The Finer Things: Is The New Close Shave Actually In The Past?

–Douglas Bennett

A Revolution in Shaving Technology

For years, consumer products companies have tried to outdo each other by claiming better shaving products: 2, 3, 4, and 5-bladed systems, guaranteed closer shaves, less cuts and irritation, gels, creams and foams with extra lather.   Let me tell you that I’ve tried them all with little success, each resulting in a shave that is no closer than before.  However, a few companies that I found are turning back the clock and are returning to the golden age of shaving.  The Art of Shaving (theartofshaving.com), Classic Shaving (classicshaving.com), and Anthony Logistics (anthony.com) are three companies offering a more complex, expensive, and dated shaving process with fundamentally superior results.

The Art of Shaving’s patented four step shaving process, (Prepare, Lather Up!, Shave, and Moisturize) requires a bottle of scented pre-shave oil, a badger brush, a straight razor, and a clay mask.  On the other hand, Anthony Logistics begins the process with their own 5th step they call “Cleanse” marketing an Algae Facial Cleanser to be used prior to the standard AOS four-step process.  They add even another step called “Tone” which occurs somewhere between Shaving and the Aftershave Balm application; the importance of this step seems very unclear.

Nonetheless, the Art of Shaving makes three key claims that are believed to be the moral building blocks for an organization destined to change the World of Shaving

  • A Dedication to the science of aromatherapy
  • Use of high quality botanical ingredients with 100% pure essential oil
  • Providing an innovative path to optimal shaving performance

While I believe in the Art of Shaving and their program, in my opinion, shaving is not about the creams, gels, or number of blades.  A perfect shave is about the badger brush and the tub of hot water.

A perfect shaving brush is hand-crafted using only the finest badger hair available.  The Art of Shaving claim is that using a badger hair brush is the key to the perfect shave.  Badger hair is rather stiff and is taken from the back of the animal and can be as long as four inches. Commonly, badger-hair brushes are found in a fan shape or a bushy round shape with a flat top normally called a “badger blender.” The brush is swept across the face in circular motions to smoothly apply shaving cream, enhancing the lather, while providing a good hot wetting.  FYI, monster-sized, high-end English hand-made brushes run about $550 US and contain only the hair from the badger’s neck, which is said by some to be the finest and most rarefied expression of water-holding bristles.1 You have to wonder why a badger needs to hold so much water in its neck hair.  You may also wonder about the largest badger brush.  Of course, this would turn on the largest badger.

The tub of hot water is commonly overlooked since water is easy to obtain, however it is often difficult to find hot enough water suitable for the perfect shave that we are destined to achieve.  My personal and professional recommendation is to purchase a self-regulating insulated water basin that plugs into your bathroom outlet.  You can be guaranteed a consistent temperature throughout your shave, making every stroke the same.  Perfect shaving temperature is somewhere around 150 and 155 degrees Fahrenheit.  Some argue that you need to use boiling water, but I would argue that boiling water may damage the razor or brush.  As the tub heats to its correct temperature, let your shaving brush soak in the water. Splash some hot water on your face to keep it maximally wet.  “The key to wetshaving is keeping your face as hydrated as possible with hot water at all times.”  I’m always asked the question should I be using soft or hard water; clearly soft water as it is more resilient and comforting to the skin, easier on the razor, and more expensive to obtain.  Don’t we all have soft water management systems already installed?  Until next time, keep cleaning, lubricating, brushing, shaving, and balming.

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[1] Badger brushes can be further sub-classified into the following types: pure badger, best badger, super badger, and silvertip badger. Avoid pure badger brushes: they are less-expensive than the other types. Some argue that best badger brushes are no better than pure badger brushes. Best badger brushes are made with hair culled from only 20% of the badger’s body while pure badger brushes can be made with hair culled from 60% of the badger’s body. Super badger brushes are better than best. Silvertip badger brushes are better than super badger brushes and thus are the only brushes that are acceptable for use. The tip of the bristles are flared, causing maximum water retention.

Thanks to:

http://www.classicshaving.com/

http://www.theartofshaving.com/

http://www.anthony.com/

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