Friday, September 26, 2014

Naked, Cold, and Efficient -- Revisited and Updated

This is an updated, complete rewrite of an article I published on 7 August 2014.

Since the original publication of the original article, I no longer use the slant razor, but my shaves are still naked, cold, and fairly efficient.

They are naked in the sense that I don't do much beard prep for my daily shave -- certainly no pre-shave oils. Lately, after enjoying a few cups of coffee as a morning wake-up habit, I begin my shave ritual by splashing some cold tap water on my beard a few times, rubbing to ensure all the stubble is sufficiently wet. Then I'll apply some of my preferred shave stick, Arko, onto the more sensitive areas, which are below my jaw, on upper lip, around my mouth, chin, and right cheek. This amounts to less than half the area that I will shave.

My shaves are cold in that I only use cold tap water. I soak my brush in a bit of cold water before face lathering. Not only does a cold-water shave save on the water that runs down the drain while waiting for the tap water to run hot; no, more importantly to me, the cool water washes away less of the precious oils from my skin. I am convinced that this aids in keeping the shaves less irritating -- especially during the heating season. I also enjoy the feel of cool water on my beard in the morning.

The shaves tend to be efficient in beard prep and after the shave as well. Lately using either my Merkur 15C or 33C shave heads on my handle of choice -- either their stock handle or the big-boy Maggard 63-gram handle -- I have been taking full three-pass shaves. But they have been so close and comfortable that I often use nothing after the shave but cool-water rinses. Other days I may use an alum block or after-shave balm, either in combination or singly as I choose. I will also use a styptic pencil when necessary, which isn't often.

The ritual is sufficient to offer a good and satisfying shave process on most days.

I got the idea for cold-water shaves from a shaving-forum discussion about a book entitled Shaving Made Easy: What the Man Who Shaves Ought to Know. Published by the 20th Century Correspondence School in New York, it was copyrighted in 1905. Some of the information in the book is clearly dated as well as largely oriented toward straight-razor rather than DE shaving. Other information in it is just nonsense -- such as the claim about residual alkalai in the soap stiffening the hair. However, regarding cold-water shaves, I think he was onto something....

Happy shaving!

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