Friday, September 11, 2009

A traditional wet shave

I wrote this for a shaving forum and thought I would include it among my blogs. More may follow!

I had visited this place a couple of weeks ago. Today I returned for a traditional wet shave. I wanted to find out how the professionals did this thing we all take for granted. I wanted to learn more about the basics of a good shave and what really needs to be done to feel good afterwards.
Tina was my barber. She asked me to explain my reasons for being here. While I looked forward to a pleasant pamper I explained that I wanted to know what she was doing and the purpose of each stage in the shaving process.
I have read a lot about shaving theory and learned much from my own experience but this was the first time I have been shaved by a trained barber.

This is a summary of what followed:

Application of a pre shave gel.
Face covered with a very hot wet towel.
Lather applied by brush after having been made from cream in a bowl.
Shave with straight razor using replaceable blade
Hot towel, re lather, another pass followed by a further pass where needed.
Very cold wet towel.
Application of alum block
Aftershave gel.

I particularly noted the lightness of touch during use of the straight razor. And the use of a Mach 3 for sensitive areas - above upper lip and chin. Also noted lots of small razor movements rather than long sweeps. Tina made clear that she was not aiming for a perfect smooth finish but one that left me well shaven but comfortable. The use of a good quality cream was emphasised as was the importance of a good lather. I noted that Tina's preference was for a lighter lather and thicker coating than I have been recently using - based on my reading of other 'expert' opinion.

The post shave was interesting. Tina always applies alum bar to soothe irritation and follows with a moisturiser. The aftershave gel was regarded as a pleasant but not essential end to the pampering session. Tina didn't much care for colognes!

During my shaving review of recent weeks I have been particularly interested in the post shave requirements. So many ideas abound about aftershave lotions, balms and scents. It seems to me that if one simply wants a comfortable feeling after a shave all one needs is something to soothe irritation and a moisturiser for the skin. A wide variety of products can do this and I guess it's down to personal preference.

I enjoyed my Hungerford experience. It demonstrated that there are many different ways of achieving a satisfying shave. If one does not wish to spend much there are some inexpensive products to meet all essential needs. But if you like pampering yourself, there are a huge variety of increasingly expensive goods to satisfy your craving which you do not need. But if you get pleasure from using them. Why not? It's your money!

Good value for £25 - approximate time one hour.

The Gentleman's Shop, Hungerford

Shop photos

A few photos to give a flavour of what is on offer. Tina was my barber today.