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A "Stock" Posting?

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I sometimes post on forums that are not related to shaving but have a shaving-related topic going on. I recently wrote this as a reply to one such topic (the original poster was wondering why he was getting “redness and these little white bumps” after shaving) and I think I may just keep it as my “stock” answer to a lot of shaving gripes:

Repeat after me: preparation and reduction, preparation and reduction.

Most people don’t prepare for a shave adequately; they splash on some water for a couple seconds and then slap on some goo from a can and expect to get a decent shave out of it. Some people can…most can’t. The fact is that it can take up to three minutes to fully hydrate the face before a shave. Shave after showering if you can. If not, wash your face with a gentle facial soap (not a freakin’ body bar or deodorant soap!) and lots and lots of the hottest water you’re comfortable with.

And for gods sake, use a decent lather. Just about anything out of pressurized can won’t cut it. The propellent causes little pockets of air in the cream or gel which will dry out the skin. Then they have to put in artificial lubricants to try to make up for it (more chemicals on your face, meh). Use something from a squeeze tube or better yet a traditional shave cream or soap that you use a shaving brush with. You’ll be *amazed* at the difference.

OK so you’ve got a decent lather going. Now you’re going to reduce the beard in stages instead of trying to get everything all at once. Shave–using as little pressure as possible on the razor–in the direction your hair grows in (with the “grain”). Don’t try to get every last hair at this point, the idea is to comfortably knock down the worst of it. Take your time and use relatively short strokes–maybe an inch or so at a time. Rinse with hot water and relather. Now shave *across* the grain (90 degree angle) to knock down a little more beard. Rinse with hot water and relather. This time shave across the grain from the opposite direction. Rinse with hot water and relather. Now shave against the grain. After getting the hang of this technique you can start working on short-cuts: maybe you don’t need that second cross-grain pass or you don’t need that last against-grain pass after all, for example.

OK you’re done shaving. Rinse again with hot water, thoroughly. You want to get off any gel or cream residue that still might be on the face (some gels stick to your face like grim death and will clog your pores and give you ingrown hairs or shaving bumps if you’re not careful). Now go ahead and splash on some cool water to start sealing the pores. Finish with an aftershave that doesn’t have alcohol as the 1st ingredient.


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

11 thoughts on “A "Stock" Posting?”

  1. I am a wet shaver and have a lot of razors, brushes, blades, soap and creams (that called RAD) and like the Matic videos a lot, they halped me form the Gillette cardridges to traditional shaving. Every man should try traditional wetshaving, its fun and makes your face feel good.

    In reaction to Elg's comment I guess the answer is that the bubbles in the canned lather are not air bubbles. They consist of the gas to push the lather out of the can. But it's of course true that Mantic's reasoning means that a 'non-lathering'gel or cream without bubbles would be better. Finally, I want to point out that Proraso contains a number of non-natural substances, see for yourself, for example a whole set of paraben, just likes the canned stuff: It's tubed goo.

  2. You know what, now that you've said it, that might just be exactly what my issue is. What hit home was when you said you might get cocky and go on auto pilot. Now that I really think about it, that's exactly what I'm doing.

    After the great experience that first week and then watching all of the videos, I think I got way too overconfident. Thinking back to the first few shaves (which were the best ones), I was very slow, deliberate, being very conscious of pressure and angle since it was the first time using a safety razor.

    The past few shaves, I guess I'm not really paying attention, going way too fast, using way too much pressure and even going back to my old "grip" which is very close to the head instead of at the end and using the weight of the razor to apply the pressure.

    I have to get back to the basics…….pretty sad after only a week and a half!! it's the residual of 20 years of bad shaving habits that I have to get away from.

    Hopefully, it's as simple as that and all I have to change is my technique…..And here I was trying to put all the blame on my equipment.

    Thanks, I'll let you know how it works out.

  3. John,

    It occurred to me that if I wasn't careful, I'd begin to shave more aggressively, or with more force applied, if I didn't pay attention as I got more proficient at it. You don't have to press with the DE like with the cartridge, so it's possible to fall back into the same habit as you had with the cartridge. I figured if I wasn't careful I might get cocky and go on auto-pilot, which would mean using pressure like I was wing the Gillette. Might that be what's happening?

  4. Intro and question:

    Like Stvro99, I HATED shaving and viewed it as a daily chore. Might have been the fact that I used cheap disposable blades and King of Shaves gel (which actually isn't that bad). Was looking for a better way and found your videos, and after watching the intro videos it actually got me psyched about buying and trying a DE razor and quality cream.

    I ordered a tube of Proraso cream, a Tweezerman boar hair brush and a Parker 22R razor which came with 2 packs (10) of Shark blades.

    So….first week was great. Couldn't believe how great the first few shaves were. Closest and most non-irritating shaves I've had, I think ever. Plus, I actually looked FORWARD to shaving in the morning. It's already become almost a therapy session, a nice quiet 10 or 15 minutes (away from my 2 & 5 year old sons/maniacs) to myself that I can use to focus on something other than the usual stuf…work, finances, nonsense… blah…blah…blah.

    Fast forward a few days, I usually don't shave on the weekend, so I skipped Saturday. However, I watched *all* of the rest of the videos and got the bug, so decided to shave on Sunday (which I DON'T ever do unless I have to go to a wedding or party).

    It was a totally different experience. Although everything I did was the same, I got a bunch of nicks, it wasn't nearly as close even after 3 passes, and I ended up with alot of redness and irritation on my neck (which is what I always got the "OLD" way).

    Ok, so I chalked it up to the fact that I didn't change the blade after having used it for 6 shaves. Monday….new blade and ready to go, almost the same result….what the hell….Tues, same thing, just a little less drastic…today, same. damn.

    So, the question is, what went/is going wrong????

    First off, I'm doing everything by the book, showering first, heating my mug, mixing up a great lather (love the Proraso), lather, reduce, rinse, 3 passes….you know the drill.

    -obviously, I can rule out the brush, since it's doing it's job wonderfully (at least from a new wet shavers' perspective)

    -is it the cream, do I try a soap? (the Proraso cream is incredible compared anything I've used in the past).

    -is it the razor? to aggressive? (it's supposed to be a beginners razor).

    -is it the blades? are they crap? (which is usually what you get with a packaged deal, I assumed I was paying mostly for the razor).

    -is it the fact that I skipped a day in between?

    -should I have changed the blade sooner?

    I know everyone is different and it could really be any one or a number of these things. I just can't understand how I could have had such great initial results, especially having never used a DE razor before, and then it turn around like that. I expected it to only get better.

    Anyone else have a similar experience? Advice?

    No matter what, I'm hooked and am sticking with it. Thanks.

  5. I don't have tons to say about this particular post in general but it seemed like a great place to post an introductory post.

    I've been watching your videos and reading your blog for about 2 weeks now. I first watched of of your videos the day my new DE safety razor came in and before using it. I like your videos. You do a great job explaining and demonstrating things, as well as making them entertaining.

    Prior to getting a razor, brush, and a sampler pack of razors, I used the Gillette Mach 7000 with a zillion blades and rubber ridges and whatever else was on there, and avoided shaving like the plague. I only shaved when I absolutely needed to. Found it a painful and unpleasant experience, even with the lotions and balms.

    Having seen several of your videos, I think I could have really improved my shaving experience with the Gillette cartridge.

    However, even though I bought a bargain basement DE I love the results I'm getting with it. In addition, being one of the people who lost their job due to a difficult economy in my field, I love the fact that even if I pay a premium price for a sampler blade pack, I'm still paying a fraction of the price per blade that I would with the cartridge. (Getting technical, a fraction where the larger number is on the bottom)

    Thanks for making that stuff and doing this blog. I hope your physical therapy is turning out great for you.

  6. Nice, although as a guy with relatively oily skin I will respectfully disagree with the notion of avoiding an alcohol-based aftershave. Next to lathering with a good cleansing shaving soap, it is probably the best thing for my skin. The conventional wisdom is that people with dry skin should use aftershave balms (lotions), people with oily skin should use splash aftershaves like alcohol-based or witch hazel, and people with normal skin should use splashes in the summer and balms in the winter.

  7. I also shave "blind", partly. I shave my head with a headblade in the shower. I gauge the lather (which I create with my hands in-place) by how slick and wet it feels. I do still shave my face the traditional wetshave way.

  8. @elg: IMO you're right. Water is the key, after all.
    On a hint by a blind wet shaver I tried to get a grasp of his situation – shave blindly. And one thing I have learned it that even a poor looking lather can be good for your skin. 'Listen' to your skin, if it feelx good the lather probably is just right.

  9. Ok, a comment on this post probably isn't the place to raise such a heretical question, but how are the air bubbles in aerosol products evil and drying, but the air bubbles you whip into your lather are good, rich, and delightful?

    Is it just a question of quantity? I'd believe there are fewer bubbles in the lather—i.e. higher water to air ratio. But then if we follow that reduction to its conclusion would not a soap that instead of producing a rich lather instead produced a wet and slick but not lathery coating be best? I'm thinking e.g. castile soaps (pure olive oil soaps don't lather up richly in the traditional shaving soap sense, but they are very slick and gentle on the skin).

  10. Jackpot:
    Proraso is sold at Bath & Body Works as "C.O. Bigelow®
    Premium Shave Cream with Eucalyptus Oil". I prefer to have my favorite on-line shave shop add a properly labeled tube when placing an order.

    Looking for an alcohol-free after shave that isn't too pricey? You are looking for witch hazel.

  11. Great advice.

    PS the Proraso shaving stuff that they used to sell at Target is sold at bath and body works under a different name but its made by the same company. I'm looking forward to testing it out.

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