Get slick
April 4, 2005 10:31 AM   Subscribe

In fact, you should always shave after a hot shower, not before . . .

I've been shaving in the shower for the last 20 years or so. Works for me. I don't need no stinkin' badger brush!
posted by jeremias at 10:36 AM on April 4, 2005

I read this article this morning. Some of the advice is good, but a lot of it seemed like shaving snobbery.
posted by driveler at 10:37 AM on April 4, 2005

A good brush – and the best brushes are made of badger hair and start at $25

Right, they actually start at around $75, mine cost about $100.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 10:40 AM on April 4, 2005

I refuse to read that article. I only follow hygeine directions from The Straight Dope staff reports.
posted by Plutor at 10:41 AM on April 4, 2005

The part about wetshaving is correct. I rarely try to shave if I haven't showered, and I've done the in-the-shower bit when I'm in a rush.

I don't use foam or gel, though -- I like the old-fashioned shaving soaps, though I don't use a brush (haven't gotten around to it), using it with your fingers is fine enough that you get this nice creamy lather that feels real nice on your face.

But yeah, I got a Mach3. Wanna make something of it?
posted by linux at 10:41 AM on April 4, 2005

Anyone else notice that when the Gillette Sensor first came out the package recommended not using shaving gel, which could clog the blades.

Then next thing you know it was being sold in a combo package with shaving gel.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:43 AM on April 4, 2005

This is also the most popular page over the last 24 hours. Why? It's amazing that a shave HOWTO is so popular. How did this article win so much interest? I'm curious.
posted by ssukotto at 10:44 AM on April 4, 2005

real men dry shave. oh, and keith richards.
posted by quonsar at 10:47 AM on April 4, 2005

In Air Force basic training there was actually a class on how to shave. (Up, not down) There was also a class on how to wright a check...
posted by Balisong at 10:48 AM on April 4, 2005

Bring on affordable laser-hair removal for the face. Come to daddy.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 10:49 AM on April 4, 2005

Snobbery? Yeah, I also have another name for it, but I think snobbery will suffice, not to mention uneducated.

I for one, use cold water whenshaving with my (over-priced) Mach3. Why? Because the metal of the blade will not expand under cold water, thus keeping it's edge sharper. My face is already loosened up by the shower, and since I bothered to wash my face while in there, it's already exfoliated. No need to kill yet another badger.

Also, I'd like to point out that the fine people at Gillette ahve spent many many years and millions of dollars perfecting the razor. And to label it a "disposable" razor is a misnomer. It's a "safety" razor, so that you won't have to walk around all morning with blood-soaked toilet paper stuck to your face. Or if your kids get ahold of it, they may not be able to lop off their see where I'm headed.

There should really be a warning tag on the internets to advise the innocent of their proximity to shiftless daydreameamers who yearn for flamboyant Savile Row haberdashers fitting them out in a new set of Spring small cloths.

Let me know when you're done with that. I'll be in my cube for tea. We'll be having bisquits and the most delicious pot of edelberry marmalade...
posted by jsavimbi at 10:50 AM on April 4, 2005

A badger hair brush is all right, for the pikers and fifteen year olds who are cultivating that "did I just have some chocolate milk or is it a mustache look", real men rip the head off the badger (preferably Mauritanian NOT the ones from Brussels, which are actually a kind of non-swimming water rat, think Nutria but unable to swim or even float) and lather that up with some Vendigliani Otrusco, which is a Sicilian emollientie di priapari (lit. boner cream). By all means use an English lavender scented creme if all you are going to do is spend the rest of the day comparing man purses down at the emo-record shop, but if you are trying to emulate the real leading male lights of the century you are going to need at least the Vendigliani, the scent of which Graham Greene once noted "... most resembles that of toasted almonds, with perhaps just a tint, a mere suggestion, of stale urine."

Finally using a blade at all smacks of Oscar Wilde on poppers levels of limp-wristedness (you might as well try to have some kind of man-baby and spend the rest of your life baking orange zest muffins). Real men, true men, (like Kaiser Wilheim, the last actual MALE man who ever lived) merely lather up and then, elbows clasped tightly to the sides, perhaps two inches above the kidneys, sprint at top speed towards a coral reef at low tide and with a last light (but masculine) leap, scrape off 1/18th of their face, per side, per day. If no coral is available it is best to grow a beard, as attempting the same thing on pumice or god help us, volcanic rock is akin to living ones' life as a Spaniard.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:54 AM on April 4, 2005 [139 favorites]

There was also a class on how to wright a check requiring the exacting use of lathe and forge, after years of apprenticeship as a pen-smithy, culminating in intensive training from the checkwright guild
posted by leotrotsky at 10:58 AM on April 4, 2005 [13 favorites]

Oh my. Leotrotsky. Divine.
*falls out of chair*
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:00 AM on April 4, 2005


Tag that comment as NSFW (unless work allows you to fall out of your chair laughing). Hehe...badgers.
posted by graymouser at 11:02 AM on April 4, 2005

Divine_Wino wins
posted by leotrotsky at 11:02 AM on April 4, 2005

Mean Mr. Bucket, that site you linked told me to "Please upgrade your browser to see our advanced sorting options"

I'm using Safari. heh
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:03 AM on April 4, 2005

Great post. Even greater thread; I love the replies. Personally, I think that Gillete may have done plenty of research in perfecting the disposable razor (note the word disposable, meaning cheap to manufacture, yet marketed for high price.) However, I tend to agree with the idea that they are perfecting it for those men who are just trying to wake up and get out of the door. I think that any man, who wants to take the time to learn, will probably benefit.

as a personal note, I reccomend shaving with hair conditioner instead of cream. It's been working for me quite well.
Thanks for the post.
posted by djdrue at 11:06 AM on April 4, 2005

a class on how to wright a check...

Any classes, though, on how to write a cheque?

(on preview: leotrotsky wins)
posted by Robot Johnny at 11:07 AM on April 4, 2005

I've tried the Schick "Quattro" (the latest entry in the shaving arms race, they had a giveaway on their site for a while...) and it actually does shave closer than the ever-trusty Mach 3 (at least for me), the only problem being that in order to shave closer it seems to remove about 3 layers of skin along with the beard. Ouch.

I hadn't had razor burn in years til I used this thing. It's an interesting experience.

Also, shower shaver as well.
posted by fet at 11:07 AM on April 4, 2005

Divine_Wino, you'll be hearing from my pulmonologist, as I've been laughing so hard I've been having trouble breathing for ten minutes now...
posted by twsf at 11:13 AM on April 4, 2005

I swear by cold water to rinse the razor. All the rest is commentary, now go and learn.
posted by OmieWise at 11:13 AM on April 4, 2005

Like others, I shave in the shower and, having rather fine whiskers (I'm definitely a "babyface"), one Mach 3 cartridge will last probably for at least 100 shaves without any perceptible loss of closeness or comfort. I basically keep using it til I nick myself. It's worked just fine so far.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:16 AM on April 4, 2005

I was trying to get some work done Divine...
posted by Hicksu at 11:16 AM on April 4, 2005

posted by fire&wings at 11:20 AM on April 4, 2005

fet is right, a little too much is a little too much. Since I've started using the Mach3, I've gotten a lot more ingrown hairs than with the two-bladed Excel, which I'll probably be switching back to once I finish with my $834 four pack of Mach3.

As far as nomenclature is concerned, the only consumer elements that are not disposable are those who are abandoned in place. Like a launch pad for Apollo rockets, or a blast furnace. Thus, your angry-guido straight-edged razor and $500 badger-skin brush are disposable as well. I little definition nazism going on there.

Screw it. I'm wearing my coonskin hat tomorrow. Hopefully no one will notice what a sefl-indulgent retro wannabe retard I am.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:22 AM on April 4, 2005

*wiping tears*
I heart Divine Wino.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:23 AM on April 4, 2005

The Vermont Country Store sells a nice badger brush for $34.95, I've been using this brush for about 4-5 years now, and it's been great, a quick google finds folks selling brushes for $25 or so... And I agree on the modern razors- years of research and advanced metallurgy have to account for something.
posted by pupdog at 11:24 AM on April 4, 2005

The one true shave.
1. Pre-shave oil.
2. Quality soap (cruelty-free) with a badger brush.
3. A freshly honed razor.
4. A soothing aftershave.

The above gets me anuzzled from the fairer ladies.
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 11:28 AM on April 4, 2005

I had a nasty incident with one of those old Bic single-blades. Sliced the top of my adams apple clean off; the skin anyway. The advice "take your time" while shaving was not heeded.

And I'm sorry, those Gillette Mach IIIs rock. I'm eagerly awaiting release of the Gillette Septemâ„¢.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:31 AM on April 4, 2005

Gosh. Thank goodness I'm not the only one clueless about shaving. Growing up under a single mother, I don't think I started shaving until I was safely at college (and 8 years later, I can barely manage 5 o'clock shadow after a week). I must have the crappiest facial hair; it does not grow in long enough to be a beard, but is thick and pernicious enough (as the article cites, Afro-American hair is a right bitch to shave) to need to be shaved and then have the courtesy to invariably come back uninvited and under the skin. I did buy a straight razor at an Army/Navy store, but have not since found a strop to use with it. Elegant foppery? Perhaps. But I'll try anything until reliable and affordible depilation comes along.

It's almost worth the 90 minute motorcycle ride down to Cherry Hill to get a real shave and some advice on how to keep it. Any advice on a scent-free (or at least hypoallergenic) non-alcohol aftershave that will keep me from getting ingrown face pimples?
posted by Eideteker at 11:36 AM on April 4, 2005

omiewise: I swear by cold water to rinse the razor. All the rest is commentary, now go and learn.

Nothing beats rinsing in a glass of ice water. Shrunken blade means smaller and sharper edge.

And, ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.., I prefer Keihl's after shave cream if you want to get fancy.

And a hot towel, like in the old Popeye cartoons really does work.

I seem to recall the gillette research budget for the Sensor being in the hundreds of millions.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:37 AM on April 4, 2005

Can you take an old-school safety razor on an airplane these days? I could easily see being forced to surrender the blades at the security check.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:41 AM on April 4, 2005

I recently switched from Gilette Mach 3 to Schick Quattro for privacy reasons. However, the Quattro is the crappiest razor I've ever used. Don't get it. It takes more passes to get every hair, and therefore leaves my skin more irritated. It also "clogs" easier with my coarse hair. I shouldn't have switched, I was getting perfect shaves with the Mach 3.
posted by knave at 11:51 AM on April 4, 2005

This article is the gayest thing I've ever seen, and I've taken a spinning class in Provincetown.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:56 AM on April 4, 2005

None of this will matter when Gillette finishes the five-blade razor, if you hadn't already heard...
Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of shaving in this country. The Gillette Mach3 was the razor to own. Then the other guy came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That's three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened - the bastards went to four blades. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three blades and a strip. Moisture or no, suddenly we're the chumps. Well, fuck it. We're going to five blades.

posted by airguitar at 11:56 AM on April 4, 2005

It's amazing that a shave HOWTO is so popular. How did this article win so much interest? I'm curious.

I have no idea, especially since the main point is to have a 'wet' shave. There was an ask mefi thread about the same subject, as if the wet shave is some secret.

Who are these people who are shaving a dry face?
posted by justgary at 11:57 AM on April 4, 2005

Cheapo gel/foam stuff, Mach 3, in the shower is enough for my wife to go "ooh, smooth" and that's good enough for me.

I shave my head too, when I have time. I can't imagine taking the time every morning to do it the old-fashioned way.
posted by Foosnark at 12:00 PM on April 4, 2005

Eideteker , i use, believe it or not, oxy's acne cream on my skin after i shave, and it seems to reduce -- and sometimes eliminates altogether-- my razor bumps.

the only thing is, i can't shave and then go out somewhere: i find i have to leave it on for about an hour; preferably, i leave it on overnight.

i think the salicylic (sp?) acid in it breaks down the ingrown hairs or something like that.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:01 PM on April 4, 2005

Even easier: Just buy an electric shaver. :)

I've never shaved the "old" way and I don't plan to.
posted by shepd at 12:16 PM on April 4, 2005

From Miller's Crossing:

The boom down ends as the car pulls into frame to stop at the curb with the camera framed on the driver's window. The driver has a small bandage on his left cheek. We hear Caspar's voice as we hear him getting out the back:

Ya put the razor in cold water, not hot--'cause metal does what in cold?

I dunno, Johnny.

We hear the back door slam and Caspar appears in the front passenger window.

. . . 'Ats what I'm tellin' ya. It contracts. 'At way you get a first class shave, every time.

posted by Aknaton at 12:20 PM on April 4, 2005

After reading this article I was enticed to take a shower and treat myself to a good shave.
I recieved a straight razor, strop, badger hair brush and soap as a gift about a year ago. It took me a month before I could really get the hang of the new technique, but after I had it down, I began to notice that the hair on my face was getting softer. One thing you have to get used to in the beginning however, is spending more time in the bathroom than she does.
After a few months of shaving this way, I got tired of constantly feeling like I was treating myself when all I needed to do was get out the door. So I gave it up and went back to the trusty Mach III.
It was really nice though, breaking out the old straight razor and taking my time.

After shaving, clean your razor well, and then store it in something like alcohol or witch hazel, anything to prevent the oxidation of the blade. At the very least, thoroughly dry it after shaving so you remove any water that could help the oxidation process. For me, this increased the usefulness of a single blade by about four weeks.

Another trick that will work is to coat your razor in an essential oil. I prefer hemp or lavender, but any will do.
posted by Demogorgon at 12:23 PM on April 4, 2005

jsavimbi - the article makes a distinction between disposable razors and cartridge razors, the razor part of which is disposable.

My Mach3 is a cartridge razor and it works fine. When I forget to take it on trips I end up buying a cheap-ass disposable bic razor and cutting myself up with its crappiness. Those are what the article meant by disposable. And the article is right - those things are just terrible.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 12:24 PM on April 4, 2005

That's two fucking strips people. One for moisture, one for lather.

Also, I'm a shower-shaver.
posted by basicchannel at 12:27 PM on April 4, 2005

Doomed as I may be to a consequent life of wearing teal unitards, I've found the Mach 3, in the shower, to be the only way to shave. Especially on the head. Your headblades, your two-bladers, your aiii-cut-you-mang straight razors, all of that is useless frippery.
posted by felix at 12:30 PM on April 4, 2005

Even easier: Just buy an electric shaver. :)

posted by rooftop secrets at 12:30 PM on April 4, 2005

Eidteker: I regularly use Nivea for Men's Aftershave balm. It's more of a lightweight moisturizing lotion than an aftershave. Very soothing, widely available, and hypoallergenic. It comes in a subtle chamomile scent or unscented. I also like Burt's Bees Bay Rum, even though it is alcohol based. The scent is based on organic essential oils, so it's less likely to irritate. I like the Bay Rum shaving soap, too.

It turns out slavic beards can be a real pain to shave, too. Extra thick, dark, and wiry; and it grows fast enough that my five o'clock shadow shows up at noon. (Seriously. I can go from clean-shaven to full beard in two weeks.) I also know first hand the wonderful joy of ingrown hair bumps. My experience tells me that for some of us, shaving just sucks. The only tricks I've found to reduce bumps and burn are the same things mentioned before: use a hot washcloth beforehand, use a sharp razor with as little pressure as possible, and rinse your face with cold water immediately afterwards.

Although it's sure to label me an uneducated philistine, I'll admit that I have the most luck for my daily shave using a Norelco. It seems to be the only method that I can use regularly without turning my face into meatloaf. It isn't as close as a blade, but no one I work with will be feeling my face, and by the time I get home the beard is too long to matter anyway. I save the blades for special occasions.
posted by leapfrog at 12:31 PM on April 4, 2005

shepd: Even easier: Just buy an electric shaver. :)

posted by billysumday at 12:34 PM on April 4, 2005

Also: Schick Xtreme 3 is the only acceptable disposable razor. I find it superior to all but the best cartridge models. (In all things shaving, of course, YMMV.)
posted by leapfrog at 12:37 PM on April 4, 2005

I've found that wet shaving is also effective for grooming my back and genitalia.
posted by horsewithnoname at 12:38 PM on April 4, 2005

Though Patrick Bateman might disagree on some of the finer points here, I daresay he wouldn't mind reading the phrase "turning my face into meatloaf."
posted by breezeway at 12:44 PM on April 4, 2005

Who are these people who are shaving a dry face?

that's them electric folk.
posted by mdn at 12:45 PM on April 4, 2005

Shaving is the ultimate in futility. I shaved this morning and tomorrow, I'm gonna have to do it again. It's rather sisyphean, if you think about it. Why do I bother.
posted by jonmc at 12:47 PM on April 4, 2005

They didn't even talk about the differences between German and British straight razors, or folded versus carbon steel!

This article has a high level of bullshit, but I say that as a proud bearded gent. I've used safety razors (though not straight) and the cartridge types. There's no real difference between 'em, despite this mincing poof. ("Oooh, my face will smell of lavender as I traipse about the square!").
This is for the most part self-indulgent status-symbol bullshit (you know, there are plenty of synthetic brushes too) for our new metrosexual overlords. Even the North-South thing is lame, noting that that's only really effective for the face, not the neck (and that most men have whorls that makes cardinals useless) and that you should (if you're going for closeness) shave once with the grain, and once NOT AGAINST but perpendicular to the grain (you can vary from 45 to 135 degrees on that too, depending on your face).
So, his main accurate contribution is that you should keep your face as wet and hot as possible.
For day-to-day shaving, don't be retarded and you'll be fine. For luxury, go to a goddamn barber. Lord knows they could use the business.

(Oh, and Bismark kept his cheeks clean BY FORCE OF WILL!)
posted by klangklangston at 12:48 PM on April 4, 2005

Haven't tried the aftershave balm, but I've used Burt's Bees Bay Rum shaving soap for about a year and I like it much more than the Edge gel I used. Even got one of those fancy brushes with it, too.
posted by DakotaPaul at 12:49 PM on April 4, 2005

but you can take a 'safety' razor both upstairs and downstairs. Trying that with a straight razor doesn't sound like a bright thing to do and probably makes you look like a fool as well.
posted by kookywon at 12:54 PM on April 4, 2005

I've never cut my face shaving. Now I know why. I just don't trust myself with DE razors. I'll lose a something for sure.

My head is a different story. My vibrating Mach3 took out a healthy chunk of scalp the other day (I was dumb and was rushing).

The best shave cream I have used to date is Sensa (warning, link to a Sexuality Boutique..may be NSFW).
It's designed for the shaving of the 'bits', but does a fabulous job on face and head as well.
posted by zerokey at 1:00 PM on April 4, 2005

Why do I bother.

because you don't want to look too scary? and your girlfriend doesn't deserve to have her cheeks horribly scratched every time you kiss?
the perfect shave for me is accomplished right after I get out of a steam bath -- the pores are so open and the beard's hair is so soft that shaving is painless and very close, no matter the razor or shaving cream (I like the new, ahem, vibrating Gillette manual razor)
posted by matteo at 1:34 PM on April 4, 2005

Shaving is the ultimate in futility... sisyphean... Why do I bother[?]

'Cause beards itch like a motherfucker, and staches require you either be a cop and/or in the Village People.
posted by bonehead at 1:42 PM on April 4, 2005

because you don't want to look too scary? and your girlfriend doesn't deserve to have her cheeks horribly scratched every time you kiss?

actually I'd love to look scary, and the mrs. has dug me throughout various facial hair configurations. It's just that shaving is ultimately so tedious and neverending.
posted by jonmc at 1:42 PM on April 4, 2005

I find Aveeno Therapeutic Gel to be very effective and comfortable to use. Away with the badger-hair nonsense...
posted by clevershark at 1:52 PM on April 4, 2005

Obviously this person doesn't shave his head. Head Blade sucked bigtime, and they wouldn't refund my money. Electric is out of the question. I guess I was just ahead of my time by shaving after my shower, what a breakthrough. I'm not in that big of a hurry but I don't have all morning to strop my straight razor, and whisk my lavender scented mug soap into a nice froth with my $25/55/75/550 badger or genuine synthetic bristle brush.

So it's Nivea for Men (sensitive skin) and Mach III turbo. I tried and abandoned the Quattro, which brings me to my next point. It is also about how the razor feels in your hand. The Quattro was bad on several levels, bad in that it got clogged, but it also had an uncomfortable handle. Same with my dad's 'safety' razor, where you twirl the really skinny little handle to get the hinged door to open so you can insert a double-edged blade. Bad interface.

So I'll keep shaving my noggin every day, and when I'm done I look like Homer Simpson after he put his head in the bowling alley ball polishing machine. Smooooooth.
posted by fixedgear at 1:56 PM on April 4, 2005

I get bumps. I use Aveno or Neutrogena shave creams to help. They are really expensive ($4-$5), but really seem to work better than Edge or anything like that.

If you buy cheaper stuff, it helps if you go with the unscented, uncolored flavors, in my expericence.
posted by Mid at 2:02 PM on April 4, 2005

I went to a party a while back where some guy was blathering on and on about women and the way they use cosmetics to look younger---darkening and lengthening the lashes to a childlike fringe, replacing the dewy bloom of lips and cheek with gloss and rouge, etc.

Men do the same thing, I countered--because what purpose does shaving have other than to return the face to its prepubescent smoothness?

His reply: If men didn't shave, we'd be indistinguishable from the Taliban.
posted by DawnSimulator at 2:19 PM on April 4, 2005

I'm really tempted to try this out. I have a shaving rash the size of.. well, my entire face.

Snobbery aside, indulging in something is more often than not rewarding.

My father never taught me how to shave.
posted by flippant at 2:26 PM on April 4, 2005

I'm a big fan of the King of Shaves oil and gel. At least, I'm convinced that an oil under a gel makes things easier; I can't say I've compared them with any competitors' wares. I also recommend slapping cold water on the face once you're done; at 19, my acne reduced by about half when I started doing that.
posted by kimota at 2:40 PM on April 4, 2005

Who are these people who are shaving a dry face?

that's them electric folk.

nah. no electricity involved. i just drag the old sensor across the face and neck each morning and everything is fine until next weeks shower.
posted by quonsar at 2:43 PM on April 4, 2005

One thing I never get is how people manage to shave with the beard. I cannot get a close shave that way. I have to go against the grain.
posted by gspira at 2:56 PM on April 4, 2005

My Braun Activator gets my face nice and baby smooth every day, in less than 5 minutes. And I don't have to worry about cleaning it, or steenking badgers, or slicing my face.
posted by antifuse at 2:57 PM on April 4, 2005

How to avoid nicking your Adam's Apple:

Every fool knows that your voicebox moves up and down when you swallow.

But most people don't know that you can 'hold the swallow' to keep your larynx high up next to your chin for a few seconds.

So the trick is that you swallow, hold the tension for a moment, and while the bump isn't there, shave the middle of your neck.

Takes a little practice to get this, and there is usually still a little bump that can get nicked, but you're much less likely to slice off a huge chunk of skin.
posted by Araucaria at 3:00 PM on April 4, 2005 [1 favorite]

Oh, lordy, this article is such a crock of shit. This is pure snobbish fetishism.

Think this through, people; exercise your knowledge of materials! Evaluate critically! There's just no way that a badger hair brush is going to absorb and then release enough water to make a damn bit of difference in lathering your face. Yes, maybe the good quality shaving cream makes a difference, but the badger hair brush? Give me a break.

Use your heads. Break it down into the key elements and you can see that there's damn near nothing in this article that can't be achieved better by other means.
  • New razors are better. Period. They're better than old razors, and they're better than straight razors. They're better than single-edged razors. Why? Because the mount of the blade flexes, allowing it to "glide" (remember, according to this joker, "gliding" is important) more readily. That's the main reason those fancy new three- and four-bladed razors work better.
  • Yes, you want to keep a layer of lubricant between your skin and the blade. Yes, good quality emollient cream should make a difference. Another thing that would make a difference is putting a tiny bit of baby oil on your wet skin before you lather; the baby oil will emulsify with the water, and form a film that holds water next to your skin. (This works great, by the way; it leaves your skin baby smooth [sic] for days.)
BTW, save your tokens. If I learned ntohing from years of troubleshooting mechanical devices, computers, and human processes, it's that people selectively edit their data to get the results that make them feel good. And feeling good is what product fetishism is all about, eh?
posted by lodurr at 3:01 PM on April 4, 2005

er, should read, "If I learned anything..."
posted by lodurr at 3:04 PM on April 4, 2005

How to use a REAL razor - from 1972
posted by iffley at 3:11 PM on April 4, 2005

...oh, so that's what a can of whup ass looks like!

thanks for the demonstration, lodurr!
posted by leotrotsky at 3:11 PM on April 4, 2005

When I shave, no matter what implements or potions I use, I get a rash on my neck. Every damn time. I, too, anxiously await affordable depilation. (Remind me to tell you the one about the Nair experiment...)
posted by goatdog at 3:22 PM on April 4, 2005

MSNBC? Please.

If you have to discuss this at all, go to the source. (NB- they have no problem with triple tracks)
posted by IndigoJones at 3:28 PM on April 4, 2005

lodurr, I disagree. Well, partially. It's not *all* fetishism...

I have sensitive skin, and I've used a lot of different razors: electric, disposable, cartridge (mach 3), and straight. The best "day-today" shave is definitely the $3 garage-sale Norelco electric razor. It gives a reasonably close shave w/out any ingrown hairs.

Disposables and cartridge-style are too sharp at first. They shave off little bits of skin. Then they give great shaves for about a week, and then get too dull. All-in-all, too much trouble for the cost.

Now I use the electric six days a week, and use a Dovo straight razor* on Sunday. The straight razor lets me straighten up my goatee and does give a much nicer shave. I've used badger hair and boar bristle brushes, and there is a difference. The badger hair brushes hold more water. It's kind of like a watercolor brush vs. an oil painting brush. The extra water helps, but it's not as huge a deal as the article make it out to be.

As far as shaving up vs. shaving down, I've been shaving one side up and the other down trying to find a difference, and there isn't a big one. Down might be a little less prone giving me ingrown hairs, but not by a whole lot.

One last thing... I think the whole reason for most people to use a straight razor is because it *is* an enjoyable way to shave. Maybe not every day, but at least once in a while.

* I have one of the high-carbon straight razors. I think the stainless steel ones don't get as sharp, or hold the same super-keen edge for as long. It's not a big difference, though.
posted by webnrrd2k at 3:35 PM on April 4, 2005

The best a man can get.
posted by chrismear at 4:15 PM on April 4, 2005

Wow, apparently I am quite the anomoly. I use the cheapest disposable razors at the grocery store, and no shaving cream, just water. In the shower. It's never irritated my skin in any way I can tell. I don't shave every day, just can't be bothered. I never interact with these "people" you speak of anyway. My facial hair is light in color anyway, and not as immediately visible as some.
posted by recursive at 5:33 PM on April 4, 2005

webnrrd, it's a rare stainless alloy that can take or hold an edge as well as good high carbon steel, so that makes sense. And I personally have tried shaving with and against the grain, and with just doesn't feel right. Across feels OK, though...

Where I call "fetishism" is not the aesthetic choice to do these things, but the intellectual choice to rationalize them. I could say that I shave against the grain because I think it gives me a closer shave, true, but it's really an aesthetic choice more than that: I feel the blades catch on the hair, and it thus feels like I'm being more effective. With the grain or across it could be just as effective, for all I know; it doesn't feel the same though.

I don't doubt that there are aesthetic pluses to shaving with a cut-throat or even a single-blade. (And practical, yes: It would be difficult to shape facial hair with a safety razor.) I don't doubt there are aesthetic benefits to using a badger hair brush. But just admit that those are the reasons -- don't produce elaborate multi-screen rationalizations that use all kinds of pseudo-data.

Own your aestethetic preference (as you've done, yes). If you do something because you like doing it that way -- admit that. Own it. Don't pretend that you're representin' for some higher truer method. If you like bay rum shaving lotion, use it; I used it for a while, but it was a nuisance and I found that unless I expended a lot of effort washing it off it left my face itchy. If you like straight razors (and why not? great sense of power to be obtained using such a lethal thing on your face), then admit it.
posted by lodurr at 5:58 PM on April 4, 2005

Fairly tightly roll up a sheet of newspaper. Light the edge of the paper with a lighter. Pass the flame under the chin and up each side of the face. Lightly brush the face with hands to remove burnt stubble. Smoooooth.
I actually knew an old guy who shaved this way for years.
posted by Merlin at 6:35 PM on April 4, 2005 [2 favorites]

Thread wouldn't be complete without a reference to Charles A. Roberts, and his method. He's written some essays on the subject of shaving.

I like the "Facial & Body Toner" as an aftershave and the "After Shave Soother & Light Moisture Balm" at Em's Place. For shave soaps (I'm brush & mug guy), I like Red Earth, and Williams (I included a link for completeness, but I pick it up it at Walgreen's). This lady has one of the best soaps ever, but there's a problem at her site.

Also, I've heard good things about Art of Shaving, but they seem a bit over-priced to me.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:59 PM on April 4, 2005

Regarding a question that has been posed, but not yet answered: why is an instructional article about shaving so popular?

The easy answer is to point to the whole "queer eye" phenomenon (a program I've never actually seen), but I think there's more to it than that. The article mentioned shaving in the style of JFK, Cary Grant and John Wayne. That's the crux of it.

There's a retro chic there, sure, but something more practical as well. Because their blades and razors were not the product of millions spent in research and development they had to take a certain care with their grooming.

But those of us raised on multiple blades mounted on springs have never given the process of shaving much thought. It's simply something that needs to be done and done quickly.

It's the difference between an authentic grilled burger from a legitimate diner and a patty of grease from McDonalds. While both products share the same name, they're vastly different.

And so it is with shaving. While what I do in the morning shares a name with what Jack, Cary and The Duke did, it's not really comparable. Perhaps due to a certain modern angst, there's a desire to get back to the roots of mundane activities. Not because it's hip (though it undoubtedly is at the moment) but because we've somehow lost something in the process of trying to make it better.

Is this a rationalization? Perhaps. But having read through all of the comments here, I'm thinking that I really do need to get a proper shaving brush and some decent shaving cream (though I don't think I'll bother with the safety razor).

As my old man was fond of saying: if you're going to do something, do it well. One can't shave well with a plastic razor and a can of Barbasol.
posted by aladfar at 9:29 PM on April 4, 2005

Hot shower. Strop up the expensive Dovo straight. Cheap mug, cheap soap, cheap boar brush. Lather that shit up (hot lather feels wonderful). Barely touching the skin, draw the blade over the whiskers, and feel, rather than hear, the blade singing and the whiskers popping cleanly off. Feel the dead skin cells that microscopically poke above the level of the live ones prying away as the blade passes over.

I used to get massive amounts of shaving bumps and shaving rash from my Mach3. I switched to a straight razor a few years ago and have had zero problems ever since. But the main reason that I love it is that shaving with a sharp straight razor and a shaving brush feels freaking good!

And I like the fact that I'm in control of the whole thing - I'm not at the mercy of the planned obsolescence of a disposable blade. If I'm not happy with the sharpness, I hone it or strop it until I am. And if I need a different angle, I just move my hand, I don't have a blade locked into one angle.
posted by smeger at 2:40 AM on April 5, 2005

For a guy with sensitive skin, thick hair and a 5 o'clock shadow at midday, this is the second most useful thread after the "how to chop vegetables" revelation.

My dad has shaved with a double-edged razor and a bristle brush for about 50 years and I was rather waiting until I was grown up to try it myself. But I'm 25 now and it doesn't seem like that's going to happen.
May as well start butchering.
posted by NinjaPirate at 3:47 AM on April 5, 2005

Badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, badger...
posted by Dukebloo at 4:57 AM on April 5, 2005

I also shave in the shower. After my beard gets soft, I put on King of Shaves (mentioned above), and use a foaming gel afterwards. A standard two blade razor does for me, and I'm smooth as can be. Then again, I only shave twice a week.
posted by doozer_ex_machina at 5:43 AM on April 5, 2005

This is also the most popular page over the last 24 hours. Why? It's amazing that a shave HOWTO is so popular. How did this article win so much interest? I'm curious.

Because a generation of fatherless boys is turning thirty and having their own sons? Just a thought.
posted by hob at 9:18 AM on April 5, 2005

is there a mass market razor manufactured by a company that doesn't test on animals? I use a Quattro now and the wires that hold 4 blades in place also help clog it up.
posted by petebest at 10:15 AM on April 5, 2005

Ironically, most of the testing is done on badgers, I hear.
posted by bachelor#3 at 11:16 AM on April 5, 2005

I like the fact that I'm in control of the whole thing - I'm not at the mercy of the planned obsolescence of a disposable blade. If I'm not happy with the sharpness, I hone it or strop it until I am.

I like the fact that I'm not obsessing about something trivial like how close a shave I get or whether I've stropped my straigh-razor enough.

Yes, there are women (and men) out there who care, obsessively, about how close your shave is. I, personally, have never been interested in those people. There are plenty of display-boys out there for them. As it stands, I've yet to get a complaint.
posted by lodurr at 7:26 AM on April 6, 2005

No thanks!

(Personally, I like a bit of stubble on a guy.)
posted by Lush at 9:27 PM on April 6, 2005

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