Saturday, June 19, 2010

A New-Old Method: My Husband's Experiment with Traditional Wet Shaving, Part 2



I'm a big believer that sometimes you have to splurge to save.  Yes, that's right. Sometimes, you have to spend a little extra money up front to save money in the long run.  Like with my KitchenAid mixer.  They're a little pricey, to be sure, but they're excellent machines and it helps me so much in my kitchen, especially with making bread.  So it is with the supplies needed for traditional wet shaving -- there's a bit of a price to pay up front, but in the long run you'll save a lot of money. 

(Click here for Part 1 for an introduction to and the benefits of traditional wet shaving.)

The Tools & Supplies

  • Razor - There are a couple types of razors you can use with this method. There's the straight-edge razor - you know, the kind you see barbers using in old Western films. My husband, Kevin, thought about using one at first, but decided against it.  I think it looks a little scary.  The other type of razor is the double-edged safety razor.  This is the kind of razor your grandfather probably used and it's the kind my husband got. You can buy safety razors at drug stores and specialty stores, but we got his off Amazon. 
    • How it saves money:  The double-edge safety razor Kevin got cost about $28 plus shipping.  Seems a little pricey at first, I know.  But this thing is made to last. It feels solid and heavy - there is absolutely no plastic on that razor.  Kevin says that he doesn't see himself ever really needing to get another one. It's feels like something that could be passed on to the next generation.  A mainstream cartridge razor (not counting the blade cartridges)-- mostly made of plastic and little bit of metal -- can cost anywhere from $8-12. 
  • Blades -  With the safety razor, there's no cartridges to buy. Just a pack of razor blades.  You can find these in shaving section -- we found Kevin's refills at Walmart. 
    • How it saves money: Here's where traditional wet shaving saves you a lot of money.  Replacement cartridges for mainstream razors like the Mach 3 can get expensive; an 8-pack of cartridge replacements for the Mach 3 (what my husband used to use) can cost anywhere from $15-20.  The refill blades for his safety razor:  100 blades for a little over $10.  And he likes using the safety razors more. Much more.
  • Shaving Soap -  There are a variety of shaving soaps out there on the market.  As I mentioned in Part 1, shaving soap works differently than mainstream shaving gels and creams in the way it affects the hair.  Plus, it's often more natural than chemical, thus easier on your skin. Look for a shaving soap that has glycerin. My husband has tried a couple different soaps, but he likes Tabac soap the best because it lathers well, he likes the smell, and it seemed of a higher quality than the others.
    • How it saves money:  I have to admit, this soap is a little pricey - $18 for the shaving soap bowl (as in, the soap comes in a ceramic bowl). But a little goes a looong way.  He's been using it for about a month and it still looks like he barely started it.  The shelf date on the package says it's good up to 36 months -- so I figure one of these bowls of soap can last for a while. Compare that to the mainstream aerosol cream or gel, which costs about $3-5 a can. It is cheaper, but they definitely don't last for many months. Plus, by now you all know how I feel about buying natural products.  With aerosol creams and gels, you get a cheap product because of the cheap, chemical ingredients. My husband's skin always reacted adversely to the mainstream creams and gels; the shaving soap hasn't given him any trouble. Plus, I like the smell of the new soap better.
  • Shaving brush -  This is a necessary tool for traditional wet shaving because it's used to create the thick lather from the shaving soap.  Most brushes come in either boar or badger hair.  The badger hair ones are supposedly superior, but they do cost more.  Shaving brushes can range from $10 to all the way to $200 (and higher).  The one pictured here is a boar hair one on the lower end of the price spectrum, but my husband admits that he can see how a more expensive one (a badger hair one) could work better. (I'll have to let you know if it's true after he gets his Father's Day present and see if there is a difference between brushes. Hopefully  he doesn't read this before then. Update: He LOVES the badger hair brush.)
    • How it saves money:  It doesn't necessarily save money by itself, but it is necessary for the process and to use shaving soap.  And from what I understand, if you buy a high-quality badger-hair brush, they can last for years and years. One reviewer of a brush (out of my price range) said that he uses his grandfather's shaving brush from a certain company and that the brush is over fifty years old. Talk about bang for your buck!
The How-To 
  1. The best time to shave is after a shower - this helps open your pores. Get the water in the faucet really hot (about as hot as you can stand) and wet face.
  2. Wet the brush in the hot water. Run the brush over the surface of the soap until you start getting a loose, sudsy lather. From there, bring it to a thick, foamy lather in your hand, in a mug, or directly on the face.
  3. With the brush, work the lather over the entire shaving area on your face and neck.
  4. Get the razor wet and shave in the direction that the hair grows. With the safety razors, you have to maintain the same cutting angle on your face; it won't conform or move with your face the way mainstream cartridge razors do. Basically, you want to move your wrist as little as possible. (Note: as odd as it sounds, YouTube is a great resource for shaving instruction. Seriously, just type "traditional wet shaving" in the search box.)
  5. Repeat if necessary. Rinse.
I've just given a quick overview -- for more in-depth information and instruction, there are a lot of sites about traditional wet shaving, complete with forums and reviews. Badger & Blade is great. Besides the Simple Organic post I mentioned in Part 1, there's also a really great post called "The Zen of Shaving: How a Double-edge Razor Can Change Your Life." Before I read about it on Simple Organic, I'd never heard of wet shaving. It's interesting how passionate some people are about this shaving method, but seeing how much my husband prefers it, I'm beginning to see why. Heck, I'm even thinking of trying it on my legs!

P.S. - Happy Father's Day to all the awesome dads out there. I don't know if any dads read this (besides my husband), but pass along my appreciation to the great men in your life. Some say a good man is hard to find; I say, even if that's true (not sure it is), when you find one, they are so, so good.

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

4 comments:

Christopher K said...

Dad reader...just thought I'd let you know.

I didnt come here for the shaving article however but found it after I was here for the general housekeeping articles as Im the house keeper/cook/gardener.

Its on my list of things to do to switch shaving methods. we'll see how it goes.

I love your article on the oil face cleansing and as dubious as I am (super oily skin-the oiliest) I am going to try it. Im sure my partners dry skin is going to love it. I cant wait to show her the article.

E Colson said...

Another dad reader here. Just found your blog, and am doing catch-up. Started wet-shaving a year ago, and will never pay the outrageous prices for cartridges again. Cheaper, and I can't remember the last time I had an ingrown hair. Also, you can buy the refills on Amazon for pennies. I bought a 10-pk, which gave me 100 blades, for 10 bucks. I shave 4 times a week, and get 8 shaves per blade. I won't need to buy blades again for 2 years!

Heather said...

Hooray for dad readers!!! Your experience with wet-shaving sounds just like my husband's. We've been buying his refills on Amazon, too. In fact, the price you paid sounds a lot like what my husband ordered, too. Probably the same ones. :)

adam sherrick said...

So I have been using the shave brush and soap for a while now. It was a gift but the downside is that is still uses 3bladed heads. And those cost ($27) for 4.

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