Of late I haven’t been using my straights at all. In fact I cannot remember the last time I did. While using strictly DE’s I forgot how much more important certain factors are to a straight shave as compared to a DE shave. While many factors don’t change between straights and DEs there are a couple that I think are much more important to a great straight shave.
A soaps lather is important regardless of what kind of razor you are using. however, when using a straight I have found the quality of the lather to be much more important in order to not only get a good shave but less irritation. While using my DE’s I don’t take too much notice of the lathers I produce….sure they are thick and rich and look great, but I am not sure I fully respect the qualities in the lather like I do when I use a straight. Cushion and protection!! These are very important when using a straight. The last thing you want is a dry airy mess. If you have dry and airy you will get irritation. More important to myself for a great lather when using a straight is SLICKNESS and GLIDE. If the razor feels like it is dragging and jumping you can almost guarantee some irritation and possibly some nicks or weepers. This morning I used some Strop Shoppe London Morning shave soap with Tallow and Lanolin…..an awesome soap!! I face lathered a rich thick and creamy lather that was photo worthy and was ready for the first pass. Within a few strokes I realized that my lather may look great and would be fine for a DE but it lacked the slickness and glide I need for a good straight shave. I finished the pass without adding any water and it was a bit of a struggle bu not too bad. The soap has great protection which saved my skin. I added water to the brush and dampened my face for the second pass and what a difference. The lather still looked pretty good but was noticeably more slick and hydrated. The second pass was light years better than the first and the razor glided through my whiskers with relative ease. The third pass was great as well as I added enough water to the brush and damp face to create a very rich and slick lather. The third was nice but the damage was already done from the first pass on my neck. suffice to say the post shave routine was going to be tested….
My pre-shave routine is the other important factor which I focus on when straight shaving. I always have a shower before I shave. this alone softens the whiskers a bit. I also use conditioner in my beard before I straight shave quite often just to soften the whiskers a bit more. Another trick I use is to hold a hot towel(while in the shower) against my beard….this really softens it up a great deal. In Fact today I used a prototype pre-shave oil. I applied it then loaded the brush and allowed it to work its magic on my whiskers. I notice a bigger difference when using a pre-shave oil prior to using a straight than with DE’s. Needless to say my pre-shave routine today was on point.
What are your pre/post shave routines? Do they change depending on the Hardware you choose to use?
NOW ONTO THE SHAVE!!
Razor : Wade and Butcher 6/8″
Soap : Strop Shoppe London Morning
Brush : Oscar11 Custom with Omega Boar Knot
Pre-Shave : Prototype *TOP SECRET*
Toner : Thayer’s Aftershave Witch Hazel
Aftershave : The Barberry Coast Bay Rum + Nivea Soft
After the first pass this shave was fairly comfortable and winded up being nearly DFS. The Strop Shoppe soap is an awesome soap. I love the scent and its one of my all time faves. I wish I knew an EdT that smelled similar. User error was the reason for my bad first pass and it wasn’t any fault of the software. The post shave on this soap is top notch. As good as any other product out there.
The Razor is just amazing. Val at The Gentleman’s Den did an awesome job with the edge and giving it new scales. I really need to stick with straights for a while to get it down pat. I felt like I did well, but struggled a couple of times with my blade angle etc…
The brush is awesome and has a ton of backbone…more than any other brush I own. I’m sure it didn’t help the irritation on my neck at all. But this thing loads up and lathers up as good as any other brush. And it looks pretty awesome doing it!
The post shave was going to have to come through today, and it did. The Thayer’s burned when I applied it, but quickly soothed the redness and irritation. It didn’t get rid of it, but it made it tolerable and reduced it for sure. I then splashed on the Bay Rum which is just awesome stuff. What I needed now was a balm to nourish and moisturize my skin. I reached for the Nivea soft. I have always loved this stuff and really needed it today. I may have applied a bit too much as my skin was a bit greasy later in the morning, again that was my fault for applying it so liberally. In the end the post shave software did its thing and had my face and neck feeling pretty good….Not perfect, but better than what I imagined after the first pass.
All in all a learning experience and a decent shave. Maybe I will go with another straight tomorrow? Stay tuned to find out.
Cheers and Happy Shaving!!!