At the request of the mods, I have decided to compile all the wisdom of the collective Uncle Albert's Amazing Shaving Advice threads into one super-post. So now I present to you: Uncle Albert's Amazing Super Colossal Compendium of Shaving Advice _________________________________________________________________ Uncle Albert's Amazing Shaving Advice Part I What is it about wet-shaving that appeals to so many? Is it a sense of nostalgia? Could it be a strongly held fascination for quaint technology? Might it be a deep seated appreciation for lost arts? Is it just obsessive collectoritis? Yes. If you ask an enthusiast what brought him/her to using “outdated” shaving equipment and techniques, you will likely get as many different answers as people you ask. Some are in it simply because they are collectors while others enjoy the economy of a modest shaving set. Regardless of their reasons, they are legion and will probably be glad to bend your ear and wax poetic about “last night’s shave.” This shaving “hobby” can be a very rewarding experience. Uncle Albert would like to take a few moments to offer some advice to those who have just discovered Grampa’s razor and haven’t a clue what to do next. Remember, this is not your father's shaving advice! 1. Mingle This first piece of advice is not completely necessary, but I feel it is invaluable; Find like minded people. The internet is the world’s town square and you can find almost anyone hanging out there at any given time. There are forums and informative blogs dedicated to this obsession of shaving with vintage tools and these places can help to prepare you for what lies ahead. 2. Get a dictionary. It helps to know a few terms and what they mean before you get too involved in reading about the different techniques people are using. Here are a few to get you started.(But, don’t fret if you see a term you don’t understand, just ask, we’re mostly a friendly lot and will be glad to explain.) Grain–This is the direction in which your hair grows. ATG–Against The Grain–The act of shaving against the direction in which your hair grows. WTG–With The Grain–The act of shaving with the grain of your hair. xAD–This is an acronym for _____ Acquisition Disorder.–This is the obsessive need to collect some item. “x” represents a variable here that could be anything from Razors to Shaving Creams. SWMBO/TWGW–She Who Must Be Obeyed, sometimes referred to as The World’s Greatest Wife.–Often the same person. 3. Choke up on the bat. Many will suggest holding your razor near the tip of the handle. This is initially good advice. While holding the razor near the tips serves to teach one how to shave with a light touch, eventually you will want to choke up a bit and find your razor’s more natural balance point. Some of you might even prefer to hold the razor closer to the head. This isn’t necessarily wrong–a tad unorthodox perhaps–but not wrong.(I might suggest a Gillette Travel Tech) Remember when you’re sliding a scary sharp piece of metal around on your face, you want it to be as comfortable as possible. 4. It doesn’t matter when you shave(or where, for that matter). Sure, some will tell you that you should only shave in the morning, but lots of us de-fleece in the evening when we have more time to devote to the ritual, and it hasn’t caused any major harm, yet. There’s also nothing wrong with shaving in the bath-tub. It was good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for you. 5. Ask questions. When in doubt, ask. No doubt someone else has had the same question before, and will be glad to share what they’ve learned. Sometimes we take for granted that everyone understands what we meant when we say we did an N/S pass with our Fatboy set at 6, following an EVOO prep. If that didn’t make sense, we won’t laugh at you for asking for clarification. 6. Ask questions. See #5. 7. Be patient. Wet-shaving takes time. It can almost become a ritual. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to learn about the different techniques. You probably won’t get it all straight away, but as your technique improves, your appreciation will grow. We won’t disown you if you don’t throw away your Fusion on day one. After 2 weeks, we’ll need to talk though–sometimes it’s just time to let go and move on, dude. Seriously. 8. Have a sense of humor. If you find yourself on a wetshaving forum and we make merry at your expense, please try to remember: We kid because we love. It’s all in good fun. As long as they’re picking on you, they’re leaving me alone. Who am I kidding, they’re probably picking on me, too. So there it is, wet-shaver, a little advice to help you get started. Take it or leave it, but just remember, take note of what you learn on the journey that lies ahead; you never know when someone will need your advice. _________________________________________________________________ Uncle Albert's Amazing Shaving Advice Part II A while back, I wrote some tips and advice for beginning wet-shavers. I tried to answer some of the basic questions that might not be so obvious, as well as addressing issues of a lighter note, such as what to expect on a forum full of wet-shaving fanatics. That piece was so well recieved, I thought I might try to hit a few notes I missed the first time around. So, here goes… This is also not your father’s shaving advice. 1.Add a little salt. Shaving is a lot like cooking. While we all might like vegetable soup, some of us like it a little saltier than others. In a similar manner, we don’t all enjoy the same qualities in a shave. Just because a lot of guys are touting the laser sharp shaves they get from Feathers or Red Pack Isreali Personnas, it doesn’t mean that you are wrong for getting a secret delight when you open a new pack of Danny Boy razors from Dublin. 2.Turn up the heat. There’s a reason that hot towels are so popular in wet-shaving circles. The heat from the towels helps to make your skin a little more elastic by relaxing your pores, and it softens the hair on your mug. Soft hair cuts cleaner than stiff hair and that means a smoother shave. 3.Cool off a little. While it may seem counter intuitive to use a stinging alcohol based aftershave splash, the cooling effects of alcohol and menthol (and sometimes peppermint) can make for a pleasing cap to an otherwise mediocre shave. Menthol and peppermint are especially effective at masking the irritation that a less than stellar shave elicits; that’s why Aqua Velva continues to be a strong seller. 4.It’s there to make you ask questions. Those numbers on your blades? Yeah, the little numbers next to each edge of the blade–those don’t mean anything, at least not as far as you should be concerned. Some speculate that they’re there to facilitate the production process and others think they have some purpose in an other-than-shaving application of the blades. From a shaving perspective, they mean nothing. 5.Look! It’s a zebra! Those stripes on your blade? Yeah, there’s one near one edge and two near the other– You could use those to help you remember which edge you shaved with last if you set your razor down between passes. Many will tell you though, that it doesn’t really make that much difference. As long as you flip the razor around periodically (I try to do it with each stroke) you’ll get pretty even wear on the blade. But hey, if you’re a little obsessive compulsive, those stripes can be a great boon. 6.I’m stuck on you. If you buy the type of blades that come wrapped in little wax paper envelopes inside a cardboard or plastic box, you will no doubt find little “dots” of an oily/waxy substance stuck to the top of your blades. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt you. That’s there to keep the envelopes lightly sealed. Think about it, would you want to LICK anything that close to one of those blades? No? So doesn’t that waxy oil make sense now? 7.Just Hangin’ Around. Once RAD sets in, you’ll start looking for a way to keep your razors. A lot of guys go the budget route and use a toothbrush holder. Does it hurt to store your razor lying down? Probably not. 8.We’ve secretly switched his Bay Rum with Folger’s crystals. Wetshaving is alot like coffee. Some guys are totally gear obsessed, investing in premium equipment, buying only the highest end coffee, and grinding/roasting their own beans that they specially imported from Lower Cantpronouncestan. Other’s are thrilled to grab a cup of the black tar that they scrape from the bottom of the company caraffe. Likewise, some shavers swear by $100 an oz. aftershave, $40 luxury creams, $300 brushes, and $200 razors, while others are quite content to lather up a puck of Williams with their Burmashave brush, shave with a Bic disposable and finish it all off with a splash of “Smells Exactly Like Old Spice” from the Family Dollar. It’s okay if you’re either one of those guys. 9.There’s a reason safety razors became so popular. For many shaving with a double-edge safety razor, there comes a time when you start to look longingly at the straight-razor community. There is something undeniably manly about a man who shaves with a straight. Just because you don’t shave with one, however, doesn’t make you less of a man. Men moved away from shaving with straights for more than one reason; It’s really easy to hurt yourself badly with one, they’re a lot of work to maintain, and mastering the use of one is a daunting task when you don’t have a hands on demonstration like your forefathers had from their fathers. Does that mean you shouldn’t try your hand at the strop? Absolutely not! You’re learning, and you want to experience all that fits your personality, so don’t let me or anyone stop you from ordering that pearl handled carbon steel beauty on ebay. Enjoy. And if you cut yourself, I won’t laugh. But I would love to see the pictures, maybe they’ll convince me to put off ordering my razor for another month. 10.People hide from Jehova’s Witnesses. Once you’ve reached wetshaving nervana, you’ll want to share with everyone you know. At least try to limit it to the people who actually shave. Most people are perfectly happy to have a miserable shave and they don’t want to hear you wax on ad-infinitum about how wonderful your shave routine is. Mention that you’ve taken up wetshaving with “grandpa’s razor” and then let them ask you more questions. If they don’t ask, don’t press the issue. You serve the community better by not revealing that we’re really a cult in a clean shaven disguise. So that’s it. A few more friendly tips from your Uncle Albert– He never gives you fatherly advice. _________________________________________________________________ Uncle Albert's Amazing Shaving Advice Part III Uncle Albert has come around again, offering some more advice. These are tips that your dad probably didn’t share, but that might make your entry to wetshaving a mite more tolerable. Remember, this is not your father’s advice (part the third). 1. On a scale of 1 to 10… Those little numbers on the neck of your razor represent how harsh the razor is. 1 is the least harsh, 9 is the most. The closer the blade is to the guard, the less hair the blade takes off in a single pass. There’s no shame in shaving on a “1″, especially if you’re a beginner. Some will say that you should “set it and forget it” and others will say that they adjust the razor to a different number for each pass. Both are right–do what works for you. 2. Your Barn Door is Open. When adjusting your razor, be sure and open the silo doors before you adjust your razor. Adjusting your razor without opening the doors first can damage it. Consider this a friendly warning. 3. How long have you had that rash? Sometimes, a single pass, with-the-grain shave is a good thing. If you find that that second pass is causing a lot of weepers then you might want to limit your neck shave to one pass. That light stubble on your neck isn’t nearly as noticeable as you think it is, but those little red bumps don’t make a good commercial for your new-found practices. 4. Mmmm, Old Man Scent! There’s nothing wrong with drugstore scents. Alot of guys love the “classic” scents like Old Spice, Aqua Velva, and Skin Bracer. With so many new and complex scents being over-marketed today, sometimes the old standbys are the freshest scent. Give them a whiff, they might surprise you. 5. Let me “Axe” you something, do you think that smells good? Axe stinks. Actually, it probably doesn’t smell that bad, but it’s overused. If Axe and its clones were music, they’d be that song that they play every five minutes on the radio–you know the one, it sticks in your head until you hate it. Teenagers love Axe, and they don’t realize the difference between cologne and deodorant, so they tend to overuse it. Maybe one day it’ll be the Old Spice of a generation. Let’s hope we don’t live to see that day. 6. You have two ears, use them. Audio feedback can go a long way to helping improve your shave. That “scritching” sound tells you that the blade is cutting hairs. Many will argue that audio feedback isn’t necessary, and some maintain that the noise is an indicator that you don’t have proper blade angle. Uncle Albert disagrees. 7. Sooth the shaving beast. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with your technique and learned to “hear” your shave by touch, try adding a little music to your routine. Uncle Albert likes to load up Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’s “Whipped Cream and Other Delights” but The Girlwatchers’ “Music to Watch Girls By” is a good album too. A good turntable and some old LPs can really add to the experience. 8. Stop and smell the roses. Rose is a very popular scent with many men. There are various creams, soaps, and aftershaves that serve as a testament to this. If, like Uncle Albert, you find that rose is a little too “sour” smelling for your tastes, you might look to other floral scents. While floral bouquets may not sound masculine, they really can work well for some men. Lavender, Jasmine, and Lilac have been the favourites of men for ages. There is a reason for this. 9. You’ll never know until you try it. Lilac Vegetal is a special aftershave splash. Many don’t like it. Some love it. Few are indifferent. You really owe it to yourself to try Lilac Vegetal at least once. It looks like antifreeze and it smells like skunk in the bottle. Don’t go by what you smell fresh from the bottle, however, it changes on the skin. If you are one of the fortunate few whose body chemistry works well with the green nectar, you will likely love the stuff. If, however, it doesn’t work for you, then you will smell like some sort of heinous chemical cocktail for the rest of the day. If you don’t try it out for yourself, though, you’ll never know and you’ll always wonder. 10. Tiny Bubbles… For those of you who shave in the bath-tub, here’s a tip for rinsing the lather from your face. Get on your knees, and lean forward. Submerge your face (Uncle Albert has to hold his nose) and blow. The bubbles will spread out over your face and neck, gently rinsing the foam off. If you dip your face deep enough into the water, it will get that little bit of lather that always gets stuck behind the front flap of your ear, too. A nice bonus to this technique is that it makes you feel like you’re 10 years old again, albeit for a brief moment. There it is. This advice is not meant to be a set of steadfast rules, but rather some gentle tips to help you get more out of your shave. I hope it helps you out on your quest to BBSdom, and if it makes you feel a little younger along the way, then so be it! _________________________________________________________________ Uncle Albert's Amazing Shaving Advice Part IV Everyone's favorite Uncle is back with some more shaving tips. This still isn't your father's shaving advice. 1. Baby Bear's bed was juuuuust right. Often times, it can be difficult to get your lather to the right consistency, and thus your shave turns out miserable. The problem may not be your soap/cream, technique, or razor. Check your water. It could be that you have "hard" water. You needn't run out and buy a water softening system (though Uncle Albert hears they are nice); you can simply add a little baking soda to your sink/tub. About a cup to a tub, or a few tablespoons to the sink. Just don't slip in the tub! 2. Dick Tracy Villains Inquire Within. Your face is like rubber. It bends, it stretches, and it snaps more or less back into place. This makes it hard to get a super close shave sometimes. You know that spot under your jawline that just sort of squishes around when you run your razor over it? Pull your skin tight, move that spot up over your jawline if necessary. You might try making an "O" with your mouth to get the skin on your cheeks to pull tight enough. Don't be afraid of looking like Jim Carey, it's just you and the mirror. 3. Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog. Sometimes, you just can't pull your skin tight enough to get that weird spot on your neck. Try tucking your chin down toward your chest, and puffing out your jowls. This might make you look like a bullfrog, but it might help you get that tricky patch. 4. Let me bend your ear. Head shaver? Getting that patch behind your ears is a delicate situation sometimes. Try folding the top of your ear down so you can get in nice and close, while protecting the soft fleshy part of the thing you hear with. If you're shaving with a DE, don't forget that the razor has a blade edge on both sides! Few things bleed like a sliced ear. 5. "Manscaping" If you haven't encountered a discussion on this concept yet, you will. It is, at best, an indelicate topic. Just remember a few key things. Pull your skin tight, be careful, leave some around the outer edges, and don't follow up with a splash of Pinaud's Bay Rum. 6. How's it hangin'? How do you store your shave brush? Some say bristles down is the only safe way, others say bristles up is a-okay. Uncle albert hasn't noticed much difference, and the truth is, you likely won't either. Everyone has their theories on why they store their brush in the manner of their choosing. Nobody's right. Nobody's wrong. Store it how you like. 7. Gee, Bert, You need to pluck! Got a monobrow? Pluck it. I know there's a temptation to shave that little area, but the irritation from the razor will be up-front and annoying. Man up, grab the tweezers, and yank out those hairs. 8. Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink! Water is your friend when it comes to wetshaving. You want lots of moisture to help the razor glide over your skin. Water is also great for your skin. It's the original moisturizer. Water is, however, bad for your blade. Be sure and shake your blade dry when you've finished rinsing it off. Rust is a nasty thing to have scraping on your skin. 9. A generation apart. This is isn't really shaving advice, but more like parenting advice (from your childless Uncle, no less). Let your kid see you shave (Unless of course, you're experimenting with #5--Shaving lessons should not induce the need for therapy). He'll be fascinated, and he'll be super amused at the way you look like Jim Carey swallowed a bullfrog as you gurn at the mirror. 10. Pardon me, Ma'am. Sometimes it's easy to forget that women shave too. More and more ladies have learned to love the DE experience. When you're roaming around on the shaving forums, don't forget that guys. Ladies, see the above advice. One day, your daughter will thank you for teaching her how to shave her legs. So there it is folks. The fourth installment in Uncle Albert's Amazing Shaving advice. Try not to scar your face, try not to scar your children, and enjoy your shave! _________________________________________________________________ Uncle Albert's Amazing Shaving Advice Part V Everyone's favorite Uncle is back with more shaving advice you didn't know you needed! Take everything said here with a grain of salt, and remember, this is not your father's shaving advice. 1. I'm taking my ball, and I'm going home! Please try to remember that this is a community of people who find enjoyment in the simple pleasures afforded by a good shave. It's okay to offer correction if somebody says something in blatant error, but try to do it gently. If someone corrects you, give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they meant it in good spirit and with no malicious intent. If after careful review, you two still can't reconcile your opinions, move on, or settle it the old fashioned way, with Schick disposables at 10 paces. At dawn. Seriously though, if someone's being an idiot, laugh it off, unless someone could get injured/maimed by following their advice. 2. How do you get your leg hair to shine like that? Shaving your legs? Try using a dollop of conditioner as a shave gel. You'll be surprised how smooth it is, and you'll love how it softens. It comes in a variety of scents, mango is nice, but give lavender a try too, at only around $1 a bottle, it's hard to beat. 3. Hang on a second... Those little screw-in hooks that they sell in the hardware department for hanging pots and pans from? They are just the right size to hold a razor when you screw them in sideways. Just slide the razor in around the curve, and let the head rest on the hook. Uncle Albert put 5 of them on the side of a cabinet next to his tub, that way, he can have 4 razors-in-waiting at any given moment (TWGW is using one of the hooks). 4. Don't be a drip. If your brush stand is tall enough, put your lather bowl under the brush for storage. That way, if the brush does drip a little, it'll get caught in the bowl, and not leave puddles on your counter or in your cabinet. 5. This is probably a no-brainer, but... Don't shave while drunk. 6. Mirrors, we don't need no steenkin' mirrors! Head shaving is largely a "by touch" operation. While a mirror can be handy for shaving the front parts of your scalp, you will need to rely heavily on your sense of feel when shaving the back of your head. Some may suggest complicated mirror setups, but really, that just adds a confusing visual element to an already semi-precarious situation. 7. Some like 'em long and thin, others prefer short and fat. DE razors come in a variety of shapes and sizes when it comes to handles. Some people like to use petite "travel" razors while others go for the longest handle they can find. Some folks like the comfort of a fat handle, while others still prefer the control of a skinny handle. Short handled razors really serve to get you in right where the action is, which is why so many suggest using them for head-shaving. Long handled razors give you more of a sense of leverage when shaving; where short razors put the control largely in your hand and wrist, the long handled razor moves that control out into your fingertips. Fat handled razors are comfortable in the hand and if you tend to be a slow shaver or have fatigue in your grip, you might want to consider one. Skinny razors can really zip around and tend to be easy to change angles with; a subtle roll of the fingers will cause a large rotation in the head of the razor. If you've been using one type of razor for a long time and switch to another size/shape, it might take a few shaves before you get the hang of the subtle changes in handling. 8. Ribbed for your pleasure. While we're on the subject of razor handles, here's a thought on the texture of the handles. Some razors are relatively smooth, while others have ridges, grids, or other patterns around the handle. When you're shaving, there's lots of foamy soap, and slippery water about. The textured handles offer a little more security by giving you extra grip, but some folks really like the look of the smoother handles. If you have arthritis, you might want to consider one with a "grippier" surface. 9. Watch where you stick that thing! When cleaning razors, some advocate the process of placing the razor in boiling water. Some plastic handled razors, such as the Schick Krona don't always respond well to the extreme temperatures, and could buckle or melt under the pressure. 10. Come toward the light. The lighting in the room you shave in can have a major effect on your shave. If the lights are "warm" or have slight reddish tint, then your skin is going to also look warmer, and thus the dark hairs of your whiskers will be less obvious. A "cool" light, or bluish or greenish tinted light, will make dark whiskers more obvious. You might be tempted to add "just one more pass" but that's all it takes to cause some major irritation. When in doubt, step into another room after the second pass and look in that mirror, chances are, you look fine. So there it is, Uncle Albert's Amazing Shaving Advice. Enjoy your shave!