Friday, February 26, 2010


Since those of us who study the cutting of beards are learning about pogonotomy, perhaps those who get to know the most are pogonotomists.

We live and learn!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What have I learnt so far?

I've reached the stage in my 'new' shaving career where I can now look back and reflect on what I have learnt so far.

I have now tried 15 razors including my straights and a posh new Mach 3. I'm glad I did that. It took me quite a while before finally settling on a Jagger Chatsworth. I'm sticking with that for now. It is so familiar, using it is second nature. Each time I picked up a different razor a little bit of relearning was needed. Not any more.

It takes time to find the shaving technique best for you. I now have a simple routine of short strokes for three passes - down, up and across. I squeeze the last bit of lather under my chin and gently glide over familiar areas that need that last touch up - a sort of three and a half pass. And its a lovely smooth shave every time.

I shower before I shave these days. I'm not sure it makes much difference except for one little detail. After my final cold rinse, I dab my face with my towel. And while my face is still slightly moist I add my after shave balm. It feels like its diluting it but works much better - easier to apply.

I tried several pre shave products. Not convinced it made any difference.

Tried Alum too. Rarely use it now - and I am always comfortable after my shave. Perhaps my technique now makes it unnecessary?

I have many creams and soaps. As I only bought highly recommended products it is not surprising I like them all. I do have a few favourites - but too many to mention. Now where's my Castle Forbes and Martin de Candre?!!!!

And then there's my special delight. The brushes. I can now cast my eye at over 40 brushes in making my daily selection. Completely mad but such a joy.

The funny thing is that I'm going round in circles thinking about shaving brushes. Like many enthusiasts I got to like face lathering, beginning with circular or scrubbing motions and finishing with a painting style. Now that really limits your choice of brushes because some are very much better than others for face lathering that way.

I am now having a spell building lather in a bowl again and just painting it on. Its very comfortable and certainly best for people with sensitive skin. Once you do this, differences between brushes are quite small. Paint on with a light touch and suddenly a cheap best badger is a match for a Plisson High White Mountain or a Rooney Finest. I'm going to work through all my brushes again to test this theory. We may all be paying a lot of money to get a decent brush for face lathering which could be avoided if we stuck to a painting style. Not that these matters will make the slightest difference to our addiction.

A lot of emphasis is given to preparation. I have had the full hot towel treatment at top barbers. And I have left with a worse shave than I give myself. If you enjoy these things go for it. But I'm happy with my shower and a final rinse with hot water before applying lather.

And finally. I have had a lot of fun buying and trying the razors, brushes, pre shaves, soaps, creams and after shaves. But we all know they are not really needed. One or two of everything, for a quite modest price is all you really need.

The most important thing is to get your preparation and shaving technique right for you. And you will have smooth comfortable shaves every time.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A new venture

During my shaving blog research I contacted two factories who make knots, handles and complete shaving brushes for some famous makers and brands. I obtained quotations and minimum order quantities. Brushes are usually made for minimum orders of 500 but factories are willing to be flexible to encourage new businesses.
The retail prices of good quality brushes are a considerable mark up on the cost of production. As one would expect when a business has considerable overheads or are a main source of income for someone. But shaving products do not require substantial storage space and are the type of business ideally suited to internet operations. That's why there are so many small on line shaving product businesses operated from peoples homes.
I have traded and sold items on Ebay and Amazon for several years and began to realise it would be perfectly feasible to have made and sell a limited range of good quality shaving brushes. I'm not interested in running a business for maximum profit. The internet has enabled large numbers of enthusiasts to develop a hobby of their shaving interest. The sharing of information and knowledge has stimulated a growth in demand for all sorts of wet shaving products. Quality shaving brushes command high prices. Yet there is absolutely no reason why an enthusiast should not themselves make and supply shaving brushes at a highly competitive price if they are willing to take a modest risk and accept a modest profit margin.
So I have decided to get some sample brushes made to my own specification having had the opportunity to assess examples of all the major makers and brands currently available. I have received and tested some brushes already and revised specifications to achieve improvements. I hope soon to decide on a small range of just three or four grades of brush of a popular knot size, have them made to my own brand name, then offer them for sale at an attractive price through the shaving forums and internet outlets. Even if I do just one trial project, I will almost certainly go ahead with a small venture. Time will tell. I have no wish to be a major player. But it would be nice to enable enthusiasts and collectors to add a brush to their collection at a price they can afford. And it would be fun to try.

The three Ts and DR Hill

A great day out last week. Visited DR Harris (rose cream) Truefitt and Hill (small super badger brush) Trumpers (rose soap in a bowl) and Taylor of Bond Street ( imitation badger brush) These places are superb - pure heaven for a shaving enthusiast. Friendly staff available for a chat.
Coffee and sandwiches at Cafe Nero and home by 3pm. Not bad for a round trip from the New Forest.