razor and a somewhat similar Gem Micromatic. Until today, the only double-edge razor I owned was a three-piece 1930’s Gillette Tech – specifically, one of the short-handled travel versions. It’s an okay razor, I suppose, but I don’t like the short handle, and don’t use it much.

I got a lot of two razors in the mail today, won off eBay; I’d believed that one was a Super Speed and the other a (full-sized) Tech, but I was wrong; both are Super Speeds! One is a basic brass-handled model from late 1956 – more or less exactly fifty years old – and the other is an aluminum-handled 1951 model.

Both cleaned up nicely, but I haven’t used either yet. I broke down yesterday and went to Target, returning with a tube of Prorasso shaving cream – true cream, not that foam in a can stuff. 🙂 I lathered a very little bit onto my face this morning and shaved with the Star. It was good. It was very, very good.

Objectively, all shaving cream has to do is lubricate your face, right? Well, this stuff does that quite well, every bit as well as the glycerine soap I’d been using the last couple days. I can’t honestly say it did any better a job, but it certainly wasn’t worse.

Subjective performance is where this stuff really shines. Sure, it’s the first real shaving soap I’ve used. That said, the mild, pleasant scent of the Proraso added a pleasant touch to the manly ritual of depilation, and the menthol (I assume) did a wicked, wicked job of cooling my skin.

So, yeah, I’m totally hooked on this retro-geek wetshaving thing now.

After my most excellent shave, I walked to a nearby convenience store and celebrated my luddite ways with a Nesbitt’s of California orange soda, in the glass bottle. It just seemed appropriate, somehow. 🙂

Published in: Geekiness, General, Wetshaving | on August 19th, 2006 | Comments Off on Razor Acquisition Disorder

Who Needs Progress?

As I’ve posted elsewhere here, I became bitten – at least a bit – by the “wetshaving” bug, a couple months ago. It’s not because I do, or want to, particularly enjoy shaving, or because I want to experience the absolute primping decadence of a good old-fashioned shave. No, I do it mainly because I enjoy how inexpensive it is, or can be. The retro-chic aspects, and the absolutely gorgeous shaves I’ve been getting, are just pleasant bonuses.

I haven’t gone all hog-wild with the brushes and mugs and soaps and boutique Israeli razor blades, and pre-shave conditioner and imported aftershave. Rather, I’ve been using Barbasol out of a can, with $0.50 “Gem” single-edge blades in a “Star” razor bearing a patent date of 1912, and I’ve been pretty darn happy. An unpleasant necessity (shaving) has become less unpleasant, and I get a much better shave than with a Mach 3.

Why Barbasol? Darned if I know. It’s cheap, and it more-or-less gets the job done. Well, I thought it did, anyway. Today I noticed that the hand soap I was using in the shower – Blue Heron – produces a pretty respectable lather, all things considered. It’s not the huge, thick foam of some of the expensive shaving soaps, but nothing to sneer at. So, in the interests of science, I lathered up my face real good, stepped out of the shower, and put razor to face.

When you get right down to it, soap in shaving is supposed to lubricate the razor-face contact. Well, compared to this basic hand soap, the Barbasol is like shaving thru wet concrete. With this bar soap, the razor just slid across my face like a puck on ice, leaving nothing but bare skin behind. End result? Perfectly smooth face, no cuts, no razor burn, no irritation.

I don’t want to become a die-hard shave geek… but I can feel the dark tug of the purpose-made shaving soaps calling out their siren songs of temptation and corruption…

Published in: Geekiness, General, Wetshaving | on August 14th, 2006 | Comments Off on Who Needs Progress?

Wet Shaving Masochism

I shaved yesterday, for the first time in about eight months. I used to really loathe shaving, and would grow a beard every winter. Now that it’s demonstrably not winter, it was more than time for the great shaggy thing to come off.

I might never go back to a beard again.

For some time there’s been an increase in popularity in what’s being called “wet shaving” (or “wetshaving”) – the slightly retro grooming with a brush, soap, and a vintage (or vintage-style) straight or safety razor.

There are a lot of reasons for the popularity of this. Excellent double-edged razor blades can be had for around $0.20 apiece, which is a far cry from the $5 per blade I’ve seen Schick Quattro blades selling for. In fact, razor blade prices for today’s razors has gotten so ridiculous, the local Walgreens pharmacy keeps all their razor blades under lock and key, like cigarettes. So spending $0.25 per week on razor blades is definately attractive.

But screw frugality; we’re a society of conspicuous consumers. Bigger, newer, and more expensive is better, baby.

Um, no. Not where razors are concerned.

I used to use a Gilette Sensor. A couple years ago someone gave me a Mach3. Both ranked high on my suck-o-meter in terms of giving just generally bad shaves. Part of it was my fault – I’d never been taught how to shave properly, and never thought to try to find out.

A big part of it was the razors, though. The Sensor and the Mach3 clog like crazy, and gave me razor burn like nobody’s business. Time for a change.

So yesterday I got two old razors in the mail. A basic double-edged Gilette safety razor, and a Gem Micromatic single-edged razor. I cleaned them up, loaded them with drug-store blades, took a scissors to my beard, and set out to shave the remaining 1/2-3/4″ stubble.

I’m a crazy luddite masochist, so after a shower, I lathered up with my trusty Barbasol, and put the Micromatic to my face.

A word on this razor, if I may; Gem and Star single-edged razors date from the 1930’s to 1940’s, and are extremely common. They take single-edged razor blades, just like the ones in a lot of box cutters and window scrapers. Even among wet-shavers today, they’re viewed as dangerous and nearly impossible to get a good shave from without cutting yourself.

All you need to do is read the instructions, though; keep the head of the razor against the skin, and shave with as much of a lack of pressure as possible. The razor slid across my lathered face in silence, broken only by the quiet sound – I kid you not – of hair being cleanly separated from my face. Ahead of it, shaving cream and hair; behind it, perfectly naked skin blinking in the light.

Seriously; my best shave EVER, in more than a decade of shaving.

With a $3 razor and a $0.25 single-edged “GEM” blade.

I’d planned to shave half my face with the Micromatic, and half with the Gilette safety razor, but the Gem went thru my beard so well I gave up on that plan and did my whole face with it. In the end, I used the double-edged Gilette for a little touch-up on my neck and under my nose; it shaves a little closer, I think, but not nearly as smooth.

So, yeah, I’m hooked on this wet shaving thing. After all, who wants to pay a king’s ransom for a mediocre shave? I’ve seen the light – and I’m not going back!

Published in: Geekiness, General, Wetshaving | on June 17th, 2006 | 2 Comments »