Nips and cuts. Irritated skin. Bad blades. Yet another chore to take care of in the morning, as if with our busy, fast-paced life we need yet another task, much less one that involves a blade and, if you do it wrong, pain and bleeding.
We don’t even know who to thank for such a genius idea. No one knows exactly where or how the miracle of wet shaving originated. It is generally believed that during the 18th Century, certain members of the French aristocracy began cutting their beards into various shapes and configurations using hot water and a straight edge. Further adaptations to this crude process soon followed. In London, at about the same time, barbers began giving shaves to wealthy patrons. This worked well, for barbers were the only ones permitted to perform medical surgeries(!), thus enabling them to develop a very lucrative side business shaving beards, an easy addition to their regular surgical duties, as they already possessed the scalpels, cutting and shaping utensils required to efficiently cut hair.
During that time, several shaving salons arose, including one of our favorites, Truefitt & Hill, listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest barber shop in the world. Over 200 years in business, thanks to the greatness of their luxurious shaves plus the fact that, simply put, every man must shave. Demand for their business is, likely, eternal. Unfortunately, for many, the task of shaving has been reduced to the tedium of a daily misery.
Well, not to worry. The art of wet shaving has been revived with all of its former glory, and is now more pompous than ever.
We cannot stress this enough: shaving should not be a skin-irritating time consumer that’s keeping you from your coffee in the morning. So, you could either treat yourself to letting a true master of the craft work its magic at your nearest wet shaving salon, or you can get the right tools and put a little time and patience in it yourself and see magnificent results. Whichever path you take, better skin and less ingrown beard hair plus a fantastic sense of well-being and relaxation await you.
So, here are a few of our observations in regards to this fascinating subject. Remember, we mention it will take time, definitely repetition, and lots of attention to detail. It’s just like the extra 5 minutes you put into finding the perfect tie to compliment your outfit, which you already know pays off all day. Embrace shaving, too! After all, it is something you have to do nearly every day.
Arm yourself with the best tools. Customize, get the right tools plus the right products for your skin type for a terrific combination. Also, keep educating yourself in the subject if you are interested in changing your shaving method. We suggest you find a shaving clinic in your area. Think of it as your Shaving 101 class. A bit late, maybe, but it is always a great time to learn.
Ready to go?
First and most important: hot water. This is going to be the first prepping step for your perfect shave. Why hot water? First, hot water helps in the removal of excess skin cells. Second, hot water softens the beard hair, enabling it to be more easily cut. Right after your shower is the best time to shave.
Next, remember to never rush your shave. There are crucial steps for a perfect shave, and rushing to get out of the bathroom in the morning is the reason why many of us fail in the attempt. Brush, cut, moisturize, all three are essential!
Brush. Our favorite is a badger hair brush. It’s softer and absorbs water quicker (always allow up to a minute to soak in your hot water; for a boar hair brush, allow up to 3 minutes). The brush generates a rich and warm lather that will soften the beard and open the pores. It also brings a wealth of water to the skin and is a gentle exfoliator.
Cut. The razor is used to remove the beard, obviously. For this stage to proceed correctly, the use of the razor must also be combined with the application of large volumes of water to the face throughout the entire cutting process. This washing and cutting process is fundamental to mastering a great beard cutting power.
Aftershave (moisturizing). Please refer to this as a process, not a product. Aftershave is the phase in which the skin is thoroughly irrigated with very large volumes of water to cool, soften and condition in the most efficacious manner possible. It does not solely refer to the application of “aftershave.” However, it is important to remember that the use of extremely high quality colognes, aftershaves and shaving balms is very much a part of the overall pleasure of wet shaving. Stay away from anything produced by a designer; hence shave creams found in department stores should be avoided. Such “fashion-forward” shaving products are typically overpriced, in addition to being overly fragranced and full of alcohol. Many also use various synthetic silicates that can create serious blemishes and exacerbate preexisting skin problems.
Whether you want and need to be pampered or just want to take the challenge and do it yourself, you will soon see the benefits and will not stop telling everyone about it.
Here what you need to get started on your own:
- The Art of Shaving, Full Size Kit Unscented.
- Pure Badger Black Brush.
- Double blade or straight razor, your pick.
Or, if you’re here in the New York area and want the full-service experience, here’s some top spots in the city:
- New York Shaving Company
- Esquire of Wall Street
- The Art of Shaving