Guide to wet shaving
Shaving is an art enjoyed by few and feared by many. Why is this? In our modern disposable society the thought of taking time to care for a razor, to hone the blade or use a strop seem incompressible. Surely it is better to reach for an electric razor or snap on another cartridge on the Quattro-Mach?
The fact is, these modern systems are inferior. Razor burn or cuts are the least attractive addition to modern shaving – something you can remove completely with a well-practiced wet shave.
Why do we get razor burn?
Blunt blades are a major cause of razor burn; any sharp blade will become dull with use. Unfortunately the only way to tell if your disposable cartridge system is blunt is when your face becomes sore.
Friction is another problem. Modern multi blade cartridges with 3, 4 or even 5 times the cutting area sound great in a marketing campaign, but in reality having 5 dull razors drag across your skin will always cause some irritation.
Clogged cartridges are another by product of the modern disposable cartridge system. How many times have you tried to rinse out your razor only to see it clogged? That happens while you are shaving and causes nick and scratches.
Poor preparation is when you don’t give your skin time to wake up, and you don’t saturate your bristles with hot water and open your pores. Saturated bristles swell up and are easier to cut while open pores and hair follicles allow the hair to protrude a little further from the skin.
Poor Technique will give razor burn. Shaving against the direction of the hair growth will irritate your skin; it does not give you a closer shave. Pressing too hard on your skin is another mistake made when compensating for a dull blade.
Over using a cartridge is usually the result of ‘running out’ of cartridges and not having a spare, or trying to stretch the cartridge past the 2-3 shaves it was designed for.
What about electric razors?
Even the best ones which cost anything up to £200 will not give an adequate shave for anyone other than those with the fairest hair. For the rest of us, we can look forward to the five o’clock shadow at 2pm.
Isn’t wet shaving expensive?
Definitely not! Assuming you can get 10 cartridges for £10 from one of the leading brands, you should still be paying £25-30 per month on cartridges or £300 or $500 depending on what side of the pond you are on. But nobody pays that much on replacement cartridges do they? That is exactly my point – most people over use their cartridge system.
For £100 you will be able to buy a quality straight razor kit including: Cut throat Razor, hone, strop, soap-dish and brush or for times when you are in a rush or travelling a safety razor kit comprising: Safety Razor, stand, soap-dish and brush. With that in mind, a wet shaving kit will pay for itself in 2-3 months.
The Mitchelli Top Tip
Vintage razors, hones and strops have not yet caught on with collectors and can be picked up for just a few pounds. Looking at a popular internet auction site tonight I have seen dozens of future collectable items. The quality of these is often far higher than modern razors and there is something inherently cool in using a razor from the late 1800′s – early 1900′s.
Guide to wet shaving
Before you start you will need the following:
A good quality face wash
Quality shaving soap and brush
A sharp razor (straight or safety)
A post shaving balm or moisturiser
A light weight face towel
Never shave first thing. Your skin is taught when you first wake up. It takes around 15 minutes to regain its natural suppleness which aids shaving.
Soak or sweat your face for at least 3 – 4 minutes. Barber shops use steaming towels; you can do better with a hot shower. Don’t worry if you don’t have a shower just use a basin of hot water.
Wash your face thoroughly using the face wash and take your time to massage all of your bristles during this process. You will of course combine this with your shower or basin wash so you only need to spend 5 minutes on this, but don’t rush it.
There is no need to dry your face when applying the soap with the brush. Use the brush to further massage your face and bristles, not only will this add the pleasurable experience, but further prepare those bristles.
Starting with the cheeks first, use your free hand to keep the skin taught. Use small delicate strokes and clean the blade after every second stroke. Remember to always go with the direction of hair growth to avoid razor burn. If you are not sure, rub your fingers over the bristles. If it is rough to the touch – that is the wrong direction. Try the other direction and you should feel a vast difference.
Move onto the progressively tougher bristles in the neck, then chin and finally the lip. Curl you top lip over your teeth to stretch the skin and expose the tricky area under the nose.
I will post up a video soon to further demonstrate this technique.
Rinse your face with cold water. This has many benefits. The cold water closes your pores retracting the hair follicle giving you an even closer shave. Closed pores help prevent spots. It is really refreshing first thing in the morning and helps set you up for the day!
Pat your face dry with a light face towel. Your face is still in a sensitive state, so rubbing with a heavy towel can cause irritation even though the shave is over.
Moisturise with a post after shaving balm or high quality replenishing moisturiser. Do not skimp on this part, it locks in the moisture and protects the skin.
The Mitchelli Top Tip
Do not use aftershave straight after shaving. Aftershaves contain alcohol for good reason; it kills bacteria on skin exposed after shaving. That is exactly the process that causes your skin to burn when aftershave is applied. You can get the benefit with less risk of discomfort or irritation if you leave applying it for a minimum of 20 minutes.
You should now have a very close and comfortable shave.