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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wilkinson Sword Blade

I tried a Wilkinson Sword Blade in my Super Speed this morning. I can't quite put my finger on it, but something about this blade makes me not like it. It's not bad, it does the job just fine without too much irritation or hassle. Maybe I'm just overthinking it, because the shave was okay. Not great, mind you, but okay. I'll give it a week and see what I think of it then. I didn't mess with the Prorasso soap today, I just stuck to the proven C.O. Bigelow cream instead. A few rough spots, but no real nicks. I want to get those rough patches gone, and without having to shave my face raw. Maybe the WSB just isn't the right blade.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


So this morning I tried my Proraso Aloe and Green Tea shaving soap. It comes in a small tub about the size of a coffee cup, and I think it ran me $10 at Merz Apothecary in downtown Chicago.
I started with The Routine, of course. When I went to lather the soap, I noticed it looked like whipped cream. Fortunately it was more solid than that - it has the consistency of ice cream fresh out of the freezer.

I began lathering it up and the scent hit me. I wasn't quite sold on it - my first guess was lavender (I hadn't actually read the label when I bought it). A little bit flowery for my taste, but not overwhelmingly so.

The soap lathered fairly easily once I transitioned to my lathering bowl, but I'm still trying to find a balance between enough soap and enough water to keep it slick. I was a little concerned while it was in the bowl, but once I had it on my face I was pretty much reassured.

The lather went on thick and smooth, but my mixture was a little dry. This wasn't a major issue, as I didn't end up with any more nicks than usual (one or two, and they were pretty little). Still, I want to find the right fit for this particular soap and see how it performs at peak efficiency.

I like the Prorasso cream (the kind that you squeeze out of a tube like toothpaste) so I have high expectations for this soap. Hopefully my novice hands will be able to make it happen.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fat Boy

Go on any wet shaving forum, and browse the buy/sell/trade section.  There will be all manner of razors, blades, soaps, creams, brushes, etc etc etc. Do a simple search in said section of the forum for a Fatboy.

What you will see is Gillette's highly prized Fatboy adjustable double edge safety razor. And you will see that it has been sold.

The Fatboy, you see, is perhaps one of the most popular and sought after Safety Razors I have seen. If you catch one on sale for a price you can afford, buy it. I assure you, if you don't like it, you will find a buyer. Quickly.

It's a very nice design, as DE Safety Razors go. Beefy yet sleek, simple but complex. The thick handle is topped with a twist to adjust dial, crisply numbered from one to nine. The bottom of the handle is a twist to open knob, which, at the other end, opens the top butterfly doors like a missle silo. It is here that the blade is placed.

Generally it sports a chrome finish, but can also be found in brass and rhodium. Mind you, rhodium plated razors are stunningly beautiful, as well as the most costly of the lot. If I aquire one, I don't know that I'd actually shave with it so much as admire it from a modest distance.

It is beautiful, markedly masculine in a category of manly items.

They are prized razors, usually selling within hours of a posting, fetching $35 to $300 or more, depending on the finish and condition. With its dedicated following, I knew I couldn't go wrong with one. A garden variety "user grade" model will go for about $50 on Ebay, which is about what I paid for mine. I couldn't wait to try it.

So I went through the regular routine, using my boar brush and C.O. Bigelow shave cream (which has yet to fail me). I dropped in a brand new 7 O'clock blade, battened down the hatches, and went to work.

The first pass at setting 4 knocked a little of my stubble down, but there was still quite a bit to go. No problem, I still had a few passes to go per my normal routine.

Next pass, not much better. I turned the knob to five. That didn't help. Not at six, not at seven. Or nine. Or one. No setting on my newly acquired Fatboy was doing the job. My whiskers were winning.

I had now spent over twenty minutes just on the shaving portion of my routine, when usually the whole process, start to finish, takes that long. And I still had very noticable stubble. Something was wrong here.

I was now running late to work. I had to get this shave over. So I reached for my trusty 40's vintage Gillette Super Speed, and the job was over in one pass.

I don't yet know what went wrong. I am investigating this curious set of circumstances, but have been limited by time and availability of a decent digital camera. For all its wild popularity, the Fatboy can't just be another pretty face. I am going to find out why I'm not getting a shave with mine, and post the solution (and pics) here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Routine

This is how I prepare for my shave. I like to make sure I have enough time to get it done without rushing.

First and foremost, I heat the soap and brush by placing them in hot water while I shower. I use conditioner on my face to soften the beard, then wash it with Art of Shaving Peppermint Face Wash.

Getting out of the shower, I dry off (not my face) and reheat the soap dish/brush. Then I apply a hot washcloth to my face and soak it for a few minutes.

Not my mirror. Not me in the mirror. I don't have a decent camera or camera skillls at the moment, so this will have to do.

After that I begin lathering the soap and apply it to my face.

Now the shaving begins.

I learned quickly not to use hot water to rinse the razor, since it's all metal head heats up fast. Warm water is good.

First I shave with the grain, then re-lather and go across the grain, then re-lather and go against the grain.

Afterwords I rinse my face thoroughly, splash it with cold water to close the pores, and use a toner, after shave balm (on areas I shave), moisturizer (on areas I don't shave), then apply a styptic pencil to any nicks I have. If I think of it (I should more often), I apply a little bit of lip balm at this point. Usually I forget.

A little splash of Clubman Bay Rum, if I'm in the mood, or maybe some Michael Jordan, and I'm done.

My Stuff

I am using a 1940's vintage Gillette Super Speed double edged safety razor. I have another Gillette Super Speed from 1967. I bought the razors for about $12 including shipping on Ebay.

My brush is a Boar bristle of unknown make that was given to me by a generous member of a forum I belong to.
I bought a stand for my razor and brush for $40. For my Col Conk's soap I use a small wooden bowl I found in the pantry, and lather up in a cappucino mug I picked up at Target for $4.
Some C.O. Bigelow (aka Prorasso) shave cream cost me $10, a can of Prorasso cost me $9, and I was given a puck of Col Conk's Bay Rum shave soap.

I ordered a sampler pack of razor blades, too numerous to list here. I will name them off as I use them. The cost was around $30.

And of course the scents and skin care:

Clubman Bay Rum. Very inexpensive and smells like an old fashioned barber shop.

Art of Shaving Peppermint Face Wash. Awesomesauce.

Art of Shaving toner. Unscented, good for the skin. Tightens the pores.

Art of Shaving After Shave Balm, Sandalwood. One of my favorite scents and a fantastic after shave. Very soothing.

Lucky Tiger Moisturizer. Old school goodness.

Michael Jordan cologne. Smells as good as he plays.

Once a week I use french green clay mask to clean my face thoroughly. Its inexpensive and very effective.

So I'm off and shaving. Bear in mind that I have several soaps and blades to experiment with. Once I figure out what works best for me I'll cut the recurring costs down substantially. Especially when the occasional after shave or brush pops up for a birthday or Christmas ;)