Ask a traditional wet-shaver anything...

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by rembrandt1603, Jul 2, 2011.

  1. rembrandt1603

    rembrandt1603 New Member

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    You betcha'.

    This thread shall firstly be about my hobby; that is, the process and age-old ritual of wetshaving. Secondly, it shall be about the love of antiquity; of the shaving of past-- what our grandfathers (and perhaps our fathers) were completely accustomed to. Not this namby-pamby multiple-razor, fluorescent shaving cream and replacement razors costing a mortgage hullabaloo!-- this is shaving at its finest! Bare-bones.

    What is wetshaving you may ask?

    Shaving with a soft soap, single-blade razor and badger hair brush. An oversimplification? Maybe, though these are without a doubt the cardinal tools for the job.

    Further information:

    Let us get down to the point: The tools of the trade; the media for the ameliorative, and the goods for the govs! ;)

    My arsenal:

    The badger brush. Named after the material used to make the bristles-- badger hair. Typically taken from the underbelly, the hairs, stiff and bristly in nature, make ideal brush material, and come in various grades. A good, decent beginner brush will cost perhaps a few notches about five pounds. The greatest of qualities can be well over a thousand!

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    Now, the obvious and arguably most necessary and indispensable of all items; the razor itself! We have two razors available to our disposal: the archaic and fairly 'new' at the time when wetshaving was still popular razor; the safety razor. Single blade, requiring no snapping of the razor in half, inserted straight into the head of the apparatus. The top is opened by twisting the bottom of the razor handle, at least in this example.

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    In goes the razor:

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    We also have the cut-throat razor, a humble nom-de-plume for obvious reasons. Also called the open razor, the straight razor, and by some of my friends, the 'cut your neck into slithers' razor:

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    Due to my demonstration and images being taken whilst opting for the safety razor, I've thus neglected to take images of preparing the blade for the straight razor. To do this, however, the razor blade is simply snapped in half (can be done with fingers, with minimal effort), and inserted into a removable metal strip that is inserted into the straight-razor case. Simples.

    The handling for a cut-throat is also much more demanding, and requires a deft, somewhat spindly hand. I have to finish up a few slight areas with a safety razor, as it's almost impossible for me to bend my hands in certain directions. Likely an issue with undeveloped practise. Hearsay dictates that it takes 'a hundred shaves to perfect the cut-throat'. That is, if you don't kill yourself before then. ;)

    The blades:

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    These are inconceivably cheap, and must be discarded after every shave. Use the same blade at your own risk. If you have particularly tough and dense facial hair, then it may even be necessary for you to change blades half way through the shave. Luckily, I don't quite have a streak of black tar for facial hair (yet). Also, any brand is good, as they're universally alike.

    Now for the soap. I've been a long-time user of Proraso, and will likely never change my ways. It's easily the most applicable and reactive shaving soap I've tried.

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    Additionally, this soap (and others in a plastic container) make the use of a shaving mug obsolete, as you can lather in the pallet, then brush it nto your face. Other soaps are sold in blocks, and simply fall apart when employing the same method. My shaving mug isn't exactly fantastic, though, but I guess anything is usable. I spoke to a fellow enthusiast once who used a Milky Bar coffee mug! He took the chocolates out of it before use (I think).

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    We have now, the 'styptic pencil', or styptic stick. Or coagulation-starting thingamajigs. Whatever you call them, they will be a friend when you cut yourself (and you certainly will, at least once). I nicked myself under the chin slightly during this session, and had to employ one of them. Simply break a tab off, apply water, and apply to the area where the skin is broken. Stops the bleeding instantly (jugular vein notwithstanding).

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    I also use a post-shaving liquid known as witch-hazel. You've likely heard of it, and it works wonders. Not a necessary item, though useful nonetheless. Cheap, too:

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    Additionally, after the entire process is complete, I'll engage my metrosexual Hyde, and moisturise with some coconut goodness:

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    Let's get to brass tax gentleman (and errr, women?). Here is my routine, developed from many other routines, streamlined to what I would like to think as near perfection. I've dispelled a lot of the sensationalism when referring to certain techniques, times etc, as I've found it all to be hot air. As follows;

    1. Grab a flannel, and soak it in water not quite boiling, but very, very hot. As hot as your face can stand.

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    2. Apply it your face for approximately one minute; thirty seconds at the very least. This should make your face very moist, and reciprocative to any razor that will make contact with it.

    3. Lather up. Mix the soap with the brush, creating a nice thick foam. Apply to face. As the photographs patently indicate, I'm having a blast:

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    4. Wet the flannel again, in the same hot water, and apply it to your face for a further minute. This will sink further moisture into your face, with a bit of shaving soap too. It gives your face the defensive properties of mythril, or so I like to believe. After this is done, brush your face up with the foam again, and prepare for the shave.

    5. I'll break this down into two sections; one for the safety razor, and one for the cut-throat:

    Safety:

    You have much more leeway with the safety than you do with the straight. Unlike a modern safety razor however, you can't send it around your face like a Flymo; there needs to be a constant angling of the blade-- roughly twenty degrees, though your eyes will naturally follow the correct angle.

    Straight:

    When shaving any 'plain' of the face, ensure the skin is 'stretched' by placing a hand below wherever you are shaving, tightening the face in the shaving area. The straight is very, very easy to cut yourself with, and this is simply an extra precaution to make it as smooth as possible. Difficult areas are the moustache, under the chin, and (yikes!) the Adam's apple.

    Post shave:

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    Not quite David Peckham or Robaldo-what's-his-face, though the clarity speaks for itself. The smoothness (obviously incomprehensible from images alone) is absolutely unparalleled. I encourage everyone to try it before saying 'it's not for me'.

    I hope people find this interesting, as I sure do. I'm a great example of a lover of antiquity, and try to employ all aspects of it into my life wherever and whenever possible. Once again, I implore everyone to try it at least once.

    Peace. :D
     
  2. B_RedDude

    B_RedDude New Member

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