Shave of the day 30th April

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap, orange
Lather: Mike’s Natural  Orange, Cedarwood & Black Pepper Soap (sample)
Brush: Omega Shaving Brush #10048 Boar Bristle
Razors: Merkur 39C slant and Parker 22, both loaded with a fresh “Racer Super Stainless” blade
Post-shave: Alum block and aloe vera

A orange kind of shave today – very refreshing start on the week. The blade is the first blade out from the sampler pack I got from, the Racer blade is made in Egypt. Not the smoothest of shaves, the Racer seem to perform better in my 22R than in my 39C – the rest of the week will tell me more about how this blade performs for me.

Shave of the day 27th April

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap, peppermint
Lather: Mike’s Natural Pine & Cedarwood Soap (sample)
Brush: Omega Shaving Brush #10048 Boar Bristle
Razors: Merkur 985C with a Trent Platinum, and Feather Popular with a Feather Hi-Stainless
Post-shave: Alum block and aloe vera

My second shave with one of Mike’s soaps. Got a better lather this time – not that the last one was bad. The Feather Popular keeps amazing me, a very mild shave from a blade that is very aggressive in my other razors. A Good Shave™.


Blades come in all forms and sizes… uhm, no. The beauty of traditional DE wetshaving is that blades do NOT differer in form or size – they are all the same as far as physical dimensions go. They are conceptually different from cartridge blades in that regard; while each different cartridge requires it’s own proprietary razor (with a couple of honourable exceptions), all DE blades fits in all DE razors.

That does not mean that all DE blades are created equal – far from it. The differences in the actual blade might be minute, but the difference in opinion can make you wonder if people are even talking about the same blade. And just to make life even more interesting a blade can behave radically different in tow different razors.

Some things almost everyone can agree upon: Feather blades are really, really sharp, carbon steel blades rust more easily, and mind your fingertips.

There is no such thing as “the best blade”, but there is such a thing as “the blade that works best for you in your razor”. After you have honed your technique somewhat  and can get a consistently good shave using a DE razor, you might/could/should get hold of a sampler pack or ten. Most online shaving suppliers offers them, either as a selection of popular blades or as a selection of blades from a given country, region or manufacturer. The basic idea is the same; try the various blades and see which one works best for you. It could be that the blade you used previously works best – it could be that you can never go back to that first blade again.

It’s all part of the journey of discovery. Who knows where you might end up?

Shave of the day 25th April

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap, peppermint
Lather: Mike’s Natural Soaps Peppermint & Rosemary soap (sample)
Brush: Turkish No6 horse hair brush
Razors: Merkur 985C with a Trent Platinum, and Feather Popular with a Feather Hi-Stainless
Post-shave: Alum block and aloe vera

My first shave with one of Mike’s soaps – scent was strong without being overwhelming, and  while building lather was a bit trickier than the soaps I’ve used so far the result was more than decent. Pretty good shave too.

Shaving brushes

Just like a good lather is alpha and omega for an enjoyable shave, a good brush is alpha and omega for building a good lather. Luckily good brushes are easy to come by, both cheap and less cheap. If you’re just starting out, a synthetic brush from Body Shop or a similar place is more than good enough. Modern synthetic is – apparently – a decent match for boar bristles, but with the added benefit of drying quickly. This also make them excellent brushes for travelling.

Choosing between boar and badger is a subject that is often discussed at great length in various online forums. Personally I have developed a liking for the third option; horse hair brushes. Not only are they cruelty free, being made from mane trimmings, but they also combines a solid backbone, springiness and the ability to hold plenty of water – all qualities that makes them excellent in my opinion when it comes to building a good lather. I also like my boar brush, especially when it comes to building lather from a soft cream, but I’ve yet to try a badger brush… good badger brushes are not cheap.

Much like finding the perfect blade, the perfect brush is a matter of personal preference. At the same time you don’t need to have to perfect brush to get a really good shave, so don’t worry too much about finding it right away.

Shave of the day 23rd April

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap, lavender
Lather: Crabtree and Evelyn Sandalwood soap
Brush: Turkish No7 horse hair brush
Razors: Merkur 39C slant-bar and Parker 22R – both loaded with Personna Super Medical Prep blades
Post-shave: Alum block and Proraso Liquid Cream Aftershave

Last shave with these blades – starting to tug a bit in both razors. Nice blades though, definitely worth trying. The shave it self was a damn fine one, as pretty much every shave has been after I switched to DE razors.

Shave of the day 20th April

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap, peppermint
Lather: Arko shaving stick
Brush: Turkish No6 horse hair brush
Razors: Merkur 39C slant-bar and Parker 22R – both loaded with Personna Super Medical Prep blades
Post-shave: Alum block and Proraso Liquid Cream Aftershave

Building lather on the face is a slightly different technique, but I’m getting there… had to be careful with my lower neck today; the ATG pass on Wednesday was indeed too ambitious – first time in months I’ve gotten shave bumps, which threatened to erupt into a bloody mess this morning. Still; no nicks!

How hordes grown – or how I learned to love Acquision Disorder

When our grandfathers shaved, they used the razor, blades, soap, and brush they could get in their local area. Perhaps they had a choice, perhaps there was just one to pick from. They would use it until they ran out of blades or scraped the last of the soap out of the bowl, and then go back to the same store and buy the same thing again. Efficient, but hardly exciting – even if the products probably were undeniable better than the canned foam and multi blade cartridge razors most stores stock today.

These days many of us live in a place where traditional shaving supplies are near impossible to get in local stores – the products have been squeezed out by the Big Name Multinationals multi blade cartridge system and pressurised dry foam in cans. The downside of that is not only that many of our friends and fellow men don’t know the joy of a good shave, but also that we must turn to the Internet to buy what we need for our daily ritual. And the upside of that is that we’re no longer restricted to the brands – or even brand, singular – that our local stores carry… the shaving products of the whole wide world is now ours to buy. The selection is staggering, and finding the right one is a daunting task for a newly converted wetshaver – from what I have seen in online discussion forums, it can be a daunting task even for those old hands who never succumbed to the lure of the multi-blade razors in the first place.

We’re lucky enough to live in a time when the whole world is easily – almost too easily – accessible from the comfort of our homes: anyone with an internet connection can within minutes find other people across the world who are passionate about the same things – in our case that thing is traditional wetshaving. We can to our hearts content discuss the finer points of making lather, or nitty-gritty details on how one brush compares to another. And – and this is where the danger of hoarding starts raising it’s head – you can easily be moved by glowing reviews of shaving products you never heard of before… be it brands from a different continent or something someone has lovingly crafted by hand on their kitchen counter.

Something else happened at (very) roughly the same time as the multi blade razors were pushed onto the marked: there was the growing realization (or perhaps the re-realization) that men – us big, burly, manly men – should be allowed, or even encouraged to be a little vain. Care about our looks a little further than checking for holes in our pants and scraping the stubble off with a bayonet… it is not without reason that the ads for the early multi blade razors emphasised the smoothness of the shave and how much the girls would like it. Suddenly boys growing into men were told that it was okay to use that nice smelling soap, rub some lotion into the cheeks and, y’know – smarten up a bit. Gets you a bit more positive attention from the girls too – or the boys, if you’re tastes run that way. Your Mileage May vary, as it does with so many things in shaving and life.

As mentioned, we live in an age of global commerce. Checking out that barbershop in Turkey is just as easy as checking that one in downtown Houston – even if you happen to live in Norway. And the almost scary part is that it’s all easy to place and order and have it shipped straight to your door. No more slugging barefoot through snowdrifts higher than your own head to buy a sorry piece of soap at the drugstore (uphill both ways off course, not that the youth of today would believe it), no more having to make do with the same old blade. Instead we can order new soap and new blades from anywhere we like, and while we’re at it we might well put that cream the guys at the forum were raving about in the basket… oh, and lets pick up a yet another sampler pack of blades as well…and that brush that I didn’t pick up last time…

The result? The box the poor postman has to drag through the snowdrifts (barefoot, uphill, etc) seems pretty huge when you finally receives it, and the contents can barely be fitted into your shave nook. And where did that new razor come from? The mysteries of online shopping is never more impenetrable than when you’re unpacking.

Exposed to fellow shavers and tempting shops online, it’s easy for a hoard to grow out of all reasonable proportions. Our forefathers are a testament to the fact that we don’t really need four razors, five brushes and seven different soaps and creams in order to shave – but it is nice to to be able to mix and match, try something new, select just the right fragrance before we go out and face the world. We can embrace our manliness by picking something that smells of the great outdoors, or get ready to woo the girl (or boy) in our life with a light rose scent… the only limits is the sky and the size of your cupboard. And that is why I have gotten to rather enjoy my Acquision Disorders; while it does cost me a bit of money (but not much more than buying into the latest fad from the Big Name Multinationals would cost) it gives me much pleasure – not just in the morning spa-experience that a good shave is, but also throughout the day – every day.

Embrace your hoard. Reconquer the bathroom and fill it with products that both you and your partner in life will enjoy. Celebrate your ability to be a manly man with clear skin and a pleasant fragrance. Revel in your Acquision Disorders – but don’t spend more than you can afford. And Pay It Forward or sell to a fellow wetshaver when you happens to find something in your stash that you can’t understand why you got in the first place – after all, that makes room for more new supplies!

Shave of the day 18th April

Pre-shave: Dr Bronner’s Magic Soap, orange
Lather: Col. Conk Bay Rum shaving soap
Brush: Prosaro boar bristle brush
Razors: Merkur 39C slant-bar and Parker 22R, both with Personna Super Medical Prep blades
Post-shave: Alum block

It’s amazing how much water the lather can hold – and how quickly it whips together. The shave was my normal two pass – one WTG using the slant and one XTG with the 22R. I did do a ATG on the lower part of my neck – time will tell if that was too ambitious; the alum stung a bit more than usual down there when I slide it across my face after the last rinse.

Your Mileage May Vary…

Your face is one of a kind – a testament not only to your parents (and your parents parents, and your parents parents parents etc etc etc) but also to your life so far and your daily wear and tear. The contours and beard of your visage have been subtly moulded by forces internal and external… so off course it willl react differently to soaps, creams, blades, and aftershaves than my face does.

When you come down to it, that is one of the things I like about good old fashioned wetshaving: There is no One True Way™. Despite what the major international shaving industry giants try to tell you there is no one perfect combination of lather, blade and razor that will magically give everyone a perfect shave (and it’s funny how the combo they try to push is always a little bit more expensive than what they tried to sell you last year… with a little less foam in the can, one more blade in the cartridge and one more pointless gimmick in the handle – most of it probably in the name of the all mighty bottom line).

No One True Way means you can, nay; must, experiment – not just with the equipment you use but more so with the ways you use your tools. It’s a upwards spiral, really: Procure tools, learn to use them properly, find a better tool, relearn your skills, rinse and repeat – always improving, always learning, always getting better.

Building a consistently good lather was something it took me a while to master, but I still like to try out different ways of doing it. Some work better, some work less good – but I’ve found a few tricks that I’ve rolled into my ‘everyday lather’. I am still searching for the perfect combo of blade and razor – right now I would say I’m 95% there, maybe a little less. That might be as close as I’ll get, but again part of the fun is the experimentation. Brushes is a science all it’s own – or perhaps closer to black magic. Some prefer badger, some swear to boar, some of us like horse the best… but synthetic is good too. And don’t get me started on pre- and post-shave… all I know is that it’s important.

What I’m driving at is that since you’re one of a kind, your perfect blend of kit and technique will be one of a kind too. No one can tell you that what you’re doing is wrong if it gives you a good shave – but many wetshavers out here will be happy to point you in the right direction if you can’t get a good shave.

Your Mileage May indeed Vary… but that is the way it should be!