Wet shaving is, as most of us know it, shaving at home with some form of razor and gel/foam/soap and water. Many people prefer wet shaving over dry shaving (with an electric or battery shaver) because it tends to give a closer, smoother finish. This is certainly true in my experience although no doubt some will claim that dry shaving can be just as good. Maybe it's just down to personal preference but wet shaving certainly works better for me. I am 100% confident that I get a closer, longer lasting finish with a blade.
Within the wet shaving community there are a few preferences as to which blade is best. I am sure most men have spent more than a fair proportion of their time investigating the different cartridges available and feel exasperated every time a newer, 'better' and invariably more expensive one comes out.
I have in the past had a few hot towel shaves with a straight razor (of which, more later) and developed and strange interest in shaving matched only by my obsession in comparing which beer is best value in the supermarket aisles. Oooh....that one works out at 3p per litre less than that one! Anyway, I always quite fancied getting all the traditional shaving paraphernalia but never quite got round to it. That is until I qualified as a barber. I suddenly had an excuse to indulge and indulge I did.
My first step was to get a DE (double edged) razor. You know, the sort your granddad would have used before cartridges came out. After comparing many, a very unsubtle hint led to my wife getting me a Merkur 32HD razor. A beautiful piece of equipment which whispers elegance far more subtly than Gillette's latest re-invention which must be designed with boy racers in mind.
After reading blogs by other shaving aficianados, I opted for Feather Hi-Stainless blades. With 10 blades costing between £4 - £5, some basic arithmetic should soon help you to realise that after the outlay on decent equipment, this is actually going to work out to be a very cheap way to shave. I addition, I bought a pure badger hair brush, beautifully soft and absorbent, and some good quality shaving cream and post shave moisturiser by the Bluebeard's Revenge, winners of FHM grooming awards 2013. I was almost in shave heaven. I can now shave extremely close (closer than a cartridge) for a fraction of what it used to cost me. My shave also lasts a day or so longer too before the 'shadow' appears.
I said this was almost shaving heaven because, in my mind, shaving heaven is having someone else do all the work for you. Good quality wet shaving at home takes patience and time. You need to run your fingers across your face, cross checking for any parts that aren't as smooth as the rest. You have to pull your skin taught at strange angles to get the best cut. Shaving heaven is what I do to other people. I do all the hard work while they just lay there and relax.
To start with I cleanse and exfoliate the skin, using good quality products, warm water and sponges. This also starts to prepare the beard. I then apply oil to the beard while the towels are warming up, massaging it into the facial hair. The towels are then applied, usually 2 or 3 in rotation, to really open the pores and soften the hair. Next is the shaving cream applied generously to the facial hair with a pure badger hair brush and some hot water. Now for the James Bond moment, blade meet face, face meet blade. I navigate the contours of the face nice and lightly, taking as much hair as the blade will allow. Then comes the second pass - pretty much a repeat of the first - hot towels, shaving cream and start again, predominantly in the opposite direction. I tend to run my fingers over the client's face to feel where the stubble is still rough. I also try to avoid any areas which have become irritated (or possibly even bled a tad).
Once I am satisfied the shave is complete, I apply a cold towel to the face to close the pores, prevent infection and sooth any irritation. This is far less aggressive than aftershave and doesn't sting at all. It usually puts an abrupt ending to any bleeding too, although a dab of alum may be required. Next I apply alcohol free toner to tighten the skin further followed of course by moisturiser. This makes the skin look very healthy and leaves a middle aged man looking and feeling much younger. When I see a de-bearded middle aged man sit up after a shave looking about ten years younger, it never ceases to amaze me.
I have 'enjoyed' being shaved in various places (geographically!) from Mexico to Iraq, experiencing a variety of techniques. Some are certainly better than others but I hope to take the best of what I have learnt both formally and from experience and apply it in my work. It is almost as therapeutic for me to perform the shave as it is for the client to be shaved.
I am now shaving in Stanningley, west Leeds. My main business comes from cutting hair but I hope in time to introduce to more people the joys of a 'proper' shave both at home and at my salon. You will go a long way to find a shave this good at this price.