The Ritual of Shaving
With the advent of technology, the appreciation of ritual has fallen to the wayside. Communication is instantaneous and tasks all need to be done immediately. This has caused all of us a lot of undue stress, discomfort, anxiety and frustration. We are frustrated when a movie doesn't load quickly on netflix and we are angry when we have to wait in line.
In short, the need for immediate response is not very gentlemanly. The imposition of need upon another person or thing is entirely a selfish act and the addition of speed does nothing but cause angst in those affected by it.
So it is with that in mind, that I begin the first of a series of entries based upon ritual.
The idea of ritual is as old as society. Be it prayers before a meal, sacrifice to the gods, or even something as contemporary as the way you prepare yourself for bed. Every culture has had ritual in one form or another. And Gentlemen are no different.
When one thinks of the rituals that have been eschewed for a disposable lifestyle--shaving, smoking, making coffee, reading the paper--you can begin to see how we have lost the appreciation for the things that take time.
Part of my endeavor into transformation will be to re-adopt these rituals into my life.
For me, the first step is changing the way I shave.
I, like the majority of other American men, have fallen into the multi-blade disposable razor trap. They are easy, fast, require little to no skill for operation, and only demand the minimal amount of attention.
Well this sounds like the kind of behavior I would want to get rid of. My life needs to be less hurried, so I will operate at a slower, and more thoughtful speed.
With that in mind, I did a fair amount of research. I asked friends for input, I spent some time on the forums at Badger and Blade, and I read more than a few amazon reviews.
So with no small amount of excitement, today I began shaving like my grandfather used to. With a double edged safety razor, a brush, and cream.
Patience is a trait that all gentlemen possess.
My brush is a silvertip badger brush made by Parker. It arrived in this elegant and unidentifiable box. (If you have to ask then you just aren't in the know, right?)
Once opened, the brush itself was within a plastic wrap and a layer of bubble wrap. The included plastic stand stood behind this.
The Silvertip is known for being the rarest of all badger hair brushes. This does not mean the best. It just means it is the most unavailable and therefore, the most expensive. That being said, there are many sites that review the various brush types and I would recommend looking into the brush thoroughly before you buy.
Blades, like every other element of "wet shaving" are strongly based on personal preference. Brands are known for offering blades with more or less keen edges depending on your skin type and preference. So I bought a mix sampler from amazon.
Now for the fun part:
After a lot of study and reading of personal opinions (including a few un-gentlemanly disagreements) I settled on the Edwin Jagger DE89bl Safety Razor. There are a variety of handle finishes available for this model, but I opted for polished chrome. I do like a clean line. The DE89bl has combs on either side and is not adjustable. It is a three piece razor where the base unscrews from the two head pieces which, when tightened down, hold the razor blade in place.
Once again, the packaging is very elegant. The razor came wrapped in tissue paper and enclosed in the box was a pamphlet which, among information on use and care, explains a brief history of Edwin Jagger.
Mmmmmmm...smelly stuff. As my wife said, this "smells like a man." Now I don't think that was a 100% good thing in her eyes but I have to agree.
The choices for shaving soap are legion. Does one go with a disk soap or a cream? Or perhaps tube soap? The general consensus out there is that the stuff in the can is the worst of all options and should never be used.
That being said, the recommendations I read all seemed to steer me towards the cream. I read a number of reviews, and ultimately settled on the Taylor of Old Bond Street's "Mr. Taylor's Shaving Cream." The scent of the cream was secondary to the scent of the after shave. I figured the after shave was what I would be smelling all day and I was right. And boy was I happy. The smell of the Taylor of Old Bond Street Luxury After Shave Balm is wonderful. It smells like you imagine a barbershop in the 1920's would. I am not good with scent identification, but if you can, find some of this and get a whiff. Or just buy it out right.
The final piece of shaving gear is a good stand. One can't have their implements scattered about the sink. I chose Colonel Ichabod Conk's chrome stand. It was well reviewed and matched the aesthetic I was looking for. Plus, I mean, come on, it's name is Colonel Ichabod Conk...this was coming home with me no matter what it was.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
Last, but certainly not least, styptic pencils. This will stanch blood flow from minor cuts almost immediately. And as you can see...I bought a lot.
The elements for the ritual are collected. And this morning was my first foray. And I was not disappointed. I still smell of Taylor of Old Bond Street, my cheeks are smooth and burn free, and I am actually excited to shave again tomorrow.
Until then, be a gentleman.