“Winning is like shaving—you do it every day or you wind up looking like a bum.” – Jack Kemp
It’s hard for me to imagine a life-changing event more random than shaving. I shaved with an electric razor for 30-plus years and never much thought about it. Buzz, buzz, zip, zip, done in two minutes. Yeah, I had a five o’clock shadow at two, but I thought that was “normal.” Now, I spend a luxurious 10–15 minutes with warm, fragrant lather and shave with a single blade razor that works just as well (in some ways better) as a multi-blade cartridge razor. And my blades cost me under 25 cents, versus almost $4 for a modern cartridge refill. It’s almost meditative in nature. Let me explain.
Shaving A Life
In the mid ’90s I began a serious relationship with a special young lady. One thing she absolutely adored was the feeling of my face just after it was freshly shaven. Unfortunately, she could only enjoy caressing my face for a few hours before it would get a bit “sandpapery” again.
A couple of years after my wonderful young lady and I were married, we decided to go to Las Vegas for our wedding anniversary. One morning while we were there, she came to me with a gleam in her eye and said, “Don’t shave today, I have a special anniversary present for you.” That afternoon she took me to The Art of Shaving (in Mandalay Place) and had them give me a barber shave as an anniversary gift. It was a little freaky at first—I mean, here’s this stranger hovering over me with a straight-razor—but after a while it became strangely relaxing and I enjoyed it. The barber finished and pulled off the smock with a flourish. I felt my face…
My face was insanely soft and smooth. I’d never felt anything like it before. My wife had a sparkle in her eye and a huge smile on her face as she ran a finger along my jawline, “Ohhh, Mama likes!” I didn’t need to shave again for two days, and I was almost continuously touching my face in amazement: I was sold on this way of shaving.
Would you like to change shaving from an annoying (even painful) chore to a pleasant diversion? There’s a bit of a learning curve—after all, you’re learning a new skill, like riding a bicycle or playing a musical instrument—but it is not particularly difficult:
Prepare the area before you shave with lots of warm water and a gentle facial soap. No deodorant or body bars! Doctors tell me it can take up to three minutes to fully hydrate the skin for shaving: take the time and leave the skin wet.
No canned shaving cream! The propellants actually dry out the skin and then artificial lubricants have to be added to try to compensate. Use a cream or gel out of a squeeze tube. Or better yet, a lather soap or cream that you apply with a shaving brush: they come in many scents that can really enhance the shave experience!
Yes, use a shaving brush. They may seem old fashioned or foppish, but they are excellent for both gently exfoliating the skin—cleaning out the tiny bits of debris from around each stubble of hair—and spreading the shave lather evenly and thoroughly. It’s better than massaging the lather in with the fingers, believe me!
Use a razor with as few blades as necessary to get the job done. A single blade can actually work better than a multi-blade cartridge for a lot of people—any more and you are just inviting razor burn or irritation.
Initially shave in the direction that the hair grows. It’s worth a careful look before you start: the hair “grain” can change directions. Not close enough? Re-lather and shave across the grain (90 degrees from the grain). Still not close enough? Re-lather and shave across the grain from the opposite direction. Want to try for “smooth as a baby’s butt?” Re-lather and shave against the grain (caution: some people just can’t do this). The idea here is to reduce the stubble in stages or passes instead trying to get rid of it all at once. Believe it or not shaving this way is actually less prone to irritation. Be sure to use the least possible pressure on the razor—don’t press down!
After you’re finished shaving rinse thoroughly with warm water. This will remove any lather residue that could cause plugged up pores (little white pimple-looking things) and ingrown hairs. Then, rinse with cool water and apply an aftershave (one that does not have alcohol as a primary ingredient) to calm and protect the skin.
I challenge you to give these techniques a try and comment below. You may be surprised at the results!
Want a perfect shave? How to get that perfect shaveFeatured photo credit: juhansonin via Flickr