The first step to get the perfect-shave is to handpick the right set of shaving products, and what’s better than an advice from a man who has had multiple products in his shaving kit? So let’s get down to business and discuss the products and their specific routines that I now swear by.
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 easily glide through sans any tugging. I have personally used olive oil, castor oil, and mustard oil among other combinations but pre-shave oil is most beneficial because it is water-soluble. I have tried shaving without the oil and even resorted to face scrubs, but I felt a striking difference in how my skin felt and looked with these alternatives. 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 and foremost step of my shaving routine, giving me a good, confident start.
Shaving Brush: In my early shaving years, I habitually used a plastic-handled brush made of nylon fibers but once I started using the boar brush, there was no looking back. Although I have shaving brushes made of badger, boar, horse, and synthetic fibers, I use the pure badger brush for my daily routine. Once the brush is put to use, it will produce lather with only a small amount of shaving cream. A good brush can be identified if it withholds water and the lather for a minimum of 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 smoothly.
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:
- Chemically focused creams – This category encapsulates all shaving foams and gels of the world commonly sold under the price of Rs.100.
- High in natural material creams – This category is priced between Rs.800 to Rs.6,000 plus (depending on the size), and the ingredients here are 90% natural. They produce a lather that is simply excellent, resulting in a smooth and moisturising shave.
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 that is 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, the handle, the cutting edge, and the base of the head can be taken out, making cleaning, replacing, and shaving much easier.
Double Edge Blades: The blades from relatively famous companies will give a good shave five-seven times, depending on your facial hair and the number of passes in your routine. I typically 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.
- 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 moisturised 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. The purpose of alum is to close any cuts, but remember not to leave the alum on your skin longer than the prescribed time since it can cause your skin to dry and as a result 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…