The first step to get a smooth shave is to handpick the right set of shaving tools. So let’s get down to business and discuss the products and their specific routines that I now swear by.
Shaving Tool #1 – Prepare your face for a smooth shave
Pre-Shave Oil: Apply the oil on your face—after cleansing your skin with warm water—and wait for less than a minute before starting to lather. The oil will act as a lubricant, allowing the razor blade to glide through without any tugging. I have used olive oil, castor oil, and mustard oil among other combinations but pre-shave oil is most beneficial because it is water-soluble.
I tried shaving without the pre shave oil and even resorted to face scrubs. But I felt smoothness only with a pre shave oil. It was rather rough without the oil, and with the scrub, it clogged the razor while I tried to shave. Today my pre-shave oil is the first step of my shaving routine, giving me a good, confident start.
Shaving Tool #2 & 3 – Create Lather with Shaving Brush and Cream/Soap
Shaving Brush: In my early shaving years, I used a plastic-handled brush made of nylon fibers but once I started using the boar shaving brush, there was no looking back. Although I have shaving brushes made of badger, boar, horse, and synthetic fibers, I use the boar or pure badger brush for my daily routine. These brushes produce copious lather with a small amount of shaving cream.
A good brush is one that holds water and lather for at least 10 minutes while shaving. An added benefit of the shaving brush is that it acts like an exfoliator, making it easy for the razor to shave the facial hair.
Shaving cream: It is good to lather your shaving cream, foam, or gel, but I have learnt that shaving foams and gels leave the skin dry. Another discovery has been of the types of shaving creams:
· Chemical Shaving Creams – This category encapsulates all shaving foams and gels of the world sold under the price of Rs.100.
· High in natural material creams – This category costs Rs.400 to Rs.6,000 plus (depending on the size), and the ingredients here are 90+% natural. They produce a lather that is excellent, resulting in a smooth and moisturizing shave.
Shaving Tool #4 – Start Shaving with Safety Razors & DE Blades
Double Edge Safety Razor: This type of razor will be better understood with a description of its three sub-categories:
Twist-To-Open (TTO) Safety Razor – AKA the Butterfly safety razor is the one where you twist the bottom to unlock the blade holding the plate at the top, and then pop the blade in or remove it. This shaving razor is a bit difficult to clean, and has a delicate mechanism.
Two-Piece Design Razor – The cutting head of this razor comes out of the handle attached to the base of the head. This is an uncommon razor since very few companies manufacture it today.
Three-Piece Design Razor – All the parts of this razor (handle, cutting edge, and the base of the head) can be removed for cleaning.
The blades differ in sharpness and longevity. Some of them are good for 2-3 shaves while the others give 4-7 shaves. The number of shaves also depends on your facial hair and the number of passes in your routine. I make two light passes with no pushing down of the razor, and get the job done. A blade’s life will also depend on the pressure you apply while using the razor. Stop using the blade the moment it starts to pull the skin.
Shaving Tool #5 – Post Shave Routine for a Smooth Shave
After Shave Balm: I stopped liquid after shaves when my skin started to become dry and brittle. With balms, I’ve noticed that my skin does not sting and has a moisturized feel that alcohol-based after shaves lack.
Alum: Yes, I use my beloved alum (phitkari) in my shaving routine. Once you’ve shaved, rinse your face with cold water and apply the wet alum to the shaven area leaving it for 35-45 seconds. Post this, rinse your face with cold water again and apply an after shave balm. Alum closes cuts, but remember not to leave it on your skin longer than a few seconds. Else your skin will feel dry and feel rigid.
This was my first bit of knowledge that I thought was necessary to bring to the table. There’s a lot more to come but as they say all good things take time…