Wander round the online shaving forums and you come across lots of beginners asking the same questions again and again. Whilst some may find this a tedious misuse of bandwidth there is no denying that it shows that lots of new people are being attracted over from the dark side. So, for these people, I thought that I would write down the 5 key, most critical bits of information that they need to take on board as they venture up the traditional shaving learning curve. Obviously it is possible to write a book on the subject, but these 5 tips contain much of the distilled knowledge that is critical for the enjoyment and pleasure that traditional techniques bring to this daily ritual.
1) Make sure that your stubble is waterlogged. When dry it is as strong as copper wire, when fully waterlogged it loses as much as 80% of this strength. The easiest way to ensure this is to shave after or in the shower, it is generally reckoned that it takes 3 minutes from first getting wet for the stubble to become shaveable. If you find that your shave gets easier as it progresses you have started too soon. Obviously this applies whatever form of wet shaving you are doing.
2) Control the angle. The multibladed system razors have pivoting shave heads that control the blade angle, with a double edged razor you must do this for yourself. The downside is a short learning curve, the upside is much more control of how the blade works on your skin. Start with the handle at 90 degrees to your skin and tilt it over, whilst moving the razor across your skin until you reach that sweet spot where it munches effortlessly through your stubble. Good techniques to ensure good angle control are to only make short razor strokes and to move the razor with your arm, not with your wrist.
3) No pressure. This is a huge difference between system razors and double edged razors. System razors have their blades buried within a cartridge, so shavers tend to apply pressure to get them to work. Double edged razors have blade exposure so they don’t need any pressure, just keep the razor head in contact with the face and concentrate on removing the lather. It is counter intuitive to start with, but using pressure will give you a worse shave because you are distorting your skin before and underneath the shave head.
4) Watch the Mantic59 videos on YouTube. I have been saying this consistently since I first started this blog which is why a link is on the blogroll here. These videos are just brilliant. They cover lots of different aspects of shaving and you can’t beat seeing everything demonstrated by an expert. It is almost essential to watch these, they will make you confident and relaxed and move you very quickly up the learning curve.
5) Do it your way. When you escape from the patent protected walled garden of the global shaving companies and their expensive multibladed system razors you discover the heady and intoxicating experience of freedom. So take advantage of this freedom and do it your way. Some internet shave bores are nearly as bad as the big shaving companies, insisting that theirs is the only true path. Ignore them. Experiment a lot and find out what works for you. If that involves using peanut butter as shaving cream then fine. Just do it, and don’t let anyone tell you that you are wrong.
Much of the rest, like making a lather, is either common sense or trial and error. The important thing is that shaving needn’t be the daily chore of the multibladed system razor. Instead it can be something special and enjoyable.