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Highlights Of My Shave Ritual – What Are Yours?

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My article and video about wet shaving as a ritual generated a lot of interest so I thought I would discuss some of my ritual highlights a little more.

Elements Of A Ritual

I’m once again reminded of Leisureguy’s blog post about the Japanese Tea Ceremony:

“Special room – check
Special mode of dress – check
Contemplative, unrushed mindset – check
Cleanliness and order – check
Practice of technique requires focused attention (aka flow) – check
Use of special tools, often old – check
Tools both functional and aesthetically pleasing – check
Suspension of mind chatter, critical judgments – check
Senses—sight, hearing, touch, smell—fully engaged – check
Physical enjoyment of sources of warmth – check
Awareness and enjoyment of aromas arising from hot water – check
Definite sequence of steps – check
Specific structure for the entire experience, repeated each time – check”

For me the keys here are the use of special tools and engaging the senses.  I mentioned some of these ideas in a different context in my articles “5-4-3-2-1 Favorites” and 3 Things That Make A Difference In My Shave.  But here are some relevant comments on three specific elements that make a difference in my “ritual” (other than using a single blade razor, which is probably pretty obvious to anyone reading this article).

Face Wash Power Brush

[Note: Amazon, OneBlade, and West Coast Shaving links are affiliate.]

Clean skin is essential to a good shave.  But I have discovered that using a powered cleaning brush actually forces me to slow down and be a little more focused on my cleaning, at least compared to throwing some soapy water on my face with my hands. The powered brush has become part of my “ritual” if I’m not shaving immediately after jumping out of a shower (which is becoming more often these days, as I seem to be shaving in the evening more).

I use a The Art Of Shaving (AoS) Power Brush (AoS markets the brush a razor bump/ingrown solution but it works great as a pre-shave tool for me), and I’ve seen the Clarisonic Mia Men cleaning brush on Amazon get some good reviews, but any decent brush should do.

Lather Scent Selection

I don’t know about you but scent is a huge part of the enjoyment I get out of ‘old school’ shaving for me.  And selecting the appropriate scent for my mood or goal is definitely an important part of my shave ritual.  I have two opposing dimensions when it comes to lather selection: I want something either calming and relaxing or something energizing.  I find that floral or cologne scents tend to relax me, and citrus or spice scents tend to energize me.

In this crazy time I find myself gravitating towards the calming/relaxing end of the scent spectrum.  Lavender is a scent well-known for its relaxing properties and I do find it works as intended on me, as long as the scent is strong enough (regular Sharpologist readers know I have a notoriously “dull” nose).  My favorite lavender shave products these days include:

Other florals like Trumper Violet and Salter Rose are also in my mix.  Cologne scents I enjoy and relax with include:

  • Truefitt & Hill Trafalgar
  • J. Peterman 1903
  • Ariana & Evans Spartacus
  • An “odd man out” is Barrister And Mann Nordost shave soap (check out my review) which even though is technically a citrus the smoky element gives it more of a cologne vibe for me.

When the day finally comes that I want to get back to being energized I’ll turn to:

After Shave Wipedown

I soak a cotton pad (you can find them in the cosmetics isle of your favorite department store, drugstore/chemist, or grocery store) with a toning product and generously wipe down the shaved area.  My personal favorite is Lucky Tiger’s After Shave & Face Tonic but any good, thin consistency toner (even Witch Hazel) works fine for me if I’m out.

I’ve done this bit for so long that I miss it if I don’t do it–my shave feels “incomplete.”  So it has definitely become an important element in my shaving ritual.  And again it forces me to take a moment to reflect.


Making your shaving routine a “ritual” will probably generate several benefits for you, as these highlights of my ritual have hopefully shown you.

What elements of your shave do you consider an essential port of your ritual?  Leave a comment.



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 “Highlights Of My Shave Ritual – What Are Yours?”

  1. In a typical week I shave twice per week, Wednesday and Sunday. I mostly shave when I get out of the shower. Lucky Tiger face wash before leaving the shower. Music is the relaxing element of my shave and my music mood can be all over the place, Lionel Ritchie to Motley Crue lol. Warm bloom water is my pre shave then I do 3-4 passes with some cleanup work on my chin and jaw line. Thayer’s alcohol free witch hazel a balm and aftershave of choice. I don’t do the burn so aftershave doesn’t go on my face. Comfort and lack of irritation were my big motivators so I skip the burn. I use the aftershave more like colognes.

  2. Ah, rituals. Your blog and my own trial-and-error-and-error (I make lots of errors) have led me to these must-dos:

    1. Shower first.
    2. Two-step pre-shave: Lucky Tiger cleanser, followed by one of the Cremo tube creams as a pre-shave. You suggested just this in an earlier blog. I think I like the original scent the best but I do hop around some just to see.
    3. No such thing as too-hot water.
    4. Cremo after-shave. Love the peppermint aroma and especially the slick feel.

  3. I find that my whiskers stiffen up almost immediately after showering. So I first dry off, make my lather in my scuttle, which keeps it warm while I re-soften my whiskers with hot towels. Then I apply the lather and let it soften the whiskers even more as it sits on my face about another five minutes. Then I shave.

  4. I’ve used the Satin Smooth Hydrasonic Dermal Cleansing Kit, Rechargeable Cleansing Facial and Body Brush for the past 5 years. Works great and build quality is excellent. Never had a problem with it. It comes with 3 brush heads — normal, sensitive, and body. I just use the sensitive head with COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser. And I change the brush head every 4 to 5 months.

  5. The highlight of my shave ritual is the destination more than the journey: The application of a favorite aftershave and the wonderful feel of 100% smooth and soft skin.

  6. First: Wash my face w/liquid soap.
    2nd: Hot steamy towel [ especially on my neck.]
    3rd: Lather up w/ a Cream – I use Taylor of Old Bond St. Sandalwood – I like the Barbarshop smell
    3A: I use a homemade shaving oil for my 3rd pass, ATG
    4th: Shave – I use Personna Med Prep Blades – Awesome
    5th: Rinse and light wash w/Liquid Soap
    6th: Pat dry and spray w/Alcohol, then rub Aloe Vera Gelly Moisturizer
    7th: Later, I use Old School Cologne like Avon Wild Country.

  7. I have not tried a power brush – however – I have become a great fan of The Cube (PAA). It does have a bit of roughness to it, so rubbing it over one’s moistened face probably has the same effect as a brush. Easy – use it to wash, rinse off, apply lightly again, followed by soap/cream, and voila, wonderful shave. Helps that it is inexpensive, and as it is a hefty 8 oz of soap, lasts a long time.

  8. Paul MICHAEL Francolini

    Hi Mark,
    When using the power brush, what kind of soap do you typically use – liquid, hard soaps?

  9. The only rituals I have is to take a washcloth dip it in cool water and apply it to my face and neck. Next, I take some Thayers Witch Hazel, put it on my hands, and gently massage onto my face and neck.

  10. Something I have introduced into my ritual is applying a hot, moist washcloth on my face with shave oil or lather before I go to work. Doing this for a minute helps with razor glide. I then apply additional lather and begin my first pass.

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