Friday, August 14, 2015

My Best Shave Routine

[Post-publication note: I abandoned yesterday's plan to have a third consecutive shave with the Merkur 33 razor head, and returned to the Gillette Tech. I followed steps 1-13 below, and got a good shave -- hardly baby smooth, but a good compromise between closeness and comfort.]

My routine works for me though perhaps not everyone. Here is pretty much my current process for getting my best shave, which is a compromise between comfort (including minimizing minor wounds) and closeness:
  1. Razor: post-WWII Tech or facsimile
  2. Coated blade (but not Derby Extra, unless with first-use corking and pre-shave stropping)
  3. Cool water splash and rub to wet beard
  4. Wet outside of Omega Syntex brush knot (I have come to prefer synthetic-bristled brushes because they don't require or benefit from pre-shave soaking; they hold water by water tension, so one can simply drizzle cool water into the inverted brush for face lathering)
  5. Repeat water splash and rub, which also applies the soap residue in my palm from the wetting of the outside of the brush
  6. Apply shave stick to wet beard (I prefer Arko or my own Grandad's formula for the safest shave)
  7. Run a bit of water directly into the brush knot
  8. Face lather
  9. Add more water directly into the brush knot, continue lathering, and repeat adding water as necessary to get a wet, creamy lather
  10. First pass generally with grain (strokes are generally down over most of my beard, and up on the lower half of my neck)
  11. Cool water rinse
  12. Apply more lather from that remaining on the brush
  13. Second pass cross grain with some additional fussing on and under jawline using lather from the underside of the razor

    Done on the average day
  14. If going for the gold of an exceptionally-close shave: cool water rinse, and final application of lather from brush
  15. Third pass against grain with additional touch-up strokes as desired using extra water and lather from underside of razor head
  16. Cool water rinse and post-shave treatments as necessary and desired such as alum block, styptic pencil, witch hazel, and other lotions and balms 
Happy routine shaving!

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