Face it: You’re not 16 anymore. Maybe you have a respectable career (or are trying to get one) and you need to look like a grown up. You end your day with a good cigar, why do you start your day with something that sucks? It’s time to stop shaving like you did in high school. By changing the way you shave, you can look better and actually enjoy the way you start your mornings.
Most men consider shaving a daily chore and want to get it over with as quickly as possible. This is where the modern cartridge razors boast the latest technology – now with up to six blades hyped to save you time and effort. Recent generations of men have bought into this billion-dollar marketing scheme, but endure uncomfortable shaves and purchase soothing creams to cope.
The problem with a modern cartridge razor is that the blades are close together with extremely small spacing between each cutting edge. To get a close shave, your stubble needs to be at a short length, ideally only 24 hours of growth for most men. If you skip a day your hair may become too long, and the cartridge will rip it out instead of cleanly slicing the hair away. And, because of the smaller blade gaps, your razor will constantly clog, and you’ll have to do repeat passes to get a clean shave. Scraping a blade across your skin over and over causes more irritation. Because your face is sore, you skip a day, causing more than 24 hours’ growth, and you’re caught in a vicious cycle of shaves that suck.
The cartridge razor itself is only part of the problem. Most mass-market brands of shaving cream are from aerosol cans and contain many harmful chemicals that cause greater irritation while shaving. Many have numbing agents, which simply mask the discomfort of a multi-blade cartridge razor shave. Although they are widely available and inexpensive, long-term use of these products can cause severe drying and premature aging. Those who use mass-market products are easily identified by rough, irritated skin on their faces and necks.
There is a better option available: it’s time to go old school. Over the past decade many men have returned to wetshaving using a traditional safety razor. The double edge safety razor uses a single cutting edge that tracks along the skin at a much more comfortable angle and cuts the hair cleanly without grabbing or pulling it. Safety razors are available in many styles that vary with the size of the blade gap, the amount of blade that is exposed, and the cutting angle dictated by the design of the cutting head. By experimenting with different razors and brands of blades, you can determine the perfect aggressiveness for your beard’s coarseness and your skin’s sensitivity so that you can have a comfortable and enjoyable shave.
The razor and blades are only part of the equation for a traditional wetshaver because a shaving brush is critical to an outstanding shave. The shaving brush absorbs hot water and infuses it into the shaving soap or cream to create a thicker, richer, more cushioning (i.e., protective) lather than you can create by hand. Without the use of a shaving brush, you may be smashing your whiskers flat against the skin so you have to apply more razor pressure and do more touchups. A shaving brush softens the hair and suspends whiskers into the thick lather away from the skin. The safety razor is then able to access and cut the hairs close along the skin line in fewer passes. This results in a closer, faster shave with less friction and irritation.
The shaving brush also works to gently exfoliate the skin and remove dry cells so that your face is healthy and soft. By removing dead skin from your face before shaving, there is no dry skin to clog the razor and prevent it from gliding smoothly across the skin. Also, exfoliation is an important skin care treatment that will help young men with acne, and it will help mature men keep their skin hydrated and soft.
Another perk of going old school is the nostalgic shaving products that are available. Collecting tobacco accessories and shaving accessories are very similar with vintage and new pieces, and products in an array of flavors and fragrances. Many shaving companies offer products that date back centuries and there is a significant demand for restored and vintage razors, brushes, and accessories, as well as newer models and brands. Similar to the pleasure of choosing a cigar from a stocked humidor, your morning routine will dramatically improve when you have the option to choose from a selection of quality shaving products.
So throw away the products that you used in high school and quit waiting for an over-hyped 20-blade cartridge. You’re mature enough to face your morning lineup of decisions: Safety razor or straight razor? Badger brush or boar bristles? Soap or cream? Fragrance of your lather/aftershave? All of these choices affect the feeling and performance of your shave and combine to give you a unique and enjoyable experience each time. You’ll look better, feel better, and will actually look forward to your morning routine. There is nothing that sucks about that.