When I first began figuring out how to wet shave with a double edge razor, the predominant advice seemed to be to use a badger brush. Softer, better quality. My first brush was an Omega 13109 Creamy Curved Handle Pure Badger Shaving Brush
. It’s a great brush, luxuriantly soft. I also had an inexpensive boar brush, part of a shave kit I bought for the bowl. The boar brush, frankly, has an odd odor and is much rougher than the badger.
Fast forward to recently when I had some Amazon gift card money to burn and I decided to pick up the Proraso Professonal Shaving Brush. Some of the reviews mentioned how soft it was, so I figured it was a badger brush. But imagine my surprise when I opened it and felt bristles much stiffer than my badger. It was a big brush, too, the handle is a large one and it takes two hands to jam it onto the stand slot. This appeared to be two cons right off the bat. But then…the lather!
This is the stand that I use.
I did notice that distinctive boar odor as soon as the brush was wet and sweeping around my face. It’s not a good smell. But here is what put that out of my mind: In just a few passes around the soap, the lather was already quite thick and fluffy. Maybe it’s the stiffness of the bristles? Maybe it’s how the boar hair holds the right amount of water? (As always, let it drip, then three taps to have just the right amount of water in the brush). Whatever it is, the lather is some of the best I’ve gotten from a Proraso soap. It’s also been consistent. In the week that I’ve used the brush, the soap has whipped up soft and creamy each and every time.
Proraso brush with my favorite Proraso Eucalyptus Hard Shaving Cream / Soap, 150ml
I’ve also noticed after a week’s use that the bristles have softened ever so slightly and the smell has gradually gone away. That’s a big plus because I don’t think I’d keep using it if it didn’t. And did I mention the lather?
(The Proraso Shave Brush is made by Omega and is a rebranding of the Omega Boar brush. The Proraso name may add a couple of dollars to the cost, but…Proraso!)
I was pleasantly surprised by the Proraso Shave Brush! It has challenged my preconceptions about the superiority of badger over boar hair brushes. It’s a good reminder that when it comes to the art of wet shaving with a good razor, there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach. After all, finding the perfect combination of tools and technique is all part of the art of shaving with swagger.
My shaving technique is the combination of several ideas and steps that I’ve gleaned from various websites and videos. Today I’ll share my beard prep steps.
One of the important aspects of wet shaving with a double edge razor is making sure your whiskers are ready to be cut. You don’t just go at them. They’ve got to be prepped. Made ready. They need to be gently brought to that state where they wait with eager anticipation for your blade to lop them off. Here are my steps.
- A hot shower. In addition to the primary benefit of cleaning your body and making you smell better, a hot shower is an opportunity to wash your face with soap and hot water. The hot water opens your pores and washing your face softens your whiskers, making them pliable and compliant in the cutting process.
- Don’t dry your face. When you dry off after your shower, don’t dry your face. Let the whiskers stay wet which keeps them soft and reduces irritation from rubbing your face with your towel.
- Re-wet your face with hot water. After the shower, the next step of prepping for the shave is filling up a small bowl (or shaving mug) with hot water and dropping in my brush. While it gets nice and saturated, I splash hot water from the tap on my face and neck while I let the sink fill with hot water.
- The right amount of water and soap. A good lather is worth its own post but a simple approach is that if your brush has been soaking, pull it out of the water, let the water drip off, and then give it three taps or flicks. That should leave just about the right amount of water on the brush to give you a good lather.
- Lather away. Don’t skimp. You don’t have to make a Santa Clause beard with your lather, but it shouldn’t be a dry, light layer either. Massage and work the lather in brisk circular motions. Flatten the brush and swirl away. The brush helps exfoliate your skin, raise the whiskers and leaves them standing at attention, ready to yield to your blade.
Someone reading these steps might conclude that it’s almost too much. Each detail is taken too seriously. But remember, a good shave is something to be savored and relished, something that takes time and can’t be rushed. Your face will thank you!
Razor burn. Irritation. Chafed skin. Bumps. Whiskers subtly buried just under the skin. Even zits. That was occasionally true of cheeks and jawline but pretty much always true of the area when chin and neck merge.
Maybe it’s because my face is more sensitive. Maybe it’s because I am too rough with the razors. Shaving irritation is just something I figured was part of the deal. When I used an electric foil razor, the irritation was probably due to me mashing the foil against my face to convince myself I was cutting as close as possible.
The three blade cartridge made me feel the burn. Then they invented the five blade. Surely that would reduce irritation. Nope. But they have lubricating strips! But I used “sensitive” gel! Nope. Irritated. Bumpy. Alas, it was just part of the bargain. If you shave, you’re going to get razor burn and irritation.
One of the benefits claimed for double edge razor wet shaving, however, was a reduction of razor burn. Well, THAT’S something! And I kid you not, the very day that I began shaving with a safety razor and a nice cream (it was Proraso cream at first)…I tell you, the very same day I used a safety razor for the first time, my face wasn’t red and bumpy. At all.
I know what you’re thinking. “Just like that? No more razor burn?” Yes. Just like that. Even with more than one pass (I sometimes use up to four passes when I want a really close shave) I rarely get any irritation. Generally speaking, the more passes you make, the more chance for skin irruption to develop but these blades are just so sharp that it’s really not the case.
If you’re ever wished that shaving didn’t leave you with razor burn on your face, chin, or neck, then perhaps it’s time to switch to double edge wet shaving. It’s so close but with no bumps!
And because shaving no longer brought that irritation, I began to slow down and actually enjoy this morning ritual. More on that in another post.
One of the greatest benefits of wet shaving with double edged blades is how inexpensive the blades are.
A fancy electric razor will set you back $100 or more. Sure, you can find cheaper ones, but the old adage is true that you get what you pay for. Even then, after a year of use, you’re looking at around $15-30 to replace the foil. That works out to be around $2+ a week per shave.
If you buy the latest and greatest cartridge razors, well…check this comparison out:
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that a typical five blade cartridge could last for a week of shaving. (Of course you could go longer but let’s compare apples to apples). This product, for example, would give you twelve cartridges for $36.99. At 12 weeks of shaving, that breaks down to just over $3.00 per week. That’s $150 a year of blade costs!
Let’s assume also that we can use a double edge razor blade for a week of shaving. (Again, this too varies, but for comparison’s sake…). Now, let’s look at a product like this double edge variety pack . For $24.99 you get 100 blades. That’s just short of two years of shaving which breaks down to about a quarter ($.25) a week. That makes it right around $13 a year!
Based just on the costs of razor blades alone, you can see that double edge razor wet shaving is a far less expensive alternative. And when you’re saving that kind of money and still getting a great shave, that’s shaving with swagger!
But double edge razor blades have another advantage which I will cover in my next post!