Over the past months I’ve laid out my ideas for how you can build a respectful shave den, using nothing but your OCD-fueled desire to try all the different brushes, creams, soaps, blades that you can get your hot little hands on. Oh, and probably a couple hundred bucks. Heck, let’s be realistic. It could cost you A LOT more than a couple hundred. For the significant others who may read this, really! That’s all it cost. And it’s an investment! If they haven’t figured it out by now that this is an obsession, then you’re in like Flynn. Spend to your heart’s content.
I started this series off with razors, then soaps and creams, brushes were next. So, you may be asking…”What can be next? Isn’t that everything that goes or belongs in a shave den?” I could reply with a pithy answer (pithy: meaning to have with a helmet) like “you still have money in your account right? Credit on a card? Then there’s more stuff to buy!” But this is different. These are items that I believe should be in every shave den. Your opinions may differ, but these are my mine and since you’re reading them, they obviously carry more weight. Just kidding. To each his own. Or her own. But I think you’d be hard-pressed to vehemently disagree with this short list.
#1 A scuttle or something that works like a scuttle. Here’s a pic of my pride and joy.
I’ve had this since the first year I got hooked on wet shaving. It’s a large scuttle in starry blue by Robert Becker. I’ve had two by him and this is the one that I’ve decided fits me to a “T”. There are other very good makers of scuttles, Dirty Bird Pottery is one that’s spoken very highly of. Georgetown Pottery is another one that I’ve heard/read a lot about. If you type in “scuttle for sale” in any search engine, you’ll get lots of hits. I believe they all have their unique traits. The selling point for me with Robert was he was one guy throwing clay. I’ll always support the little guy. HERE is a Sharpologist article about scuttles.
After I bought it I realized that It made my shaving experience much more enjoyable. I had tried face lathering and bowl lathering. The drawback to this is that my lather cooled off between passes. I also found that I’m not a face latherer. No real reason, I just don’t like making the lather on my face. I had never shaved with warm lather before, so I didn’t know what I was missing. When I first heard of scuttles I thought I’d try a sample of what warm lather felt like and if it was what I wanted in my shaving experience. I put fairly hot water in my regular shaving bowl, actually a large ice cream bowl, to warm it up, poured it out and created my lather. That was when I knew that I was going to have to pony up the bucks for a scuttle. After lots of research (that’s where the OCD is a blessing!) I settled on Robert’s. I honestly don’t know how you can go wrong with any of the scuttle makers so if you don’t have one, I’d highly recommend investing it one.
One thing I haven’t mentioned until now is that I actually have two shave dens. That takes persistence! My big one is in my bathroom downstairs and the smaller one is in the bathroom I share with my wife. Who the hell am I kidding. She allows me to have some shaving gear upstairs. I use it when I’m more in a rush for work or a whisky party. So that’s why I have a poor man’s scuttle.
This cost me a cool $13 on the website named after the great big river. It’s actually a “stay cool warm dip server.” That’s what a foodie might see, but to me, it’s an alternative to running the risk of breaking a $50 scuttle. There’s not a lot of room…hell, I’m not allocated much room in the upstairs bathroom from my wife and I had a nightmare (literally!) of a beautiful piece of work ending up in pieces. It actually does a fair job of keeping the lather warm. It’s been like a science project, finding out just how much water to put in the big bowl so the little one will float with a brush and lather and not get swamped. Holy moses that made for some runny lather!
What else should every, IMHO, shave den have?
#2 A styptic pencil is always good to have around. Clubman sells in Wally World for a couple of bucks. I have one of those and…
the gel from Proraso. It’s a pretty cool way to seal up a nick that’s bleeding. I find that if I use a blade that’s too sharp, like a Feather’s, it’ll take off about the first layer of skin on my neck. It doesn’t hurt at all but it bleeds like a sumbitch. A little dab of the gel and I’m good to hook. It’s also better than going into work with “meatballs” on your face when you forget to tear off the pieces of toilet paper you used to get the suckers to stop bleeding. Both work well, but a pencil will leave white residue, which could leave you looking like you were making out with a crack head zombie.
Another addition to a den that I think is a necessity is #3 on my list and that an alum block. Here’s mine:
To quote Full Metal Jacket: “There are many like it but this one is mine!” It’s an alum block made by a French company called Osum. The reason I believe an alum block should be in every shave den is what it does to your face after a shave. Rinse off the lather, wet your face with water, wet one side of this baby and slide it all over your face. It’ll quickly close up any really teeny tiny nicks you may have and tightens up your skin at the same time. Hell, I even wet it again and do the pits. (TMI?) It’s a natural underarm deodorant and anti-perspirant. This particular brand can be a bit pricey, but I got a good deal on it and it works great. I dropped it (DOH!) after a week when I tried to use it with wet hands and knocked a corner off. But I’ve had it more than a year and as long as you dry the alum block off and don’t leave it in water, they’ll last a long time. Don’t and you’ll come back to a puddle! Search around because I know that the organic shops sell something similar. Me? I like this one.
I know some insist on witch hazel as a must have for a shave den. I have some but I rarely use it. To me, it seems like it does a lot of what the alum block does: reduces irritation, tightens up pores and is an astringent. Plus, I started getting confused. “Okay, I shaved. Do I wet my face and then use the alum block, dry it and then use witch hazel, dry it and then use an aftershave?” I keep it around more for bug bites but if you love it in your den, more power to you! I won’t be buying up your supply any time soon.
Another one I’ve passed on is the pre-shave oils and creams. I do have a small jar of Proraso pre-shave and I use it when I’m shaving with Proraso or C.O. Bigelow, which is the same. I don’t notice a difference in my shave, but some people swear by it. Me? When I run out, I’ll be out and probably won’t replace it.
I’m sure that I’ve missed a product that someone thinks is a must have for their den. If so, leave a comment. Better yet, send a sample! Just kidding. My shave den is nice and full and it’s where I go when I want to look better, feel better and smell great.