‘Round about 8 years ago, I began to relearn how to shave. In general, not much has changed, but I have a few thoughts to jot down.
I’m still using a Mach3. I recently started trying the Fusion again. Again I don’t see the benefit of the Fusion. Maybe you can the job done with fewer strokes, but that seems like a minimal benefit.
Oils and Creams
I have changed the shave oil I use. I still don’t use creams or lotions.
When I started this adventure, I tried Shave Secret shave oil just because I happened to see it in the store and it seemed different. I liked it well enough. But I was still willing to try new things. Thus I purchased Pacific Shaving Company’s All Natural Shaving Oil and King of Shaves Kinexium Shaving Oil when I happened to see them at Bed Bath & Beyond. Pacific’s product I did not care for. The Kinexium shave oil I liked, but have had trouble finding (until right now as I searched for the full name and noticed that everyone has it now at affordable prices). Thus I was later enticed to try King of Shaves Alpha Oil since I couldn’t find the Kinexium oil. And I tried Somersets when I found it at Bed Bath and Beyond instead of the Kinexium that I was looking for.
As I said, I didn’t much care for Pacific’s All Natural oil. I thought it smelled like damp cardboard. It was actually difficult to dispense from the little squeeze bottle. And the consistency was watery. So even though it generally worked fine, I realized that I appreciate other products which provide a better shaving experience even if they don’t provide a better shave. I also learned to appreciate the one strength of this product: it rinses away very easily. This contrasts with the Shave Secret oil which I found to be sticky — not tacky, but sticky in how it stays in place and doesn’t rinse away very well.
Otherwise I don’t see much difference between the products. The Somersets product has really grown on me. But I would rank them in this order:
1) Kinexium – Feels slick and I like the pump action dispenser
2) Somersets – Probably the most jarring product due to having more methanol or something. It was offputting at first, but now I’m on board.
3) AlphaOil – Doesn’t have the same dispenser as its King of Shaves cousin. Is an otherwise unnotable shave oil.
4) All Natural – Works well but is somewhat annoying to use.
5) Shave Secret – Works well enough, but I have concerns with the stickiness.
Razors and Oils
It occurs to me that certain razors are going to work much better with certain oils. If you’re going to use something like Shave Secret, you’re going to need a razor that can be rinsed out / cleaned easily. The Fusion probably doesn’t pair well because the blades are so close together. The point is that if you decide to change razors, you might have to spend a long time searching for the right cream or oil that works well with that razor.
Back in January, I read this Yahoo! Tech article a $500 razor. The writer got to try the razor. And the first attempt went terribly, even though he had received hands on instruction from the inventor of the thing. Then he got more instructions.
“Make sure your beard is wet and warm; hair tensile strength is cut in half when wet. Use the cream and badger brush; lather your beard against the grain with the brush. Multiple short, light strokes. First pass, 30 degrees on the blade with the grain (that is, down your face in the sideburn area). Try varying the angle from 30 down to 5 degrees (blade nearly parallel to your skin at 5 degrees). You should feel and hear the sound of beard hairs being felled!
“Then reapply shave cream and go across the grain. I would not go against the grain for a week or so until you’ve got your motor memory re strokes and your skin is ready.”
I bring this up because it highlights to me how little the razors matter and how much the process matters. This is what I found 8 years ago. And it’s refreshing to see my findings confirmed by the people who are designing and selling new razor blades (even if they aren’t saying it outright, but what do you expect from salesmen?)