When it comes to grooming, we have it pretty good. We have hair products that tame our hair without making it look like vinyl, and cologne that goes beyond musk. We do, however, concede this one point: shaving was better back in the day. For your skin, anyway. The fewer times you scrape a blade against your face, the better. And while we appreciate the merits of the barbershop-style, straight-razor shave, it’s not exactly convenient. The safety razor, however, is the next best thing. A simple, economical tool that, with a little work, does its job well every time. No aloe vera comfort strips or vibrating heads. It’s just a man, a blade and a room full of steam.
1. The Materials
- Look for a razor with solid German construction, like those made by Merkur. They are simple and sturdy, with just the right amount of heft.
- The razor blades themselves will be inexpensive. Each brand makes them differently. Try a few different brands to see which one works best with you face: Merkur, Treet, Feather—though these are sharper, so pay extra attention.
- You will also want to use a shaving soap—they don’t dry as quickly as the fancy, chemical-laced shaving gel from the drugstore.
- Apply the soap with a badger brush.
2. The Preparation
- Ensure that your face is ready: pores opened using hot water and steam, facial hair loosened with vigorous scrubbing.
- Briefly soak both the brush and razor.
- Apply soap in a circular motion, raising your hair.
3. The First Pass
- Don’t shave against the grain, and don’t be too hasty. Don’t add much, if any, force. Let the weight of the razor set the pace
of your shave.
- Angle the stationary razor so it passes against your skin comfortably. Hold the razor 35 to 40 degrees from your face. Some razors have a series of adjustable settings, making this process easier.
4. The Second Pass
- Lather up your face, and start again.
Truths of Grooming
Overdoing it is just as bad as underdoing it. Frequently worse.
Bruce Springsteen is the only man who can make a “soul patch” look good.
May We Recommend: Boucheron After Shave Balm
The word ”classic” gets used so often it risks losing all meaning—like the words “gentleman,” or “literally.” But damn it if classic isn’t the best way to describe Boucheron’s After Shave Balm ($65). It goes on thicker than most aftershaves, has a woody smell with a subtle floral touch, and leaves your face pleasantly warm—like good Scotch. Thing is, the stuff isn’t classic. Not really. Boucheron introduced it in fragrance form only 20 years ago. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that if could have been made 50 years ago and that 50 years from now it will be just as good. That’s classic.