This is the reference page for the seventh edition of my guide.
Note change of ownership of Classic Shaving and Vintage Blades: They are no longer the same company. New owners acquired the name and now sell junk straight razors like Grim Blades, a junk razor. These seem to be operated by The Grooming Company, which also has other companies to avoid.
Always check ingredients: I advise that you always check the ingredients in your shaving soap or shaving cream and also in your aftershave. Here, for example, are the ingredients in Barbasol canned foam:
Water, Stearic Acid, Triethanolamine, Isobutane, Laureth-23, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Propane, Fragrance.
For comparison, the ingredients in Stirling Soap Company’s Bay Rum:
Beef Tallow, Stearic Acid, Distilled Water, Castor Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Vegetable Glycerin, Essential Oil, Almond Oil, Shea Butter, Coconut Milk, Lanolin, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Lactate Jar Size:
Possible reason some have found that the iKon 102 tends to clog: In a comment thread on this post, Wally Root reports that, quite consistently, his 102 clogs if he uses shave oil and does not clog when he doesn’t. If you use a 102, I suggest you avoid shave oil. I avoid it in any case—as you know from the Guide, I could detect no improvement from using shave oil—which may be why the 102 never clogged for me.
Another possible cause of the clogging is the sticky scum formed when hard water combines with soap. You still can lather in hard water if you use enough soap, but the sticky scum is present anyway from the chemical reaction. It may be that this stickiness causes the clogging.
PSA: Going Bare Down There May Boost The Risk Of STDs: Read this NPR story, which begins:
Frequent removal of pubic hair is associated with an increased risk for herpes, syphilis and human papillomavirus, doctors at the University of California, San Francisco, reported Monday in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.
People who have “mowed the lawn” at least once in their lifetimes were nearly twice as likely to say they had had at least one STD. And “extreme groomers” – those who remove all their pubic hair more than 11 times each year — were more than four times as likely to have had an infection. “High-frequency groomers,” who just trim their hair a few times a month, fell between the two extremes. They were about three times more likely to have reported an STD.
Read the whole thing.
Some reflections on slants: Several years ago I polled men who had tried slant razors, and around 70% found the slant worked better than their regular razor. I repeated the poll recently and 50% find that the slant works better than their regular razor. (In both polls, the number who found that the slant worked worse than their regular razor is insignificant; the balance is mostly those who find the slant works about the same as their regular razor.)
So what happened? Why the change? I’ve thought about that at some length, and I’ve posted one possible explanation. It’s not proven, but at least what I think happened would indeed produce the results we see (though perhaps there’s an alternative or complementary explanation that’s not occurred to me).
Absolutely dynamite article on slants, with photos. Do take a look.
Very cool shaving site: DailyLather.com: I just stumbled across this today. Extremely well done, and the SOTD photos are works of art.
Current slant experience and recommendations: Lately, for some reason, I have been experiencing lots of nicks with the Maggard slant. I don’t think my technique has changed, but obviously it must have since initially the slant seemed quite good. I’m now trying different brands of blades, but still have not cracked the code. FWIW, the Fine Superlite and Phoenix Artisan Bakelite slants are also causing me trouble now, and again they once were better.
The Merkur 37C and The Holy Black’s take on it, their SR-71 slant, still work, as does the RazoRock German 37, but I’m finding that the most comfortable and flawless shaves are with the iKon X3 and the iKon 102. (The RazoRock Wunderbar never did work for me: I routinely got a lot of nicks with that and sold it fairly soon.) No idea what’s going on, but my slant recommendations have devolved to the two that work best for me: the iKon 102 and the iKon X3. The Above the Tie S1 is also quite good, but the S1 head by itself is $146, whereas the iKon X3 head is $35 and the iKon 102 head is $45.
Operational definition of “enjoyable” when applied to shaving: When I was in high school I got a copy of Anatol Rapoport’s Operational Philosophy: Integrating Knowledge and Action, an enjoyable and enlightening book. (Inexpensive secondhand copies at the link.) Consider a man who knows he will be at home alone for the entire day. If chooses to shave, then he finds shaving enjoyable; if he doesn’t, then shaving for him is not enjoyable. When shaving is not enjoyable, one uses any excuse to skip the shave.
Interesting shaving brushes and razors made with 3-D printing: Take a look.
Three new slants available now: The Maggard slant ($20 for head only) and the Phoenix Artisan slant ($20 for complete razor, available in black or white). The Maggard slant has a bar guard, the Phoenix slant a comb guard. I’ve ordered both and will post my impressions. I do have a prototype of the Phoenix slant, and it is excellent, but some tweaks were made for the production version. UPDATE: The RazoRock German 37 three-piece slant from Italian Barber is also $20, and it, too, is good.
Shave Revolution is closing its doors: Their stock is now on sale at 40% discount with the coupon code “thankyou”. Take a look at what’s left.
A book I wish I had pointed out in the 7th Edition: Edward de Bono’s Po: Beyond Yes and No, .so I’m pointing it out now. Link is to inexpensive secondhand copies. Well worth reading—obviously, I suppose: why else would I mention it.
Fix for bad link: Fortune magazine moved the page in which Gillette claimed a 5-week life for cartridge, so the link in Endnote 18 is wrong. I corrected it below; tinyurl.com/zgyp5g2 is the right link for the new location of the page.
Comparing the iKon 102 and the iKon X3: I compared the two, but not also the comments to the post, which reveal some YMMV.
Useful information on the widths of DE blades: Full info in this post, and here’s the table created by Giovanni Arbate several years ago:
Interesting idea for a shaving soap with a personalized blend of fragrances: On Wicked Edge, user –Paul– had an interesting idea: the shaving soap samples from Stirling Soap Company are relatively thin pucks of regular puck diameter. He orders a variety in complementary fragrances and stacks them to make a puck of regular thickness and variegated fragrances. As he works his way through the puck, the fragrance changes as the soaps are used and blend, and the combination is unique to your preferences. I’ve got to try this.
Good source in the EU for blade samplers: You can buy samplers and individual blades of various brands: Razor Blades Club
How we got to this point: Well worth reading: “How Intellectual Property Destroyed Men’s Shaving.” From a few years back.
A thorough and good review of Chatillon Lux post-shave products: This thread on Wicked Edge provides much useful information on Chatillon Lux’s aftershave, toner, and salve, their three types of post-shave care, including information that the salve should be applied sparingly and to slightly wet skin. Worth reading. Chatillon Lux’s proprietor contributes to the conversation.
“Carefully groomed stubble is a mark of low moral character” – Hamilton Nolan writes a short piece worth reading. I had independently arrived at much the same conclusion, and he expresses it very well.
A new very comfortable plus very efficient razor for $15: Italian Barber’s RazoRock Old Type razor is, as noted, both very comfortable and very efficient. This will now be my standard razor recommendation for a novice. (Everyone wants an efficient razor, and a novice particular needs a comfortable razor that doesn’t require perfect technique.) See link for more details.
Soap, water, person: another 3-element system like razor, blade, person: In a Wicked Edge discussion, NeedsMoreMenthol clarified something that has long puzzled me: why some men find hard water is not a problem in lather production, while for others hard water does present lathering problems.
The key is that soaps differ in how well they tolerate hard water. Some (like Arko, Williams, D.R. Harris, and others) contain chelating ingredients, such as EDTA, that help soap perform well in hard water, while other shaving soaps lack such ingredients. So water varies in hardness and soaps vary in how well they work in hard water.
The “person” part of the system presents a third variable in the nature of the skin—for example, whether one’s skin tends to be dry or oily. Because of this variable, a soap that is good for one person’s skin may cause problems for another. (Example: I love Van Yulay soaps, but I’ve been told that they are not so good for men who have oily skin.)
So just as one must find the right combination of razor and blade for his beard and skin, he also must find the right combination of water and soap for his beard and skin.
Many simply stick with the water they have and use soaps that work well in that water. If they have very soft water (cf. Vancouver BC), any soap works. If the water is hard, soaps with chelating elements will be favored. And of the soaps that work in the water being used, one will naturally pick those that produce good shaves and work well with one’s skin.
Just as whether a brand of blade is “good” depends on the razor and the person, so whether a soap is “good” depends on the water and the person.
Some who have hard water will choose to use distilled water (with some of the hard water mixed in—see this article) or to soften the water (with citric acid or a water softener) to broaden the range of soaps they can use; others will prefer to keep the shave simple and choose soaps that don’t require softening the water. That’s a matter of personal preference, obviously. And if you’re using a soap that works well in hard water, it clearly is a waste of time to soften the water: you gain nothing in terms of soap performance. OTOH, if you happen to like an artisanal soap that lacks chelating elements, softening the water has the benefit of greatly improving soap performance.
Once again we see the need to experiment to find what works best for you in your situation and with your preferences.
Some very interesting and new high-end razors: Timelesss Razor currently offers two razors, and the open-comb is particularly interesting: like the Phoenix Artisan Double Open Comb, the cap and guard are both combs. Also, Sharpologist has a review of the Barbaros TR-1.
Interesting soaps, preshaves, and aftershaves: A new vendor for me, with quite a few interesting soaps: Van Yulay. (Note that there are two pages of shaving soaps. Most use clay, so you must add a little (about a teaspoon) of water as you load the brush, and you may have to repeat that if the brush is large.
Re: Slants — Maybe it comes down to finding the right angle – In this post I discuss how the feel of the Fine slant improved immensely once I found the optimal angle (and I include a note on how to do that). And here are my 3 pointers for new Fine slant users.
The puzzle of YMMV: Slant division – As is typical of products and procedures in shaving, slant razors work extremely well for some (me, for example), being extremely comfortable, extremely efficient, and quite easily producing a BBS result while encountering less cutting resistance than a regular razor. But—and here’s the YMMV part—they either don’t work at all for some who try them (about 7%) or are no better than a regular razor for some (about 23%). That does leave 70% who love slants after giving them a try, but a few of the other 30% are so moved by their own experience that they firmly believe a slant cannot be all that great, regardless of what others say. But then you see a report like this, and you have to recognize that—for whatever reason—a slant does indeed do a superb job for some.
Testing demineralized water for lathering: Chuck Falzone wrote a Sharpologist article in which, after using demineralized water (in his case, distilled water) over a period of days, he noted that the lather, though abundant, was somewhat airy and not so dense as normal. He recommends mixing a little hard tap water into demineralized water to get the best lather. I tested that today.
Alum’s effect on eczema: This post is worth reading if you suffer from eczema or other condition.
Pleasing aftershaves from Chatillon Lux: Last week I tried a different sample of Chatillon Lux aftershaves each day (six in all) and ended up liking three of those well enough to order a bottle. Note on this page that all their products are in fact “aftershaves”: the one they call “aftershave” is a splash with alcohol, but their “toner” formula is also an aftershave as is their “salve.” (I’ve suggested they revise the terminology. After reading the page at the link, I wish I had order the “toner” formula instead of their “aftershave” formula. Still, the samples are a good way to test.
Interesting article (from Jan 1933 Popular Mechanix) on the futility of honing DE blades. Worth reading, since the delusion that honing DE blades is effective is perennial. (The magazine at the time was called Science and Mechanics.)
Ideal razor for a beginner who wants a long-term razor: IMO the Rockwell stainless steel razor system ($100) is the best possible razor for the novice, as explained in this review. The system comes with three double-sided baseplates and thus offers six possible “settings.” A novice can start with the mildest baseplate, the R1, and advance as his skills improve. And those who shave at irregular intervals will quickly learn which baseplate works best for their current length of beard. I’m impressed by this system. I was surprised to find that all the sides, R1 through R6, are (for me) extremely comfortable. I have tried various baseplates in the Above the Tie razor, since they also offer a range, and with ATT I found that the R1 and S1 (slant) worked well for me, but all the others I tried were uncomfortable, bordering on harsh: the R2, H1, S2, and M1 just did not work. In contrast, the Rockwell baseplates were totally comfortable throughout the range, though certainly I got increasing blade feel as I progressed from R1 through R6. Moreover, although Feather blades generally work for me only in mild razors (Feather AS-D2, Gillette Tech, Schick Krona, etc.), I (accidentally) used a new Feather blade in the Rockwell for the R5 and R6 baseplates, and it worked like charm: no nicks, great comfort, fine shave.
Ideal razor for a frugal beginner—or even a frugal seasoned shaver: The Dorco PL-602, reviewed here, is a very comfortable and very efficient all-plastic razor that currently sells for $5 including shipping. Recommended.
Why I continue to believe that the slant is effective for many: Here’s a brief summary of my reasons.
Australian dealer who carries artisanal shaving products: If you’re in Australia, take a look at The Stray Whisker, which is offering artisanal soaps such as Barrister & Mann, Captain’s Choice, and Catie’s Bubbles, and soon will have Fine aftershaves.
Martin de Candre shaving soap equivalent: Here’s my review comparing Wet Shaving Products Rustic shaving soap (also available in 1-oz size). Bottom line: So far as I can tell, the two soaps perform equally well, by design. (WSP’s explicit goal with their soap was to copy the MdC formula and performance.)
Australian vendor closing down: Kinetic Blue is having its final clearance sale right now. This will mainly be of interest to Australians (because of shipping costs to the EU and the US).
What is a “gourmet” shave? This question is raised in one of the reader reviews on Amazon.com, so I thought I should post the answer here: A gourmet shave is a shave that delights the senses. My hope is that the name will shift one’s focus to the quality of the overall experience instead of looking only at how smooth the skin is at the end of the shave. My view of the goal of shaving is that it’s to achieve a smooth face in a way that makes the entire process something that you enjoy and look forward to.
Excellent open-comb head for $15: Maggard Razors in the US sells a really excellent open-comb head by itself. They also sell razor handles, or if you have a three-piece razor you can probably just use that handle. The link is to a shave where I compare the Maggard OC head to the (also excellent) Parker 24C head.
The OneBlade razor: A very interesting single-edge razor, OneBlade gets its name because it can use only one particular brand and model of blade, a blade made by Feather. This eliminates the need for a blade sampler pack: you have only one choice of blade, so sampling is pointless. (Obviously, if Feather drops that model of blade, you’re out of luck.) It does seem that the razor works well—here’s a detailed review in Sharpologist.
In the current Guide, you will recall that I requested that razors be designed to act as acoustic amplifiers for the quiet sound that results from the blade cutting through stubble. I had in mind designing the head as a miniature soundbox, but OneBlade seems to have solved the problem ingeniously, having the handle amplify the sound conducted through the razor. Mantic59 says audible feedback is pronounced and louder than any other razor he’s tried.
UK source for samples of soaps, creams, and aftershaves: Check out Shavedash.com.
Some nice custom razor handles: Some are stunning.
A mindful approach to loading the brush: It only recently occurred to me that loading the brush is as open to a mindful approach, with closely focused attention to what you are doing in the moment, as is using the razor. But because many soaps are sold in partially empty containers whose sidewalls in the empty part of the container play the same role as training wheels on a bicycle, some do not learn to load the brush neatly, just as permanent training wheels on a bicycle would impede mastering bike riding. I discuss this realization at some length in this post and in comments to it.
Exfoliating scrubs are worse than I thought: The Wife comments:
Exfoliating scrubs are quite hard on your skin and can cause microtears. If you feel the need for an exfoliant on the non-shaved part of your face, a chemical peel would be both gentler and easier to target specific areas. Check out https://www.reddit.com/r/SkincareAddiction/ for product suggestions and techniques.
The site unfortunately does not list the soap ingredients, which I think is a mistake because the ingredients are excellent. Those that caught my eye: glycerin, coconut oil, sustainably sourced palm oil, sunflower oil, goat’s milk, fair trade shea butter, cocoa butter, aloe vera oil, apricot oil, and essential oils for fragrance. Recommended.
They also offer some interesting shaving brushes that they make themselves (along with shaving brushes by Kent, Parker, and Vie-Long). Worth a look.
I got a sample of Anthony Gold’s Red Cedar aftershave splash, and I like that a lot.
Shy/bold in the animal kingdom at the colony level: In the Guide I discuss two mindsets, settler and explorer, and point out that the two approaches are also seen in animal species, where they are called shy and bold respectively (see page 35). From Science:
. . . Some [ant] colonies are full of adventurous risk-takers, whereas others are less aggressive about foraging for food and exploring the great outdoors. Researchers say that these group “personality types” are linked to food-collecting strategies, and they could alter our understanding of how social insects behave.
Personality—consistent patterns of individual behavior—was once considered a uniquely human trait. But studies since the 1990s have shown that animals from great tits to octopuses exhibit “personality.” Even insects have personalities. Groups of cockroaches have consistently shy and bold members, whereas damselflies have shown differences in risk tolerance that stay the same from grubhood to adulthood.
To determine how group behavior might vary between ant colonies, a team of researchers led by Raphaël Boulay, an entomologist at the University of Tours in France, tested the insects in a controlled laboratory environment. They collected 27 colonies of the funnel ant (Aphaenogaster senilis) and had queens rear new workers in the lab. This meant that all ants in the experiment were young and inexperienced—a clean slate to test for personality.
The researchers then observed how . . .
New Canadian vendor:
Badger Shaving Co. has a very good selection of artisanal shaving soaps along with other shaving supplies. Razors include Merkur, Parker, and Pearl. UPDATE: Closing its doors, Nov 2016.
Superb artisanal shaving soap with interesting fragrances: Meißner Tremonia is a German shaving soap, available in the US from Straight Razor Designs and in the UK from Connaught Shaving. I posted a review with some photos, and this detailed review (which includes links to more sources of the soap) is worth reading. Definitely worthwhile.
Alum block update: I’ve just learned that alum will work as a styptic if you hold the alum block against the cut or nick for a moment, rather than just gliding it over the nick. I’m told that holding it in place (with a little pressure) will stop the bleeding as well as any styptic. I’ve now tried that, and it works. Thus:
Skin treatment use: glide alum block over your wet beard area following the final rinse, put block aside to dry and let the alum sit as you clean up around the sink and put things away; then rinse the alum off, dry your face, and apply aftershave.
Styptic use: hold a corner of the block firmly against the nick or cut for 20-40 seconds.
As a styptic, the cost per use of an alum block is much less than using a liquid styptic (My Nik Is Sealed, Pacific Shaving’s Nick Stick, et al.) and even less than using a styptic pencil—plus it seems to me to do a better job.
Citric acid update: In the Guide I suggest using a pinch of citric acid to soften hard water for shaving. I recently heard from someone who tried it and learned just how little is required. The idea is to go for the least amount that makes a difference. After a couple of unpleasant shaves, he contacted me and I suggested he try using much less citric acid than he had used—start, I suggested with half a pinch. He responded the next day, “Had an amazing shave this morning. I used very little citric acid. I just touched two fingers to the crystals and that’s all I put in the water. So probably less than half a pinch. Super impressed!”
Putting water on shaving soap: Some men put a little water on their shaving soap and let that sit for a while (while they shower, for example). The claim is that it makes the soap easier to lather. I tried it and found no difference in ease of lathering whether I wet the soap or not; for me, it was simply an added (and useless) step.
But jayhawk4eva on Wicked_Edge put a new spin on it. He pours the water into a cupped palm and uses it to wash his beard at the sink, then immediately applies lather to his wet (and unrinsed) beard. (I do much the same, but instead of using the shaving soap as the source of the soapy water, I use a bar of high-glycerin soap, typically MR GLO.) Wetting the puck for this purpose is new to me and worth a try if you’re interested. My expectation, though, is that the glycerin of the shaving soap will aid lubricity more than shaving-soap water will. But experiment.
Another razor refurbishing/replating service: Delta Echo, located in Duvall, WA, has at the link a gallery of their work. The razors are amazing.
UK site for samples: Check out Shavedash.com.
More on mindfulness: One of the noticeable benefits of traditional shaving is how it promotes mindfulness, whose mental, emotional, and physical benefits have already been the subject of scientific study and are quite real. (I recently blogged an experiment soon to be underway in the UK.) Many have noticed that being in a natural environment—when one naturally is aware of sensory input and focused on the moment rather than thinking about the past or the future—makes them feel better, and they are not wrong. I am just now reading one of the defining books on mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living. Despite the somewhat alarming title, it’s a book well worth reading. At the link are inexpensive secondhand editions. (The newly revised edition is also available in a Kindle edition.)
The Fine $20 synthetic: I did not expect the Fine synthetic to be so much softer after the first shave. It’s a really excellent brush at an astonishingly low price, but do make a couple of practice lathers when you get it so you’ll get the full benefit in your first actual shave. Nice design, too, at least in my eyes. Highly recommended brush. It seems a slightly smaller (20mm v. 22mm) brother to the Plisson synthetic, with the smaller knot making it feel slightly firmer. Comparison here.
Another source for brush knots for the DIYer: Check out Envyshave on Etsy.
iKon Tech: In this post I give some reasons why iKon might want to make a version of the vintage Gillette Tech: the Gillette Tech is very comfortable and very efficient, but (a) some men will not consider using a vintage razor that’s been used by others, and (b) many men today really want a stainless razor. So there would be a good niche for a stainless version of the Gillette Tech. But in my experience, the iKon Tech is not like the Gillette Tech. Rather it is, at least for me, much harsher. I’ve tried three brands of blades and haven’t been able to hit my stride with it. See also this thread on Badger & Blade. I passed the razor along to NeedsMoreMenthol on Wicked Edge. Here’s his review.
Layered soaps from HTGAM/PAA: I have been aware of dissatisfaction—indeed, anger—regarding the vendor who ran HowToGrowAMoustache.com and closed that company to start Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements. I have observed over the years that from time to time some vendor or product will arouse the ire of a group and a sort of vendetta will ensue. I know of several cases in which the opprobrium was completely undeserved, so I tend to act on a presumption of innocence and want substantial proof before making a judgment.
But then I saw this photo in a thread on Wicked Edge. So I went to my own stash of HTGAM/PAA soaps and started prying the soaps from the tins. The first two—HTGAM Pumpkin Pie and PAA Coconut—were solid all the way through: no layering. But then I sliced open a puck of HTGAM Coconut Bay:
The red arrow points to the top layer of the cross section. As you see, it’s the same color as the top of the rest of the puck. The greater part of the soap is a different color and does look like a different soap. However, when I turned the puck over and built a lather from the bottom layer side, the lather had the same consistency and fragrance as the lather made from the top layer. The maker says that the soap pour included some small amount of foam (fine bubbles) and when poured these migrated to the top. That naturally produces a different color, though the substance is the same. (He points out that the foam on a glass of Guinness, despite its different appearance, is the same stuff as in the bottom the glass, just with some air mixed in.) I’m not a soapmaker, but a soap user. But when I made two different lathers, one from the top of the puck (the foam layer) and one from the bottom of the puck (the solid layer), I got the same quality of lather and the same fragrance in each case. And the top layer does indeed look like a solidified fine-grained foam.
I subsequently did an experiment: scraping off some of the top layer, melting it, and then comparing the result to the bottom layer. They look to be the same. Details and photos at the link.
As noted above, the top layer and bottom layer produce the same lather and, when melted, look the same. Those who said the top layer was a different soap altogether jumped to that conclusion (so far as I can without doing any testing at all, going simply by appearance), and so far as I can tell, that conclusion is incorrect.
JabonMan and the iKon Tech: In this post I give a brief review and tell how to order shaving soap from JabonMan. Basically, email Manuel Garcia (JabonMan himself) at firstname.lastname@example.org. UPDATE: I received the replacement soaps (see first link), and they are excellent. At the second link I also comment on the new Stirling “angel hair” synthetic shaving brush.
Kindle update available for early purchasers: KDP informs me, “We’ve reviewed the changes to your book, and we consider the content updates to be MINOR quality corrections. We won’t notify customers of the updates, but they can now update the content on their “Manage Your Content and Devices” page.”
You can check whether your copy is the updated version by going to location 4257 (or go to Contents and scroll down to the last item, “Vendors,” and touch that—the link takes you to location 4257). If the URL for Otoko Organics in the Australian vendor list is otoko.com.au, then you have the updated version. Otherwise, you can update your content, though you’ll lose any bookmarks and highlights and notes you’ve made.
French shaving blog: For Francophones and -philes: Rasé de près
Omega Hi-Brush Synthetics: I recommend against Omega Hi-Brush synthetics because they are so resilient and “springy” that they are unpleasant to use, somewhat like The Grooming Company synthetics and Omega Pro-size S-Brushes and unlike regular-size S-Brushes and Plisson synthetics, both of which are quite pleasant to use. Obviously, personal preference plays a role here, but those I can “springy” do seem unpleasant in use.
Razor Emporium problems: See this thread. Note the specific response from RazoRock (Italian Barber). I have seen a variety of complaints about Razor Emporium that may have been “he said, she said” sorts of things, but this one seems pretty definitive. See also this thread.
Extremely interesting thought on the psychological benefits of shaving when undergoing a major life change: In this thread on Wicked_Edge, a bearded man (who uses a DE and lather to trim his beard) talks about how, in the midst of a painful divorce, the daily meditative activity of shaving has helped him maintain his calm at a time when emotions run high: in the midst of a divorce involving children.
ErogenousGnome makes a very interesting and profound point:
Having been through a divorce, and more recently another break up, I know the feel. Don’t miss a shave. Go baby-faced. It feels good to see something different in the mirror. . .
I think EG is definitely onto something: If a person changes his appearance—and thus the way he presents himself—he to some extent sheds the old persona and adopts a new one. By changing his appearance, he to a degree changes himself and—important point—signifies to others that he is changing. The old self, with its troubles attached, can symbolically be left behind as he moves into a new future.
The beard is ballast, thrown overboard to lighten the load and set the ship on a new course—and in addition, the longer shave allows more time for meditation and provides more enjoyment.
Mongoose Razors: I mention in the book the Mongoose razor as a good modern choice for a single-edge (SE) razor, but that was based on many favorable reports from others. I had ordered one, but they were working through a large backlog of orders and I got mine only yesterday. Here’s my report, and yes, they are very good razors.
To contact Mongoose Razors, you can email them at email@example.com and/or check their Facebook page. The razor is extremely comfortable and also extremely efficient, but I don’t much care for the handles. They do, however, sell the heads separately. I have queried whether they will make a slant model.
The name “Mongoose” was, I’m sure, was chosen to indicate that this razor was a Cobra-killer, the Cobra (and later the King Cobra) being, I believe, the first SE razors to use the Artist Club blade. I never used either Cobra, but reports were that they were rather harsh for most. The Mongoose, in contrast, is extremely comfortable. You’ll note that the Cobra and King Cobra’s head is not nearly so deep as that of the Mongoose and thus lacks the platform that helps one find the best angle. Similarly, for me, the Schick Injector with its narrow head is not so reliable or comfortable for me as the GEM razor, which has a deeper head with a good platform.
I enjoyed using the Mongoose but I have now sold mine. On the whole, I prefer the DE format and having two supplies of razor blades (since the Mongoose uses Artist Club blades) was just a bridge too far.
Facebook page: I just this week created a Facebook page for the book, and I’ll be posting various tips there. If you use Facebook and click “follow,” you’ll see notifications of new posts there.
Pro-size Omega S-Series vs. regular size: The pro-size S-brushes have a noticeably longer loft than the regular S-brushes, and I just tried the pro size. For me, at least, the regular size is much better. I didn’t care for the pro size at all. My own favorite is the S10005, mainly because of the handle. The S10065 has a knot diameter of 24mm vs. the 20mm of the S10077, and in a synthetic the slightly larger diameter works well, but both of those work fine for me.
New US vendor: Black Diamond Shaving: It’s new to me, but it’s been in business since September 2014. Good selection, including some artisanal soaps.
Some thoughts on feel vs. performance: We all (I think) want good performance from our brushes and razors, but in terms of feel, preferences vary: among brushes, some prefer soft and fluffy, others like stiff and scrubby (and both want good performance). The same sort of division seems to exist in razor preferences: see this post for some thoughts on analogous differences in dance and in piano playing.
UK high-end DE razor and artisanal bowl and soap: Thomas Clipper offers some nice-looking razors and bowl.
Five-bladed razors date from the 1930s:
Eva Nestorova goat’s milk shaving soaps: I finally figured out how to handle those soaps (e.g., Nestorova, The Holy Black, Bathhouse Soapery) that are sold as pucks shaped like a truncated cone: carefully peel off the label, wet the larger flat side of the soap, and stick the label there. Then when you use the soap, just hold it in your hand, label side against your palm, and load the brush while holding the soap. That does lather up your hand somewhat, but just rinse once the brush is loaded. I really like to keep the labels so I know the soap, and I don’t like finding containers. This is working well. Example. Now that I’ve figured it out, I’ve ordered a couple more of Nestorova’s soaps: they’re quite good and at $4/puck, very inexpensive.
Replacement top cap for Edwin Jagger/Mühle razors: As I note in the book, when Zamak razors (Edwin Jagger, Mühle, Parker, et al.) break, it is almost always the threaded stud from the cap that breaks off, typically in the handle. Thus my call for more robust top caps even if a Zamak baseplate is used. (Maggard Razors has taken a different tack, making a sturdier baseplate (from plated brass) while continuing to use a Zamak cap. Since the baseplate seldom if ever breaks, this innovation does not address the breakage problem.) You can now buy an Edwin Jagger/Mühle replacement cap—current price for US customers (who do not pay VAT) is $8.28 shipping. But we still await a sturdy top cap for Zamak razors.
Tim’s Greek Peach shaving soap: Available from ShaveRevolution.com (which carries a good selection of artisanal soaps). Ingredients shown in the photo: stearic acid, water, coconut oil, potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide, avocado butter, fragrance, sodium lactate. Has a terrific peach fragrance.
Dr. Jon’s Handcrafted Soap Company: Yet another new artisanal soap—in the book I did write that this was a burgeoning field. The site provides a somewhat general list of ingredients on the home page (ingredient include shea butter, mango butter, avocado oil, evening-primrose oil, meadowfoam-seed oil, and coconut oil), but no specific ingredients by soap, which may indeed only by the fragrance. I had not come across meadowfoam-seed oil before; here’s a PDF comparing meadowfoam-seed and jojoba oil. It comes in two sizes: 2 oz ($7.95) and 4 oz ($14.95). The 2-oz tin is 3″ in diameter, a comfortable size for loading the brush, so if you enjoy having a variety of soaps, the 2-oz tin is the way to go.
New on-line vendor: KnockoutShave.com has a good line of products. Check it out.
Interesting TED talk on low-carb, high-fat diet: I mention the LCHF diet in the recommendations regarding acne, but really such a diet applies across the board: low in carbs (there are no essential carbohydrates required for health), normal levels of protein (there are some essential amino acids that we must consume), and high levels of fat (there are some essential fatty acids that we must consume), the calories lost by cutting carbohydrates being replaced from calories from fats. This TED talk discusses the science and health issues addressed by a LCHF diet. Here’s an introduction to such a diet. And this TED talk discusses the elephant in the room: sugar.
South African on-line shaving vendor: Check out Digital Barber in South Africa. (Scroll down at the link.)
- Badger & Blade
- Paste and Cut
- Sharpologist list of forums
- Shave Bazaar (buy/sell/trade)
- Shave Nook
- Straight Razor Place
- The Shave Den
- The Shaving Room
- Wet Shavers
- Wicked Edge
- Betelgeux shaving videos
- Bruce on Shaving (many photos)
- Geofatboy shaving videos
- Gillette collectors reference
- Gillette date codes
- Gillette razors v. blades myth debunked
- Gillette Rockets (British Super Speed)
- Mantic59 shaving videos
- Michael Freedberg shaving videos
- Mr-Razor.com (German site with English options)
- Schick Injectors
- Shaving 101
- Shaving information
Alllatheredup.weebly.com[seems to have shut down]
- Samples.manmachine.co (UK)
- Shavedash.com (UK)
- Big list of samples sources
BLADE SAMPLER PACKS
- BullGoose Shaving Supplies (in the US)
- Connaught Shaving (in the UK)
- Details for Men (in the US)
- Em’s Shave Place (in the US)
- Fendrihan (in Canada)
- Kinetic Blue (in Australia)
- Maggard Razors (in the US)
- Razor Blades & More Co. (in the US)
- Razor Blades Club (in Europe, offers €1 flat-rate shipping worldwide)
- RazorsDirect.com (in the US)
- RoyalShave.com (in the US)
- The Shave Den (in the US)
- Shave Nation (in the US)
- Shave Shed (in Australia)
- ShaveDash (in the UK)
- Shaving.ie (in Ireland)
- Shoebox Shaveshop (in the US)
- Straight Razor Designs (in the US)
- Try A Blade (in the US, offers $4 flat-rate shipping worldwide)
- West Coasting Shaving (in the US)
- Via Amazon.com
- Via eBay.com
- Al’s Shaving
- Barrister & Mann
- Bathhouse Soapery
- Catie’s Bubbles
- Chiseled Face Groomatorium
- Cold River Soap Works
- The Copper Hat (in Canada)
- Dapper Dragon
- Dr. Jon’s Handcrafted Soap Company
- Eva Nestorova
- First Canadian Shave
- Ginger’s Garden
- Green Mountain Soap
- Honeybee Soaps
- Kell’s Original
- LA Shaving Soap Company
- Maggard’s Artisanal
- Mama Bear
- Meißner Tremonia
- Mickey Lee Soapworks
- Mike’s Natural Soaps
- Mystic Water
- Nanny’s Silly Soap Company (in the UK)
- Occam’s (in Australia)
- Otoko Organics (in Australia)
- Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements (5″ puck)
- Queen Charlotte Soaps
- Reef Point
- Saint Charles Shave
- Shannon’s Soaps
- The Shave Den Shop
- Shaver Heaven (in Australia)
- Soap Commander
- Soapy Bathman (in Canada)
- Soap Smooth (formerly Seifenglatt)
- Stirling Soap Company
- Strop Shoppe
- Through the Fire Fine Craft
- Tiki Bar Soap
- Wickham (in the UK; 5” puck)
Note: For Australians, sometimes it costs less to order from Connaught Shaving (UK) or Shaving.ie (Ireland), even with shipping costs.
HimAge – option of looking at products by fragrance
Men’s Biz – broad line of shaving supplies
Occams – artisanal products including shaving cream
Otoko Organics – extremely interesting shaving soap
Pureman – men’s grooming and shaving supplies
Shaver Heaven – artisanal shaving soaps and other shaving supplies
Shaver Hut – men’s grooming and shaving supplies
The Shave Shed – 60-day return policy
Shaver City – good line of shaving supplies including cutthroat razors (aka straight razors)
Shaver Heaven – artisanal vegan soaps, also available from some vendors in Canada, US, and UK
The Stray Whisker – imports a variety of US artisanal shaving supplies, along with a good range of shaving products
The Razor Shop – an eclectic little shop: razors, brushes, shaving supplies, pressure cookers, etc.
Atkinson’s – Plisson brushes; store in Vancouver
Badger Shaving Co. – good selection of products including a fair number of artisanal shaving soaps – closed its doors Nov 2016
Classic Edge – good selection of straight razors and DEs along with shaving supplies
The Copper Hat – good range of shaving supplies, interesting brushes; store in Victoria; they make their own line of shaving soaps and shaving brushes, both excellent
Fendrihan – good range of shaving products, along with leather goods, writing implements, and knives (Canadians: Be sure to use Fendrihan.ca and not Fendrihan.com.)
First Canadian Shave – artisanal shaving soap
Italian Barber – RazoRock products, including the Baby Smooth and Stealth razors; starter kits; broad range of shaving supplies; routinely ships to the US
Mark of a Gentleman – good range of shaving supplies
Men Essentials – broad range of products; store in Toronto
Moss Scuttle – the original modern scuttle
Shaving Style – straight razors, DEs, and shaving supplies
Soapy Bathman – artisanal soaps
Wolfman Razors – premium stainless razors and handles
Plisson – exquisite shaving brushes
Meißner Tremonia – superb artisanal shaving soap with interesting fragrances
Shavemac – excellent brushes along with German shaving equipment and supplies.
Wiborg – superb shaving brushes, often out of stock
Shaving.ie – broad range of products, routinely ships internationally at low rates
Shave and More – broad range of shaving products
Total-Shave.nl – URL for English-language storefront
The Portugal Online Shop – Claus Porto products (Musgo Real, Ach. Brito, and others), brushes. Ships readily to US.
Vintage Scent – Semogue brushes and interesting shaving supplies. Ships readily to US.
Gifts and Care – excellent selection of good horsehair shaving brushes and shaving stuff. Shipping to US is inexpensive.
JabonMan makes superb artisanal soaps. Email Manuel Garcia (JabonMan himself) at firstname.lastname@example.org
UFO Razor Handles – excellent handles when available
Digital Barber – scroll down at link
BestShave.net – inexpensive supplies
Connaught Shaving – ships internationally
The English Shaving Company – home of Edwin Jagger
Executive Shaving Company – very broad range of shaving products and instructional guides
Fredricssons – artisanal shaving soaps
Gallant & Klein – limited range but good quality
G.B. Kent & Sons – excellent shaving brushes
The Gentlemen’s Groom Room – broad range of shaving products
The Gentlemen’s Shop – good range of shaving supplies
The Groomed Man – broad range of shaving products
The Invisible Edge – straight razors
Man Machine Sample Shop – product samples
Nanny’s Silly Soap Company – artisanal soaps
New Forest Brushes – artisanal brushes
Niven & Joshua – good range of shaving supplies
Pens of the Forest –artisanal shaving brushes, handles
Safety Razors – good range of shaving products
Shave Lounge – broad range of shaving products
ShaveDash – samples of shaving cream, shaving soap, and blades
Shaving Station – good selection of artisanal soaps
The Shaving Time Company – good selection of artisanal soaps
The Strop Shop – straight razors
Thomas Clipper – high-end artisanal DE razors, bowl, soap
The Traditional Shaving Company – broad range of shaving products
Wickham – artisanal soaps, 5” puck; sold in the US as Huntlee
Above the Tie – premium stainless razors, shaving supplies
All Lathered Up – good range of samples of various mainline shaving products
Al’s Shaving Products – artisanal shaving creams, soaps, aftershaves
Appleton Barber Supply – inexpensive aftershaves, barber towels.
BadgerBrush.net – DIY supplies for brushes and razors, along with handcrafted brushes and razors.
Barclay Crocker – preshaves, soaps, creams, aftershaves
Barrister & Mann – artisanal soaps, aftershaves, etc.
Bathhouse Soapery – artisanal soaps, aftershaves
Best Grooming Tools – broad range of shaving supplies
Black Diamond Shaving – good selection, with artisanal soap
Blankety Blanks – artisanal brushes and DIY brushes
BM Vintage Shaving – good range of shaving supplies
Bramble Berry – Soapmaking supplies, including DIY Melt & Pour Base for shaving soap
Brent’s Brushes – artisanal shaving brushes
Brushguy.com – artisanal shaving brushes
BullGoose Shaving Supplies – artisanal soaps, horsehair brushes, and other shaving supplies
Catie’s Bubbles – excellent artisanal soaps
Chatillon Lux – very nice aftershaves (and all three of their formulations are aftershaves: the “aftershave” contains alcohol, the “toner” does not, and the “salve” is indeed a salve, but all three are aftershaves.
Chiseled Face Groomatorium – artisanal soaps and aftershaves
Classic Shaving –
excellent range of shaving supplies, including straight razors Company went out of business and name was acquired; more info here.
Cold River Soap Works – artisanal soaps
Crabtree & Evelyn – limited range of shaving supplies
Dapper Dragon – artisanal shaving soaps
Delta Echo – razor replating and refurbishing—some pieces are amazing
Dirty Bird Pottery – scuttles and brush warmers
Dr. Jon’s Handcrafted Soap Company – artisanal soaps, shaving brushes
eBarbershop – barber supply, shaving products
eBay – link is for safety razors
Elite Razor – beautiful custom razors and brushes
Enchante Online – home of Method Shaving, good range of products
Envyshave – A variety of brush knots (synthetic, boar, badger) for the DIYer and some custom brushes.
Eva Nestorova – Etsy shop of good goat’s-milk shaving soaps
Garry’s Sample Shop – samples of soaps, etc.
The Gentlemens Refinery – superb preshave, shaving creams, aftershaves
Ginger’s Garden – Handmade “shaving-cream soap” that lathers abundantly, and also good aftershaves
The Golden Nib – DIY supplies for brushes and razors
Green Mountain Soap – artisanal shaving soaps
The Handlebar Supply Company – excellent range of shaving products; has a brick-and-mortar store
Highland Mens Care – good range of shaving products
Honeybee Soaps – artisanal shaving soaps
Ian Tang’s Shaving Workshop – Frank Shaving brushes
iKon Razors – very comfortable and very efficient high-quality razors—my current favorites are the iKon Shavecraft #101 and #102.
Kell’s Original – artisan soaps
Knockout Shave – good line of products, including some excellent artisanal soaps, shaving creams, and aftershaves
LA Shaving Soap Company – artisanal soaps, starter kit, premium stainless razor (made by Wolfman Razors)
Lee’s Razors – excellent range of shaving stuff
Lijun Brush – Inexpensive shaving brushes
Maggard Razors – good selection of artisanal soaps including their own, good line of their own DE razors, starter kits, full range of shaving supplies, many samples available; has a brick-and-mortar store
Mama Bear – artisanal soaps
Men Essentials – broad range of products
Mickey Lee Soapworks – artisanal shaving soaps and aftershave milks. The Drunken Goat is well worth a try.
Mike’s Natural Soaps – excellent (and very thirsty) artisanal shaving soaps
Mongoose Razors – superb single-edge razors using Artist Club blades (Tryablade.com sells such blades and even sells a Mongoose sampler pack.)
Mystic Water Soap for Men – artisanal soaps
Nancy Boy – excellent shaving creams and skin care
Penchetta Pen & Knife – Primarily custom and DIY brushes and razors, also shaving stuff (Web site currently incomplete, so you may have to call: 480-575-0729)
Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements – artisanal soaps and aftershaves, razors, and a broad line of other shaving supplies
Q Brothers – the on-line shaving store of Merz Apothecary in Chicago, with its own brick-and-mortar store
QED – good range of shaving products
Queen Charlotte Soaps – artisanal shaving soaps
Razor Blades and More – broad range of shaving supplies
Razor Plate – razor restoration and replating services
Reef Point – artisanal shaving soaps
Reliable Electroplating – replating services
Retrorazor – good site for novice and aspiring DE shavers
Royal Shave – excellent range of shaving products
Rubinov’s Barber Supply – shaving products; also has a brick-and-mortar store in Phoenix AZ
Saint Charles Shave – artisanal aftershaves, eau de toilettes, shaving soaps and creams.
Shannon’s Soaps – artisanal shaving soaps and other soaps
The Shave Den Shop – artisanal shaving soaps and creams, aftershaves, colognes, and the like. Extra menthol on request.
Shave Nation – good range of products; also has videos
Shave Revolution – has closed its doors.
Shave Select – good range of shaving supplies, instruction
The Shaver Shop – custom shave sets, general shaving supplies
ShaveTools – broad range of shaving products
ShavingStyle – broad range of shaving products
Shoebox Shaveshop – excellent range of products, good prices
Smallflower – the on-line site of the brick-and-mortar Merz Apothecary in Chicago
Soap Commander – artisanal shaving soaps and aftershaves
Soap Smooth – artisanal shaving soap; formerly Seifenglatt
Sport Shaving – restored razors and restoration services including replating
Stirling Soap Company – artisanal soaps with distinct fragrances, aftershaves
Straight Razor Designs – excellent straight razors
Strop Shoppe – Excellent artisanal shaving soaps made by a biochemist
The Superior Shave – good range of shaving products
Superlather – good US source for European products
Through the Fire Fine Craft – artisanal shaving soaps and aftershaves
Tiki Bar Soap – artisanal soaps
Van Yulay – interesting shaving soaps, preshaves, aftershaves, along with brushes, and razors
Vintage Blades LLC –
straight razors, DEs, and supplies Jim Ayars sold the business, and the name was purchased for a company in Idaho that sells substandard straight razors and other products.
Weber Razors – at one time razors, now only handles
West Coast Razors – limited range of supplies, restored razors, restoration and replating services
West Coast Shaving – excellent range of products; has a brick-and-mortar store.
Western Razor – new razor maker
Whipped Dog – DIY and pre-made brushes, restored straight razors.
WhollyKaw – vegan artisanal soaps
Wolf Whiskers – artisanal shaving brushes
 Make a note of each time experience contradicts expectations.
 Getting to Yes: Inexpensive used copies
 Mindset – strongly recommended for parents
 Establishing lifespan of a multiblade cartridge.
 Tug-and-cut action of multiblade cartridge in close-up video.
 Barber towels
 Skin care
 Gillette statement of cartridge life [link updated: they moved the article]
 My recipe for Breakfast Bites
 Rituals do work
 Cognitive dissonance
 Ben Franklin story
 Life changes resulting from new self-regard
 Locus of control
 See KorenaInTheKitchen.com.
 The Ikea effect
 Health benefits of daily shave
 William James on Habit
 Kamasori razors
 Gillette did not invent safety razor
 Wilkinson technology
 Changing for Good
 My thoughts on the motivation that enables people to enjoy engaging in learning
 Shy/bold in animals
 “What was I thinking?”
 Cultural ebb and flow of body shaving
 eBay safety razors
 A wonderful account of the first-time experience
 Difference the Edwin Jagger made
 Predictably Irrational: inexpensive secondhand copies
 Making a brush
 Wire-bending tool
 Videos by Mantic59
 Videos by geofatboy
 Videos by Freedberg
 Videos by betelgeux (theshockwav)
 Mantic59’s Advanced Shaving Techniques video
 Hair conditioners
 High-velocity aerating low-flow showerhead
 100% glycerin
 Softens the beard
 Barbasol history
 Loading brush
 Somewhat drier
 Soft brush quickly making good lather
 Horsehair brush anthrax scare
 Omega boar family
 Several grades
 Made by hand
 Clear differences
 Bruce Everiss review of New Forest brushes
 Emilion, Victorian, and Thäter with hooked tips
 Andrew’s close-up photos of hooked tips
 Simpson measurements
 Omega brushes
 Omega brush measurements
 Kent brushes
 Bruce Everiss review of Morris & Forndran brushes
 Wooden-handled brushes
 Leisureguy 10-second-brush-loading video
 Mühle travel brush
 Brush cleaning
 M.A.C. brush cleaner
 Moss Scuttle
 Georgetown Pottery
 Dirty Bird Pottery
 Testing water hardness
 Water softener technology and options
 Surprising improvement from distilled water
 Hard-water regions
 Sunbeam Hot Shot
 Pump bottle for distilled water
 Interview with Al Raz
 High praise
 Nancy Boy shaving cream
 An illustrated guide
 Essence of Scotland shaving soaps
 More information
 This excellent tutorial
 Video of loading and lathering MWF in 10 seconds
 Another video, loading and lathering Col. Conk
 To make a shaving stick from any glycerin-based shaving soap
 Superlather video
 StraightRazorPlace superlather tutorial
 Gillette myth
 Different shavers respond differently to the same brand of blade
 Feather Blade Safe
 Three types of razors
 Thread pitches
 Razor handles from Pens of the Forest
 Edwin Jagger razor head
 Slant Bar history
 First slant patent
 Slant works well
 Gillette slide
 Slanted-blade mandolines
 Pot metal
 Above the Tie’s 3-part precision machine
 Edwin Jagger razors
 Loading Progress
 Futur advice
 Dates of Gillette razors
 Lady Gillette photos
 Bruce Everiss review of Eclipse Red Ring
 Schick Injector
 GEM Heavy Duty Flat-Top
 Mongoose Razor
 Schick models
 Ultrasonic cleaning
 Maas metal polish
 Holding the tip
 Pointed out angle
 Tiny travel razor
 A similar approach
 The basic 4-pass method
 Hydrolast Finishing Balm
 Total Shaving Solution
 All Natural Shaving Oil
 Kinexium ST Shaving Oil
 Gessato Pre-Shave Oil
 Natural 1 oz bottle
 Cobalt blue 1 oz bottle
 First Method video
 Method shaving supplies
 Wikipedia article on alum
 One woman notes
 My Nik Is Sealed
 Proraso Styptic Gel
 KDS Lab Liquid Styptic
 Lengthy review
 Mantic59 video on aftershaves
 Variety of fragrances
 Thayers Aftershave
 The story of bay rum
 Booster aftershaves
 The Emperor of Scent: inexpensive copies
 Sulfur-based compounds
 Low comedogenicity
 Wicked_Edge acne reference post
 Mayo Clinic article
 Innomed Lice Comb
 Bump Fighter Razor
 Bump Fighter
Dermagen Skin Revival System
Elicina Biological Treatment
High Time Bump Stopper Products
Moore Unique Products
Prince Reigns Gel
Smart Shave Products
 Eczema from shampoo
 Razor-blade collection
 Storage of soaps
 Interactive diagram
 “Exploring the Science of Shaving”
 Write-up at MSNBC
 Mantic59 shaving videos
 Geofatboy shaving videos
 Michael Freedberg has a series of four instructive video tutorials—scroll down at the link.
 A comprehensive list