Andy Tarnoff’s “Best Of The Best” (Plus 3 Secret Weapons!)

Andy's shaving secrets

I’m far from an expert in the field of wet shaving, but after more than two years of trial and error – not to mention everything I’ve learned from my association with Mantic59 and Sharpologist – I’ve tried a lot of stuff.

An awful lot of stuff.

Now, I still haven’t completely conquered the razor burn on my neck, which was the main reason I started this adventure, anyway. But by experimenting with dozens of razors, creams, soaps, blades, aftershaves and brushes, I at least know what I like, and what I don’t.Even though a lot of guys think they have sensitive skin, I know I do. Technique helps my neck: stay with the grain and when possible, shave with cold water. But products do matter.

So, for what it’s worth, here’s my personal list of the best of the best.

Modern razor: Merkur Slant. In my experience, it’s cuts the closest.

Vintage razor: Schick Injector-E. I love this WWII vintage Bakelite razor, and I might use it every day if the blades weren’t so (relatively) expensive. I also like the Super Speed Adjustable; mine is a 1972 black handled model.

Overall razor: GEM Open-Comb Micromatic. I’m a big fan of single-edge shaving. These razors are still quite cheap, and blades are even cheaper. And, there are only a few blades to choose from, so you can’t get wrapped up in that drama.

DE razor blades: Feather. Simply the sharpest. Runners-up include Derbys and Gillette 7 O’Clock yellow Russian blades.

Pre-shave oil: I don’t know how much this matters, but I’m partial to the Zirh product.

Shaving cream: Taylor of Old Bond Street Jermyn Street. Great scent, great protection.

Shaving soap: L’Occitane Cade. See above.

Soft shaving soap: Cella. Love the scent, and I always get smooth shaves with it. And it lasts forever.

Brushless cream: If you’re in a hurry, the Kiehl’s White Eagle cream is really good stuff. It doesn’t really lather, but I get excellent shaves from it every time.

Brush: Rooney Best Badger. Mind you, I’ve only tried three brushes, but this one suits me the best.

Aftershave splash: Dominica Bay Rum. Perfect for summer.

Aftershave balm: Baxter of California After Shave Balm. I’m always surprised there’s no alcohol in it, but the tea tree oil calms and cools.

Secret weapon: Osma alum block. While I don’t care for the sting, if I’ve butchered my face, it helps. I use it very sparingly.

Secret weapon #2: Witch hazel. Use it and use it often. Both after rinsing your face and in the evening. It’s good stuff.

Secret weapon #3: Cold water shaving. In the summer, it will deliver great results if you have sensitive skin.

Andy Tarnoff (43 Posts)

Sometimes snarky, occasionally suspicious, usually funny (at least in his own mind), Andy uses his blog space mostly as a written catharsis for the numerous, unrelated topics swirling around in his mildly OCD head. Andy is the publisher and co-founder of OnMilwaukee.com, a digital media company he started in 1998.


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Comments

  1. Hi all.
    I was in Jermyn st shop the othe day.
    Loads of nice stuff but a bit pricy for me. I do use their sandalwood soap in a wooden bowl. It’s something to do with the smell.
    Couldn’t agree more about cold water.
    It’s about the only advice me old man gave me on shaving.
    Always ckean everyrhing in cold water. He said it minimised razor burn.

  2. Why do you use alum blocks sparingly? I use it every day; should I not be doing that?

  3. Shave Dude says:

    Sensitive skin here too. An abrasive wash rag can make me red. If I even think about using a Feather blade, my skin turns red. But if I build a great lather ( currently using a combo of proraso and col conks with a silver tip brush) , I get great results, with several different razors. The lather is the key for me. I own several expensive razors, but the cheapest works best for me…EJ89 with a Wilkinson blade. I stress again, the lather is the key. What works for one may not for another.

  4. I was also a HUGE fan of Feathers and used them exclusively. I now have switched over to Personna Medical Prep blades. To me, they are just as sharp as feathers, but because of a special coating, they last 7 shaves. And the seventh shave is still smooth as silk. No joke, try em out when you have a chance.

  5. LiquidFlorian says:

    I’ve been looking for razors. I tried a sample pack from amazon with Egyptian, Swiss, Russian and Isreali razors; but none seem to be very sharp and I’ve been debating sticking with the Israeli blades or the Merkur blades. I will have to try the Feather blades.

    Most of the others leave my face red and irritated.

  6. I agree man with your post. The slant with the Jermyn street is good stuff. I cant think of a cream that offers more protection than that. I found if you really want to amp up the protection on your neck apply some coconut oil to your face before you shave. I have bumps on my neck and some redness even if you just lightly touch me so I know what its like to struggle with that.

  7. If you have sensitive skin (unfortunately I very much do…) try Mike’s Natural Soaps. All natural and the skin protection is second to none I have found. Also, my skin does not get irritated by it which is a huge plus. Your suggestion about using a slant is a good one. The 37C is my favorite razor for causing the least irritation. Thanks for the article.

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