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.

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