The Art of the Classic Shave
My neighbor Javaun has taken up the art of classic shaving. I’ve since learned that many men are returning to the wet, double-blade method. While demonstrating the step-by-step process, Javaun told me more about the tools, technique, and why he favors the old school shave.
Javaun likens the wet shave to driving a stick shift versus an automatic. He also says, “I like it because it’s a craft. And the dirty secret is that the old equipment shaves better than the new stuff, with more pride and less waste. I’ve gone from hating shaving to loving it.” By less waste, he’s referring to the fact that you can recycle a metal blade and that’s the only thing you actually discard. Of course, you can become enamored with the gadgetry of the classic wet shave, which increases your financial outlay, plus there’s a range of cost associated with the quality of the tools. But Javaun keeps things pretty simple, all told.
Javaun prefers the German-made Merkur Long Handled Chrome Safety Razor. It gives him a nice close and smooth shave.
For men who already buy the disposable single-blade razors, the transition to a single fixed blade is not hard. Yet, the blade is of a much higher quality. And they’re a fraction of the cost.
Javaun says there are dozens of different brands of varying sharpness and also tons of opinions on what works best. “I’m still shaving with Merkur blades, which are great all-arounders,” he says.
The Soap and Brush
Buying the petroleum-based cream in an aerosal can is more expensive in the long run. You may pay more up front for the traditional shave cream and soap, but you use less so it lasts longer. The ingredients are of a higher quality and you get a better shave when you use them. Plus, you don’t have the can to throw away. Javaun has two kinds on hand that he uses alternately. This avocado shave cream…
And this aloe vera and shea butter soap. “I promise,” says Javaun, “that it’s better than the stuff in the can.”
The brush Javaun bought is an Omega Boar. Badger is the standard, he says, and a lot of people buy a Tweezerman badger hair brush. He learned from online forums that he “was better with a good boar than a cheap badger.”
Usually, Javaun showers before shaving so he can wash his face well and soften the skin. Another way to soften your beard is with a hot towel.
Next, he wets the brush well in warm water.
He swishes the brush over the bar of shave soap vigorously to load the brush. Then, he swirls the brush in the bowl for 60 seconds to build a lather.
“It should look like meringue,” he says.
And then he’s ready to lather it on…
And shave. He’s learned that you don’t need to use a lot of pressure with the single blade razor as long as you’re going with the grain.
Sometimes, he’ll lather up a second time and go over his face again, rather than try to get all of the stubble in one go, which can cause skin irritation.
Javaun says he no longer contends with razor burn and, although he does sometimes nick himself, he achieves a much smoother clean shave.
Javaun’s Recommended Resources
You can find YouTube videos on every step in the wet shave process. Javaun also recommends these sites for all skill levels:
If you want to start out with a soap and brush starter kit, Javaun recommends this option.